I’m excited to share a new Real Women, Real Balance interview with you today!
Robyn Conley Downs is the founder of Real Food Whole Life, a multi-media wellness lifestyle brand with a mission to provide simplified solutions for real life wellness. Through her platforms she shares real food recipes, minimalist meal planning tips, simplified self-care inspiration, focused productivity hacks, and inspired ideas for a healthy home.
We share the same mindset of ditching the all-or-nothing mentality and giving ourselves grace, while realizing perfection isn’t a healthy or attainable goal.
Simplified wellness, self-care, and letting go of perfection:
A Q&A with Robyn Conley Downs
Hi Robyn! Will you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Robyn, and I help people find time + create space for what they love by sharing simplified solutions for real life wellness via my multimedia wellness platform, Real Food Whole Life. Real Food Whole Life brings together everything you need to simplify health: from real food recipes, to minimalist meal planning tips, simplified self-care inspiration, focused productivity hacks, and inspired ideas for a healthy home. I also sprinkle in a healthy does of gentle is the new perfect, because mindset matters when it comes to wellness. One of my favorite things is sharing weekly inspiration + tips through my podcast the Feel Good Effect, and connecting with real women in order to thrive through this crazy journey together!
What inspired you to start your business?
Wellness, especially post-baby, used to be elusive. I was convinced there was some magic formula I couldn’t quite figure out. It all just seemed so complicated and overwhelming. And when it came to making it work in real life — well, there were never enough hours in the day. Then finally, after years of searching, I’d had enough. Enough complicated, enough all-or-nothing, enough perfection-chasing. So I decided to do things differently. To simplify, streamline, and focus on what really matters when it comes to wellness. Real Food Whole Life is the culmination of those years of struggle, a place where we cut through the clutter and connect with what it really means to be healthy.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Does anyone ever really have a typical day in this crazy life? I know I don’t! I do have a few habits and rituals I try to incorporate into my day-to-day that I’m happy to share with the Balanced Life community. First up, I like to start with my 5-minute morning. Five minutes to get grounded and take care of myself before the day begins. That usually looks like drinking a huge glass of water, meditating, journaling, or just practicing a little micro-mindfulness.
Then it’s breakfast with the fam, school drop-off, then diving into some combination of recipe testing, food photography, blog post writing, podcast recording, connecting with my community on Facebook and Instagram, plus email catch-up and general admin stuff. I teach yoga once a week at a local studio, and aim to get at least some kind of movement for myself in each day; usually a walk, yoga flow, or pilates. Some days I can do an hour, but more often than not, that looks more like 10-40 minutes.
Then it’s school pick-up, a dinner prep, family time, bath, books, and bed. I have a sweet little 5-minute evening routine for myself, too, that helps me wind down at night, and a 9:00 pm cut-off for screens. I try to get in bed by 10:00 pm and lights out by 10:30.
I’m curious, what do you do when you’re not working?
The work I do around simplifying wellness came from my own deep desire to find time & create space for what matters most: my family! Portland, Oregon is a wonderland of outdoor activities, so when I’m not working, you can usually find us doing a forest hike, bike riding around the river, exploring in the mountains, or playing at the coast. I’m also a huge fan of scheduling tea + walking dates with a friend, or squeezing in a super juicy yoga flow at our local studio. Being a bit of a homebody, I also love carving out time to read a good book, though occasionally I’ll get out of my yoga tights and explore the local restaurant scene with my husband.
As you know, The Balanced Life is all about empowering women to approach health & fitness with a balanced mindset. How do you handle the pressure as a woman to look or act a certain way?
I really think the biggest mistake we can make when it comes to balance is confusing it with perfection. So I think one way to handle the pressure is to really let go of perfectionism and all-or-nothing thinking. Another more tactical tip here is to get really clear on your own personal values and the why behind your actions. When you’re clear on your why, and allow that to drive your actions, it’s easier to let go of external expectations & comparison, and to truly embrace the magic that is you!
What does balance mean to you during your current season of life?
Balance means knowing my why, what really matters, and allowing those to drive what I say yes to, and equally important, what I say no to. It means practicing #gentleisthenewperfect, letting go of perfectionism + all-or-nothing thinking, and soaking up the beauty of this real, raw, perfectly imperfect life.
Who/what inspires you to keep living well?
Okay, this may go against the grain a little, but first-and-foremost, I’m inspired to live well for myself. That might sound selfish to some, but here’s why I don’t think it’s selfish at all. As women, there’s this tendency put ourselves at the bottom of the list (if we’re even on the list at all!). I’ve personally had a couple serious health-scares over the years, and some pretty low points when I wasn’t able to care of myself at all.
Those moments taught me just how important it is to put your health & wellness at the top of the list. That old oxygen mask analogy is so true: if you haven’t taken care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. This is a major driver for me, and of course my husband and daughter are huge inspirations to me as well. I want to be able to show up for them each and every day, and teach my girl how to thrive, regardless of where her future takes her.
What is your best tip for maintaining a healthy lifestyle in the midst of a busy life?
This is really a two-part tip, but both mindset and habits/strategies matter when it comes to wellness. First, find time everyday to do something for yourself. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, expensive or take a lot of time. It’s really more about building that self-care muscle. Read a book, sit down and savor your cup of tea, hit play on your fav pilates video, take a walk, or connect with a friend. Second, flip the script on self-criticism and find ways to layer in gentle and self-compassion. Showing yourself the same kindness that you show others goes a long way when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle!
What projects are you currently working on that you’d like us to know about?
So many exciting programs and collaborations coming up! I’m thrilled to have just released an update to our popular meal prep, planning, and cooking program, Real Food Simplified. It’s a streamlined system to get beautiful, real food on the table without spending hours in the kitchen. We also have the Simplified Reset, a four-week food & mindset reset program coming in soon (waitlist, here), and then fresh recipes and podcast episodes publishing weekly as well. (Pssssst: word on the street is that Robin will be a guest on the Feel Good Effect podcast soon. Can’t wait for that!)
Thank you, Robyn! It’s an honor to have you here on the blog today. Thank you for the work you are doing to inspire others!