As Stephanie MacDonald neared 40, she decided a physical challenge was in order. Little did she know how far it would take her.
MacDonald, a wife of nearly 20 years, mom to two girls aged 12 and 15 and a nurse, moved to Huntsville in 2016.
The following year she found The Barbelles and participated in a six-week strength and conditioning program to improve her overall health.
With several of those programs under her belt, MacDonald wanted a bigger challenge and moved toward something outside of her comfort zone: enrolling show prep.
“I am not normally the girl to don a bikini and heels and walk around on stage, so this challenge was going to push me mentally and physically. I was kissing 40 and wanted to prove to myself that I could do this,” MacDonald said.
She was excited to try something new but didn’t know how hard it would be.
“The level of athleticism and fitness required for one of these shows is pretty intense,” she said. It requires significant dedication and discipline. MacDonald completed intense workouts, and met her body’s daily nutritional needs by tracking her food intake and drinking a lot of water, nearly four litres per day.
She placed fourth in her first natural bodybuilding show in October 2017 where she competed in the bikini and fitness model classes.
“I was super proud but found myself wanting more. I may be a tad competitive,” said MacDonald.
After taking a season off to prepare for her next show, in June 2018, MacDonald placed in all of her categories and earned an elite status which qualified her for the UFE (Ultimate Fitness Events) world championships.
“I took another season off to ‘build’ and prep to compete at the world championships in Toronto in November 2019. The competition was tough, as one would expect, but at the age of 41 I earned a bronze medal in the masters bikini class. Pretty cool feeling to be presented with a medal at a world championship competition, I won’t lie,” MacDonald said.
The journey to her accomplishment was a lot harder than MacDonald thought it would be. “If you want to be successful you have to work hard. Bottom line. Cliché or not, you get out of it what you put in. I am fortunate to have the support of my family, friends and coach,” she said. “I can’t stress enough the importance of a solid support team. These are the people who cheer you on when you have those moments of ‘what was I thinking?’ and ‘I’m not going to be ready!'”
MacDonald’s coach, Ashley Moore from The Barbelles, kept her on track when she was training four to five times a week with weight training and cardio to help her fine tune her progress. Moore also helped to redirect her in moments of self-doubt by cheering her on and encouraging her to reach higher.
“It has been extremely rewarding for me to be a part of Steph’s progress and watch her achieve every goal she’s set out for,” said Moore. “Now, after three competitions, she’s one of the top natural fitness competitors in the world for her age and organization. I’m extremely proud of her discipline and determination.”
MacDonald’s competitive drive has her looking forward to June 2020 when she hopes to compete for her pro status. She will continue to show her daughters that she is a committed athlete building her strength over the years and showing them what good nutrition can do to fuel someone’s body and mind. “They’re proud of me,” said MacDonald.
Her husband has also been one of her biggest supporters, cheering her on and being there for her all the way through.
“I am capable of so much more than I thought I was,” said MacDonald.
Don’t miss out on Doppler!
Sign up here to receive our email digest with links to our most recent stories.
Local news in your inbox three times per week!