Be Well Living with Robyn O’Brien

Robyn O'Brien

Robyn O’Brien has been called food’s Erin Brockovich for her unrelenting passion for a healthier America. She is the author of the book The Unhealthy Truth: How Our Food Is Making Us Sick and What We Can Do About It and the founder of AllergyKids Foundation. She is a firm believer that change is possible and continues to advocate for a safer food supply. We talk to O’Brien about her own health habits, which include the busy mom’s must-have staples.   

Wellness Inspiration: Jane Goodall (seriously, she gave her life to the health and well-being of the planet), Rocco DiSpirito (a brilliant friend who has the culinary talent I could only dream of), and my 105-year-old grandmother in Louisiana, who exercised every day and raised four boys.

Health Passion: The health of children. They are 100 percent of our future.

Wellness is _____: vibrant and sexy at every age!

Guilty Pleasure: Oh, french fries. I love them. Organic potatoes, of course!  

Relax & Chill Out: Since I was little, I’ve loved to run, work out, move. It’s my reset button. I get it from both of my parents. It’s been part of me for as long as I can remember.  

Morning Start: With four kids and the work that I do, I know that to be certain of getting a head-clearing, heart-pumping workout in, it has to happen early. Some days that’s an early run, some days a yoga class, some days the gym. I’ll be at one of them by 6 a.m. I used to have to be at my desk at 6:30 a.m. when I worked in equities, so it’s a great transition :).

Exercise of Choice: Anything outside. It has changed over the years, as my head and body changed. I’ve always been a runner but had to get kinder to my knees so went kicking and screaming into yoga, then fell in love with it! I swim, hike, whatever I can do to use and take care of this body I’ve been given.  

Must-Have Beauty Products: Growing up in humid Houston, I didn’t need much moisturizer. Now almost 20 years in Colorado, I do things I never could have imagined. I love Beautycounter’s facial oils, morning, noon or night. I learned from my friend Joshua, the founder of Pangea Organics, to ditch the soap, which can strip our faces and age us, and use cleanser. I struggled with acne until I was almost 40 and learned that our skin is so impacted by our food choices. So that’s probably my most important routine: I eat a lot of greens and drink a lot of water.  

Sleep Routine: Oh, holy smokes, with four kids? That has changed! We have three in high school now and a middle schooler, so on any given night, I may be up coaching on academics or what to do with another kid/crush/crisis. I try to be in bed by 10. Keyword TRY. Our kids are social creatures, so we’re managing weekend curfews, too.

Travel Carry-ons: I always have my Butler Bros water bottle (it carries hot or cold), my favorite tea bags, and Natural Calm magnesium. It can be hard to find healthy eats on the go, so snacks like nuts and Taste of Nature organic nut bars are usually in my bag. And I always have that Beautycounter oil with me now.  

Favorite Healthy Destination: The beach. There is something about being on the edge of the continent that I adore. It’s very liberating—and motivating, when all you have on is a sun hat, bikini, and flip-flops.  

Current Reading List: The 4-Hour Workweek, by Tim Ferriss, The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brené Brown, Richard Branson’s The Virgin Way.

Always in Fridge: Ginger, spinach, apple cider vinegar, raspberry jelly, organic peanut butter, hummus, Ozuké kimchi, carrots, eggs, salsa, organic lunch meats for the kids.  

Pantry Staples: Lundberg rice crackers, Late July organic tortilla chips, avocados, organic honey, and Nature’s Path cereals.

Favorite Way to Reset: Drink a ton of water and move my body. Hiking in Boulder is so beautiful and doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a treat. Exercise is as much a part of my day as brushing my teeth.

Favorite Healthy Foods On the Go: Bars from Health Warrior, Kind’s new organic bars, carrots, nuts, and my water bottle.

Ingredient I Always Avoid: Red meat. Grew up on it in Texas, completely lost the taste for it when I learned about how animals are fed GMOs and antibiotics.

Can’t Live Without: Running. So I’m hoping to connect with Kathrine Switzer of Boston Marathon fame to tap her brain and learn what she did to protect her knees and keep running into her 70s. She’s a hero to me for so many reasons.  

Current Mantra: Carpe diem. It’s been my mantra for as long as I can remember.  We’re only here once—make it worth it!