Live Longer

My Grandma inside the igloo for her 89th birthday!

My Grandma will be 92 tomorrow.  She lives on her own, cooks for herself, loves the movies, and is interesting to talk to.  She has moments of forgetfulness and relays a lot of stories from the past and her youth.  Now and then my mom will call me to tell me she is worried my Grandma might be losing it a little.  Sometimes my mom seems right and other times I say, “I do the same thing.  If Grandma has dementia then I must too.”

A week after Christmas my Grandma called me to thank me for the beautiful amaryllis I’d given her for Christmas.  She left a message and as I listened, I grew a little sad.  I had not given her an amaryllis.  Perhaps my mom was more right than I realized.  Someone else deserved this thank you.  Not me.  It signaled that my Grandma seemed to be losing it.

Later that night when Matt arrived home, I told him about my Grandma’s message and how my mom might be onto something.  “I didn’t get her an amaryllis,” I told him.  “Yes, you did,” he reminded me, proving that my Grandma is still doing okay.

Often, I feel like my Grandma is more with it than I am.  She tells me it is because I’m busy and have a lot on my plate—just another reason I’m still lucky to have her.

The Secret to Live Longer

The story got me thinking: how and why is my Grandma so healthy at 92.  What’s the secret we are all looking for to a long, healthy life?  No one knows the answer, but I’d guess it is that she walked daily for decades. Though she has a sweet tooth—a pretty big one that she indulges—she always eats a well-balanced diet with lots of veggies.  Each day she drinks eight tall glasses of water.

Instead of guessing I went to the source directly.  She believes her longevity comes from her genes.  Her paternal grandma lived to 93.  But supposedly genes only dictate twenty-five percent of our chance to reach a ripe old age.  She also attributed her health to working outside in the yard—a task she enjoyed and did daily during good weather.  The regular walking was key for her.  She slowly built up to three miles a day begrudgingly, but her doctor, who she always says was ahead of his time, nagged her to walk for her heart health.  She said her neighbors would ask why and what she was doing.  It was not the norm at the time.

I’m happy to take long walks.  That’s fun for me and feels good.  Food is trickier for me.  I have my Grandma’s sweet tooth and probably don’t get enough vegetables.  As I’m doing our Mindful Eating Challenge this month, I think perhaps all the veggies keep her saner than she realizes.  For the rest of this week, I’m attempting a veggie at every meal.  Feel free to join me whether you are doing the challenge or not.  Is this something you already do?  What is your favorite vegetable?  I love Brussel sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, and squash.

Want to Read More?

Click here to read about the Mindful Eating Challenge.  It’s never too late to join!

Click here to read more about Maggie’s Grandma in the igloo.

Click here to read about Maggie’s favorite place to walk!

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About the Author:

Maggie Downie
Thank you for giving your time to stop and read my blog. I hope it encourages you to keep moving. Move and the body will be happier. And when you're moving you can hike, run, swim in Jell-O, race over non-Newtonian fluids, travel the world or build igloos--if that's your thing. If not, you can watch me do it. This is just a spot to try and feel good about life.


  1. Mary newey February 12, 2018 at 8:17 am - Reply

    Maggie, I think your grandma’s healthy lifestyle has much to do wi Th her longevity. It definitely isn’t just the genes! The combo of walking and veggies goes a long way! I too am trying to eat more veggies but I aim for at least 2 veggies or fruits every meal. I love salads so that definitely helps. I am often adding nuts, beans tor fruits to salads too. I live spinach, broccoli, carrots, Swiss chard, and most veggies except Brussel sprouts! I love your messages and always take away something from them. Thanks for sharing your stories and thoughts.
    Mary Newey

    • Maggie Downie
      Maggie Downie February 12, 2018 at 12:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Mary! Two veggies/fruits at every meal is a great challenge!

  2. Angie February 12, 2018 at 11:24 am - Reply

    Maggie How wonderful to share your Grama My paternal Grama was 94 I loved her more than life She never spoke a word of English nor I Italian but we knew each other well Peter and I will go to Sicily for Easter to see my Uncle 93 (my Mom’s brother) He does not speak English but will speak to me in Italian and I will listen and love every word

    • Maggie Downie
      Maggie Downie February 12, 2018 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      Have you been to Sicily? We went in October with our moms to retrace Matt’s maternal grandparents steps. It was beautiful!

  3. Nancy February 12, 2018 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    For me it helps to have veggies already washed and cut up. Then they are easy to grab to add to eggs, salad or sauté as a side dish. Also, I can grab them as a dipper for my hummus instead of crackers. Spaghetti squash is versatile and easy to cook if you prick it with a fork and bake the whole thing at 425 for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size.. Cut it open , scoop out some seeds and it’s ready to eat!

    • Maggie Downie
      Maggie Downie February 14, 2018 at 5:19 pm - Reply

      Non-cracker options are good. I like cucumbers with a piece of cheese.

  4. Dotty Twachtman February 13, 2018 at 9:42 am - Reply

    I love everything you post, Maggie. Your Grandma has a big smile in her picture…positive thinking and love of life goes a long was toward longevity…so does gratitude and your Grandma seems to know all about that. You are blessed to have each other and we are blessed to have you, Maggie…Happy Valentine’s Day to you and Matt…Dotty

    • Maggie Downie
      Maggie Downie February 14, 2018 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      You make a good point. Outlook matters so much. It can make or break a life no matter how long it is.

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