Better Boundaries with Melissa Urban, Resolution Ruts, Cigarette Butts
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New year, new… ways to get hooked on smoking? V explains how tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds has been attempting to sidestep regulation. Plus, they’ll walk you through the ongoing conundrum of Ozempic, diabetes, weight loss, and healthcare access. Then, V sits down with Whole30 co-founder and CEO Melissa Urban to discuss lifelong healthy habits. Whether it be finding “food freedom” or building better boundaries, there are many ways to prioritize your well being — and not feel guilty for it.
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V Spehar, Melissa Urban
V Spehar 00:00
Hey friends, it’s Tuesday, January 17th, 2023. Welcome to V INTERESTING, where we break down the viral and very interesting news you might have missed. I’m V Spehar. And today, oh no, ozempic, why is everyone talking about a medication that gets advertised during Wheel of Fortune? And costs how many dollars? Yeah, we’ve got answers for you. Plus some helpful ways to make sure you’re starting this year on a high note. And then we’ll talk to the Queen of fresh starts Melissa Urban, the founder of Whole 30 and a New York Times best-selling author who recently published the book of boundaries, and that book, fun fact, just so happens to be the January pick for the Lemonada Book Club. More on that and today’s stories on this episode of the interesting from Lemonada Media. Let’s be smart together.
V Spehar 01:12
I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely didn’t have prescription drug becomes a household name on my 2023 Bingo card. And yet, here we are. Now you’ve probably heard the names ozempic or wegovy in the past few weeks, they become the it trendy social media medicine on Tik Tok, and everywhere else it seems. We’re going to talk about these drugs plus what all this might mean for society more broadly. Ozempic is an injectable medication that’s been approved in the United States since 2017. It was originally designed for managing diabetes to do things like lower blood sugar and slow down digestion. And a possible side effect though, is weight loss. And it seems like ozempic is actually really effective at that part. And it is possible to get ozempic specifically for weight loss rather than diabetes. It’s just considered off label use. Off label prescribing as legal and honestly pretty common, kind of like how Botox was originally intended to treat people with crossed eyes, and now is used to freeze your eyebrows into place. The thing is, when it comes to off label prescribing insurance might not cover it for a number of reasons. But that hasn’t stopped people from shelling out 1000s of dollars for ozempic or the slightly more expensive higher dose formulation of the same medicine, wegovy, wegovy is specifically for weight loss. And it’s become more of a luxury product for celebrities like Elon Musk, who credited wegovy for how he got so, quote, fit, ripped and healthy look. With great influence comes great demand. And now manufacturers are reporting shortages of both medicines. So comes the question again, who deserves it, folks with diabetes where weight loss can often be a lifesaving metric for improving their health and managing their insulin resistance or folks who have been diagnosed with obesity, which per the CDC is a common serious and costly chronic disease of adults and children that continues to increase in the United States. Obesity is putting a strain on American families affecting overall health, health care costs, productivity, and even military readiness. And if both of these chronic illnesses are having an adverse impact on society and quality of life for hundreds of 1000s of people, then why is it that insurance will only cover the cost for diabetics and not for the obese. Ozempic is really effective at lowering the markers for diabetes like A1C. The manufacturer also maintains that ozempic is incredibly powerful at preventing pre diabetes from advancing over 2 out of 3 Americans are obese or overweight, and 1 out of 3 have pre diabetes. Do you see we’re in a little bit of like, did the chicken come first or did the egg situation when it comes to who deserves this medicine most. I also mentioned obesity is affecting military readiness. And so you think the government would be hopping in here with the bajillion dollars they’ve gotten defense budget to try and help out but no, the US government hasn’t helped at all. For example, despite the shortages, there’s still been no guidance for healthcare providers on how to triage prescriptions. Patients who need ozempic for advanced life threatening diabetes aren’t necessarily being prioritized during the shortage. And the government hasn’t brought down the hammer like they did on pharmaceutical producers to ramp up production the way that we know we can. Because they did it. When we needed all those COVID vaccines and tests prioritize the government was able to get in there and make sure that this was getting across the line. All of this discourse is helping to add some nuance to the whole weight loss conversation.
V Spehar 04:38
For example, doctors on a 60 minute segment talked about how it’s not just up to willpower or commitment to lose weight. Many people’s bodies level set at a certain weight and behavior change is no match for something that’s hardwired into your body. Drugs like ozempic work because they take the driver’s seat and target lots of different systems in your body, like the communication pathway from the gastrointestinal system to the central nervous system and plays a fundamental role in multiple areas of physiology, including regulating appetite, metabolism and gastrointestinal function. So, I don’t know, for me, I don’t think there’s any shame in taking any of these medications. I mean, I wish there was a more democratic way that they were being distributed. And I could certainly do with fewer commercials, especially since the product is in low supply. But I feel that way about that damn $40 stanley 40 ounce tumbler that everyone is carrying around that’s been out of stock for a month. On the flip side, more light is being shed on the fact that obesity alone is not the life threatening condition. We’ve traditionally thought of it as people come in all shapes and sizes, my friend, and writers and researchers have continued to show how past research on obesity has been very flawed. The researchers who conducted it have even admitted that in the last 50 years advice on weight loss of obesity has been pretty shoddy. Pursuing medical intervention for obesity is a choice one that individuals deserve to make on their own, especially since one of the rare but potential side effects of these medicines is spontaneously shitting your pants okay? It’s a complicated conversation, but hopefully now you feel better prepared to think about it, talk about it or do something about it. How’s that for being smart together? Whether weight loss is the goal or not gyms are packed right now, people are armed with new year’s resolutions and they are going to lift weights dammit. Of course, a lot of these people will drop off and we’ll see less of them in the gym come February 1st. But what if there was a way to make working out more fun? What if you could be like, I don’t know, a little giggly or optimistic? In other words, what if you were high pot is becoming legal in more and more parts of the country. And for some people weed can be what makes exercise click. A recent LA Times article breaks down the growing practice of lighting up and working out. Before folks exercise they get a little high. There are even gym classes for this. There’s a stoned peloton Facebook group, and here’s why advocates say it works. One of the big benefits is making people feel more motivated to workout people feel less inhibited. And that’s the big draw. Now, letting up won’t make you work out better or for longer, but it might be what gets you there in the first place. And that is what gave one fitness executive her start. Morgan English runs an online cannabis fitness studio. And the idea came from lighting up one day and then feeling drawn towards a stationary bike. She told the LA Times that the experience was joyful. And that for once exercise didn’t feel like punishment. Now she employs six instructors at a full blown business called stoned and toned. I mean, could there be a better name? I’m feeling very motivated right now. One of Morgan’s instructors said that we’d helps her connect with the music more during cycling and high intensity interval workouts. Yeah, she’s inhaling smoke, and then she’s doing cardio. It seems to just work for some people. physical movement might also feel more pleasurable or fun when you’re high. Now friends, doctors and researchers are stopping short of recommending this. And we know that inhaled smoke can damage our lungs. And yes, that includes weed smoke, not just nicotine or tobacco. So like with a lot of things, listen to your body. If you think this isn’t gonna work for you, it probably won’t. It’s different strokes for different folks, you got to do what feels right for you. So despite what your mom might have thought when you were a teenager, no one is pressuring you to smoke weed. And absolutely no one is pressuring you to do squats while you’re at it.
V Spehar 08:47
Now another way to think about the New Year is what’s my vibe? What’s my vibe for 2023 going to be? What’s your approach? What stage of life have you just entered? And for a lot of people, it’s easy. They’re in their villain era. Many folks on Tik Tok have been using this term as of late and many people are a little a little spooked about it. And I’m here to tell you Don’t be the word villain is a bit of a misnomer here. No one is deliberately going out and hurting people. No one is cackling somewhere in a dark tower. That’s not what this is about. It’s more like, you know, as you’ve gotten older and you realize that the villains and stories were actually just real people, complicated people who are understandable, maybe even a little bit likeable, like Cruella Deville she was just getting back at people who heard her and Severus Snape, that guy was in love. As a label villain era is tongue in cheek, it’s meant to evoke the way that people are considered unpleasant or cold or unlikable, if they prioritize their own piece over other people’s impression of them. But being in one’s villain era means no more people pleasing. Think of saying no to someone hitting on you at a bar and just leaving it at that. If you’ve been socialized as a woman that may seem like this scariest thing you could ever do. But it’s what you deserve to do. No one is entitled to your time or your affection, that is villain era cannon. And it’s about taking time to figure out what you need, which might mean altering people’s perceptions of you like that you’ll always be there to listen and help them out first. And then once you figure out what you need, it’s about staying true to it. And that could mean doing something small like shutting down and invasive conversation, or something really big, like cutting ties with a person or employer. Some mental health providers are a little bummed about the messaging of villain era. Because like, what does that mean? Being a villain means advocating for yourself, or not caring if someone would describe you as sweet or agreeable. These are their unhealthy things that everyone should have the freedom to do not just villains, often a villain is well villainized because they put themselves first and listen, therapists the internet and I we all agree, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It’s called boundaries babe. So while we’re on the topic of villains, who’s your favorite villain? Mine is big tobacco. Okay, I’m not even kidding. I mean, you guys can all laugh at me but honestly, in our current universe, name a more cunning or successful supervillain than the cigarette and cigarette adjacent industries. Right. And just like low rise jeans and mullets, ciggies are another questionable choice that is back in style again, despite the high taxes, warning labels, bans on flavors, and increased regulations from state and federal legislators on the industry overall. For purposes of this discussion, we’re going to focus on RJ Reynolds that is the maker of my former favorite smokes the American spirits. Yes, I was a hipster. I’m sure you’re not totally surprised. RJ Reynolds also produces Camels, Newports, Lucky Strike a line of chewing tobacco called Grizzly a very popular vape brand called views. And you guys are going to lose your mind when I tell you about this. They make Vello, Vello is the nicotine gum and lozenges that are supposed to help you quit smoking, they can’t lose. When you control the entire line of products, you get to keep a customer for life, and often keep them in a lifecycle of using And don’t you worry, they’ve got something for the kids too, RJ Reynolds claims on their website to be ardently against anyone under 21 years old smoking, which is why they partnered with the Boy Scouts of America and 1000s of middle schools and churches and other groups to provide a brand name information to kids about smoking and the dangers of it. Look friends, I went to school in the 90s. And I did DARE that program that was supposed to keep kids off drugs. And I’m not ashamed to say it just made drugs look really cool. I mean, I was more curious about drugs going through the DARE program than I would have ever have been. I was listening to these cops like, hey, that doesn’t sound too bad. That sounds kind of fun. So I am very suspicious of the long term impact of an RJ Reynolds branded. Don’t start smoking campaign for kids. Right?
V Spehar 13:08
It feels a little more like brand introduction. Plus, there’s also the problem of flavored tobacco. The FDA has long maintained that cigarettes and vapes that tastes like bubblegum or strawberries are clearly aimed at kids. Some flavored tobacco products have been federally outlawed since 2009. But the nuances of bans are left up to the cities and states to enforce. So is there anything we can do to escape the smoke and keep the kids safe? The Biden White House continues to pursue federal prohibition of menthol and other flavored tobacco and vape products and Democrat led states like Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and California have actually done it. They banned the sale of flavored tobacco, while the Republican governor of Ohio just vetoed an attempt to ban flavored tobacco. And you know what RJ Reynolds did in those states where flavored tobacco was banned. They advertised, they advertised Yes, fresh crisp non-menthol cigarettes Newports they’re not minty because that would be a flavored descriptor that’s been banned. There now crispy, crispy cigarettes. RJ Reynolds also has an act of petition pending in the Supreme Court over the menthol bans saying a ban on menthol cigarettes and vape products would quote significantly damage their sales and financial security and affect customer loyalty. And I know what you’re thinking, Man, do I need a cigarette to deal with all this stress? But you don’t pal, you don’t, We’re not gonna do that. We can’t lean on crispy cigarettes. We can’t do it the way out is often through. So if part of your resolutions this year was to quit smoking, you can do it. Even with our universe’s biggest supervillain trying to lure you back with crispy cigarettes. Hold your boundary. Because to quote my next guest boundaries are a gift from present you to future you, Melissa Urban is the founder of the whole 30 and a new book called The Book of boundaries, she began her journey to health guru from the rock bottom throes of addiction. And we’ll hear more about the watershed moment she had. And when she decided to bet on herself, build boundaries and inspire others to a life of health and accountability, we’ll hear all about it right after the break, stick around. Melissa Urban is a best-selling author has launched a popular podcast called do the right thing. But it’s probably best known for creating the whole 30 approach to food. Now, you might have heard of people trying this out as part of their New Year’s resolutions. And for a lot of folks, it’s a way to figure out food sensitivities and develop a more intentional relationship with eating, the health and wellness space can be fraught, think of like all the manipulation and scams that are out there, not to mention all the emotion and trauma that people bring with them into their wellness journey. Melissa has worked for years to stay true to herself. And to write programs that center you as a human, not you as some future hypothetical fixed version of yourself, at the core of her methods is setting healthy boundaries. And we’re going to take the scary out of setting boundaries today we are going to embrace our most true selves, which may still be a little bit messy. I mean, I’m a little messy, but I’m happy with myself. And that’s okay. Right. That’s just part of the magic of being uniquely you, Melissa, I am so grateful. You’re here today.
Melissa Urban 16:43
V it is a joy and an honor, I’m so excited to chat with you today.
V Spehar 16:47
Like everything, your story has a beginning. And we’re going to start there. You grew up in New Hampshire. And you say that you had a good supportive upbringing, where you felt safe and have even described your childhood as idyllic. But then you experienced the ultimate betrayal. At 16 years old, you were sexually assaulted by someone that you were taught to trust. And I am so sorry that that happened to you. I imagine that had to completely shake your foundation. Can you speak to how you survived that?
Melissa Urban 17:19
Yeah, I mean, it really was a very kind of picturesque childhood in terms of my mom stayed home with us and didn’t work. My dad worked sometimes two jobs to support us. We had this large, you know, Catholic, Portuguese family, we got together for these big family gatherings on a weekly basis. But then yeah, at 16, I felt like my life really turned upside down. I had always been, you know, the good kid, the smart kid, the quiet kid, I didn’t get in any trouble. I didn’t go through a wild phase. And then, you know, experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of someone that I really trusted, who was so much older than me. And it was such a manipulative event, I really went off the rails, I mean, my behavior really changed dramatically. I was acting out in school, I was acting out with boys, I was acting out with my clothes. And what really happened is that I was looking for a way to escape my situation, I didn’t tell anyone for a year. So I still saw this person at family gatherings. And I still kind of was forcing myself to interact with them. And when I finally did tell people, you know, my family didn’t handle it great. They did the best they could with a really challenging situation. But I felt really lost and abandoned. I wasn’t, didn’t have the skills, you know, to know how to navigate that kind of trauma and betrayal. And so, you know, at 18, I found drugs. And that was the thing that I was really looking for, to take me away from myself and to numb my experience. And that sent me off for the next five years in the world of addiction.
V Spehar 18:48
And you had a moment when you were in the throes of addiction where you talk about the sitting on the floor with a keg of natty light moment where you were just like, I don’t want to be here anymore. Can you tell folks what brought you there?
Melissa Urban 19:04
Yeah. I spent five years actively addicted. I didn’t have a drug of choice. If you had it. I did it. I only dated drug dealers for five years. Like I was just that girl who would do anything. And I was really sick and really close. You know, I had overdosed I mean, it was like all of the bad things that could happen. I went to rehab I had a boyfriend at the time that was really caring and compassionate. And he helped me get into rehab. The first time I was clean for in recovery for a year. I don’t use that word clean anymore. But I was in recovery. And then I relapsed, which is very common. And then the second time in recovery, I didn’t tell anyone I had relapsed I had to set no boundaries whatsoever around my own recovery other than I would try not to use and I found myself at a party I didn’t belong out with people I didn’t know doing God knows what in the bathroom, and nobody knowing that I was in such a fragile state and that was the moment that an honest to god boundary tumbled out of my mouth. I said to my friend, I can’t be here, I don’t feel safe, I have to go home. And that was really the moment that changed everything. And that from that moment on my recovery stock, and it has been 22 years now.
V Spehar 20:09
I have to tell you, your honesty has given so many people permission to have a past, you know, because so often when we grow up, and we go through things, and now we’re adults, we’re in different parts of our life. And we don’t want people to know about that part. We don’t want folks to know about the maladaptive behaviors or the things that we did. And it’s often because we don’t want them to judge us, right, we don’t want them to think that we choose wrong or that we shouldn’t be trusted. And one thing that I just so appreciate you for is you give people permission to say like, Yeah, I had a past, I did drugs, they were fun and comforting, even at a time. But I learned from it. And I chose different, you know, and when you’re in the face of trauma, too many drinks does sound like the only option when you haven’t been taught the skills to choose differently. When you’re choosing this escapist route.
Melissa Urban 20:55
I did not have the skills, I didn’t have any coping skills, I didn’t feel like I had support, I didn’t have a language to discuss or define what was happening. And, you know, there’s nothing that anybody could say, in judgment of that part of my life that I haven’t already judged for myself, I was so hard on myself. And so mean and cruel to myself, when I first came into my recovery. And I have since done a lot of re parenting and a lot of therapy and a lot of work. I did what I needed to do to save my own life. And I am so proud of that girl who did whatever she could to, like, hold on until she had more support, and she had more resources until she had firmer ground to stand on. So I have a lot of forgiveness and a lot of grace for who that girl was. And yeah, I you know, shame lives in the dark. And I don’t have any shame around my story whatsoever. I will talk about it anywhere with anybody. And if that gives someone else permission to find their voice, then excellent. I was.
V Spehar 21:51
going to ask about that. Because you know, like, I get asked all the time when I go on a show. Tell me about your coming out story. And I’m like, girl, I have told this story. 100 times it was very traumatic. It was not a good story. It wasn’t great. It wasn’t something that I want to necessarily like, always have to begin with. But like you’ve said, you’ve taken the shame out of this being part of your story. How did you do that? So many people need help with that.
Melissa Urban 22:13
I mean, by talking about it, for one I found the more I kept my story to myself, the more shame I felt around it and just speaking it out loud helps. I think it takes away its power just to say it out loud. I really struggled for a long time using the word rape or even sexual abuse, I would say something like I was taken advantage of and having to do work in therapy and being like, No, we’re going to call this what it was, has been really, really helpful. And I had to get really solid around how I felt about it. And then it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks. If anybody else says, you were dumb, or you let him on or any of the things and I’ve heard some doozies about it doesn’t really matter. I know how I feel about it. I know I processed it, I’ve internalized it, it is now a part of me in a really healthy way. So kind of doesn’t matter, any kind of judgment I get from others.
V Spehar 23:02
So you you’ve gone through that. And then one day you have this idea about how you can help people and how we can approach another subject that is just so riddled with shame and insecurity, food, food security, eating good food, healthy food. Where did the idea for whole 30 come from?
Melissa Urban 23:21
Yeah, so part of my recovery was, I decided that I was now a healthy person with healthy habits. It didn’t matter that two days ago, or two weeks ago, I was like shoving heroin at my nose, I was now a healthy person with healthy habits. And I was going to seek behavior that kind of emphasize that. So I started going to the gym, I started eating healthier, paying attention to my food and my sleep and my recovery. And I adopted these healthy habits. And so in 2009, nine years later, I had been very heavily involved in CrossFit and very performance oriented and I was eating kind of a whole grain low fat diet kind of way that everyone said was like really good for you. And it really started as just a two person self-experiment, we had gone to this nutrition seminar that was talking about how foods that you might normally think of as healthy like dairy or whole wheat can have negative effects on people who are sensitive to them. And the way you determine whether or not you’re sensitive is to pull them out for a little while and then reintroduce them and compare. So we were sitting around after this hard Olympic lifting session and was like, Yeah, let’s just try this for 30 days. Like yeah, let’s give it a go. And all of the things that made me a very good drug addict make me very good at habit change where it’s like, yeah, I’ll just put the fitment down. And we’ll do it right now. I’ll go all in. It’s such dramatic results from that 30 Day self-experiment. It changed everything, my relationship with food, my relationship with my body and the scale, my energy, my sleep. I was like, okay, we’re on to something and I think I want to share it with some other people.
V Spehar 24:47
And that was the idea of food freedom, which is and it starts with food, which is like the beginning of the whole 13 I’ve done whole 30 a couple times. It’s something that I personally really enjoy. The first time I think it was like 2010 or something. And I was working in produce. And I really thought I knew a lot about vegetables. And the other part I liked about this is it didn’t feel like a diet, it didn’t feel like I couldn’t have things or I was terrible at Weight Watchers, I did not understand the point system. I did not understand any of these. I’m not a shake girl. I’m not like any of that, like I have to cook. It’s part of who I am. And I just learned so much about different types of vegetables, and just the ways to put them together. And that like meat wasn’t a bad thing and just made so much sense to me. So as a person who has done it before, can you describe it? For people who might not know what it is, though?
Melissa Urban 25:32
Definitely, yes. So first of all, I love that all of those descriptions, the whole 30 is about food, but it’s about so much more than just food. The main thing that I’ll say is whole 30 is not a weight loss diet, we don’t do weight loss, we are not a prescriptive approach in that we’re not saying you should eat like this forever. Think of whole 30 like a self-experiment designed to teach you how the foods you’re eating work in your unique system. So every dietitian in the world says there is no one size fits all when it comes to diet, you have to figure out what works for you. And people go yeah, that makes a lot of sense. How do I figure out what works for me, Whole 30 is the answer to how. So we’re based on the framework of an elimination diet, which has been around since the 1920s and many medical doctors still consider it the gold standard in identifying food sensitivities. And for 30 days, you’ll eliminate food groups that can be problematic to varying degrees across a broad range of people. And see what happens when you pull these foods out. What happens to your energy, your sleep, your cravings, your digestion, your mood, your focus, your joint pain and swelling, your allergies, and acne and anxiety and asthma, all of these things can be impacted by the food you eat. So pull it out for 30 days, at the end of those 30 days, reintroduce those food groups one at a time very carefully and systematically like a scientific experiment, and compare your experience. So by the time you’re done, you will have a blueprint for how these foods work for you. And you’ll be able to make your own decisions not based on a trend or a book or some kind of guru on the internet, but based on what you know about your own body, and the foods that work best for you.
V Spehar 27:10
And I gotta tell you, girl, the first time I did the whole 30 I like that last week was a stretch for me because you’re learning right, and then you’re getting tired. And this happens to everyone. And that’s why you could do it a couple times to really kind of like figure it out. I totally blew it. And some people might if you’re trying the whole 30 this month, you might get to day 31 and order a pizza and just completely. That’s not the goal, but it could happen. And what’s so great about this is you never actually fail it, you can go back and try again. You can see you know, what you learned from the first time really informs the second time or the third time. And it’s something I go back to honestly, for the mental space that it gives me because I’m like, Okay, well, I’m gonna food prep on Sunday. And you really forget how much time you spend when you don’t prepare thinking about food, worrying about food, where I would get to work, and I’m at lunch, and I’m like, Shit, I didn’t prepare anything. Now what am I going to do? Okay, well, what am I going to find? Well, how long is it going to take to get delivered? It gives you a little bit more mental space to which I appreciate.
Melissa Urban 28:01
Yes, you know, sometimes people will say, Well, why do you have to keep coming back to the whole 30? If it works so well. And it’s like, okay, well think about it, like a bootcamp. Right. So you want to start exercising, and you join this six week kind of exercise class where you’re with other people, there’s a sense of camaraderie, you’re getting some instruction, you’re being told what to do in the gym. So you don’t have to think about it. You do this class, and you’re like, awesome, cool. Now I’m gonna go exercise. If you find that you’re lacking motivation, you missed the community, you missed the connection, you missed the grounding, or you just want something simple to follow for six weeks, go back to the bootcamp, you’re going to learn something new, you’re going to still have that connection, you’re going to be able to solidify with, you know, coaches and advice and resources, solidify your commitment. And that’s why people come back to the whole 30 Because it feels grounding. It feels connecting, it feels like coming home for a lot of people because you know, it works so well for you. And I like the idea of feeling like I belong to something bigger than myself. And that’s really what the whole 30 community provides.
V Spehar 29:00
It’s like reading your favorite book again, you definitely learn something the second time. So there has to have been some moments on this journey, though, where you were like, look, that part’s not going so good. How do you recognize when you need to pivot or when you need to tighten up on something?
Melissa Urban 29:15
Yes, there have been a lot of moments and I will also tell you v that I have personally stepped in it a number of times I have said things that were like, you know, unknowingly insensitive or shared information that was just, you know, not my integrity. Like, yes, we have these moments. I think one of the things that I’m never afraid of, and my whole 30 HQ team absolutely embraces it is that, you know, we’re always learning. And when we are presented with new information, we’re going to change hard stop. So it’s funny, sometimes we’ll come out and we’ll say, Okay, we’ve got a rule change because our understanding of the science is different. Like we just rolled back the no MSG rule last year, because after two years of digging into the science, we realized that the haste against MSG and Chinese restaurant syndrome was largely rooted in racism and xenophobia and not grounded in science. So we did this whole analysis, we rolled the rules back. And still people said, like, I can’t believe that you, you know, we’re wrong about it, I can’t believe that you’re changing your mind on it. And it’s like, well, yeah, isn’t that what people do when they learn more, and they know to do better. So I’m always taking a good critical look at the Whole 30. When people offer criticism, I’m the first one reading the articles or listening to the TikTok’s and as painful as it is, sometimes, I want to learn from that I want to take what people don’t like about the program or aren’t finding, you know, appropriate or helpful on the program and see if I can find that feedback and see if we can use that to make it better.
V Spehar 30:45
Absolutely. When you know, better, you do better, right? It’s just as simple as that people are capable of change. And I’m glad to hear that y’all are, are continuing to do that work. Now that the whole 30 baby is kind of like out in the world, right? And there are people who are they’ve set up their own businesses as like experts with the Whole 30 who aren’t even necessarily officially affiliated, but like have built their whole own communities around it. Is there anything that ever like scares you about losing control of something that you know, you came from your heart and from your personal experience, and now it’s out in the big world, like live in her own life out there?
Melissa Urban 31:19
I think the more the program grows, the more we have to be even more intentional with our messaging around what the program is or isn’t it’s kind of like a game of telephone where initially, I was just talking directly to the consumer. And now that the program has grown so far beyond me, there are people who do the whole 30 who don’t know who I am. And like a game of telephone, that message gets, you know, kind of garbled, the farther out it goes. So it is frustrating sometimes to see media articles, or criticisms of the program where it’s like, oh, it’s a terrible weight loss diet. I’m like, but we’re not a weight loss diet, like you obviously don’t understand the program. So that can be a little bit frustrating.
V Spehar 31:55
And you’ve said a couple times now that this is not a weight loss diet. Why would people do a diet that’s not for weight loss? Like what’s the win? What’s the, as you would say, the non-scale victory for folks?
Melissa Urban 32:08
I mean, I think that we are all real tired of being told that our worth and value should be dictated by that number on the scale, I think we’re real tired of the idea of the way we look being associated with health, I think we’re all understanding the damage that the weight loss diets of the 80s and 90s have brought upon us and like the stuff that our moms were doing. And so I think people are looking for, they want to feel better, they want to have more energy, they want to sleep better, they want to have better mobility, they want to have better quality of life, it would be great if they could avoid migraines by just skipping out on like this one food because it happens to be triggering for them. And I think whole 30 does offer an alternative to weight loss dieting, where it’s like look, take a well-deserved break from the scale and calorie restriction and calorie counting for 30 days just like take a break from that for a month, and see what changing the food that you put on your plate can do for all of these other areas of life that are not reflected on the scale, you won’t see improved energy, you won’t see less joint pain and swelling, you won’t see clearer skin or more self-confidence or better kitchen skills on the scale. But those would all have a tremendous impact on your quality of life. And that’s really what we want to bring to people through the whole 30.
V Spehar 33:24
And we’ve also talked about this being like a community thing. And I’m very lucky that every time I tell my wife, I want to do the whole 30 She’s like I love it. Let’s do it. I remember cooking and meal prep and discovering all those recipes that we loved the first time like the Buddha ball, I’m probably going to make that tonight. But I’ve had girlfriends who did this as well, and they didn’t have support. Maybe their partner or their roommate or someone else in their life was sabotaging their journey seeding doubt in their ability to finish the whole 30 days or to improve themselves at all. What do you want to say to the folks out there that are kind of alone in this journey?
Melissa Urban 33:58
You know, it’s the people who you would think would want to see you succeed the most often the people that we are the closest to that feel the most threatened. When we take on a new healthy habit for a variety of reasons, right, they may feel like you’re leaving them behind, they may worry that you won’t have enough to connect or bond over if you’re not drinking anymore, or not eating the pancakes at brunch. There’s like a whole bunch of psychological reasons that go behind it. But you have to find a support network. And if you’re not getting that in person at home, there are so many different avenues you can join a whole 30 coaching group and get support in small group format. You can come to social media, you can join my YouTube lives that I’m doing every day during the January Whole 30 where like people are just talking about their feelings and how it’s going and offering advice and support and encouragement. You’ve got to build that support network out if you’re not getting in at home, find other people whether it’s friends that you can text with or co-workers and be specific in what you need from them like hey, I’m doing the whole 30 right now so I’m still gonna come out for happy hour We’re on Fridays, but don’t pressure me to drink. I’m not drinking this month, I’m super happy with my sparkling water in line. But like, just letting you know ahead of time, I’ll still be there. But like, don’t ask me if I want to be or be really specific. And this kind of morphs us into the conversation around boundaries and how to communicate your needs with others and hold those boundaries for yourself. But you deserve that support. And it’s really, really crucial for any habit change, but especially a change like the Whole 30.
V Spehar 35:25
And on that note, we are going to take a quick break. And when we get back, we’re going to talk a little bit more about Melissa’s approach to boundaries, because like she said, boundaries are not about telling the other person what to do. It’s about telling them what you’re willing to do. So we’re going to learn a little bit more about that right. When we get back, I will see you then.
V Spehar 35:57
Welcome back, friends. Okay, Melissa. So we had a great conversation about the whole 30 That kind of like first phase of your career. And now we’re going to get into your next big adventure. You just published a new book called The Book of boundaries, it’s already a New York Times bestseller. And it’s set up to give people scripts that they can use in their own lives to set boundaries with people with activities, all that kind of stuff. What made you feel like this was the right moment to write this book?
Melissa Urban 36:25
Yeah. So I’ve been helping people set and hold boundaries when it comes to food, alcohol diet talk, bodyweight talks, since the earliest days of the Whole 30. If you’ve done a whole 30, as you have, you know, you say no, a lot on the program, right? No, no to the break room doughnuts, or the birthday party pizza, or the glass of wine at happy hour. And I realized early on that people really struggled to say no, especially in the face of social situations or peer pressure. So that was a very natural part of my work with the Whole 30. But in October 2020, so we’re like prime pandemic, I realized that my community, especially women, especially moms, were struggling. Because kids are in school and home and homework and work and zoom calls and household responsibilities and relationships are all bleeding together, we no longer had the natural demarcations that we had between work and home or kids and home. And we were struggling people in general, were struggling. And so I started thinking about, well, how can I extend the boundary practice that I had with the Whole 30 to helping people in other scenarios and started talking about this on Instagram, and in my newsletter, and it were hands down the most popular set of stories I had ever sort of shared. And I had the idea for the book in October 2020. It came to me like in the middle of the night. And that’s really where the book of boundaries was born.
V Spehar 37:48
Do you think the burden of setting boundaries is disproportionately set on women?
Melissa Urban 37:53
I think women have a harder time setting and holding boundaries for sure. Because of the way we have been societally conditioned because of the patriarchy and stereotypically rigid gender roles, religious influences, diet, culture, the media, trauma, we have a lot of factors, societal factors that have been telling us since birth, to be small, to be compliant to not have needs as a mom, I am praised the most when I’m selfless. When I have no self, I’m putting everyone else’s needs and comfort above my own. And when I do advocate for myself, I’m told I’m selfish. I’m called a bitch, I’m set I you know, I have too many rules. So we have not been conditioned to set and hold boundaries. In fact, we’ve been suppressing the fact that we even have needs for a really long time. So yeah, I think it’s a lot harder on us. And there’s a lot more it for women in particular, or anyone who was raised and socialized as a woman, I think it’s a lot harder.
V Spehar 38:49
Now, this may be a dumb question, but how do you even know that it’s time to set boundaries? I mean, I’m like, in my new year, new me, and I’m looking at everybody like, do we need a boundary? Did we have one? Are you trying to set a boundary with me? And I’m like, missing your intention? Or? I don’t know, I have a lot of anxiety about this. And I really had never thought about it before.
Melissa Urban 39:09
0It’s a great question. In fact, because if you’ve never really thought about your own needs and comfort in this fashion, you may not know where to start. I would say if everyone listening can think about one particular person, where if I were to say this person’s name, you would immediately feel a sense of dread, anxiety, a little like, oh, I don’t want to it’s when they call you. You don’t answer the phone. It comes to mind for literally everyone, right? They text and you’re like, oh, as you just you just turn the phone over or they’re passing by your desk at work and you’re like pretending to be busy because you just don’t want that is your first red flag. That a boundary is needed a sense of dread, a sense of anxiety, a sense of avoidance, where it’s like, I just don’t want to a few other signs if you feel like you know, you can’t show up as your fullest self with someone you always have to show up the way They expect you to show up, which means you have to make yourself small or compliant. That’s a sign of boundaries needed. If you never know where you stand with someone, you feel like you’re one day, they’re good one day, you’re not good, you’re not really sure that’s a sign a boundary is needed. If you just don’t like who you are. When you spend time with that person, or you don’t like how you feel when you leave, that’s a sign and you can need boundaries with people. Maybe it’s around a specific conversation topic, maybe it’s around a particular behavior. All of those are ripe areas for setting and holding boundaries to preserve your own comfort and sense of safety.
V Spehar 40:35
So I was just listening to you on Glennon Doyle’s podcast who I absolutely love her, she is the best to do it scared, listen to her all the time. And on this particular episode, you were talking about green, yellow, and red light boundary language. Can you tell her friends what that’s about?
Melissa Urban 40:52
Yes. So my boundary kind of framework goes all the way back to the earliest days of my recovery. And I think about boundaries in terms of the threat they represent to either your safety or health or to the relationship. See, the first time someone oversteps a boundary, maybe they just didn’t know maybe they didn’t know that you don’t want to talk about whether or not you’re gonna have kids, or maybe they didn’t know that you don’t want to talk about dieting or weight loss, right? You don’t want to go in with like a nuclear boundary. It’s not like, okay, I’m cutting off all communication with you, you want to make sure that your boundary response kind of matches the level of threat. So I have these three different levels. Green, yellow, red, the green boundary is kind of where you start, it is the gentlest, it is the most kind, it is assuming that they just didn’t realize you how to limit and want to meet you in that limit, because they care about you, and they care about your relationship, it’s very clear, we’re not hinting we’re not expecting them to read our minds. But it’s gentle and kind, a yellow boundary is for those scenarios where you’re getting some pushback now, they’ve forgotten, or you’ve had enough experience to know that you need to go in with stronger language. So it’s more direct, more strong, it’s still kind, but it’s very clear. And here’s where you may preview a consequence, if that boundary is not respected. The red boundary is essentially the boundary. This is the action that I am willing, and am going to take to keep myself safe and healthy. So if I’ve asked you several times, to please not comment on what’s on my plate, and you refuse the red boundary is I’m not enjoying this dinner. So I’m going to excuse myself, I’ll call you later and you leave the table.
V Spehar 42:35
And you just say it just like that. You just say I’m not doing this. Because like, honestly, Melissa, I could not picture myself saying that. But is that the right thing to do? You’re just you’re just supposed to be like stern, but direct?
Melissa Urban 42:47
I wouldn’t. You know, I think it would be weird if you opened with that if you sat down at Thanksgiving. And your family was like, Oh, are you going to eat all those mashed potatoes? And you were like, I’m not doing this? I’m out of here. That would feel weird, right? I don’t, boundaries are designed to make a relationship better. And I don’t think going to red straightaway makes the relationship better. I think it can be confusing for everybody. But if you say, green, you know, I’m perfectly happy with what’s on my plate. And I would really rather not talk about it. But tell me where you got the recipe for this cranberry sauce, because it is outrageous, right? That’s your grain. If it comes back into the yellow, and you have to say it even more strong, you can say, again, I don’t want to participate in conversation around what’s on my plate or anybody else’s plate that does not feel healthy to me, frankly, I’m not enjoying my dinner when that’s on the table. And then by the time you get to the red, this is like they have deliberately overstepped your requests now a number of times, and here it would make sense for me to say, this is not the dinner that I want to have, I’m going to excuse myself from the table and you go for a walk or you make phone call or you leave.
V Spehar 43:48
That makes sense to me. And what’s on your plate can be food, it could be other topics in your life, all kinds of things that you might not want people to talk about. Now, what about like with your family, because I get a lot of DMS from folks who are dealing with family issues, and they’re saying things like, you know, the this, I swear is the last Christmas that I can sit at that table. I just cannot endure the dynamics of that relationship anymore. And there’s a lot of people who have gone no contact with their parents or their grandparents. And psychologically we understand this medically, we understand how a toxic family relationship affects us. But there’s not like a lot of good information about how to socialize going no contact with your extended family or with the general public. Like how do we talk about this, any advice?
Melissa Urban 44:39
So here’s what I’ll say the reason I want you to confidently set green and yellow boundaries is because if we try to be nice, and I’m not nice. I don’t like being nice, because nice means I’m going to behave in the manner that I think you want me to behave in and I’m going to eat it. I’m going to swallow it. I’m going to say nothing to keep the piece, that’s nice, but it’s not helpful for the relationship. And eventually what happens is that you tolerate this hurtful behavior over and over and over without saying anything. And then you get to the point where you feel like you only have two options, I’m going to either let this person keep running me over exactly the way they have, or I’m going to cut off all communication. And the beauty is that there are an infinite number of options in between those two, but you’ll never know, if you can save the relationship, if you don’t try to set the boundaries you need within the relationship. So I advise people, you know, do you have to go no contact with your mom, or do you just have to set a strong boundary around the fact that my weight and body and diet are not a subject of conversation, and if she can respect that all of a sudden your relationship opens up and becomes far more trusting and respectful and free. If you do get to the point where you’ve tried to set boundaries, and you recognize that for your own health and safety, you have to go no contact, you also don’t have to make that be permanent, maybe you take a break for a little while. And you say I’m going to take a break from communications, I’m going to talk to my therapist, I’m going to you know, take a break and kind of restore some of my like nervous system. And if I’m ready to reach back out again, I will, you can also support that by setting boundaries with other people in your family. This comes up quite a bit with, you know, people will say, Oh, my two daughters are fighting and they’re constantly putting me in the middle. And the boundary is I respect that you too, are in the middle of you know, this discussion. And this argument has nothing to do with me. So please don’t ask me to be in the middle. Please don’t ask me to take sides, I don’t want to be a part of it, you to talk to each other. So I think that there are many ways that you can support if you do choose to go no, no contact. Also remember that what other people think about your healthy boundary is not your business or your responsibility. And frankly, it’s not your problem. So I don’t care if cousin Joe doesn’t understand why I’m not talking to Mom, that’s between me and mom. And Joe can either respect that, or I’m going to limit the way I communicate with him as well.
V Spehar 46:54
You said a boundary can feel like revoking a privilege that they shouldn’t have had in the first place. And that hit me right in the guts, okay, it was like immediate lump in the throat. I knew exactly what you meant by that. Where did you learn that?
Melissa Urban 47:11
Well, you know, when people get really angry in the face of your boundary, typically it is because they have been used to taking advantage of some aspect of your life of your privacy of your health of your physical space of your comfort, they have become used to that. And when you say, hey, you’ve been overrunning this limit, and now I’m going to set it and it’s like a perfectly healthy reasonable limit, it can feel like you’re taking something away. So there is a lot of work to be done around the fact that my needs have value, my comfort has value, I should be on my own damn list. In fact, like not even at the bottom of my own list, I should be at the top of my own list because when I am comfortable when I am well-nourished when I am mentally and physically healthy when my nervous system is regulated, I am of far better service and a far better relationship partner to everyone else in my life. But there’s a lot of again unlearning that people have to do, particularly women around the fact that we have value simply by existing. We’re all adults here
V Spehar 48:19
with some freedom and autonomy and ability. And it’s fair to say like at this point in our lives, we’re pretty self-sufficient when it comes to providing for our core needs. You know, we get our own food, we have our own shelters, we even know how to find our own love. And that allows us the ability to apply these tactics of boundary setting pretty immediately to maybe like our work situation or our adult friendships, stuff like that. But I don’t know if you know this about me, Melissa. I am pretty popular on TikTok.
Melissa Urban 48:46
Oh, yes, of course, I know. I’m an avid follower.
V Spehar 48:50
So I’m pretty popular on Tik Tok. And I’m so grateful that people trust me and they send me DMS that we have these great conversations. But, you know, for these folks, let’s say like 17 to 22 years old or so, their ability to meet basic needs are dependent on a person that they want to try and set a boundary with, say, like their parent. And that parent controls everything. And they control their medical insurance. Sometimes that parent even has access to the to the person’s medical records, or they supply their car insurance, their phone, their college tuition. How can someone like that get relief?
Melissa Urban 49:27
It’s not always easy. I mean, this could apply to a number of situations, your work environment is incredibly toxic, and they take advantage of you left and right. But you can’t afford to quit your job and get a new one, right? That’s like so many of us it would be so easy to say well just get a different job, but that’s not what happens or the person who needs to set a boundary with their parents because they’re constantly feeding their kid stuff they you know, isn’t healthy for the kid or stuff that upsets the kids indigestion or exposes them to news or viewpoints that are not in line with their values and yet you You’re dependent on your parent as your caregiver. So it’s incredibly challenging in some situations, because holding the boundary would mean, revoking a level of support that you may find absolutely necessary for your own well-being. This is the case where I’m like, can you reach out to a therapist and online support group, you know, using open path psychotherapy, nonprofit therapy association, where you can kind of pay us on a sliding scale? Can you get the advice of a lawyer who’s doing some pro bono work? Like where can you get specific support and advice for your specific context, so you understand what the repercussions might be, if you go to HR, if you know, tell your parents that you’re coming off of their insurance plan, you really do need to have a backup and most important, you need to make sure that you are safe when you do set that boundary. Because if the other person is in a position of financial control, physical space control, you want to make sure that you’re safe, and that you have the support that you need from a therapist or some other sort of professional organization before you set it. I don’t have easy answers here, unfortunately.
V Spehar 51:12
Because there’s not one. I mean, sometimes kids will ask me like, hey, V, I want to come out, I want to live my truth. But they’re scared of their parents reaction, and it’s not safe for them to necessarily come out. And so I tell them, like, you know, look, friend, you can tell them you’re gay, you don’t tell them you’re gay, you have to prioritize your safety. And sometimes that means that your situation just is uncomfortable. We’re always looking for like, what am I doing wrong, that I’m uncomfortable? Sometimes it just is uncomfortable? And the answer is that time is what’s going to give you some relief, you know, you’re not any less gay, or any less living your truth. Because you don’t tell your parents or because you don’t come out at your job or whatever. Sometimes it’s just not the right time. And on the other side of this, sometimes you set a boundary and your community or your church or whoever says, Okay, well, yep, we hear you. And see you later pal, like we don’t like that. And we’re not going to respect that. So we’re cutting you loose. And there’s this real fear that if you say what you need, and you demand respect in a certain way, and you tell people who you are as a truth, that they too can make the choice to walk away. And that really hurts. So what do you think?
Melissa Urban 52:26
When I set my first boundary with my friend, group and recovery, I said, you cannot bring drugs into my house, you cannot use drugs in front of me. So if that’s your plan for the night, don’t invite me. Please don’t you know, invite people into your home when I’m there that you don’t know, like, there are a lot of things that I need to protect my own recovery. If you can’t do that we can’t be friends and I lost a lot of friends. And I didn’t blink twice. Because if they cannot do the bare minimum, to keep me safe, I don’t want them in my life. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t grieve, I have lost relationships, I’ve lost friendships, because there was simply an incompatibility with my boundary and the behavior that they were willing or capable of giving. And I grieve for that it sucks to lose someone that you love, it sucks to lose the potential, right? I grieve the potential of what this relationship could have been, and it can’t be. And also, if I am going to take care of my own needs and feelings and comfort, then that might be what has to happen, I am going to do what I need to do to keep myself safe and healthy, and how you choose to respond to that as your business. And I’ve got to be willing to let you walk away if it is truly in my highest good.
V Spehar 53:38
Grieving the potential of a relationship. I’m gonna have to write that one down and really think about that later.
Melissa Urban 53:46
It’s a big one. We think about what it could have been this could have been so good if they had only if we had only if the timing if they could only have just said like, yeah, sure I won’t use in front of you, we could still be best friends and I think grieving the potential is sometimes the hardest, because the real life person is there, that’s concrete, but the potential could be endless. And I know for a long time I told myself stories, you know, really romanticizing like who this person could have been and what they could have been to me and then you look back and you’re like that was never gonna happen, Melissa, but you have to go through the process anyway, you know.
V Spehar 54:33
And, of course, you can’t set a boundary with somebody who’s delusional somebody who refuses to recognize facts or feels like they have ultimate authority over you wants access to all your thoughts and your body and your person in general feels entitled to constant access to you. And we’ll bring on a psychologist, you know, for a future episode who can help us with how we break the cycles of really, really difficult things like domestic abuse or systemic neglect, because those aren’t things that we can really like fix with a boundary.
Melissa Urban 55:02
Yes. I mean, I get questions quite often it’s like I’m, you know, supporting someone who’s active in their addiction or I am supporting someone, my spouse or my partner is bipolar, or they’re, you know, seriously depressed and have suicidal ideation. And one of my personal kind of self-boundaries is that I don’t offer advice in situations in which I feel like I don’t have the experience or, you know, level of education to be helpful. And those all require really specific and personalized support. So yeah, those are challenging as well.
V Spehar 55:35
So now we have set our boundaries. We’ve dealt with our grief in some cases, and it’s time to make space for the good stuff. So I gotta ask, how are you doing these days? Like, how are you?
Melissa Urban 55:46
I am better than I’ve been in a long time. My mental health around just like just before Christmas almost every year like takes a giant nosedive because of seasonal depression and whatever. And this year it hasn’t. I feel so good. And I’m kind of like what have I been doing? Because I want to keep doing it. But honestly, I’m awesome right now, and it feels great.
V Spehar 56:06
What are you finding joy in?
Melissa Urban 56:09
So I mean, I find a lot of joy in my routine, which like maybe to some people sounds so boring, but I’m like old and boring at this point. But you know, I wake up every morning I get in my cold shower, which we could have a whole episode with me talking about the magic of cold showers because I am the biggest advocate.
V Spehar 56:26
Okay, so I do actually want to talk about that if you have some time because I’ve been seeing it all over Tik Tok people are doing like these cold plunges and cold showers. And to me, it looks a little bit scary, but like what does it do for you? What’s the health benefit? How does it make you feel? Tell me about it.
Melissa Urban 56:40
So when I started doing cold showers in 2028, when I had massive seasonal depression, and I was super struggling with my post-concussion symptoms, and I was just like brain foggy and depressed and anxious and whatever. It is the biggest energy and mood boost like naturally occurring, I get into that cold shower, I come out a whole new person. I am energized. I’m happy. I’m excited. But the biggest benefit for me is that being in this cold shower trains your nervous system to handle discomfort. So in the face of this freezing cold water where you want to gasp and shake and tighten up can you force yourself to relax, I sing to Taylor Swift. I sing to Ed Sheeran, I brush my teeth. Sometimes I’ve shaved my legs, I dance around, but this cold shower has done wonders for my mood, my energy and my nervous system. And I’ve been doing them now for going on three years.
V Spehar 57:30
So how do you even get started with this though? Do you do like 30 seconds of cold and then like a minute you work your way up? Or do you just like jump into it?
Melissa Urban 57:38
You can. I am again, a recovering drug addict. So I got in the shower and I stayed in for eight minutes the first time I was like, we’re just gonna go ahead and get as cold as we can and stay for as long as you can. But I have a whole podcast episode called cold showers with Ed Sheeran where I talk about it. But if you want to start off with a warm shower, and then slowly turn it a little bit colder, and then go colder every time spend a little more time in it every time if you want to just go cold turkey and just get into a cold shower, which is what I do now. There are a number of different ways to approach it. But the key is ending on cold and then letting your body rewarm itself up. That’s the key.
V Spehar 58:12
Okay, that makes sense. Now, the other thing that we talked about when building positivity is not comparing ourselves to other folks. And while I am personally very encouraging of using social media, because I live in there, right? Like come visit me anytime under the desk. It’s a very safe space. There is this thing called energy leakage. And that happens a lot when we’re in our phone scrolling away seeing all this content. So tell me what specifically is energy leakage?
Melissa Urban 58:37
Yeah, energy leakage is like when the tasks or the interactions are the conversations you are having are taking more energy than they are restoring and it can very often happen without us even being aware of it. So any kind of interaction is an energetic exchange me talking to you on this podcast is an exchange me looking at old photos of my acts as an exchange me scrolling social media or responding to like a troll comment is an exchange. And very often we can be like leaking energy. It’s not a medical term or a scientific term. But we can be expending energy in areas that we don’t even realize. And then come the end of the day, we’re like, I’m exhausted, I don’t have energy for anything or anybody and I’m just gonna lie in bed and scroll tick tock for two hours because that feels like the easiest thing to do. Social media is a really big area for energetic expenditure. So I’m very conscientious and deliberate about my social media consumption, if you are making me feel less than or bad, or whatever you’re offering right now just like isn’t for me, it’s not about you. It’s about me. I’m going to unfollow you. I don’t care if I know you in real life. I’m going to unfollow and like not apologize. I’m really conscientious about the time that I spent and I’m conscientious about what I share on social media. I don’t overshare I have good boundaries around that. All of that makes social media a very welcoming and positive place for me. But of course I still find myself Mindlessly scrolling sometimes and then I have to look at that behavior and go okay, where’s this coming? And from and what can we do instead? And one
V Spehar 1:00:02
of the things that you do instead that I’ve started doing also is, I think he used to call this like nature church where you just basically go outside. Should you do that alone or go with a group of people? What is it about nature that revives you.
Melissa Urban 1:00:17
I definitely call the mountains my church. It is where I talk to God. It’s where I listen, I get good messages from the universe I refer to like God and the universe and mother nature and my higher consciousness kind of simultaneously, he she, whatever, doesn’t matter. It’s where the quiet in my brain like with the chattering my brain quiets. And so I love encouraging people to get outside, literally anything is hiking, you can go for a walk in your local park, that’s a hike, good job, hiking is walking, essentially, sometimes uphill, sometimes with obstacles, go by yourself, go with a friend go with a meetup group, I offer a lot of tips for people who want to go by themselves, because I find that to be an incredibly restorative and connective thing. But there’s all this science to about green spaces and feel division being far and wide and the benefit of sunlight and moving meditation. I think walking outside, I think walking in general, is like the most underrated form of exercise.
V Spehar 1:01:13
I love a pace, I pace all over my house, I pace outside. But for folks who are maybe less able to get outside, maybe less mobile, you know, couldn’t possibly do a hike or something like that. What’s something that they could do to get their body moving and to enjoy nature?
Melissa Urban 1:01:30
I think about activity, not just am I getting into the gym and working out, but could I stand at my desk for a little while? Could I putter around my kitchen and you know, spend 20 minutes just sort of puttering or organizing that sort of thing. If that movement is not accessible? Can I turn inward? Can I spend some time journaling or re parenting or meditating or manifesting, you know, thinking about my intentions and maybe writing that down? I think the idea of just creating time to check in with myself to ask, How am I feeling? What am I doing? What do I need? And how’s my comfort level right now? What am I feeling anxious about? What could I do to make myself feel better? You know, what do I need in this moment building in small check ins with myself throughout the course of my day is one of my practices that helps me stay really positive. Because I’m always listening to myself and I’m trusting whatever my body is saying to me.
V Spehar 1:02:21
I’m a reflective cleator. Like when I’m upset when I need to work stuff out or I can’t get outside or something I just throw on a podcast. And I clean my house from top to bottom. And maybe try and listen to something positive or encouraging something I can learn from it. What I like about all this stuff is like it’s free. You can get podcasts for free on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. It’s not expensive to start doing some of this like mental health stuff. Some of this like feeling better about yourself stuff and getting stuff done. Tell me about this new thing that is very popular on TikTok lucky girl vibes. It is a trending concept, especially in social media land, where you just say like, I am a lucky girl. Things always work out for me. I embrace the day and I am lucky. How do you approach this? What do you think about lucky girl vibes?
Melissa Urban 1:03:08
I’m talking about this right now with the whole 30 community. So here’s what I like to do. I like to put a little habit research into it. And I like to take advantage of our brains tendency towards confirmation bias. I like to say, Why am I so lucky? Why am I seeing so many unexpected benefits from my whole 30? Why is my mental health better these days? Asking yourself why is like a prompt. And now the brain is going to look for evidence to support that query. Why am I so lucky? Oh my gosh, well, I did get a great parking spot this morning. You might not have noticed that if not for the prompt. I’m into it. I don’t think that that’s toxic positivity. We are not telling ourselves. I’m the prettiest person in the world. I’m the richest person in the world. Like we’re not, you know, telling ourselves stories that we don’t believe we are saying, show me evidence show me evidence that I’m lucky show me evidence that I’m confident show me evidence that I’m succeeding. And then our own brains are finding it for us.
V Spehar 1:04:05
Pivoting slightly. What books are you reading right now?
Melissa Urban 1:04:08
Oh, I’m reading a book right now by Matt Hague. It’s fiction. He wrote the midnight library. It’s called the humans. It’s one of his older ones. But I’m into it. And I’m reading it. But I just did a little like, chat among my substack community where I’m like, what was the best book you read of 2022. So my to read pile is now you know, as tall as the sky. But that’s what I’m going to finish right now is a fiction book by Matt Hague. I’ve read a few by him, and I very much like them.
V Spehar 1:04:34
Well, I have a little fun fact for the listening audience. So Melissa, I don’t know if you know this, but we have a little book club here at Lemonada. And our next book, the very next book that we’re going to be reading together is the book of boundaries. That is our next book, and I’m so hopeful that we’ll be able to join your community and of course, folks listening we’re going to link to all of this in the show notes. So it’ll be very easy to find, and we’re gonna have a lot of fun. I think people are going to be really cute For us about it, you know, having listened to everything that we got into today is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to like what there is to learn and what there is to share with each other. So for folks who are wondering what the next book is going to be, it’s the book of boundaries.
Melissa Urban 1:05:13
I’m honored and I’m so excited and like, tap me if I can help, I would love to oh my gosh, that would be so fun. But yay,
V Spehar 1:05:21
oh my god, I love this. You are just the best on Earth. And I am so truly grateful for our friendship and just for all the ways that you show up in the world. I’m like, so glad to be alive at the same time as you and be able to learn from you and I just appreciate you so much. Thank you for being here.
Melissa Urban 1:05:37
Oh, V. This was so fun. It’s so good to chat with you. Thank you.
V Spehar 1:05:40
Tell folks where they can find you.
Melissa Urban 1:05:42
You can find me at @MelissaU on Instagram. I am on TikTok at @Melissa_U I don’t have the following that V but it is very fun. Again to there. My website is MelissaU.com. I’ve got a subscriber site at MelissaU.substack. So you can find all of my stuff. Basically, Melissa, you everywhere.
V Spehar 1:06:04
Every time I get to chat with Melissa, she makes something in my brain just click and I feel like I have an action step. And I feel like I was in the woods and then sooner be known to me there she was to be like, hey, pal, come on this way, I found us a really nice path. And there’s a cool rock over here I want to show you. So the first thing I’m going to do is unfollow people whose content I don’t like. I’ve got a few people in mind right now that are just other big creators who I followed early on. And now I’m like, it’s such an obligation to keep seeing them on my feed. Sometimes we outgrow a person or a vibe and that’s okay. We just tighten up our circles and we don’t have to be afraid to unfollow. We get to be the leaders in 2023. That said, I sure do hope you keep following us. Be sure to tune into next week’s episode where we’re going to dig into the headlines you care most about please leave me a voicemail. I love hearing from you guys. 612-293-8550, follow me at under the desk news on tick tock Instagram and YouTube. And don’t forget to check out the book club at lemonadabookclub.com. And guess what friends there is more V INTERESTING with Lemonada Premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like me and the journalist Emily Hanford talking about how our very different learning styles showed up in the classroom. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts.
V INTERESTING is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Rachel Neel, Xorje Olivares, Martín Macías, Jr. And Dani Matias. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mixing and Scoring is by Brian Castillo, Johnny Evans and Ivan Kuraev. music is by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by rating and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar and @UnderTheDeskNews, also, @LemonadaMedia. If you want more be interesting, subscribe to Lemonada premium only on Apple podcasts.