Before 2000 Melissa Urban’s relationship with nutrition was “basically non-existent.” In fact, after several years of battling drug addiction, it was the year she finally sought treatment and found recovery. It also marked a new beginning for her as she decided she was going to turn her life around. Today, she has undergone a complete transformation. She is the co-founder and CEO of Whole30, the popular 30-day dietary reset, and has dedicated her life to helping others develop a healthy relationship with food and transform their lives. She hit the New York Times best-seller list six times with her nutrition books. Forbes and People featured her as well throughout the years.
But all this success did not simply materialize overnight. After leaving rehab, she knew that she needed to completely reinvent herself in order to maintain her recovery. This included finding a new supportive social circle, beginning a regular exercise routine, and making better nutritional choices. She knew that doing all of these things would help support her recovery. What she didn’t know is these new healthy habits would provide the springboard for the next phase of her life.
In 2009, after nine years of recovery and healthy living, she blogged about a 30-day self-designed dietary experiment, which became the inspiration for the Whole30 program, a 30-day dietary reset focused on helping people transform their health, habits, and relationship with food. The program focuses on “non-scale victories,” such as giving people more energy, better sleep, improved digestion, and fewer cravings.
She acknowledges that her 30-day program, based on the framework of an elimination diet, is hard. “It is hard to make good food choices and to choose to exercise consistently, but the alternative is also hard! It’s hard to stumble through life with no energy, bloated or with chronic aches and pains, feeling out of control with food, desperately wanting a change but not knowing where to start. As I often say, ‘choose your hard.’”
The Nature of Motivation
Often, people will decide they want to make a change in their lives and start out strong before they return to old ways. Melissa has been living her new lifestyle consistently for almost 20 years and has some interesting and compelling advice about the nature of motivation. “It is a myth to think that you are going to be motivated all of the time. You need to build healthy habits for those times when you are not motivated. Most people think that motivation inspires action, but actually, it is the other way around. Actions will bring you motivation. If you are committed to consistency in your healthy habits, you can still get up and go to the gym, choose a healthy meal, or read before bed even when you are not feeling motivated.”
When asked where she finds inspiration, she was quick to respond. It wasn’t another fitness guru or other public luminary who inspires her most. “My 7-year old son inspires me every day. He is so curious about the world and helps me question my own assumptions. He’ll often ask why something is the way it is, which is a wonderful experience of trying to examine my own beliefs. He has also shown me that there is a well of patience within me that I didn’t know was there.”
The Difficult Road Is Always Worth It
Getting her business off the ground was not without setbacks. She mentioned that one of the biggest hurdles she had to overcome was just setting professional boundaries. “As an entrepreneur, it is easy to work 24/7 with emails to answer and projects to work on. I had to learn to set boundaries and pay myself first. If I’m rested, grounded, and feeling fulfilled, I will have more to give to my community, friends, and family.”
Though Melissa is not native to Utah, moving here nearly 10 years ago from the east coast, she freely admits that she’s the state’s biggest advocate. She loves everything about the state; the mountains, the people, the good food, and social events. “I’m such a fan of Utah! I travel so much for work, so it’s always nice when I’m actually in town.”
Melissa’s impacts people in Utah and all over the world. The Whole30 website has 2 million unique visitors every month from over 100 countries around the world. Her company has a social media base of over 3 million combined fans and followers. She now travels as a prominent keynote speaker, sharing the program and her remarkable personal transformation. Perhaps this incredible transformation is why her words ring true for so many people. Melissa has walked the same difficult road that she is inviting others to walk for many years. She will be the first to tell you that at the end of the day, it is all worth it.
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