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Podcast 219: Very Special Episode—Going Deep into Giving Up with Whole30’s Melissa Hartwig Urban


Update: If you want information about our upcoming live shows, find information here. Detroit, Milwaukee, we're coming your way! Minneapolis is already sold out.

We've already had so much fun at our live event "Happier Hour with Gretchen and Elizabeth" in New York City. Doing the show together was a great sisterly adventure, and it's such a treat to engage with listeners IRL.

Plus we were able to record this episode together, because Elizabeth was in New York City. We love getting to talk face to face.

Very Special Episode: Because we got so many fascinating responses, we decided to go more deeply into the subject we discussed in episode 214, the Try This at Home to “Give something up for a month.”

Listeners reported giving up so many things: shopping, social media, coffee, alcohol, buying breakfast on the way to work, the snooze alarm, wearing black clothes...terrific ideas!

Also, it turns out that many people give up something different for each month of a year. I love this approach—it reminds me of how I organized The Happiness Project.

Interview: On the subject of giving up something for a month, we talk to Melissa Hartwig Urban, Certified Sports Nutritionist, four-time New York Times bestselling author, and co-creator of the wildly popular, and for many people life-changing, Whole30 program.

Melissa describes the program as "pushing the re-set button with your health, your habits, and your relationship with food"—for 30 days, you give up foods that many people have trouble with. By giving something up for a month, we gain.

For years, I've hoped that Melissa would start a podcast with "The Onward Project"—a collection of podcasts full of concrete, actionable ideas for how to make life happier, healthier, more productive, and more creative, including Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau, and Happier in Hollywood with Liz Craft and Sarah Fain.

Melissa is highly engaged with her community about how to make change actually happen. She has so much to say about the enormous question, "How do we make our lives better?"

And now her podcast is launching! "Do the Thing with Whole30's Melissa Hartwig Urban":

Eating healthier, exercising, setting boundaries, managing your money, recovering from addiction, healing from trauma, eliminating toxic relationships...we all have a thing we've been working on, but despite our best intentions, we just can't make it stick. This new podcast from Melissa Hartwig Urban, Whole30 co-founder and #1 New York Times best-selling author, explores what’s been missing every time you’ve tried to do the thing, so you can finally change the pattern and level up for good.

I was thrilled and honored to do an interview with her for her very first episode. We had a great time talking about the Four Tendencies, habits, happiness, and more. If you don't know your Tendency, take the free quiz here.

When Elizabeth and I started the Happier podcast, Melissa was one of the people I was most eager to interview, and we talked to her in episode 52.

She's an Upholder, by the way.

We were very excited to have Melissa come on the show to share her observations and tips about why and how giving up things for 30 days works so well for so many people. She had so many insights on this approach.

In my book Better Than Before, I discuss some of the possible pitfalls of the thirty-day approach—we have to be careful to think about days 31, 45, and 100, if we want to keep going.

During the conversation, we talk about the distinction between Abstainers and Moderators. Here's a post specifically about how this relates to Whole30. If you've asked the question "Do I really have to start my Whole30 over?" then you might enjoy that post with a lens through the Four Tendencies.

If you want to follow Melissa on Instagram, she's here.

Melissa's Try This at Home suggestion is to clean your kitchen before going to bed. Or any area that feels especially important to you, like an office or children's play area.

Gretchen's Demerit: I keep thinking about giving up hair-twisting for a month, but then not starting. I am a dedicated hair-twister.

Elizabeth's Gold Star: Elizabeth successfully gave up nagging for three days for a family trip. And it made life happier!


  1. Listen to the other podcasts of "The Onward Project." Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Side Hustle School with Chris Guillebeau, and Happier in Hollywood with Liz Craft and Sarah Fain—and now Do the Thing with Melissa Hartwig Urban!
  2. Looking for Mother’s Day gifts? Most of my books make great gifts for mom, and The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal for Mothers is particularly popular. Visit or pick up a copy at your favorite bookstore.  

Join the conversation! I do a live show on Facebook called: “Ask Gretchen Rubin Live.” You can check the schedule.

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