Dear Role Model, Share Your Story


Social media does a great job of letting us be connected to people we admire. I’ve been following Melissa Hartwig, the co-creator of the Whole30 program, for over 2 years now. I found her program while living out of Children’s Hospital waiting for my Rosie to have open heart surgery. The program’s no-nonsense way of addressing deeper issues with food resonated with me. The very clear language resonated with me. (“This is in, that is out. No exceptions.”) After I did more digging I realized the reason for the way much of the program is written is because of Melissa’s history of overcoming drug addiction. She has told her story in a few interviews and when I learned about this, it resonated with me on a very deep level.

My family history is filled with substance addiction, but I, myself have personally avoided such issues thanks to some moments when I was scared straight by my momma. I can’t say that I’ve avoided such an unhealthy view of food, though. When I realized that the Whole30 was written in a way that addresses the reality that today’s food issues are much like substance abuse and a

And here we are! She said to me, “Thank you for all you’re doing for our community,” and I truly had to hold back tears because WE WERE ABOUT TO TAKE A DANG PICTURE. I kept it together for the ‘gram, don’t worry.

ddiction, I was sold. It’s just the truth. There is a scientific side of it, such as the creation of specific addictive “mouthfeels” that make our brain react in a scary-addictive way. There is the undeniable affect of sugar on the brain, which makes me truly afraid for the children of our country. The proof also lies in the preventable diseases which are currently rampant and could at least be addressed through diet and lifestyle changes. Food addiction is real and addressing food issues the way we address other addictions is more than appropriate given the state our country is in.

*steps down from soap box*

So when I look at this woman, a role model who has built an empire and a community that is serving millions, I see an actual human being. She has shared her story and allowed us to know some of the most raw and human things about her. It’s easy to focus on the magnitude of her following and influence, to see her workouts on Instagram (which I shamelessly watch daily), to admire her without even knowing her story. But the experience of meeting Melissa Hartwig was much richer for knowing what she has overcome and how closely that is connected to the program that changed my life.

Every role model has a choice to make: stay safely on the pedestal and bask in the admiration of others OR vulnerably share your story of struggle and imperfection. I’ve seen the latter in Melissa and I’m so grateful for it. If you meet a “role model” who won’t come down from the pedestal for the sake of being real to those who admire them, run for the hills and don’t look back.