The face of wellness, Melissa Hartwig Urban, hasn’t always been who she portrays to be now. In last’s week’s issue of people, the founder of Whole30 opens up about her past of sexual abuse and drug addiction and how she was able to pull her self out of a never-ending spiral.
Hartwig grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire, with a father who worked two jobs and a stay at home mother. She describes her life as “very vanilla.” Adding “From the outside, I had everything going for me in terms of financial support, family stability and good grades.”
However, when she turned 16, Harwigs life changed dramatically after a family member sexually assaulted her.
“I was just so empty and so sad,” she described. “I felt so alone and so hopeless. On top of everything, I just felt worthless. I felt like I didn’t have anything good to offer. I felt like something was wrong with me. I felt broken.”
Once she turned 18, she experimented with drugs for the first time and recalled loving the rush it gave her.
“It was so easy,” says, Hartwig Urban. “It just distanced me from me so quickly. It became my object to try as many different drugs as I possibly could.”
Within weeks she was using heroin, cocaine, psychedelics, and pills to numb her pain and began cutting herself. She says, “It was a sense of immediate relief and then crippling depression.”
“I begged for someone to notice how bad it was. And yet I didn’t want to talk to anyone about it or reach out for help.”
After years of out-of-control partying, Hartwig confessed to her self that she needed professional help. “I had friends who were in jail at this point,” she says. “I had friends who had died. That was either going to happen [to me.]”
After attending rehab two times and years of addiction therapy, Hartwig began to find her purpose in 2009. Her love for CrossFit and her Ex-husband allowed her to grow stronger every day. She recalls one day when Dallas Hartwig her ex-husband “proposed cleaning up our diet. I said, ‘Yeah, when do you want to start?’ He said, ‘How about right now?'”
The couple since then built an empire on their dramatic lifestyle change. Now divorced, the two designed a 30-day elimination diet, known now as the Whole30. “My sleep improved, my mood was better, and I had more energy,” says Hartwig Urban, now a mom of a young boy. She explains how after a month of giving up sugar, dairy, and grains, “you reintroduce those foods one day at a time, very carefully, to find out what doesn’t agree with you.”
“I never could’ve predicted it would turn out this way,” Hartwig Urban says. “But I feel like the addiction was setting me up for this path.”
She concludes: “I’m super proud. I’ve come into my own.”
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