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If you missed part 1 of my meditation experience you can read it here.

No turning back

I’m at the airport waiting to board my flight, savouring my last coffee for 11 days (that’s right no coffee at the retreat) and texting my friends and family looking for reassurance and comfort, “I guess this is it? I’m really doing it. There’s no turning back now!”

I enjoy a glass of white wine on the plane, because obviously I won’t be drinking for 12 days!

I get picked up at the airpot by the very kind Trudie and her son Misha, who I connected with through the Vipassana ride share site. They agreed to pick up and drive three other participants to the retreat centre in Egbert, Ontario near Barrie. People’s generosity amazes me.

On the drive we exchange stories about why we’re doing the course. For three of us it is our first time. The third lady is an “old student” (what they call a returning student) as she completed her first 10-day course the year before. I felt it was a good sign she was going back again.

She says to me, “I guess you are planning to stay for the whole time then since you flew here. You can’t really leave can you!”

I didn’t think leaving was an option. Of course I’m going to do it and stick it out. We had to commit to the 10 days didn’t we?

It was a quick and easy ride from the airport to the centre. About an hour. We pull in and it’s almost time to turn off our phones. I make one final quick call to my husband. “We’re here. This is it. Talk to you in 11 days. I love you.”

This will be the longest we’ve gone without speaking to each other.

We’ve arrived

It’s day 0. Which is all about settling in, registering and getting oriented. We’re assigned our rooms and have some time before the “last supper” to unpack and register.

I say the “last supper” because, even though I read on the website that supper, or “tea” as they called it, was basically fruit and tea, it didn’t register what that actually meant. I was picturing big bowls of yummy fruit salad, maybe some nuts, seeds or granola to go along with it. A little yogurt or simple biscuit perhaps. Maybe even a finger sandwich or two. Those are usually part of “tea” aren’t they?

I’m in the same residence as the “old student” from my ride. Very cool, she can show me the ropes. The dorm rooms are similar to the pictures I viewed on the website. Basic twin bed mattresses on a wooden frame. A decent sized shelving unit, chair, a few hooks on the wall and a couple hangers. The room is divided in two by a sheet hung on a clothesline-type wire. I see a suitcase on the other bed. I wonder who my roommate is?

I sign up for a shower slot (once a day for 20 minutes the bathroom is all mine!), unpack, make up my bed and head over to the dining hall for registration.

There are a few documents to review and return (no reading materials allowed). Then you complete a background form that asks about mental stability, alcohol and drug use and for 5-6 bullet points with the highlights of your life. Finally, you agree to stay for the 10 days and sign off on the precepts to adhere to during the course:

  • To abstain from killing any being
  • To abstain from stealing
  • To abstain from all sexual activity
  • To abstain from telling lies
  • To abstain from all intoxicants

I then hand over my phone and valuables to be locked up for safe keeping. I’ve never been this unplugged before in my life and feel a little sick to my stomach as I turn off my phone and watch the volunteer seal it up in a ziplock bag.

I go back to to my room and meet my roommate. She’s lovely Indian woman in her sixties, who was happily surprised when I said I flew in from Halifax.

“Really you’re from Halifax? My husband tried to get in touch with you about a ride from the airport. But we weren’t officially registered on the ride share board so I don’t think the email got through to you. My sister lives in Halifax.”

Oh how sweet. I feel like it is meant to be. We share stories of why we’re here and our backgrounds. Then a few of us from the residence head out for a little walk before dinner. The returning student shows us the grounds and we loop through the short walking trail.

The gong sounds. It’s time for dinner and I’m hungry. We make our way to the women’s dining hall.

A simple vegetarian buffet is set up. A big pot of lentil soup, cornbread and the fixings for salad. It’s warm, nourishing and satisfying. After the Christmas holiday indulgence, I’m actually ready to switch up my eating for a bit and go vegetarian. However, I’m a little worried about all the carbs and lack of protein. And typically my digestive system doesn’t do so well on beans and legumes. But this is all part of the process right? I am here to fully embrace the experience and my thoughts and thinking around food are all part of it.

After dinner we all gather (about 100-150 men and women) in the women’s dining hall for an orientation delivered by a guy named Bob. There’s no formal introduction but I get a sense he’s more of a facilities manager than a teacher. He gives us a run down on the schedule, the property, do’s and don’ts and a bit of what we can expect.

He answers some questions. Introduces the course managers who are different from the teachers. The managers are the folks we go to with day-to-day, logistical types of issues. Bob explains what will happen next during our first sitting this evening. Once that is over we will be in silence. It’s a helpful, yet light-on-details, overview. I leave with hundreds of questions swirling in my head.

Our first sit – silence has begun

We head over to the meditation hall and wait in the coat room to be called by name, row-by-row into the hall. Men and women are divided. Men on the left side and women on the right. We find our spots which are designated for the duration of the course. There is a large zabuton type cushion that forms the base, then one smaller square cushion on top.

Surprisingly, there’s no instruction on how to sit, proper posture, props or supports. This is up to each person to figure out. There are a few extra supplies (cushions, blankets, kneeling benches) out in the coatroom to use. Many people have brought their own.

After everyone is seated and quiet, the teachers arrive. To be honest things become a little fuzzy at that point. I remember Scott, the male teacher, introducing himself and his wife Karen and explaining that Goenka is the main teacher of the course and they are the assistant teachers. I don’t remember how long we sit for or what else he says.

I do recall having this image of how tranquil, peaceful and calm this scene of 150 people sitting in silence and stillness would look to an observer. But the reality is that on the inside, each one of our minds was likely going absolutely crazy with thoughts, questions, worries, fears and apprehensions.

I could imagine this scene as a cartoon with two pictures – the first picture captioned “here’s what it looks like on the outside” and the second pic being “here’s what’s really going on.”

It felt a little surreal as we left the meditation hall that night in silence. Heads down, no eye contact, inward focus, walking back to our rooms in the dark.

I also remember how good it felt to brush my teeth and crawl into my little bed. I was exhausted. A bit overwhelmed. Anxiously excited. And truly open to what would unfold over the next 10 days.

Stay tuned for Part 3 coming soon.

I’m recently back from a 10-Day Vipassana silent meditation course. It was one of the hardest things I‘ve ever done and one of the most cathartic, profound and valuable.

I shared my experience with a few close friends and family members and decided I should probably write about it – as a way to process the experience and to have it to refer back to. Plus many people have asked me about it, but it’s difficult to explain in a 10 minute conversation.

As I sat down to write, I realized it was not going to be a regular length blog post. In fact, it was going to have to be a series of posts.

Today I share Part 1 – how I came to do the course in the first place and the lead up to it. Part 2 will be some highlights of the actual experience and then Part 3 will recap my takeaways and key learnings.


Vipassana 2018 – Part 1

My 20 year flirtation with meditation

I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time. Probably since I read Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert in 2006. I’ve longed for a chunk of time to sit in contemplation, immerse myself in spiritual teachings, find a community of like-minded individuals, like Gilbert did when she went to India in the Pray section of the book.

In fact, as I re-read that section as I prepared to write this, I had forgotten Gilbert actually tried out Vipassana while she was at the Ashram and shares a bit about the teaching and principles in her book.

For me it wasn’t so much about having a guru, spiritual teacher or being a devotee like Gilbert described. My interest was more about learning a meditation technique and immersing myself in it. Something about the discipline, structure, testing yourself and your mind that really intrigues me. Crazy as it sounds!

I’ve meditated on and off for the last 20 years. Every self-help book and approach I’ve read about to find peace, joy and happiness, suggests meditation as the key path.

As a seeker and an introvert (always in my head), I’ve been looking for the thing that will help settle my active mind and bring me some peace and harmony. I’ve read a ton of books and articles on meditation and truly believe it would be so beneficial for me.

I’ve tried a few different styles or approaches to meditation – Shambhala, mindfulness, Path of Bliss. I’ve read books. Taken classes. Downloaded apps.

And while many of these practices resonated with me, I’d try them for awhile and then stop. Nothing really stuck. I never really made any progress with it. Such a busy active mind. I’d try and sit for 20 minutes a day, but wasn’t seeing any results so I’d give up. I feel like I’ve never given any method a fair trial, or practiced it constantly or long enough to realize the benefits. Intellectually I wholeheartedly believe in it, but experientially, I’d get bored, distracted and give up.

An auspicious gift

Last summer we were on vacation with a couple friends who had attended a few Vipassana courses. They shared their experiences, benefits and a few details about the process. I hadn’t realized there were centres around the world offering the exact same 10-day meditation courses. I was intrigued.

When I returned home I researched the nearest centre and found the Ontario Vipassana Centre, a two-hour plane ride away. I saw dates that could work and marked my calendar for the day the registration opened.

Registration day arrived and I got my application in right away. I heard back a few days later on my birthday that I was in! Was this a birthday gift from the universe? How auspicious to receive word on my special day.

Holy shit! Was I really going to do this?

The dates worked. I had air miles to fly to Toronto. The course is free (they do suggest a donation after the course is complete) so financially I could swing it. After mulling it over and discussing it with my husband, I could see no reason not to do it, so I booked the plane ticket.

With the logistics in place, I had four months to do more research and prepare.

Preparing to go

I had lots of questions: What do I need to do to get ready? Should I be training to sit a certain amount of hours each day? Should I learn and practice the technique in advance? How hard is it going to be?

I read the website many times. Talked to a few more friends and acquaintances who had attended Vipassana courses. Watched videos of people with their top tips for surviving the 10 days.

I learned it is best to approach with an open mind. With no pre-conceived ideas. That there was no real preparation you could do. So I didn’t read too much about the teachings, approach, background or history. I didn’t let anyone’s opinions sway me.

I printed off my packing list which includes what to bring and what not to bring. I purchased a pair of twin sheets for my bed (yes you have to bring your own bedding), bought a new meditation cushion and selected my “simple, modest, loose and comfortable outfits.” Did I even have a pair of non skin-tight yoga pants? Maybe a shopping trip is in order!

The “Do Not Bring” list included books, diaries, journals and other reading/writing materials, smart phones or tablets. That’s right. No reading, writing or listening to anything but your own thoughts for 10 days. Yikes!

Your enrolment has been cancelled

Three days before Christmas and about three weeks before I was due to go, I received an email that my enrolment had been cancelled. I had just woken up, checked my email on my phone and couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the subject line: “Vipassana course: Your enrolment has been cancelled! CANCELLED! WTF!!!

My heart leapt into my throat and I jumped out of bed in a state of utter panic. “What the hell. I have a flight booked. I’ve told everyone I am doing this. No! No! There must be some huge mistake. This can’t be true.”

I ran to my computer. The email said I didn’t confirm my registration. But yes I did. I always follow the rules. I clicked through the confirmation page the day I received the email. I was even taken to the ride share page and have a drive confirmed with a lovely lady in Toronto named Trudie!

I called my husband in tears. He reassured me. Calmed me down, “But the email said they were giving my place to the next person on the waiting list,” I sobbed.

In a series of panicked emails and phone calls to the centre, to registration, to any contact I could find, I explained, “I am coming. I have a flight booked. This must be a technology error. A glitch must have happened with the website. Please hold my spot.”

After a very frantic few hours, I received word that they were not sure what happened, for some unknown reason my confirmation didn’t take, but they would manually add me back in and confirm my place.

What a relief. I felt my cortisol and blood pressure start to normalize. Okay. Everything is back on track. I can resume packing and preparing.

Dealing with the skeptics

To many (maybe even most) people, Vipassana may seem severe, impossible, unfathomable.

In Eat Pray Love, Gilbert describes it as, “The Extreme Sports version of transcendence…it’s physically gruelling too.”

And it is. It’s intense, demanding and arduous. It’s not a spa retreat. It’s hard work. And I was up for it.

I hadn’t challenged myself in a long time. I was in a funk. A rut. A negative downward spiral in my head. I was stuck.

When I read the description on the website, it felt like it was exactly what I needed,

“Vipassana is a way of self-transformation through self-observation. It focuses on the deep interconnection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to the physical sensations that form the life of the body, and that continuously interconnect and condition the life of the mind. It is this observation-based, self-exploratory journey to the common root of mind and body that dissolves mental impurity, resulting in a balanced mind full of love and compassion.”

Not sure who could find fault in this? I mean who could argue with freedom, peace and happiness?

One person in particular could. My mother.

“So you’ve wanted to do this for a long time have you? You have friends who have done this?” she’d question with skepticism.

“Why do you have to go for 10 days? Isn’t there a shorter one?” she’d ask. “Like maybe three days would be better?”

“It sounds like a cult? Are you sure they aren’t scientologists? Sounds like it’s their way or the highway.”

Boy she sure was pushing my buttons and testing my mental impurities. I needed the meditation even more now!

“I don’t think meditation ever killed anyone,” I reassured her.

I know she loves me and was worried. This is unknown territory. Total silence. 10 hours of meditation a day. Rigid rules. Not being able to leave. And not being able to talk to me for 11 days or see my face. It does sound extreme and I’m sure she just couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to put themselves through this.

“So you’re going to go and dwell on your thoughts and think about your problems for 10 days?” she said latching on to me with tears in her eyes as I was leaving for the airport.

“Actually mom, I’m going to do the opposite. The purpose is to NOT think for 10 days.”

And off I went.

Read Part 2

Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Do Instead

I’m sure you are aware there is a bit of an over-emphasis (borderline obsession) with cholesterol, right?

Before we jump into some myths let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

Cholesterol is a molecule, not a substance that sits around in your body like fat around your waist. It’s transported through your bloodstream by carriers made of fat (lipid) and proteins called lipoproteins.

It is actually these carriers, that it is bound to, that are more important that the total amount of cholesterol you have.

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. There are two types of lipoproteins carry cholesterol to and from cells.

  1. HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.
  2. LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).

And yes, it’s even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test

So “cholesterol” isn’t simply cholesterol – it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it’s bound to in your blood and what it’s actually doing there.

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Despite being associated with many health issues, cholesterol is very important to overall health.

It is necessary for your body to produce sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone). It’s involved in making vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun so we can absorb calcium. And it plays a crucial role in making some of the substances we need to digest food, like bile, which helps us absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it’s incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn’t nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most people think that we get cholesterol from the food we eat. But your body actually produces cholesterol. Most of it is made in the liver.

In fact, most cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver called HMG Co-A reductase because that’s where it’s made!

What you eat does affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. For example, after a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn’t need to make as much. But it is not the whole story.

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness there’s a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well. So the goal is not to get your cholesterol levels as low as possible.

While it is more common for people to have high cholesterol levels, there are some dangers if it is too low.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, depression and anxiety.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

Don’t start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

While drugs do help to lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol, they don’t seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.

Guess what does?

Nutrition and exercise, baby!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat a lot of fruits and veggies. And I mean a lot, like up to 10 servings a day. Every day.

Other dietary and lifestyle changes that can help are to exercise, lose weight, stop smoking and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

The bottom line:

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we’re learning more every day. The bottom line is that you may not need to be as afraid of it as you have been. And there’s a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.

This post gives you some great suggestions for getting more veggies into your life.

And here’s a great heart-healthy, creamy salad dressing recipe that will make eating more salads much more enjoyable!

Heart Healthy Ranch Dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 egg
1 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1 tsp dried dill (if you don’t like dill you can add basil)
1/2 tsp sea salt
fresh ground pepper- to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

Instructions: Place all dressing ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.

Drizzle dressing on top of salad and enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for two days due to the raw egg.

Over to you: Would you like to start implementing some dietary and lifestyle interventions to help improve your cholesterol level? Tell us in the comments what your key struggles for making some of these changes are…





All About Cholesterol: Understanding nutrition’s most controversial molecule.

How to raise your HDL cholesterol


Thanks to much of what we hear in the media, cleanses and detoxes have earned a reputation for being unhealthy and even unsafe. When you hear the word “cleanse,” you might immediately think of an all-liquid diet, expensive supplements and short-term deprivation for short-term gains?

The truth is, a cleanse or detox doesn’t have to involve any of the above—and if you cleanse in a healthy, supportive manner, you can achieve lasting results in weight loss, energy gain and full-body health. The most effective part is reducing that often hidden low-grade inflammation that can eventually lead to many of the chronic illnesses we suffer from today.

The following are four myths you may have heard about cleansing. Understandably, these myths may cause you to be hesitant to try one. Keep reading to find out the truth behind these myths and why cleansing might be just what your body is craving.

Myth # 1: You won’t enjoy anything you’re eating while on a cleanse 

While you might have to eliminate certain foods that you enjoy, cleansing isn’t all about eating lettuce with a drizzle of olive oil. There are many delicious recipes that can be prepared using healthy ingredients that not only taste amazing, but nourish and detox your body.

The best part is, many of them don’t involve any fancy ingredients and can be prepared even by a cooking novice. In fact, my cleanse participants always discover new foods and recipes that they absolutely love that become staples in their recipe repertoires even after the cleanse ends.

Myth #2:  You’ll constantly be hungry while cleansing

While you might end up consuming fewer calories while following a detox, you shouldn’t feel deprived or hungry. Going on an extremely low-calorie diet can actually disrupt your hormones and metabolism, making your body less efficient in the long run.

Everyone’s caloric needs are different, so a cleanse should never dictate how many calories you consume. By consuming whole foods that provide you with the right nutrients, you help detox your body while feeling satisfied. My participants are always amazed that they typically don’t feel hungry during my cleanses.

Myth #3:  You need to do an all-liquid cleanse to remove toxins from your body

Liquid-only cleanses have had more than their fair share of popularity. These types of approaches can backfire: Not only do people often gain the weight back as soon as the cleanse ends, but such restrictive eating for several days can be detrimental to your health. An effective cleanse will include a variety of whole foods to help nourish your body and produce long-term results.

Myth #4: Cleanses are just a way for people to make money on expensive supplements

Supplements involved in a cleanse should be just that, a supplementary part of the program, not the primary source of your nutrition. While on a cleanse, you get most of your vitamins and minerals from whole-food sources. Supplements may be recommended to help your body make the most of the nutrients it receives from these foods. For example, by including probiotics in your diet, you help your body produce vitamins, absorb minerals and remove toxins from the body. But supplements should not be the foundation of a healthy whole foods cleanse.

Aside from the benefits discussed above, cleansing is an incredibly effective way to identify if you have any food sensitivities, balance your hormones and establish healthy habits for the long term. And you can start to see results in a relatively short period of time.

Cleansing – My Approach:

My approach to cleansing isn’t about starving your body, fasting, juicing, eating strange food combinations or taking lots of supplements. Instead I believe in taking a short period of time to move away from processed, refined foods and some of the top food allergens to give your body a little break. Working so hard to metabolize all of these potentially damaging foods takes a toll.

When you eat foods that aren’t right for your body, you may feel bloated, sluggish and lethargic. During my 7-Day cleanse you remove foods that cause inflammation in the body and you replenish it with nutrient-dense, health-boosting foods.

Cleansing is NOT a drastic or radical protocol that only health extremists partake in! It’s simply about taking an experiential attitude, doing what feels right for you, letting go of what doesn’t serve your body anymore (emotionally and physically) and rebuilding your health and vitality from the inside out using real whole foods.

I know you can’t transform or revolutionize your health in 7 days, but I also know that in one week you can feel SO MUCH BETTER! After the 7 days, with a few pounds gone and more energy, you’ll feel motivated and inspired to keep going. Consider this a jumpstart into the healthy lifestyle you’ve been longing for.

Are you ready to discover the benefits of healthy cleansing for yourself?

Join me for my annual Resolution Reboot – 7-Days to Reclaim your Vitality!

You’ll receive access to the materials on Saturday, January 6th and we start on Monday, January 8th. Early bird pricing is still in effect.

Welcome 2018 with a fresh and healthy start!

===> Learn more about the Resolution Reboot and register here


P.S. What questions or concerns do you have about participating in a cleanse? Before you try something new, it’s normal to feel hesitant. I want to hear from you. Post your questions in the comments box and I’ll be sure to answer them.

Heads Up – Winter Cleanse is here! Save the date

Thanks for taking a moment out of your busy, hectic day to get a sneak peek of my Resolution Reboot Winter Cleanse.

I know it feels too early to be talking about cleansing in January while you are in the midst of your shopping, baking, organizing, planning and socializing! But it’s December 12th already and the New Year will here before we know it.

I simply want to give you a heads-up that I am offering a 7- Day Whole Foods Cleanse in January so that you can have it on your radar as you enter one of the most fun, indulgent and celebratory times of the year.

Here are the details: 

  • Resolution Reboot New Year Cleanse – January 8-14th
  • 7-day of real whole foods to reboot your body, mind and spirit
  • This is a totally different cleanse from my past Resolution Reboots – I just kept the name
  • Over 30 seasonal winter recipes
  • Receive access to the materials on Saturday, January 6th
  • Early bird pricing in effect – Register by Monday, January 1st and save $50

Click here to read all the details

I’ll be back with more in the coming days and weeks. For now you can rest in the knowing that you’ll have the opportunity to reboot your system and detox from all the holiday indulgences in January. I’ll walk you step-by-step thorough the cleanse process so you can let go of any guilt and remorse at over-indulging this Christmas.

Now go and enjoy your holidays.

With sweetness,



P.S. Do you have anyone in your life who might be worried about gaining a few extra pounds over the holidays and who also might need a little detoxing in the New Year? Feel free to copy and paste this link into an email or a social media post and spread the healthy holiday love. http://cleanse.michelle-maclean.com

Build your love muscle

I’ve been following a meditation teacher for awhile now. His name is Jeff Kober. In addition to being a Vedic meditation teacher, he’s also an actor and played a pretty mean dude on The Walking Dead a few seasons back.

Kober writes these wonderful “Vedic Meditation Thoughts of the Day” and one of his recent posts really stuck with me.

It was called, “Some Thoughts on Love”. In the post he talked about the power and importance of love. That love starts inside and spreads itself outward. That any situation can be upgraded with love. That love is an action. That love comes from the spirit, not from the ego.

He says, “To love, especially at those times when we seem least capable of it, is to build a muscle that will serve us for the rest of our life.”

WOW. Powerful!

Especially the idea that love is a muscle we can build. We can work on this just like we would our quads or biceps at the gym.

What I love most about Kober’s posts is that he doesn’t just share a thought or teaching, but he always offers a practical invitation at the end for how to integrate the idea into your day.

In this post on love, he suggests that when we are faced with a challenging situation to bring our attention into our heart, imagine a glowing ball of energy there and send it to the person or situation and expect nothing in return.

What a beautiful idea – send love to others without them knowing and without expecting anything in return.

After thinking about this idea and discussing it with my husband I started to put it into practice. But before I share what happened, it is important to know a little secret about me.

I have a very well developed inner critic.

She’s pretty vocal. Pretty loud. Pretty convincing. She keeps me playing small a lot of the time. She holds me back. She doesn’t like change but loves the status quo. She’s my ego. And she’s definitely not coming from a place of love.

While she is by far the hardest on me, she also likes to speak her mind when it comes to others. She does this because she wants to keep herself safe and useful.

She shows up in traffic, at the gym, at the grocery store. She likes to compare herself to others. She likes to gossip and point out other people’s flaws. She likes to win and enjoys blaming others. She likes to criticize and judge. And to be honest, she makes me feel pretty awful about myself much of the time.

Well recently, with Kober’s daily thought fresh in my mind, I had the opportunity to choose another way. To start building my love muscle and listening from the voice of love as Kober suggests.

The first thing I did was start to notice how often my inner critic spoke up. Which was pretty much my whole drive into the gym after leaving home a few minutes late and encountering Black Friday traffic, an accident and limited parking.

My inner critic was in high gear. Bitching about other drivers, berating myself for leaving too late, and complaining about not being able to find a parking spot. I’m sure you can relate to this familiar scenario.

Given that my inner critic was on an internal rampage, when I got to the gym, she just kept going. I was rushing and worrying about being late, comparing myself to others, judging how fellow gym goers were working out, criticizing the instructor. It kept escalating and I was working myself into a critical judging frenzy!

And then, in the midst of a series of squats, I stopped. I noticed what was happening. I took a breath. Paused. And I remembered Kober’s suggestion. Find the love. And then send the love.

I connected to my body and my breath. I became grateful for the entire situation. I started to send love to each person in the room. In my mind I thanked them all for their energy and wished them positive, successful workouts.

And in a matter of seconds it all turned around. The negativity was gone. The critic was gone. All that remained was the voice of love. It felt really amazing to send that love to my gym mates without them even knowing.

I practiced this the whole way home. Sending love to other drivers. Noticing and being grateful for the beautiful sky, the warm sun, the birds, the songs that came on the radio. And my whole day was different. It was more positive, more grounded, more loving. I felt a sense of peace, joy and happiness.

Since then I’ve noticed whenever I start to get a little triggered and feel that inner critic start to rear her ugly head, I pause, breathe and move into that place of love. I send love to whoever or whatever is the object of my criticism, and it really does work.

In fact, every time I’ve done this over the last few days an amazing thing happened. I’ve been inspired by a great idea – for either a blog post, service offering, connection to be made with a friend, something I wanted to do for myself. How cool is that? A great idea popped in just after I started to send love.

And one of those ideas was to write this blog post. To share what my experience has been. To give you perhaps a new tool to use. To hopefully inspire you to make a different choice. This practice can work in practically any situation. And it can also work toward ourselves as well.

Whenever you find yourself in a place where you are criticizing yourself or someone else, I invite you to tap into that place of love within you and send it either to yourself or to another person or situation.

It’s a simple strategy with a powerful outcome. And it’s a practice. Just like working those abs. It takes awareness, consistency and determination.

Start building that love muscle and see how strong, empowering and freeing it can be.

Over to you. Do you have an inner critic that needs a little taming? Would you like to tap into this voice of love more often? Have you ever tried something like this? I’d love to hear if any of this resonates with you in the comments…

The fall of the year is a great time to get into the kitchen. If you love cooking, nothing is more grounding, comforting and enjoyable than nourishing yourself and your family with soups, stews, roasts, hearty root veggies and an array of baked goods with apples and pears. Can’t you just smell that sweet apple crisp baking in the oven?

But I also hear from many of my clients who don’t like to cook, that it can feel like a chore, take too much time and can get boring cooking the same meals over and over again.

We all get in food and cooking ruts from time to time.

Like when you find yourself microwaving frozen lunches, eating leftovers from that Sunday chicken for the past week, or wolfing down that drive-thru sub on the way to book club.

If this is you, I have some tips to help make it more fun. Here are my best “fun” cooking tips:

Fun Cooking Tip #1 – Check out new recipes

I just love pouring a hot cup of tea and sitting down with a stack of cookbooks to leaf through. Sometimes just seeing the beautiful food photos and reading the recipe can spark some inspiration and new ideas.

Especially as the seasons turn, I like to get reacquainted with the flavours and what mother nature is offering us at that time of year.

If you aren’t a big cookbook collector like me, you can easily search online by looking up your favourite nutritionists, chefs, bakers, and other online foodies. Maybe do a quick search on Google or Pinterest to see thousands of new ideas.

Check out this Pinterest board I put together with a few fall inspired low carb recipes.

Pro Tip: Searching through recipes can be so fun and inspiring and can also end up taking waaaay longer than planned. So consider setting your timer when you start browsing. The last thing you want is to take too much time looking, that you don’t leave enough time for cooking.

Fun Cooking Tip #2 – Make grocery shopping fun and inspiring

To be honest, food shopping is one of me and Mike’s favourite things to do. (He’s my hubby) 🙂 Yup we are food nerds!

If you’ve been following me for awhile you’ll know that we go to our local Farmers’ Markets every Saturday and try to get as much as we can from our local farmers and producers.

My suggestion is that after you’ve come up with a few new recipes, make your grocery list and head out to get the ingredients you need.

And don’t limit your new ideas to those recipes, you can also be inspired while you’re at the grocery store, Farmer’s Market, gourmet deli, or health food store.

Check out what’s in season or new this week. Browse around the produce section to see what strikes your fancy. Is there a seasonal fruit or vegetable you haven’t had for awhile? What about a childhood favourite? Did you come across something totally delicious at a restaurant or get-together lately that you can find the ingredients for?

Be adventurous and have some fun. Once you have these new ingredients you can go back to tip #1 to find new and inspiring recipes when you get home.

Fun Cooking Tip #3 – Keep it simple!

To be honest, my husband Mike is more the gourmet cook in our relationship. He loves to find complicated recipes with exotic ingredients, uncommon cooking techniques and many many steps. He’ll spend days working up a recipe.

I on the other hand am a good cook, but it’s simple. I rarely follow a recipe, like one pot meals and have a knack for looking at the ingredients in the fridge and conjuring up quick, tasty meals.

I spent many years waitressing while going through university and think I developed a pretty good instinct of what ingredients work together, have a decent amount of creativity and imagination, fairly solid cooking techniques and a good understanding of flavour pairings and seasonings.

But it has to be simple.

A few ways to keep things simple are to:

  • Search for recipes with 10 or fewer ingredients
  • Make sure you are familiar with most of the ingredients
  • Look for short directions or instructions – five or less is good
  • Search for recipes that can be made in one pot or pan
  • Buy ingredients that are ready to cook with (pre-washed salad greens, pre-cut veggies)
  • Have your fridge and pantry well stocked with the staples so you can throw together a quick meal

Fun Cooking Tip #4. Put on some music and invite someone to join you

Most Sunday afternoons you’ll find Mike and I in the kitchen. We’ve got the music on, each with our separate tasks, chopping boards ready and knives in hand. Pots are simmering, oven is producing heavenly smells and we are in our glory. Laughing, joking, singing and having a great time.

My girlfriend had a wonderful idea to get her kids interested in cooking. She took them to the bookstore where they each selected a cookbook. Once a week they pick a new recipe to try. They head out to the local grocer together to buy their ingredients and then it’s home to prepare their meals. They are excited and learning about cooking, where their food comes from and great skills. And it works because it starts with them and their ideas.

Maybe you and your girlfriend get together once a month to make big batches of soups, stews, sauces, healthy baked goods, etc. You share the time together catching up and you’re doing something productive and healthy. At the end of the day you have a freezer stocked for a few weeks. Isn’t this a much better idea than sitting around with a bottle of wine and a bag of potato chips? (Well let’s face it that has it’s place as well!)

Fun Cooking Tip #5 – If none of the other tips work for you, invest in some kitchen swag!

Nothing gets us excited about being in the kitchen more than new kitchen gadgets, appliances or utensils.

One of our favourite places to shop are kitchen stores. If you are anything like Mike and I you can spend hours browsing, perusing and dreaming in kitchen stores.

Having proper kitchen tools makes cooking so much easier, faster and enjoyable.

When’s the last time you sharpened your (or bought yourself a new) knife? Could dicing carrots with a dull knife be draining the fun from cooking? Or is blending a smoothie with a crummy blender, leaving it too chunky to enjoy?

While you could spend multiple fortunes stocking up your kitchen, even a cheap cutting board, new place mats or veggie peeler can bring the fun back.

What new kitchen item would inspire you to get back to cooking?


You know that home cooking is key to healthy eating. And, while you do a pretty good job most of the time, it can get boring and tedious. I get it.

I hope that my fun cooking tips have inspired you to get back into the kitchen so you can nourish yourself and your family, not only with good food, but with a fun healthy activity that can bring you closer together. It’s a win win all around.

Try one (or all) of my fun cooking tips to inspire you. You already know your health will thank you.

Recipe (simple and fun): Sheet Pan Eggs

This recipes is not only simple but it’ll give you a week’s worth of breakfasts so you can use your morning time in some other fun way!

Servings = 8

  • 12 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups of your favourite chopped veggies – onions, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, pre-cooked sweet potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground back paper
  • Optional – 1/2 cup chopped pre-cooked bacon, sausage, ground beef or turkey


  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Grease a 10 x 15 rimmed baking sheet with coconut oil.
  • In a large bowl crack all the eggs and whisk until frothy.
  • Add in the veggies, seasonings and meat if using. Mix together.
  • Pour egg mixture onto baking sheet.
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes until set.
  • I switched over to the broiler for the last 5 minutes to really firm up the eggs.

Cut the eggs into 8 portions and store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat in the oven or even enjoy cold.

Pro Tip: Feel free to get creative with these. Make a Mexican version with peppers, onions, leftover chicken, salsa and taco seasoning. Try an Italian flare with onions, tomatoes, zucchini, sausage and fresh basil. Go Greek with peppers, olives, red onion and oregano and a bit of feta.

Have fun with this!

Check out the pictures I posted of my sheet pan eggs in this post on Well Nourished with Michelle. We’d love to see your pictures and hear what combinations you are going to try.

Ketogenic Diet 101

The ketogenic diet is a very low carb, very high-fat diet.

It has recently gained a lot of popularity in wellness circles because of some of its health benefits.

A ketogenic diet has been shown to help some people lose weight (yes, even with high fat). It can also help improve certain health conditions, like epilepsy in children. In fact, the ketogenic diet originated as a treatment for epilepsy.

Read on for some of the lowdown on keto how it reprograms your metabolism and whether or not it’s something for you to consider.

What is “ketosis?”

Carbs (sugars and starches) are what our bodies (brain and muscles) use for fuel. Sugars and starches break down into glucose and this is what the body uses for energy.

It’s a little known fact that the body actually prefers to use fat as fuel. But for most of us there is usually so much glucose to use up that the body never switches over to burning fat.

However, when very low amounts of carbs are available for fuel, your body will start to burn fat. It does this by making compounds known as “ketones.” These are your body’s “backup fuel.”

Ketogenic literally means “the generation of ketones.”

Over time if you minimize carbohydrates, ketone production will increase. This is a metabolic state known as “nutritional ketosis.” It’s the same process that your body goes through if you’ve fasted for 72 hours and have deleted your carb stores. When little or no carbs are present the body will turn fat into ketones.

This is a natural adaptation that gives the body the ability to maintain a stable state of
balanced fuel for your organs. Nutritional ketosis is a beneficial process.

“Ketosis” is not the same thing as the dangerous condition known as “ketoacidosis.” This occurs mostly in Type 1 diabetics or late stage type 2 diabetics with advanced pancreatic burnout.

Ketogenic diet for weight loss

With a high fat intake, it may be surprising to know studies show that a ketogenic diet is effective for weight loss.

But it’s true!

It can also have better results than low-fat diets. At least one study showed that people lost 2.2 times more weight on a ketogenic diet than those on low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.

How is this possible?

Eating all that fat and protein is filling! It helps release satiety hormones that tell us that we’re full and satisfied, and we don’t need to eat anymore. Many people don’t need to count calories or track food intake, as they do with low-fat or calorie-controlled diets.

So, by eating enough fat and protein to go into “ketosis,” you can actually feel fuller and eat less food overall. Of course, this can help with weight loss.

Ketogenic diet for improved health

Some studies show other health benefits of the ketogenic diet.

As you can imagine, having very low levels of carbs can help reduce blood sugar and insulin issues.

One study showed improved blood triglycerides (fat) and cholesterol numbers. Others show lower blood sugar levels, and even up to 75% improvement in insulin sensitivity.

Several studies show reduced seizures in children who follow a ketogenic diet.

There is also some evidence that a ketogenic diet can be beneficial in lowering risk, even preventing and treating, some types of cancers.

And it could be viewed that eating a ketogenic diet which eliminates sugars and processed refined foods is anti-inflammatory and therefore beneficial for other chronic illnesses.

What exactly is a ketogenic diet?

The ketogenic diet involves getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 20-35% from protein, and just 5% from carbs.

The foods to focus on for a ketogenic diet are meat, poultry, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, avocados, and low-carb vegetables (cucumber, celery, peppers, zucchini, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower etc.)

The main thing to avoid are foods that are high in carbs. These include highly refined sugary foods and desserts, grains, fruit, legumes, starchy vegetables, alcohol and “diet foods.”

Should I try a ketogenic diet?

Not everyone should go on a ketogenic diet. Make sure you speak with a trained healthcare practitioner before you try it.

You should expect to go through a transition period where you could experience some side effects as you move from burning glucose to fat.

Some people experience flu like symptoms called the “keto flu.” Including symptoms such as digestive upset, bad breath, fatigue, frequent urination and constipation. But if you stick with it, these symptoms should pass.

Many people also find it quite restrictive and are unable to stay on it for a long time.

A ketogenic diet might NOT be right for you if you have issues with gallbladder, kidney stones or pancreas, if breastfeeding, pregnant or have a history of disordered eating.


The ketogenic diet is very popular these days. While it has been shown to have some benefits for weight loss, it is my personal opinion that it should be reserved as a therapeutic diet for specific health conditions.

It has been used since the 1920 as a therapeutic intervention for diseases like epilepsy, obesity, diabetes, neurological disorders, cancer and many other pathological diseases.

It’s now going mainstream, but it’s not for everyone. I truly believe that it all depends on your health goal and the current state of your health and any conditions you are dealign with. You’ll want to consider these before jumping on the bandwagon.

As with any dietary changes I always recommend listening to your body and trying things out with an experimental mindset.

There are definitely some insider tricks and tips for doing keto the right way. Before you embark on a keto diet you do your research and find a knowledgeable practitioner who can guide you through it.

Recipe (Ketogenic): Frozen Coconut Macadamia Bark


1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut (shredded works too but I like the bigger flakes)
1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted macadamia nuts
3/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 tablespoon chia seeds – black or white
Pinch of sea salt


Place the flaked coconut in a skillet on the stove top, heat to medium high and stir it constantly until it lightly browns. Process the macadamia nuts and coconut oil in a food processor until very smooth. Add the coconut flakes and chia seeds and pulse a few times. Pour the batter onto a small baking sheet with a lip. Sprinkle the sea salt over top. Freeze for about 1 hour. When ready break the bark into chunks and enjoy straight out of the freezer.

Tip: These are (high fat) and super rich. Don’t eat too many!

Are you on the fence about signing up for my 7-Day Fall Cleanse?

Maybe you’re ready for a change, but perhaps it feels a bit scary to jump into something new when you don’t know what to expect?

And, if you’re like me and you’ve tried lots of different diets, you may be wondering if this is just “another” plan that will leave you feeling hungry and deprived…

That’s why I want to give you an inside peek at what’s on the menu of my brand new Restore. Reset. Replenish. 7-Day Fall Cleanse.  

Here’s a sample day on the cleanse:

Breakfast: Pomegranate Buckwheat Breakfast Bowl
Lunch: Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Snack: Green Apples with Almond Butter and Cinnamon
Dinner: Fall Vegetable Curry
Treat: Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Sounds more like a spa vacation than a cleanse, doesn’t it?

>>> Want to get these recipes plus 30 more? Early bird pricing ends tonight. Register now. 

I’m a foodie, so it was important to me that the meals in this cleanse were not JUST healthy, but also DELICIOUS and SATISFYING.

These brand new recipes have all been designed with the fall harvest in mind. They are seasonal, warming and comforting foods that will nourish you from the inside out.

Not only taste great, but they’re easy to make and provide the nutrient necessary to restore, reset and replenish your body.

For just 7 days we remove processed refined foods, the top food allergens and inflammatory foods and nourish our bodies with alkalizing, plant-based, real whole foods as nature intended them.

Don’t have lots of time to cook? No problem. I’ll share time saving tips – as well as strategies for eating out while on the cleanse.

I’ll be here to guide you and support you every step of the way!

Ready to join us? Our kick off conference call happens tomorrow night, you’ll have the weekend to prepare and we start Monday morning. 

>>> Register Now! (Early Bird Pricing Ends tonight at Midnight)

I look forward to seeing you in the cleanse.


P.S. Have questions? I’m here to help you decide if this is right for you. Simply reply to this email and ask away. I’ll get back to you asap. And remember save $50 if you register by midnight tonight. We have our kick off conference call tomorrow night. You’ll have the weekend to prepare and we start Monday morning.

Small Change, Big Gain

One of my core philosophies when it comes to making dietary and lifestyle change, is to start with the baby steps.

It’s all about starting small. Implementing even the tiniest movement toward your goal can help you gain momentum, feel successful and have the desire to keep going. If you tried to tackle a huge action step first off, and you weren’t successful, you might feel frustrated, disappointed and eventually give up.

So start with the baby steps. Add some more dark leafy greens into your day. Switch from soda to sparkling water. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier. Eliminate one sugary item from your diet. Meditate for five minutes. Try a run/walk activity.

As you gain momentum over time, these small shifts will lead to bigger gains in your overall health and wellness. They truly are worth it.

I was recently featured in an infographic produced by Elysium Health entitled, Small Change Big Gain. It aligns with my approach so I was happy to provide a comment to be included in the piece.

The infographic focusses on metabolism and identifies challenges and obstacles to a healthy metabolism and offers small suggestions for making improvements.

Check out the infographic below. And feel free to share on your social media pages. Elysium also wrote a great blog about Metabolism that I thought you might be interested in reading. Check it out.