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10 Tips on Thriving at Any Age from 'America's Got Talent' Bodybuilder Josefina Monasterio

The 74-year-old grandmother's never-say-never attitude keeps her trying new things

spinner image Americas Got Talent contestant Josefina Monasterio
Tina Thorpe/NBC

The America's Got Talent judges might have sent 74-year-old bodybuilder Josefina Monasterio packing last week, but that doesn't mean the trophy-winning grandmother will stop trying new things. Monasterio's never-say-never attitude is just one of the secrets to her success.

1. Age is just a number.

While doing an interview at a local TV station, this guy starts talking to me about bodybuilding and I'm looking at him saying, “What is that? I don't know how to do that.” He said, “I will train you.”

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The thing is, I didn't think, Oh my god, I'm 59 years old, I'm too old to do that. He started training me in January 2005. Six months later he took me to my first competition and I won the whole thing. I've competed every year since. I have over 400 trophies. I never leave the stage without trophies. And I say trophies — I don't take one. I take two, three, four.

2. Say yes to life.

I don't think about excuses; I don't think about limits. Why should I say no to life? I say yes to life. I go for it. That's how I came to this country [from Venezuela]. I didn't say, “I don't know anyone. I don't speak the language. I don't have the money.” I just take steps towards the goal.

3. Be your biggest fan.

I look at myself and I say, I can be better. I will be better every day. I work to get better. I'm my own cheerleader. Something about me doesn't want to give up. I believe in potential, that you have a divine destiny to be productive, to be healthy, to be successful. It's the definition of life. The other side is death.

4. You are what you eat.

A lot of [aging] is prevention, so continue to take care of your body, your muscles. What I don't eat is junk, processed food. I make my own food: broccoli, chicken, eggs, fruits, fish, meat. I'm not against [eating] anything. I have a beautiful mango tree, avocado tree. I eat whatever fruits are in season. There are such a lot of misconceptions about eating, like life and everything else. Everything God created; everything that is natural.

spinner image Contestant Josefina Monasterio on Americas Got Talent
Trae Patton/NBC

Monasterio in Motion

Age: 74

Birthplace: Punta de Mata, Venezuela

Lives now: Vero Beach, Florida

Family: Two daughters and a 1-year-old granddaughter.

Education: She went on to earn her master's in education from Boston University and a doctorate in personal development from Nova Southeastern University.

Occupations: Former teacher turned lifestyle-changes and personal-development educator, rejuvenation expert, bodybuilding champion, author, and TV host.

Author, author: Four books, available in English and Spanish. “I didn't know I could write until I was in my 60s.”

Down time: The beach, planting flowers, birds, trees, reading — especially anything in science that has to do with epigenetics, health and aging.

5. Lift weights.

I put on about 40 pounds when I came to this country. Then, after I had my daughters, I ran 10 miles every day. I had just 10 pounds I could never lose until I started bodybuilding. What I do now is walk and lift weights. I also do yoga, which is the reason I don't get injuries. I stay flexible.

6. Be a role model.

I have two daughters. They always want to go to the gym. They are very fit because they grew up in that environment. I took my kids to the gym. We went to the pool.

7. Just do it.

I don't believe [that because] you're 60, you're 70, now you're supposed to stop work, now you're retired. I think, What can I do now? I got my doctorate in my 50s. I became a bodybuilder in my 60s, a writer in my 70s. I've written four books in English and Spanish. I'm going to continue in my 80s, 90s and 100s. The older I get, the better I look and feel. Take a look at me on my YouTube channel — if anybody has a doubt. Just invest a half an hour. It's an amazing journey.

8. Avoid naysayers.

I didn't accept limitations when I was young in my country. My grandmother said to me: “Josefina, how much longer are you going to go school?” I was in my 20s and my grandmother thought I should be married. I didn't listen. I didn't disrespect her; I didn't talk back. But I knew that wasn't the thing for me to do, because I had a dream. I wanted to come to the United States to get my master's degree. Eventually I wanted to get my doctorate degree. I wanted to work in the United States.

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9. Inspire people to inspire yourself.

To me, the way I live my life is normal. I've been blown away by all the people who got inspired or changed their lifestyles because of me. If you go on my Instagram, [you will] see people's pictures and testimonials. Because of my books, my YouTube channel, my postings on social media, I'm getting it now. You know what it does to me? It makes me better, it makes me more powerful, it makes me want to get better. I want to show them what is possible. Don't hesitate because the joy I get with it is so amazing.

10. When one door closes, another one opens.

I'm not sorry [the America's Got Talent judges didn't send her through]. I was wondering “What am I doing here?” But the message got out. America's Got Talent has been calling me every day. I have an interview from England because people are inspired. I didn't win in the sense that we understand, but I won by helping people change their minds, to see other ways, to change their paradigm. I would do it again and again. Sometimes people learn this very late, you don't have anything to lose by going for something. Think anything is possible.

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