Magnum Athlete and WBFF Pro Fitness Model: Michelle MacDonald

Meet Magnum Athlete and WBFF Pro Fitness Model Michelle MacDonald. Who says you can’t be fit and fabulous after forty? Find out how this smoking hot redhead maintains her killer physique!

  • Hometown: Cobourg, Ontario, Canada
  • Current Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • Height: 5’2”
  • Stage Weight: 113lbs
  • Off Season: 119lbs
  • Age: 44
  • Favorite Lift: Bench Press
  • Favorite Yoga Pose: Handstand Scorpion
  • Favorite Hair Color: Red

Websites and Social Media
Intagram: @yourhealthyhedonista

For those unfamiliar with you, can you tell us a bit about your background and how you became involved in yoga and the fitness industry?

Over the last 14 years I’ve been devoted to Bikram yoga, both as a practitioner and as a certified teacher. For many years, I competed as well, and in 2014 I won the Canadian Woman’s Championship with my two favorite postures, Crane and Scorpion in Tiger. I know, I know, ‘yoga competition’ sounds like an oxymoron. (Laughs) I love to encourage everybody to incorporate a regular yoga practice into their lives, for both the many physical and mental benefits. I continue to practice and teach all over the world. Recently, I’ve reached out to the virtual community with my ‘Tales from the Mat.’ A regular yoga practice has given me so many health benefits far beyond improving my flexibility. Re-learning how to breathe properly, how to notice when I’ve come out of alignment or balance, and how to stay more conscious of the present moment are just a few of the gifts yoga has given me that translate well into real-life situations where focus and ease are crucial. I’ve become far less hectic and over-worked, and more meditative and in the flow of things.

Five years ago, I took the plunge into the crazy world of fitness and bodybuilding. I competed in my first show just before my 40th birthday, and fell in love. Literally, yup, that’s where I met my husband, at an IDFA show! I won many of my shows with various organizations, but I ultimately chose to compete as a pro with the WBFF organization. It’s probably the biggest international organization for Fitness Models, and I love the camaraderie and high level of competition amongst the athletes.


Coaching other women who want to compete, using the principles of whole foods nutrition, carb-cycling, macros, smart supplementation, strength training and hypertrophy training, and yoga has become the mainstay of my work, and I absolutely love it! There is a real need for intelligent, drug-free coaching in the fitness world. My husband and I take a lot of pride in our holistic approach to not only build great physiques, but also to teach lifelong habits in our athletes, so that they can enjoy long-term health. On top of contest prep, I also work with lifestyle clients who don’t necessarily want to compete, but who want to take charge of their health and like my style of whole foods IIFYM, yoga and strength training. I do this once or twice a year in small groups of ten, all online, and all ranges of abilities, and the success of these women is truly phenomenal!

Congratulations on your recent win at the WBFF for most improved athlete! Tell us a little about the competition and what your overall expectations were, and were you nervous?

Each time I step on stage, my expectations are the same, to improve my physique and stage presentation overall, and have a healthy, well-planned prep. I honestly had no expectations going into the show, but I was shooting to crack the top ten. It was the first year since turning Pro back in 2012 that I really allowed myself to visualize myself as a ‘top’ competitor. The WBFF is a huge organization and the caliber of athletes at the Pro level is extremely high. Just stepping onstage as a Pro is a huge accomplishment in and of itself.
When they called out my name to accept the award for most improved athlete out of all the male and female competitors, I couldn’t believe it! I never even thought of winning an award like that, especially because I am one of the oldest competitors on that stage. It was an honour, and one of my most memorable moments ever at a competition.

What’s the one thing you look forward to treating yourself to after a competition?

I love heading out to Ben and Jerry’s with my husband and having a chocolate-peanut butter hot fudge ice cream. I only get two scoops but I smother it in hot fudge and peanuts, and it’s like heaven after months of intense dieting. (Laughs)

How did you meet your husband and coach WBFF Pro Jean-Jaques Barrett? And tell us what it’s like having your husband be your coach.

I actually met him in 2010 at a bodybuilding show I was competing in. He was coaching a woman who’s physique I really admired at the time, and I was impressed with how attentive to detail he was. He was really humble, but at the same time you could tell he knew what he was doing, and he worked hard for his athletes. In a lot of ways, we co-coach each other, but with Jean-Jacques, I really feel comfortable turning the reigns over to him for the final 8 weeks. He’s not the kind of coach who gives you one single plan to follow for weeks on end. He tweaks constantly depending on my input. I really think that’s how I’m able to always arrive on stage really conditioned, but in excellent great health and with balance.

Tell us a little bit about Your Healthy Hedonista and your new E-Book that’s coming out soon.

I started YHH back in 2011 at the prompting of my then boy-friend Jean-Jacques, and it’s just sort of evolved into an entity on its own. The original idea was just to jot down the reality of show prep, cooking and yoga training from a natural athlete’s perspective. After a year, I was getting offers to write articles from,, and Inside Fitness Magazine. I ended up modeling for Oxygen Magazine as well, and in my second year of writing and competing, I started working with a couple of online clients who had been following my blog. Since then, it’s blossomed, and now I’m finalizing my e-book of easy recipes that are based on my version of Whole Foods Based If It Fits Your Macros. I’m actually a trained chef who happens to love having a 6-pack year round, so it’s really a book that shares the basic tricks of how I stay fit, yet eat a great variety of gourmet food.

How did you become involved with Magnum Nutraceuticals? And what do you love most about the company?

My husband got me interested in Magnum. He asked me to look into them after the president Markus Kaulius reached out to him, to see if the company was aligned with our own values. Two of our good friends had already joined the team and highly recommended the products and the company, and then a third friend, AJ Ellison joined just before we did. These three are probably the most honest, hard-working athletes we know, which was also a very influential factor. After meeting with Markus and hearing his authenticity about the care and quality going into the products, we decided to try them ourselves for a good month during a contest prep. The results were clearly obvious.

Honestly, I love the commitment of the company to offering the highest quality supplements possible, with clean, pharmaceutical grade ingredients, and to the company’s primary mandate to maintain a core of integrity as it continues to grow and expand.

What Magnum Supplements do you take and how do you stack them?

What I take will depend on my goals. My stack for contest prep is quite different from my off-season stack when I’m trying to build and/or increase my lifts. I always take Primer, Performance Greens, G, Quattro, Rocket Science, DNA, Acid and Tonic. These are the backbone supplements that I wouldn’t want to go without!

During contest prep, I’ll add in G-Spring, E-Brake and Heat, and throw in Volume and Limitless for pre-workout and Opus for any extra cardio sessions. For building or strength training I’ll take Big C and Volume along with DNA for my pre-workout, and I’ll use Mimic to help me partition carbs better as I hit higher calorie intakes.

Michelle’s Magnum Stack

Before Meal 1

  • 1 Scoop Performance Greens and 5 Grams G with Cinnamon
  • Primer


  • 1 Scoop Opus, 5 Grams G and 10 Grams Vanilla Quattro
  • 3 Capsules DNA
  • 3 Capsules Volume
  • 3 Capsules Big-C
  • 1 Rocket Science

About 10 minutes before 3 of my meals I also stack:

  • 1 Capsule Tonic
  • 2 Capsules Acid


  • Every 3 months I’ll add 1 tab G-Spring (4 week cycle)

Contest Prep

  • 3 Tabs Heat Pre-Workout
  • 3 Tabs Heat Pre-Cardio

PM During Contest Prep

  • 3 Tabs E-Brake
  • 1 Tab G-Spring (final 4 weeks)

What does your current training look like?

I’m currently on a strength protocol, so it’s a little bit complicated, but basically I have a warm up exercise, followed by the primary lift I’m working on, and I finish with some accessory work to continue building size and drawing blood into the working muscles.

Michelle’s Protocol for Primary Lifts

Week 1 (Intro) Split 1 and Split 2: 5 x 5 @ 77.5% 1 RM
Split 4 and Split 5: 5 x 3 @ 80% 1 RM

Week 2 (Development) Split 1 and Split 2: 6 x 5 @ 82.5% 1 RM
Split 4 and Split 5: 6 x 3 @ 85% 1 RM

Week 3 (Peak) Split 1 and Split 2: 5 x 3 @ 87.5% 1 RM
Split 4 and Split 5: 5 x 2 @ 90% 1 RM

Week 4 (Deload) Split 1 and Split 2: 4 x 4 @ 80% 1 RM
Split 4 and Split 5: 3 x 3 @ 82.5% 1 RM

I always do 3-4 warm up sets of the lift before I start training at the prescribed percentages, and after Week 4, I will take a few rest days, carb up, and then re-test my 1 RM for my Squat, and Deadlift.

Michelle’s Full Routine

Every Day

  • Cardio (5 Minute Warm Up)
  • Mobility/Activation Exercises (10 Minutes)

Energy System Work

  • Yoga (3 Days)
  • Bike Sprint Intervals 20 Minutes Total (2 Days)

Training (5 Days)

Split 1: Strength Zone Quads/Back I

  • A1 Leg Extensions 3 x 15, 2-1-1 rep tempo, 45 sec rest
    *this is a warm up, light weight only
  • B1 BB Back Squat
    *see protocol
  • C1 Pendlay Rows
    *see protocol
  • D1 DB Front Foot Elevated Lunges 3 x 8 (side), 2-0-1 rep tempo, 10 sec rest (Superset)
  • D2 Neutral Grip Chine Ups 3 x 8, 2-0-1 rep tempo, 75 sec rest

Split 2: Strength Zone Hams/Chest I

  • A1 Lying Leg Curl 3 x 15, 2-2-1 rep tempo, 45 sec rest
    *this is a warm up, light weight only
  • B1 BB Conventional Deadlift
    *see protocol
  • C1 BB Bench
    *see protocol
  • D1 45 Degree Leg Press 3 x 8, 2-0-1 rep tempo, 10 sec rest
  • D2 DB Incline Fly 3 x 8, 2-0-1, 75 sec rest

Split 3: Hypertrophy Maintenance/ Shoulders/Glutes

  • A1 DB Unilateral Shoulder Press 5 x 8,8DS (side), 2-0-1 rep tempo, 15 sec rest
  • A2 Face Pull 5 x 12,12DS, 2-0-1 rep tempo, 60 sec rest
  • B1 Cable Lateral Raise 5 x 6,6DS (side), 2-0-1 rep tempo, 15 sec rest
  • B2 Cable Front Raise 5 x 10,10DS, 2-0-1 rep tempo, 60 sec rest
  • C1 Standing Calf Raise 5 x 12,12DS, 2-0-1 rep tempo, 75 sec rest

Split 4: Strength Zone Quads/Back II

  • A1 Leg Extensions 3 x 15, 2-1-1 rep tempo, 45 sec rest
    *this is a warm up, light weight only
  • B1 BB Back Squat
    *see protocol
  • C1 Pendlay Row
    *see protocol
  • D1 DB Lateral Lunges 3 x 8 (side), 2-0-1 rep tempo, 10 sec rest
  • D2 DB One Arm Row 3 x 8 (side), 2-0-1 rep tempo, 75 sec rest

Split 5: Strength Zone Hams & Chest II

  • A1 Lying Leg Curl 3 x 15, 2-2-1 rep tempo, 45 sec rest
    *this is a warm up, light weight only
  • B1 BB Conventional Deadlift
    *see protocol
  • C1 BB Bench
    *see protocol
  • D1 Pulley Biceps Curl 2 x 8,8DS, 4-0-1 rep tempo, 15 sec rest
  • D2 BB Body Drag Bicep Curl 2 x 10,10DS, 4-0-1 rep tempo, 75 sec rest
  • E1 (2 Hands) 1 DB Overhead triceps Extension, 2 x 10,10DS, 4-0-1, 15 sec rest
  • E2 Triceps Cable Extension, 2 x 12,12DS, 4-0-1 rep tempo, 75 sec rest

Every Day: Glutes/Abs

I choose 1 ab and 1 glute exercise as a superset. Using 3 x 10 reps, 2-0-1 tempo with 45 seconds rest between sets.

  • Paloff Press
  • Decline BB Crunch
  • Gironda Frog Crunch
  • Shoulder Elevated Glute Raise
  • ROM DB Sumo Squat
  • Quadruped Cable Kickbacks

Tell us a little bit about your nutritional philosophy. And how you modified it for the Olympia?

I’m a certified Precision Nutrition Coach, and use a variety of protocols to help both myself and my athletes achieve their goals. All my diet plans are whole-foods based and IIFYM’s, utilizing carb and calorie cycling, refeed meals or days, nutrient timing and body-type planning. I use an amazing I-phone app called, mymacros+ that tabulates all my macros in my food choices for me, so it’s really easy and really fast for me to whip up balanced, varied meals and stick to my macros without having to do any of the math. I am a typical mesomorph. I metabolize all macronutrients pretty well, and I have an easier time staying lean. This allows me to adjust my diet and play around with macros quite a bit depending on my immediate goal.

For Olympia this year, I was particularly challenged because I had just come off of the WBFF World championships after 4 months of dieting and training, and went immediately to Playa del Carmen to take a Michael Gannon Teacher Training Intensive. I had to almost double my calories and triple my carb intake because of the tremendous volume of yoga we were doing daily for 24 days straight. I didn’t do a typical dial in for the Olympia because I had only 4 days between the ending of the yoga course and my photoshoots.

Michelle’s Typical Diet

  • Meal 1: (Strawberry Protein Shake) 100 g 1% Cottage Cheese, 100 g Frozen Strawberries, 20 g Magnum Quattro Vanilla Protein, 2 Drops Stevia, ¼ Cup Almond Milk and 1 Cup Ice
    2 Nature’s Path Waffles and 15 g Strawberry Jam
  • Meal 2: (Post Workout)1 Bagel, 70 g Organic Ham,15 g Pickles, 2 Teaspoons Dijon and1 Cup Tomato Soup
  • Meal 3: 200 g Polenta, 100 g Pork Tenderloin, 150 g Roasted Baby Zucchini, 8 g Shaved Parmesan and 5 g Pesto
  • Meal 4: 100 g Canned Tuna, 150 g Shiratake Noodles, 50 g Chick Peas, 50 g Roasted Tomatoes, 50 g Roasted Bell Pepper, 100 g Roasted French Green Beans, 10 g Black Olives, 14 g Feta Cheese and 40 g Baguette
  • Meal 5: 100 g Filet Mignon, 150 g Ratatouille, 100 g Roasted Asparagus, 50 g Pureed White Beans and 80 g Applesauce (Dessert)

What did you do while you were at your conference for your Ashtana certification in Playa Del Carmen? And have you had time for any shopping or adventures while you are there?

At the teacher training we were in the yoga studio at 7 am and usually didn’t finish until almost 5 pm. Over the course of 24 days we had only 2 days off, so you can imagine, I had no time for any activities as I still continued to coach my clients at night and on the weekends. But, it was an incredible experience, and I’m amazed at how much I was able to learn. I really miss those morning Mysore-style classes. I highly recommend the program to anyone interested in learning the basics of Ashtanga teaching or taking their own practice deeper.

I read that out of courtesy for your instructor while in Playa Del Carmen, you ate lacto-ovo vegetarian. Tell us a little about that.

I practiced a lacto-ovo style vegetarian diet for the first 2 weeks of the program, and then integrated fish into my diet for the final week and a half. It was a challenge, I’ll admit it, as it drastically limited my protein choices, and with very little time to food prep, I found myself relying heavily on Quattro, yogurt and egg whites. My physique didn’t change, but I know I wouldn’t want to pursue that kind of diet indefinitely. I thrive on choices, varying flavors and textures, and over the long term, I think that more variety leads to more balance and health. The great take-away from the experience was re-integrating legumes back into my diet. Though beans aren’t as high in protein as people think, they do contribute a ton of fiber, mineral and other micronutrients, plus they taste great!

What would you recommend for women in their early 40’s who are just starting out and wanting to get great shape by building muscle and dropping some body fat? What would be the best way for them to approach it, and how many days do you feel would be sufficient for them to train?

I highly recommend working with a coach to set up a clear training and nutrition program and have some regular accountability. Just regulating the diet will have fantastic results. Most women in their 40s outside of the fitness industry have highly erratic eating behaviors and tend to not enough protein, and then will over eat and consume alcohol.

Learning what to eat and eating five balanced meals per day is a great goal. In a nutshell, have some quality protein at every meal, plenty of fresh vegetables, including dark, leafy greens and colorful, yellow-red-orange vegetables, some fruits, a little bit of fat, and save the starchier, complex carbs for post workout. Ectomorphs can handle more starchy carbs than endomorphs, but in general, if the goal is to lose body fat and gain muscle, this will be a pretty safe over-all diet for all body-types.

The next big factor is training in the gym. You’ll want to be in the gym at least 4 times per week for about an hour of really focused, intense lifting. Hire a qualified trainer with experience teaching beginners how to lift properly and activate target muscles, read up online from a great resource like Juggernaut Training Systems, Elite Lifts,, and T-Nation.
Mix up cardio by doing some short and intense metabolic circuits, sprint intervals and longer steady state cardio, and measure your body fat or take weight and girth measurements to check your progress and make adjustments if things aren’t moving in the right direction.

What do you and your husband do for fun when you have some down time together?

We rarely have down time, but when we do, we like to just enjoy each other’s company with no set schedule. We love going to the movies, trying new restaurants, and going on short trips away from everything.


One of our favorite get-away places is about 3 hours from Montreal, called the Sacacomie Lodge. We dream about that place, and we’ll be heading there for my 45th birthday at the end of November. ‘Think,’ huge cedar lodge with vaulted ceilings, stone hearth fireplaces, an enormous indoor-outdoor geo-spa, massage therapists, and locally sourced gourmet cuisine. It’s nestled in the forest on a cliff right about Lake Sacacomie, and it radiates peace and beauty.

What are the essentials in your travel bag?

Michelle’s Travel Essentials

  • 1 pair of yoga shorts and top
  • 1-2 training tops and pants
  • Training Shoes
  • Beats Headphones
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletry Bag
  • 1 Jersey Dress (they never wrinkle and look great for dinner out)
  • 1 pair of heels
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • Tights
  • T-shirts
  • Supplements
  • Ninja Blender (it’s small and makes the best ‘ice-cream’ smoothies)
  • Food Scale
Beastly Note

Photo Credit: Steve Smith

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