Ernestine Shepherd, World’s Oldest Bodybuilder

I love this story about Ernestine Shepherd, officially (according the the 2012 Guinness World Book of Records) the world’s oldest bodybuilder.  The 74 year old grandmother says: “I feel younger now than I did 20 years ago”.

This all started when she was trying on a swimsuit and did not like what she saw.  So she decided to make some changes.  She wakes up at 3 a.m. every morning, and runs 10 miles a day.  She then heads to the gym for pushups, pull-ups and free weights, all to the amazement of her 80 year old husband, her 53-year-old son, and her 14-year-old grandson.

According to the article:

Her 1,700-calorie daily diet consists of egg whites in the morning, vegetables, chicken and brown rice. She claims that this regime has helped her with depression, high blood pressure, panic attacks, and acid reflux — all of which she suffered from in her mid 50s

Her heroes include Michelle Obama and Sylvester Stallone.


  1. Hi Anne – This is a great story. How on earth does she do this on 1700 cals a day? Really inspiring, but wow, 1700 cals a day and all of those workouts!?


  2. Thanks Karen. That’s not an easy question to answer. There are several ways to find out how many calories you need per day. I plugged in Ernestine’s age, height, weight and activity level into the USDA website’s calculator and according to the site she should be consuming 2000 calories. Here’s what they had to say:

    This plan is a 2000 calorie food pattern. It is based on average needs for someone like you. (A 74 year old female, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 130 pounds, physically active more than 60 minutes a day.) Your calorie needs may be more or less than the average, so check your weight regularly. If you see unwanted weight gain or loss, adjust the amount you are eating.

    There is also a formula you can use to estimate your daily calorie needs using your basal metabolic rate. Generally speaking for an active woman I would guess 1600 – 2200 calories. I would advise anyone with questions about this to not take my word, but seek professional help from a nutritionist or Registered Dietician.

  3. I use The Daily Plate to track my cals and activity levels. It’s pretty good (way better than the old Excel spreadsheet I used to use at least). 🙂 But I will definitely check out the USDA one and the basal metabolic rate link. Thanks!

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