Maggie Downie

About 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.

Get Moving

This time of year we often see lots of family and friends for various gatherings, often for prolonged periods of sitting and eating.  While that is fun, sometimes we can miss out on our regular exercise routine because we are preparing, shopping, or prepping for meals.  It means this is often the season of a lot more calories in and a lot less calories out.  So how do you get your family moving?

There are fun ways to incorporate movement that can include the whole family and might actually get you all laughing together.  Remember, movement shouldn’t be a chore or a bore.  It can and should be fun.

Eleven Tips for Getting your Family Moving around the Holidays

  • Walk Between Dinner and Dessert

As an added bonus, taking a walk often gets you out of dish duty.

  • Play Charades or Another Physical Game

If your family needs a real challenge, show up this year with Twister.

  • Stretch Between Courses

Think of this like the seven inning stretch.  Get up and get moving.  Pick gentle stretches that feel good.  Some shoulder shrugs or a group hip flexor stretch.

  • Dance While Washing Dishes

Put on some fun music and dance while you clean up.  I think […]

Get Moving 2017-11-10T07:36:29+00:00

Glute activation exercises.

We take our butts for granted, but they help us stand up all day.  The largest muscle of our body, the glute max, should push us upstairs and propel us forward when we walk or run.  When it gets lackadaisical our lower back sometimes takes over some of the glutes workload.  Then our back gets achy, sore, overworked, and under appreciated.  This is when we need glute activation exercises.  

So we need to fire those glutes.  It’s not always as easy as it seems.  It’s actually fairly common for the low back to do the work of the butt.  So we need our abs to help us out.  The abs can help us keep the back stabile while we try to get our butt muscles to fire. 

Experiment with this exercise to help make sure you can feel the butt. Remember, the movement will be small because the glutes are already working simply to get the foot off the floor.  They are doing a lot already.

Generally in life, start to notice when you feel your butt.  Do you feel it working when you go […]

Glute activation exercises. 2017-11-01T18:04:22+00:00

What is your purpose?

My purpose Venn diagram

There is a concept in Japanese culture that research suggests may contribute to happiness and longevity.  They call it ikigai.  We don’t have an exact translation in English, but in a nutshell it’s basically your life’s purpose.  As westerners we’d generally think of your life’s purpose as something big and lofty.  Ikigai is more about your daily purpose.  What is your purpose? What you do with each day?  How you live each day well? Why do you get up in the morning?

It can be a lofty goal or it can be small.  It can be your work, watching your grandkids, dancing with friends, gardening, walking, playing golf, or doing the crossword.  Once you know your ikigai you have to live it.  Knowing your purpose isn’t enough.  You must take action to bring your purpose to life.

I found a couple resources for how to determine your ikigai.  One suggested making something like a triple Venn diagram using three circles instead of two.  Each circle represents one of the following: what you value, what you enjoy, what you are good at.  What overlaps is your ikigai.

When I made mine […]

What is your purpose? 2017-10-25T15:49:43+00:00

Improve turnout for ballerinas, Irish step dancers and everyone alive

Most dancers crave a solid turnout.  That’s when your hips, knees and feet laterally rotate (or turn out) instead of being parallel with each other.  Every foot position in ballet is done in turnout.  What changes is how wide the stance is or where your feet are lined up in relation to each other, but the feet, knees and hips are always in turnout.  The motion should come from the lateral rotators of the hip, but not everyone is born with a natural turnout and some people really struggle to increase turnout.

To try and mask a poor turnout, people often torque their feet to make it look like they have a turnout.  This can create the appearance of turnout, but it’s fake.  And the problem is that a fake turnout weakens the ankle and foot, a problem if you are a ballerina or Irish step dancer because foot and ankle strength are vital for dancers.

So how do you actually develop a strong turnout from the hip using the proper muscles?

One simple exercise is known as the clam. 

It’s fairly easy, but be careful.  A common mistake it to move the entire pelvis, not just the leg.  Moving the leg might […]

Improve turnout for ballerinas, Irish step dancers and everyone alive 2017-10-25T14:09:06+00:00

Failure is the mother of success

Plank at sunset on Kili

While I can’t say I’m not bothered by failure, I can at least recognize that very often I get some of my best stories out of failures or at least times when things didn’t go as expected.

Still, failing is hard.  It’s hard to accept.  It’s hard to admit.  It’s embarrassing.  When I failed to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro those were a mixture of the emotions I experienced—embarrassment, frustration, sadness, disappointment, but also understanding and acceptance.

The moment I realized I wasn’t going to reach the top I started crying.  I don’t cry that often so I’m not really used to it.  And, normally if I need to cry in public I try not to.  There was no holding back these tears.  They just came.  I’d exerted too much energy getting this far to utilize any effort holding back tears now.  I’d lost control of my body, physically and emotionally.  I basically cried myself down that mountain, doing the walk of shame as everyone heading up stepped aside to let me down.

They were letting me pass, but I had let myself down.

Failure is the mother of success 2017-10-25T15:40:16+00:00