Every week, host Adam Sockel interviews a popular member of the literary world about their passions beyond what they're known for. These longform, relaxed conversations show listeners a new side of some of their favorite content creators as well as provide insight into the things that inspire their work.
Take a hike! with Melissa Urban, author of The Book of Boundaries and co-founder of Whole 30
Melissa Urban, co-creator of Whole 30, joins Adam to discuss her new book, The Book of Boundaries. Melissa has built her career by being someone people come to seeking help with creating spaces in their own lives and over the years she’s learned to build boundaries for herself. As a recovering addict, it’s pivotal for her to maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy mindset.
In addition to discussions of boundary setting, Adam and Melissa also talk about their shared love of the outdoors, hiking, and moving their bodies. You’ve likely known Melissa Urban as the fitness and food mind who has built a program designed to help people discover how their bodies react to certain foods. Now meet the Melissa who has built an incredible community one hike and one boundary at a time.
Books mentioned in this episode
Where the Deer and the Antelope Play by Nick Offerman
It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort
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Adam Sockel: You’re listening to Passions and Prologues, a literary podcast. For each week, I’ll interview an author about a thing they love and how it inspires their work. My name is Adam SoCal, and if this is your first time listening in, thanks for joining if you’ve been here since the beginning, so happy to have you back. Really, really overjoyed for today’s episode. It is an interview I did with Melissa Urban, who is the co-founder of Whole 30, and she’s also the author of the brand new book. Uh, The Book of Boundaries set the Limits that will set you free. It is out this week, so you can go ahead and get it right now after you listen to our conversation. , I have a few quick notes. Just wanna let everyone know I am getting over Covid, which is why I sound like I have just a giant bag of tissues in my, you know, vocal cords.
Adam Sockel: Right now. I’m very stuffy. Thankfully I am on the road to recovery, but if you’re wondering, wow, Adam sounds a bit different this week. A little nasally because after two and a half years of our pandemic, uh, Covid finally got me. So that is why I sound a little under the weather today because I am. But that’s okay. Today’s discussion with Melissa was all about setting boundaries. It’s something that yes, it is directly tied to her book, The Book of Boundaries, but it’s also something she’s extremely passionate about and has been for a really long time. If you follow Melissa on Instagram or TikTok or a subscribe to her newsletter and you should do all of those things, you will find that she’s really great with interacting with her community and helping them better understand how to set their own boundaries. And in order to do that, she had to understand how she could set her own.
Adam Sockel: So we get into what that means, how the book came to life, how she’s gotten so comfortable and good at setting those boundaries, both in her daily life and also in her kind of life as a whole when she’s setting larger goals for herself. We also talk about her passion for hiking and being outside. Something that I also feel very, very strongly about. Uh, and yeah, and she ends with some really, really great advice that I wholeheartedly agree with. Uh, before we get to the discussion, I want to give you two book recommendations that I think you will really, really like. One in a, going with the theme of being outside and one with nature. Uh, Nick Offerman, who is best known perhaps as Ron Swanson and Parks and Rec, is one of my favorite authors. Uh, he wrote a book, I believe he came out two years ago at this point, called, uh, Where the Deer in the Antelope Play.
Adam Sockel: And it is basically anode to walking in nature and enjoying being outside. It’s a great book. If you know his voice at all, I will recommend the audio book for obvious reasons. He’s very melodious. But the first, like third of the book is all about his experiences going to a national park with two of his best friends, who also happen to be two very, very famous people. Just check it out. If you’re a fan of Nick Offerman and his writing, it does not disappoint. And also in keeping with the theme of like setting boundaries and, and mental health and a number of things that Melissa and I talk about, I wanna recommend it’s okay to laugh. Crying is cool to a memoir by Nora McCaney Per Mort, Nora’s husband Aaron passed away after three years of marriage, and you may recognize this story. Uh, they actually got married, uh, and they got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed.
Adam Sockel: They had a baby boy while he was in chemo. They, as the book says, packed 50 years of marriage into the three years that they got, uh, spending time. I won’t really matter. His Buffy the Vampire Slayer each other and Beyonce, the obituary that they wrote in while Aaron was in hospice care, revealing his true identity. His Spider-Man was something that kind of took the nation by storm. And, um, it’s just this beautiful book about giving yourself and others permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth, and to know that everything’s gonna be okay. It is kind of a, a love letter to life and just the fact that like, not to be afraid of saying the wrong thing to your friends who are grieving, you’re probably going to say the wrong thing. But the fact that you said anything is more important than saying the right thing.
Adam Sockel: So that’s, it’s okay to laugh by nor I’m Attorney Perma, uh, per more. Both of them are really, really wonderful. If you are relatively new to the show, you may not know, but I give away free book recommendations to anyone who leaves me a review on any of the different platforms you might be listening to. Just screenshot that review and send it to Passions and [email protected] And I will give you a free book recommendation from that. Also, just if you have any questions for me, feel free to shoot me an email. I love hearing from everybody and you can follow me on Twitter or I’m sorry, well, you can follow me on Twitter, you can find me there, but you can follow me on Instagram and TikTok at Passions and Prologues. Okay, I think that’s all my voice can possibly handle today. I am going to simply say, I hope you enjoy this conversation with Melissa Urban, author of the new book, The Book of Boundaries, um, Passions and Pro. Hey everybody, it’s Adam again, and I am so, so very excited to be joined by Melissa Urban, who you might know from Whole 30. And we might get into that a little bit right now, but that is now what we’re here to talk about. First, we’re going to dive into her new book in just a minute. But first, Melissa, what’s the thing you are super passionate about that we’re talking about today?
Melissa Urban: Hi Adam, thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here. The thing that I’m super passionate about right now and a huge advocate for is boundaries. Mm-hmm. setting and holding healthy boundaries.
Adam Sockel: Yeah. I love this so much. I was just telling you right before we recorded that this is a thing that I am working at getting better at and your book is going to help me very, very much. But I wanna ask you, when did you kind of first discover this passion for boundaries and how did it come about?
Melissa Urban: Well, the first discovery happened kind of in a very unexpected moment back in, oh boy, it was over 20 years ago now. Uh, I, as many people through the whole 30 do know I am a recovering drug addict. I’ve been in recovery for 22 years now. And the first time I ever discovered a boundary was in a moment sitting at a party feeling incredibly threatened in my recovery, realizing that if I didn’t say something to advocate for myself, my recovery and my very life were at risk. And in that moment, and honest to God boundary just tumbled out of me at this party with my best friend. And I said to him, I can’t be here. I’m not okay. Um, I can’t be in this environment. And we left. And that was really the first time I ever recall setting a specific boundary to keep myself safe and healthy. And in that moment it was like the clouds parted and the angels saying, because I realized that boundaries didn’t make my life smaller, they expanded it exponentially. And that was really where my personal journey with boundaries started.
Adam Sockel: I, I really love that because I recently was having a conversation with a family member. And on the surface, I’m a very outgoing person. I’m Greg, gregarious, gregarious, both of them. Um, and I love to be, when I’m in a group of people, kind of the, the life of the party type of a situation. But outside of those situations, this person said, You know, you’re a really private person. And I was like, I guess I didn’t realize it. And I think what I’ve struggled with is I don’t know how to set up the right boundaries. Like I’m really great at not responding to a text message. I don’t know if that would agree so much as a lack of communication skills. But, you know, for you, you know, you said you kinda discovered this almost, you know, over two decades ago at this point. But how did that grow into being this book that we’re gonna talk about a little bit more and more, but also just like, you know, what was that journey like over the past two decades? Because I have a lot of questions about boundaries connected to your community that you’ve built. Like how did it become a thing that you’re so comfortable talking about and providing feedback and suggestions and, and help for?
Melissa Urban: Yes. I mean, honestly the whole 30 program, which I co-founded in 2009, so it’s been around for 12 years now at its heart, the whole 30 is a boundary program for people who aren’t familiar. The whole 30 is this 30 day self experiment to help you identify which foods work best for you in your unique context. So for 30 days you’re going to eliminate foods that can be commonly problematic to varying degrees across a broad range of people and see what changes, what happens to your energy, your sleep, your mood, your attention span, your cravings, digestion, aches and pains. And then at the end of those 30 days, you reintroduce those food groups one at a time and compare your experience mm-hmm. . So you’re saying no a lot when you’re on a whole 30 Yeah. To break room donuts to the offer of a beer, or why not happy hour to your mom’s pasta for those 30 days.
Melissa Urban: You are declining for the sake of this self experiment. And people have a really hard time saying no, they have a hard time advocating for themselves. So I’ve been helping people say no to their food and alcohol choices for the last decade. Mm-hmm. . And I’m really good at it. I’m really good at helping people advocate for themselves clearly and kindly. You know, a boundary doesn’t have to be harsh, it doesn’t have to be mean. In fact, a healthy boundary isn’t. But sometimes people really struggle to find the words. And even before that they struggle to realize that their needs matter and that they are worth sticking up for. And that making yourself uncomfortable just to keep someone else comfortable isn’t necessarily where your priorities should be. So I’ve been helping people set and hold boundaries on the whole 30 for more than a decade.
Melissa Urban: And once people realized I was really good at that, they started coming to me with their other questions, Well, what about my pushy coworker at the office? What about my mother-in-law who’s constantly dropping by without calling first? What about that friend that is always emotionally dumping on me and I’m really struggling to like figure out how to have a healthy relationship? So I started helping them set and hold boundaries in all of these other relationships too. And it just became kind of a, a subject I was really passionate about and interested in. And I started digging into every area of research and book and paper and, you know, thought exercise. I could on the subject,
Adam Sockel: One of the things I I wanted to ask you is, because for people who, first off, if you’re not following Melissa on any social media platform, you are, I I love your TikTok, I love your Instagram. Like you are such a, a visual person. I love the fact that, you know, recently you’ve been sharing all these beautiful videos of these mountains, you’ve been hiking up and, and, and it’s just, it’s gorgeous. But you have a substantial following on social media and, and I think I saw you say might have on your website or somewhere, but like you basically said like, anytime I would answer someone’s question I would get hundreds more questions, which is how social media works when you have a large following. And I wanna ask about your own boundaries with those types of things. Cuz I, as a person who is, you know, public in the, the book world, like I, I have nowhere near the following that you do, but like I’ll get questions and I feel like I have to answer them as quickly as possible.
Adam Sockel: Mm. And I answer that question like on TikTok, you know, then you get 15 more that come in and it kind of spirals and I feel myself getting that like anxious weight on my chest. So as someone who, when you answer someone’s question publicly, you know you’re going to get dozens if not hundreds of more, especially when it’s pertaining to boundaries. Do you find yourself struggling with your own personal boundaries about those types of questions? Or I guess how do you process that? This is a long walk for me to ask a question about myself that I was you could help me with.
Melissa Urban: Yeah. I mean, I won’t say I never struggle because boundaries are a practice. We don’t always get them right. But I will say I’ve been an entrepreneur, I’ve run my own business for the last 12 years and I quickly figured out this one truth, people will take as much as you are willing to give. And that is not, they are not selfish, they’re not mean. It is just human nature. And it is really up to you to set the boundaries that you need to keep yourself safe and healthy. And if I am constantly feeling reactive instead of proactive, if I am answering everything that is asked of me as soon as I possibly can and not paying attention to my own needs and my own energetic capacity, I’m gonna run my own cup dry. And I did that in the first like two years of my entrepreneur journey.
Melissa Urban: I thought I had to hustle 24 7, I had to answer every question right away. I would be, you know, answering emails from bed at 11:00 PM and writing blog posts on a Sunday night. And I quickly realized that I ran myself dry and I had nothing left to give to anybody. So one of the first kind of things I established for myself was this concept of you, you know, I have to pay myself first. Mm-hmm. . And the way that I do that is by setting healthy boundaries, not just with my community, right. Saying things like, um, you know, I, I’m not gonna answer that question because it feels too intimate or I don’t have the capacity to answer this right now, but I’m gonna screenshot it and I’ll come back to it when I can. Or just, I’m not logging into social media this weekend cuz I’m off hiking at church with my sister and social media is not where I wanna be.
Melissa Urban: So those are the boundaries that I set with others, but I’m also setting boundaries with myself. Mm-hmm. , I don’t pick up my phone, I don’t look at email, I don’t look at social media before my morning routine is done. Hard stop. I don’t schedule calls before 9:00 AM because that is time for my morning routine and my family, I don’t check email or Twitter or social media after a certain amount of time when I’m winding down for bed. And those are boundaries I’ve set with myself to help me again, make sure that future me is protected against some of the instant gratification pre or pressures that current me might feel that might be damaging in, in, you know, tomorrow when I wake up.
Adam Sockel: Yeah. Four people who may be struggling with doing those types of things does all the science and you absolutely know it better than I do about habit formations and how long it takes and things like that. What would you say to people who are trying to do that, who are trying to remove themselves from, like you said, social media late at night or mm-hmm. . Um, that for me it’s, I tell myself all the time, I’m gonna turn off Slack notifications at night, I’m gonna ignore these things, but I work in a global company, like my actual job is at a global tech company. And so we’re quote unquote always on even though we’re told not to be. I feel like I have to, like what would you say to people who want to get to that point where they can set up those boundaries but they struggle with it, whether it’s mentally or like emotionally. How would you, are there like any tips and tricks for suggesting that to people?
Melissa Urban: I mean, so many, I have so many in the book, there’s a whole chapter on workplace boundaries. Um, and it’s so interesting that you just said like, we’re not expected to be on 24 7, but I feel like I have to be mm-hmm. . And that my first question is like, why, but why? And maybe it’s because management is saying you are not expected to be on 24 7, but they’re not modeling that. Mm-hmm. , maybe your workplace culture does not model healthy boundaries. So no matter what you’re told the culture is such that if you are not available 24 7, you’re not a team player. So like that’s one situation. Another situation is just you feel this internal expectation. Maybe you’re a people pleaser or an obliger, but you feel this expectation that you have to be on 24 7. And when you tell yourself you don’t, you struggle to not do that.
Melissa Urban: And technology is one of the things that is the hardest for us to resist from a willpower perspective. So one of the tips I give in the book is essentially make, if you are going to set a self boundary, which very often is the first step in healthy habit formation, make that boundary as easy and like clear and black and white as possible. So if you don’t want to check social media or check slack in the hour before you go to bed, you leave your phone in the kitchen to charge and you go into your room to do your nighttime routine. If it is not in front of you, the temptation is not there. And I’m not saying you couldn’t walk out to the kitchen, but in that brief moment of I wanna check slack, I have to go all the way to the kitchen to do it, you have a pause and a moment to go, Wait a minute, I left my phone in the kitchen for a reason.
Melissa Urban: I’m just gonna stay in my room tonight. And after just a few days, that is gonna get so much easier and so much more comfortable, especially when you start to catalog the freedoms that that boundary brings. It is not a punishment for you to leave your phone in the kitchen. It is, oh my gosh, my nighttime routine feels so much better. I’m winding down more effectively. I’m falling asleep easier when I wake up in the morning. I’m better rested and more energized and more focused. I don’t feel the pull or the pressure of my phone like I do when it’s sitting right next to me. I talk a lot about categorizing the freedoms that come with holding a self boundary. So those are a few specific tips I would have.
Adam Sockel: I love that. I will say from my own personal experience, the company I work for is actually great. And I’m not just saying this cause I know some of them listen to the podcast that we actually, I will say our leadership is amazing at, at setting that my, my therapist would confirm with your latter very much. She’ll look at me and she’ll say like, Adam, uh, why do you feel that you need to do that for this other person? And I’ll just be like, Well, I don’t want them to feel. And she’ll be like, No, no, no, you’re not meeting feel anything. Yeah. This, we’ll avoid this turning into a, a therapy session. That’s
Melissa Urban: Okay.
Adam Sockel: That’s not your job. But, um, one of the things that I love about not just like your social media page, but like all following you across all the different places. I love that you connect boundaries to your, like a healthy lifestyle to going out and hiking to working out to those different things. So when you realized, like you said several decades ago, even before hold 30, when you needed to start setting these boundaries, what was the relationship between setting those boundaries and like physical fitness and the, the different ways that you’ve started to kind of move your body and, and interact with, with nature and just, you know, different things out in the world like
Melissa Urban: That? Yeah, I think when people think about the concept of boundaries when it comes to like self care, fitness, wellness, they immediately go to like the active setting the boundary. Like, Okay, I’m gonna tell my family please don’t come into the bedroom before 7:30 AM because between seven 15 and seven 30 I’m doing my like yoga and journaling. But it really starts a, it starts long before that. It starts by recognizing that you have needs and that those needs matter. It starts by allowing yourself moments and like building in space throughout your day to check in with yourself and ask yourself, what do I need? What would serve me in this moment? What would help me fill my cup? And then listening, realizing that you can trust what your body is telling you. For a lot of us, um, childhood trauma and various childhood circumstances have taught us, my addiction for example, taught me that my body can’t be trusted, that I can’t trust myself.
Melissa Urban: And it took a long time for me to relearn how to listen to myself and how to trust the signals my body is sending me. All of those things kind of have to happen in order for you to realize that you are worthy of setting a healthy boundary. That you don’t have to keep setting yourself on fire to keep other people warm. That their discomfort is not more important than your own needs or their comfort is not more important than your own needs. So you have to get to that point first and recognize this is a, it’s a small boundary, it’s a small ask. I’m asking my family to give me 15 minutes of alone time, but like, I deserve it. The bang will be worth the buck because when I come out, I am a recharged, happier, more grounded, more peaceful, more patient mother or or spouse or roommate. And then you have to start practicing and understand, I mean, I could go on about this, but understand that yes, it’s uncomfortable, it is uncomfortable to share your need is uncomfortable to set a boundary with someone I someone else. But what you are doing now is also uncomfortable. Smushing your own needs down, swallowing them, eating them constantly doing things just to keep other people happy, that is also uncomfortable and that does not lead to a healthier relationship with yourself or a healthier relationship with that person.
Adam Sockel: If you’re not selling merchandise that says you don’t have to set yourself on fire, you should be, because that is such a beautiful sentiment. And it perfectly encapsulates my constant daily struggle with myself of like doing that, of putting people so far ahead of myself that I’m constantly like, I find myself being much more drained and I’m like, why am I so tired at, you know, eight 30 at night? And it is, it’s because trying to put other people first. And you mentioned, you know, getting those few minutes in the morning to, like you said, if you have that time to kinda reset and do these different things, you know you’re gonna be much more, um, just a better version of yourself, uh, in the world moving forward. I’m curious because like I said, you, I am just obsessed speaking of addictions, I’m like addicted to looking at all these different hiking photos and videos you share. What is it that you like when did you discover your love for, for hiking and what is it that that provides you, that keeps you going back and spending those days on the mountains? Mm-hmm.
Melissa Urban: , I call hiking, going to church. And I have an entire podcast episode about wh why that is growing up Catholic, leaving the Catholic faith as a teenager, having a distant relationship from God for a very long time. And then coming back around to having this like deeply personal one on one connection with God, the universe my highest self, whatever I choose to call it in the moment. And I feel like I can find that in the mountains. I started hiking in earnest when I moved to Salt Lake City in 2010. And really in 2013 when my son wasn’t even one and I was going through like a really difficult divorce and business split, I would go into the mountains and I would hike by myself. I almost always hike alone. And it would, I would find that after the first 20 minutes, it was like the place where the chatter in my head just stopped.
Melissa Urban: Mm-hmm. . And it got quiet for the first time in a long time and it was a moving meditation cuz you’re moving and I was working hard and breathing hard, but physically moving my body allowed me to process some of that stress physically. And then I would find that, that just the movement and being out in nature and feeling like so small but so big at the same time because I’m out here by myself, you know, miles from anywhere, created space for me to like talk to God mm-hmm and to like ask questions and ask for help and cry and be mad and, you know, be frustrated or stubborn and for God to like dump answers on me in the way that he is so incredibly pushy sometimes. And that was where I find I could listen the best and connect the best. And I always left feeling came home feeling just rejuvenated, like the best version of me. So I hike and I’m outside as often as I possibly can and one of my big missions is helping people get outside on the trail maybe for the first time. I love doing that.
Adam Sockel: We’ll be back with more passions and prologues after this break. And now back to passions and prologues.
Adam Sockel: So on the very first episode of this podcast, the, the guest was Malli o Ramirez and she is a nonfiction writer, she’s a historian but she’s also a power lifter and she lives in the mountains outside of Los Angeles. And she has this space in her house that it’s, it’s her garage and like she gets no service in there and she, she powerless, she dead lives, she squats, she bench like she does everything in her garage. And she and I are talking cuz my, my obsession, I’m a distance runner and exactly what you’re saying is that’s why I love running 15, 20 miles so much is because once I can like push past that point of exhausting, I know people call the runners high, but for me it’s, it’s my brain shuts off in a way that lets me take in what’s around me and just actually like deeply engage with the moment. I, I guess so I know exactly what you mean and I wanna get to your book on one second. But first I’m just curious, what’s your favorite hike? You’ve ever done this? Oh,
Melissa Urban: You can’t, I mean you can’t ask me that , My top 10 hikes include like 27 hikes I feel like, but I mean, I’ve gone hiking by myself in Norway. I did like a 22 miler by myself in Norway. That was just, I mean, I just cried buckets through the whole thing cause it was so pretty. I just came back from Steamboat Springs Colorado where I did a 12 mile hike with my sister that I had done once before by myself. But doing it with my sister was like epic. This hike had everything views and jagged mountains and gorgeous lakes and we swam and it was just absolutely the perfect day. So that was the, the circle circle, it’s called in the Mountain circle wilderness. I have hikes in Salt Lake City that are 30 minutes from my house, like, like Lake Bla or Mount Raymond that are mm-hmm , just stunners. I mean it’s, it’s so hard to pick, but I have so many fantastic memories from the trail.
Adam Sockel: Yeah. My, uh, I have a coworker who, so my, the company I work for is actually based in Draper, Utah, which other people will mean nothing but to you is 20 minutes away from where you’re at. And it’s called Pluralsight. I love everybody there. They’re a wonderful company and I give so many coworkers who work in the office there. I, I’m based outta Cleveland, Ohio. I have so many, they’ll send pictures of their runs or their hikes in that area. And I actually have a, a coworker who right now she’s in Iceland and has been for a month hiking and doing all this wonderful stuff, but she’s also a, she’s a ultra marathoner. She makes my runs look, you know, pedestrian, but she’ll go out like 25 miles in the woods in the mountains and she always sends me like, she always like posts incredible photos and it’s just delightful. Um, yeah. But I need to spend more time out Utah doing all of the hiking and everything. So come visit. Absolutely. I’m going to, I, Okay, so the book of Boundaries you read your new book is, as you told me in the email, your first non whole 30 book super exciting. And this kinda came to you like in a flash, right? Yeah, the way that, So talk to people, like let us know how this book came to the world.
Melissa Urban: I know. So again, it was like a real God moment. But I had been of course helping people with boundaries through the whole 30 for 12 years. And then really since the pandemic hit in 2020, I was constantly talking about boundaries on social media. And in my newsletter people were really struggling around, all of a sudden they’re working from home and like home and kids and school and you know, chores kind of all blended together and they struggled with that. They struggled with having to talk to friends and family who felt differently about covid and vaccinations and getting together in person. So I was constantly talking about boundaries and again, the more I talked about them, the more questions I got. So October, 2020, so we’re now, you know, a good six plus months into the pandemic. I woke up in the middle of the night with a fully formed book proposal in my head fully formed.
Melissa Urban: I had the title, I had the premise, I knew what it was gonna look like and I thought, that’s wild. Mm-hmm and I went right back to sleep. It was like a two in the morning thing. And in the morning when I woke up it was all still there and I was like, okay. So I sent a note to my literary agent, Christy Fletcher. And I said, um, this is a little wild, but I have a completely like book idea that’s not whole 30. It’s like really out there, but here’s what I think, da da da da. And she sent me a note back right away and she was like, I think we should pursue this. And that was it. We were off.
Adam Sockel: It is wild to me that you went back to bed at two in the morning without writing this down
Melissa Urban: . I don’t know, I just, I woke up and I was like, that’s a great idea and I’m not like a writer downer in the middle of the night. I really love my sleep So I guess I was like, if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. I didn’t really think anything of it until I woke up the next morning and thought, oh my gosh, I felt like I was plagiarizing myself. Yeah. Like someone else had given me this idea and I was gonna like steal it, but it was just mine.
Adam Sockel: How excited are you to say when you’re answering questions from your community again, whether it’s newsletters or TikTok or Instagram, how excited are you to say it’s the beginning of your responses? Like, well I talk about this in my book but like we’re just reference back to it all the time.
Melissa Urban: I do all the time And it’s hard because, you know it, I started talking about this, I announced it I think in April, but the book wasn’t coming out until October. And I have people all the time who are like, Is there any way I can get a sneak peek cuz like, I’ve gotta go on this trip with my in-laws next weekend and I know it’s gonna be hard or I’ve got, your book is coming out after Canadian Thanksgiving and I really need it before Canadian Thanksgiving. I’m like, , I will help you as much as I can. Send me a dm, I will help you out with scripts. Like I’m constantly giving people advice, you know, in the dms and via email. Um, but it, I I want it to come out as quickly as possible. Obviously,
Adam Sockel: Obviously it’s different from the whole 30 books to lab because you know, the whole, a lot of the whole 30 aspect is, is focused on like recipes and different things, but there are, there are also whole 30 books where you’re not just talking about food, you’re going beyond that. So how did writing this book feel different than writing the whole 30 stuff other than the fact that there aren’t gonna be as many, you know, recipes and food related aspects of
Melissa Urban: The Yeah, I mean when I write whole 30 books and I’ve got eight of them at this point mm-hmm My first whole 30 book came out in 2012 and some of them are not recipe books. Food Freedom Forever is like the book about what to do when your whole 30 is over. Right. Whole 30 day by day is like a guided journal for every single day of your program. They’re not all recipe books, but I’ve been talking about the whole 30 for 12 years. There is no, you could throw me on live TV right now in front of Kelly Clarkson in my pajamas and she could start asking me whole 30 questions and I would be on it. My talking points are like a down, there’s nothing you can ask me that I can’t answer cuz it’s my program when we’re talking about boundaries. And I had to crystallize the way that I thought about what a boundary is, how it’s different than a request, how you know how to, how to share your perspective and make sure that it’s still coming from the self and what happens when you deal with pushback and what are some common pushback phrases that you might receive and how are you gonna handle those.
Melissa Urban: Having to crystallize all of that and share it in a way that didn’t just make sense in my own head made sense to the reader and I could anticipate their questions around it and really provide them with all the context they needed to really firmly grasp the concept was really challenging. It was almost like writing a book for the first time all over again.
Adam Sockel: Yeah. Was there a part that surprised you that you enjoyed more or that was maybe more challenging? Like what was, was there a specific part of it that that stuck out? Or was it really just the whole process being so different this time around?
Melissa Urban: Um, some chapters were easier than others, so I wrote a chapter on workplace boundaries and I felt like that flowed effortlessly. I could talk about that forever. Boundaries in the workplace. And I think it’s because in part, I, I worked a nine to five corporate job that didn’t respect boundaries a ton for 10 years before I founded Whole 30. And now I’m, you know, a CEO and I have employees and so I have a variety of perspectives there. Um, I wrote a chapter on co-parenting boundaries with a co-parent that also came easily because I’m pulling from my own experience and sharing, you know, my own journey having been divorced now for, you know, eight years. But there were other chapters like the friendship chapter that came a lot harder and I think it’s because, you know, some of the stuff I was talking about, the idea of knowing how to set a boundary with a friend and when it might be time to break up with a friend and how you do that, it felt so deeply personal because of course we’ve all had those experiences and I really struggled with like, even writing it as much as I was being really kind and really conscientious in my language, still felt hard.
Melissa Urban: Mm-hmm. , you know, this fictional person that I was breaking up with still felt hard. And then the intro of the book in which I share a bit of my background with addiction and recovery and where I first set my first boundary was really hard. I mean, I rewrote that intro no more, no fewer than like 16 times. And it went from being 40 pages to, you know, the, the 10 pages that it is. And that was really challenging cuz I think it’s the first time I’ve ever tried to tell that story on paper before.
Adam Sockel: That was actually, that was gonna be my question is why do you think that was hard? Because you, you are, do you think it’s just because it was the breadth of the story? Like the whole story that you were trying to tell as opposed to just being comfortable telling people like I have, you know, had an addiction problem and then recovering from that. Do you think it was that you wanted to dive into it that was so
Melissa Urban: Challenging? Yeah, I think what I discovered is that the first step to writing that intro chapter was vomiting my entire five years of addiction onto the page. Yeah. I mean I threw it all out there cuz I didn’t yet know what would be important to the reader mm-hmm. to the, to the journey Right. For the reader. I didn’t know. So I shared everything and my, I’m sure my editor was reading it, going like, Okay, this, this story is a lot, Melissa, you know, I’m talking about like overdosing on a floor and stealing from my mom and all the terrible things that I had done and, and it, and it, it was okay. I needed to be like that. And I, what I did was took this like giant block of wood and I just started carving it away, figuring out what was actually important.
Melissa Urban: And I think I was really good at self editing such that my editor didn’t have to say like, you gotta cut this whole thing. I was good about saying, I don’t think I need this. This isn’t the tone that I want. And when we finally got down to it, it was distilled, but it was really important to me to like say it all because it was the first time I’ve ever tried to say it all and it was hard to remember and it was hard to share and I felt like bits and pieces really needed like teasing out and I had to stop a lot mm-hmm. , but the process of it was really cathartic for me.
Adam Sockel: That was just, that was was literally the word I was gonna say. I was like, I bet there was some catharsis to doing this process. Yeah. I have to imagine. Which just said there was, that’s yeah. That’s, that’s so interesting. And, and I, I think hearing like, even though like you said was really hard to write, I think laying that groundwork initially for people who are gonna get the book and are going to turn to you for advice on how to set their own boundaries. Like, even though it’s hard to do, like, I think it’s so important and I think it’s gonna be so helpful for people to understand like, this is where you are coming from and this is why you set the boundaries that you do. And this is why it doesn’t make you a bad person to say, I need X, Y, and Z. Like, I need these things and here’s why. Here, here’s the person I am when I’m not setting the boundaries or here’s the person I was rather, and, and this is why this is important. Like, I just have to imagine you’re gonna get so much positive feedback from people saying like, Thank you for putting that at the, at the jump so that we’ve better understood this isn’t a question, this is just me saying, I I love that you put it there in the
Melissa Urban: Beginning. I mean, I, I certainly hope so. I think if you look at me now, you would not go, Oh yeah, that person was definitely a drug addict for a really long time. Right. If you just looked at my Instagram and my TikTok and my life and my business and stuff, I’ve come a very long way. It has been 22 years. A lot of therapy, a lot of hard work. Yeah. But when I share my story, whether I’m talking to people who are doing the whole 30 or talking to people about boundaries, it’s like, oh no, no, no. It was not always like this. Yeah. It was not always easy for me to say no, It was not always easy for me to stick up for myself. I didn’t trust my myself and, you know, my own, the signals my body was sending me. And I think it’s really important to share that. And if I had just written this book for people in recovery, if this entire book was dedicated to helping people in recovery set and hold boundaries mm-hmm. , like that would be worth it. The the idea of boundaries in recovery, especially early in recovery. So incredibly important. So if I can help people along their recovery journey as well, which is a huge passion of mine, then by telling my story, then like absolutely I’m gonna tell my story.
Adam Sockel: I do think it’s also important for people to realize that people, I talk about social media being like this snapshot, like the best version of people’s lives and the majority of the time. But I also think it’s important for people to realize, like, like I said, you were able to write this book of boundaries because you experienced life in a way that didn’t have them initially. And, and I think that’s what the beginning of the book will be so impactful for people. And I, I wanted let you know, like I, you sent me an early copy digital version, it was so good and I said it’s, it’s helped me so much. I’m going through a ton of life changes that it’s really, really mattered to me. And, and so I appreciate it. And I just wanna ask you one last question. I’m having everybody who comes on kind of provide just any sort of recommendation you wanna give. It can be a book recommendation, it could be a recipe, it could be a show you’re enjoying, it could be a journal you use, just like anything that you think should get some more love in the world that isn’t currently. So the floor is yours. What’s something that you recommend people check
Melissa Urban: Out? Okay. I mean it’s not that it’s not something that people can check out, but maybe you should. I am, I cannot tell you the impact that walking has had on my life. Mm-hmm. , walking, going for a walk. Sometimes they’re 10 minutes, sometimes they’re an hour. Sometimes I walk fast, sometimes I meander, sometimes I had headphones in and I listen to music or a podcast. Sometimes I don’t listen to anything and I’m just like present. I have my dog. Sometimes I have my kid, sometimes I wear my like weighted r sac. Maybe I’m walking a pill, maybe I’m in nature or at my park. I cannot tell you the impact that walking has had. It is so fantastic and like science backs me up fine. But for my personal experience, it’s so good for my mental health. It is so good for just feeling grounded and centered.
Melissa Urban: I say this all the time, but walking is exercise and accounts. Let’s not like forget that. And there are so many times, especially in this kind of place of self care that I’m in right now where I really wanna move. And I know I’ll feel better if I move, but I do not have capacity for a really hard workout. Heavy weights, an hour of yoga or a hike and I’m like, I’m gonna go for a walk. Mm-hmm . And it just has changed everything. My devotion and love of walking in the last, I don’t know how many years, but like especially since Covid started, I encourage people, if you’re just like looking for one thing to add, make it be a walk.
Adam Sockel: I love that so, so much. This was so delightful. Melissa. Thank you for joining me today.
Melissa Urban: Thank you for having me. What a great conversation.
Adam Sockel: Passions and Prologues is proud to be an Evergreen podcast and was created by Adam Sockel, who was produced by Adam Sockel and Sean Rule Hoffman. And if you are interested in this podcast and any other Evergreen podcast, you can go to evergreenpodcasts.com to discover all the different stories we have to tell.
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