Jessica Alba is on the cover of Natural Health this month! Learn how she balances work and family and her best tips for staying healthy—and happy.
It's 10:30 a.m. on a Wednesday when Jessica Alba, an iPad in one hand and an espresso with almond milk in the other, strides into the reception area of The Honest Company to welcome me. The sight of the 33-yearold actress—casually chic in a J.Crew cardigan, silk camisole, maxi skirt and Jenni Kayne flats—in the lobby of the business she founded is startling. Not only because she's stunning, even by movie-star standards, but because I'm used to being greeted by an assistant to the boss—not the boss herself.
But Alba, who proceeds to give me a tour of her company's sun-streamed headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., seems to delight in the unexpected. Take her poppy-pink tanker desk that sits democratically in the midst of other employees'— and which, a bargain-loving Alba proudly reports, she found on Craigslist. Or her career path from famously fit Hollywood A-lister to ecoconscious domestic goddess, thanks to the lifestyle brand she co-founded nearly three years ago. The Honest Company, which specializes in nontoxic household, baby and beauty products, is now valued at nearly $1 billion. Yes, billion. "It's beyond my wildest dreams," Alba says. "We struck a convenience, standards and values chord." And she's just getting started. "I'd like to build this so that we're a multi-billion-dollar company," she says.
If anyone can do it, it's Alba, who impressively balances myriad roles—movie star, mogul, mother (to daughters Honor, 6, and Haven, 3), wife (to producer Cash Warren), style icon, healthy-living advocate and even Honest Company greeter—with grace. Though not, she's quick to point out, with ease. "I don't have it all figured out," she insists, reporting that her jam-packed schedule has both prevented her from working out in two months and left her feeling "a lot of mom guilt." Settling into an office sofa, she notes, "You just have to try and do the best you can in every moment."
As Alba looks ahead to a new year that promises to be even busier than the last, she points out there's no better time to commit to making a good life great: "January 1 offers you a reset button." Here, Alba shares the credos that help her pull it all off—and opens up about the late nights, unread emails and gym absenteeism that come with a bold, brimming life.
1. Eat Well—But Remember to Treat Yourself
Raised in a Southern California suburb dominated by chain restaurants, where "everything is canned and fried and sort of ends up tasting the same," Alba, who was often sick as a child, decided to seek out healthier options early. "I became a vegetarian when I was 12, then stopped when I was 16," she says. "But that four-year period was interesting, because it opened up a whole new world of fresh produce and alternative protein sources."
These days, Alba doesn't adhere to any specific regimen ("I think diets are boring"), other than opting to eat a variety of lean proteins and fresh fruits and vegetables. A typical breakfast is half a banana with brown-rice cereal and almond milk, and lunch is usually a salad chock-full of whole grains and nuts or pumpkin seeds "so it's not just leaves; it feels hearty." For dinner, she whips up meals that are "as fresh and organic as possible" for her family. Among her kid- (and husband-) approved specialties: turkey meatballs with shredded veggies inside and gluten-free mac and cheese made with olive oil, Parmesan, mozzarella and a little Gouda.
But Alba doesn't beat herself up for the occasional indulgence—and neither should you, she says: "Life's too short to deprive yourself." Glass jars of sweets can be found in each Honest meeting room, because "I can't get through a meeting without candy," she says. "And I love popcorn. My husband got me a popcorn machine for Christmas, but it took up too much space in our kitchen so I brought it to the office. In the beginning, I was the only one using it, but now popcorn's caught on. It's like the Honest Company snack."
2. Adopt a Fresh Fitness Philosophy
Alba's known for having a killer bod, one she's showcased in a number of physically demanding roles, from superhero Sue Storm in the Fantastic Four films to sultry stripper-turned-revenge-seeking-warrior in last summer's Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. But looking flawless on-screen requires endless hours in the gym—a commitment she resented early in her career. "I didn't appreciate working out when I was in my 20s," she says. "It was purely for work, and I hated it so much. It was just brutal."
A shift in perspective came after Alba became a mother. "Now I enjoy it, because it's 'me' time and a stress-reliever," she says. These days, she likes to get her sweat on in hot yoga and spinning classes whenever she can. "I prefer Flywheel," says Alba of the cycling phenom that lets participants compare their progress to others' in the room, "because I like doing the competitive thing." She also logs time in her home gym, which occupies half of her garage (the other half is a playroom); there, she alternates sprints with brisk walking on a treadmill and keeps her abs toned with Pilates. "It's fun to mix it up," she says. "And I really like to work out with friends. They keep me accountable."
For those of us who see exercise as an obligation (like Alba once did), the actress suggests finding motivation beyond the physical. "I like how I feel after a workout," she says. But she doesn't stress when the gym falls off her schedule. "I'm a little squishy right now," she reports. "It's fine. I don't care."