Cover Story 

Making Lasting Changes

Melisssa Urban



FACEBOOK: whole30

INSTAGRAM: melissau

Before 2000 Melissa Urban’s relationship with nutrition was “basically nonexistent.” In fact, after several years of battling drug addiction, it was the year she finally sought treatment and found recovery. This year also marked a new beginning for her as she decided that she was going to turn her life

around, no matter what it took.


Today, she had 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 has hit the New York Times best-seller list six times with her nutrition books and has been featured in such high-profile venues as Forbes and People.


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 was these new healthy habits would provide the springboard for the next phase of her life.















“It is hard to make good food choices and to choose to exercise consistently, but the alternative is also hard!

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 relationships 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 but also shares some insight on the attitude that helped her during the

transition into a healthy lifestyle. “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.”

Often, people will decide they want to make a change in their lives and will start out strong before tapering off and they return to old ways. Melissa has been living her new lifestyle consistently for almost 20 years and had 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 the healthy meal, or read before bed even when you are not feeling motivated.”

“It is hard to make good food choices

and to choose to exercise consistently,

but the  alternative is also hard!”

When asked where she finds inspiration, she was quick to respond--but it wasn’t another fitness guru or other public luminary who inspires her most. “My seven-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.”


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 so that she

had time for herself and for her family. “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.”


For Melissa, her impact is being felt not just in Utah, but all over the world. The Whole30 website has two million unique visitors every month from over 100 countries around the world, and her

company has a social media base of over three 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, and she will be the first to tell you that at the end of the day, it is all worth it.

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