Hi, I’m Robyn. Welcome to Real Food Whole Life, I’m so glad you’re here! I live and work in Portland, Oregon with my husband and my 4 year-old daughter. I founded Real Food Whole Life as a result of my own struggles. Back in 2012, a few months after giving birth to my daughter I found myself overwhelmed, exhausted, and overweight. I knew I needed to make some big changes, but I wasn’t sure where to start (you can read my full story, below).
At that point I started by prioritizing daily workouts and focusing on eating real, unprocessed foods. I also started developing systems—like meal planing and meal prep—to make healthy eating in real life work for me.
When I looked around for help online, I just couldn't find what I was looking for. Most of the recipes I found were either full of cheese and sugar or way too complicated for a weeknight. Plus my husband and daughter just weren't going for them. After much searching, in the spring of 2014 I founded Real Food Whole Life as a place to share easy recipes, tips, and ways to make the process simpler.
I love the community that RFWL has become, and want this site to be a place you visit to feel energized and inspired. You can absolutely do this. I’m here to help you along this journey. I hope you’ll join me!
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Read more about what Real Food Whole Life has to offer and find answers to FAQs.
Details on what I eat and why, plus my feeding healthy kids philosophy.
Get in touch! Drop me a line if you have questions, want to share your story, or to discuss a collaboration. Please direct recipe questions to the comment section under the recipe.
MY STORY + WHY I STARTED REAL FOOD WHOLE LIFE
Growing up I didn’t think much about what I ate. In high school I spent my days studying and playing basketball. Workouts were a natural part of everyday; I showed up to practice and the weight room without a second thought. Chocolate chip cookies and lunchtime trips to Subway or McDonalds fueled my 2-3 hour daily workouts. My snack of choice was a bag of Twizzlers plus a can of cool ranch Pringles. Oh, and Diet Coke. Always Diet Coke. I was young, fit, and thin. Food was a means to an end and convenience ruled.
I left for college and abruptly stopped playing sports. Well, unless you count socializing as a sport. I had a lot of fun. I ate burritos at 2:00 am and forgot to workout. Sometimes it occurred to me that I should cook something. My specialties were lasagna from the recipe on the back of the noodle box and a unique concoction of Noodle-Roni, a can of tuna, and a bag of frozen peas. It was not good.
Then I met my soul mate working at a summer camp. Andrew. He was handsome, smart, kind, and thought it was cute that I trash talked him while playing pickup basketball. We fell in love. Less than a year later we were married. He finished his doctoral program, I finished undergrad, and we both got jobs. I learned how to make marinara sauce. We lived next to a Trader Joe’s and I bought chocolate cake and frosted cinnamon rolls. You know, for my husband. A stressful job and long commute inspired me to flop on the couch at the end of every long day. I was demotivated and a tad lazy. Not a good combination.
Then Andrew got a job as a professor and together we moved to a small college town in Washington. He worked. I started a Master’s program. There was nowhere good to eat. I discovered Food Network and memorized the first three Barefoot Contessa cookbooks. Living in the middle of nowhere I learned how to cook. The Washington Cascade mountains and Andrew’s desire to be outdoors inspired me to get back into shape. I hiked, ran, studied and grounded myself in healthy eating and living.
During that time we decided to try for a family. We got pregnant, which unfortunately ended in a miscarriage. The emotional pain of that loss caught us off guard. We were heartbroken. Despite the loss, life went on. I worked three jobs and finished school. We moved back to Portland and I started a doctoral program and worked two jobs. We tried again for a baby, and I got pregnant again. And then, another miscarriage. To add insult to injury I gained a lot of weight from the pregnancy itself, the required drugs after the loss, and the emotional pity party that occurred for months afterward. Working out and healthy eating fell by the wayside.
Months passed and in my third year of the doctoral program we learned I was pregnant again. I felt like I held my breath the entire time, not quite willing to believe that we might actually get to be parents. I also gained a ridiculous amount of weight. Like, an embarrassing amount. I struggled with severe morning sickness that lasted a long, long time. White carbs and sugar became my crutch, and I spent entirely too much time lying on the couch.
But then, miraculously, Elle was born. We were overjoyed and humbled when our healthy, 10-pound baby girl came into this world. She was perfect. We returned home from the hospital a family of three. We felt blessed. And even though I was unbelievably happy to be a mom, I was incredibly frustrated with my weight and overall health. My recovery was painfully slow, and breastfeeding didn’t seem to help. Those women who say that breastfeeding just melted the weight off? Yeah. That was not me. I felt stuck.
After three months I went back to work. My schedule consisted of a 60-hour workweek plus evening classes. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I wasn’t prioritizing workouts or taking the time to meal plan. Cooking seemed like a thing of the past. This was not the life I had in mind. Something had to change.
After some serious soul searching and discussions with Andrew I quit my job and put school on hold. Health became my priority. I discovered barre3 and quickly became addicted. Eating whole unprocessed food, healthy fats, and tons of produce became my mantra. I refocused on meal planning and moving every day. I also started a job with fewer hours and more flexibility. Then I quit the doctoral program. Quitting was difficult, but I knew letting go would make room for a healthier balance.
As a result of healthy eating and lifestyle changes I lost 50 pounds in 9 months. I felt comfortable in my skin again and confident that this healthy shift was sustainable. With renewed passion I threw myself back into the kitchen, creating quick, healthy meals that all three of us could enjoy. I restocked my cookbook library with real food cookbooks, subscribed to health-minded blogs, and spent hours at farmers markets and natural food stores soaking in as much information as I could. Andrew and I also experimented with ways to integrate working out into family activities so that fitness became a non-negotiable part of our everyday life.
As I meal planned, worked out, and experimented in the kitchen one thing became increasingly clear. This healthy eating and lifestyle thing? It’s a lot of work. And all those natural cookbooks and healthy lifestyle blogs I was following? They made it look easy. Was I missing something?
Don’t get me wrong; I love aspirational cookbooks and blogs and find them incredibly inspiring. But at the time they all seemed a bit too aspirational for my everyday life. How, I wondered, was I supposed to actually accomplish any of this? Even if I did manage to put together a nine-part perfectly composed vegan bowl after returning home from work at 6:00 pm, Elle was going to throw most of it on the floor and Andrew would end up rummaging around in the pantry hungry within an hour of finishing dinner. I needed to come up with a sustainable solution, and I needed to come up with it fast.
So I started scouring the Internet for quick, healthy, weeknight friendly recipes, focusing on those that used only real food ingredients. Once I had a good mix of recipes I’d tweak them to eliminate gluten, refined-sugar, and dairy. I also played around with kid-friendly modifications for Elle and husband-friendly modifications for Andrew. From this process Real Food Meal Plans were born. Then I dove into my own recipes, developing quick and easy everyday recipes. I also came up with all kinds of healthy eating and lifestyle tricks and shortcuts. All of a sudden the healthy eating and lifestyle thing didn’t seem quite so hard.
As time went by I began sharing the meal plans, recipes, tips and how-tos with friends and family. Eventually I realized I could channel this passion and enthusiasm into something accessible to more than just my small circle. So I took a leap of faith and started this blog. Today I’m so grateful to be able to share what I’ve learned, and to connect with so many of you and to help you along your journeys.
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