As a Métis converted Jew and philosopher, I have a wide knowledge and respect of different faith beliefs or non-beliefs. The pursuit of social justice, meditation and mindful eating retreats feed my spirit.
To keep my mind healthy and happy, I study philosophy, write articles, teach students and conduct research. My favourite: I always make time to take in as many independent and foreign films as I can.
I love to run or use the elliptical (while watching Netflix) for exercise. Massages for indulgence. For fuel, I strive to practise what I preach, listening to my body's needs and wisdom about how to meet those needs.
I had always been a slender and active kid, never giving a second thought to my weight until puberty, when I suddenly realized I became fat. At age 14, I tried various diets. One high fibre and low fat diet worked well for me—so long as I stayed on it.
At age 17, I found a life-changing book called Thin Within. A few months later, I went through some bad experiences with my mum’s boyfriend. I felt unsafe around him, and unheard and unsupported at home. Anxiety and confusion overwhelmed me. My body, unprotected by fat, felt too unsafe. I literally could not stop eating and over the following weeks, my weight climbed from 120 to 180 pounds. When I left home things got easier. I lost much of the weight. But my size still fluctuated based on the love and security I was feeling at any point in my life— until the end of my BA when I discovered women’s studies and the work of emotional eating writer Geneen Roth. Through the interplay of insights, I realized that my struggles personal to me also applied widely to many women. It was simultaneously liberating to not feel alone, and saddening to see the pervasiveness of this social problem. I developed a deep conviction that women’s individual weight would continue to be “an issue” so long as women’s place in the worldly sphere was disregarded. With this direction and inspiration, I ventured to Ireland to complete a Masters of Philosophy at Trinity College in Dublin. My dissertation focused on why women use their bodies to make meaning in their lives and create autonomy in the world.
My conviction endures that the psychological and social cannot be separated if we are to have real change personally and in the world. My passion led me into a PhD in social-political theories of oppression—how they relate to the female body and women’s
positions in the world, and into a larger quest for a practical and philosophical understanding of the psychological, social and spiritual reasons why eating and body are specific issues for women.
In 2011, I revisited Geneen Roth’s work, joining her and 90 others for a five-day retreat in Northern California to explore the practice of mindful eating. Roth’s approach uses meditation, a sense-heightened awareness of food, and awareness of intuitive hunger signals to provide space for the natural creation of new habits and insights, leading to personal emotional connections to food. The sense of calm through this retreat amazed me. For the first time since I was 17, I could see my life without struggle related to food and eating. I felt like I got a part of myself back.
I continue to study with Geneen Roth. My learning and experiences inspire me to share with people who are curious about why they eat when they are not hungry or don’t eat when they are hungry. I ask all people, but especially women, why society continues to have an opinion about our body size (as well as appearance and sexuality)? Questioning more deeply, I wonder what would happen if we embraced our hungers? What if we joyfully fed our physical hunger? What if we listened for what other hungers we’re feeding with food and began fulfilling them as they call out to be fulfilled? It would be revolutionary.
This work creates the stillness to hear our hunger and ourselves. I invite you to join me and countless others who have found calm and success using mindful eating to improve all aspects of their lives. However you want to feel, I can help you. We are not just changing ourselves, we are changing the world to change ourselves.
- PhD candidate at Universität-Potsdam in Berlin, Germany, focused on a feminist critique of the book Dialectic of Enlightenment by Critical Theorists Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno.
- visiting scholar at Department of Philosophy, University of Sydney in Sydney, Australia
- Master of Philosophy (summa cum laude) at Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies
- Bachelor of Arts at University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta with a major in Philosophy and minor in Psychology
- speak English, French and German
- certified in Re-Evaluation Counselling with 20 years of experience
- training in Christopher Public Speaking and Leadership Course
- certification in Divorce Busting
- Mindful Eating retreats twice a year with Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food, and God, since 2011 as well as weekend seminars, support calls and counselling
- Student of author, coach and intuitive healer Sue Dumais and member of her Heart Led Living community
- Master’s dissertation called Dying to Eat: the Legacy of Anorexia in Women’s Struggle for Subjectivity
- Instructor of Philosophy at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta
- Research Coordinator in the area of Aboriginal Health and Wellness for the Faculty of Nursing in affiliation with the Unit for Philosophical Research in Nursing (uPRN) at the University of Alberta
- Program Counsellor at Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland in Vancouver, BC
- published or presented in over two dozen academic journals, conferences and blogs, focused on women’s issues, food and eating issues, abortion and support of the dying
KUDOS FROM CLIENTS
BONNIE, EDMONTON, AB
Unfortunately due to health issues, I have a problem with being underweight, and it’s a problem even more so if I get sick. Your Mindful Meal class at Noorish was so helpful for me. ... With slowing down my eating and eating more consciously (actually being present with the food I am about to eat), I believe my body is absorbing more nutrients. I am also learning to trust food and the process of eating. Thank you again Michelle. It must be a wonderful feeling to know you are truly helping people significantly!
JARED, EDMONTON, AB
Michelle, the gift you have given us far exceeds what I had expected to receive from one [Mindful Meal]. What had started out as a small change to the eating habits, grew considerably into something more. I haven’t stopped thinking about my food now; it’s quite incredible. I couldn’t see myself passing up the opportunity to sign up for your mindful eating course [at Metro]. I think of your powerful teachings at least every other time I go to put food in my mouth. Trust me. It was actually that important, since I had no idea it was going to touch into my pain that vividly. I just expected it to be a class on organics. ...I tend to be so emotional about everything and somehow this mindfulness with food brings with it a certain calm. I am truly grateful that you extend your services out to us. Thank you
ADA, VANCOUVER, BC
I would describe Michelle as very knowledgeable, fun and approachable! She has a curious and inviting way of welcoming conversation and getting deeper into my problems. When I can’t pinpoint my exact concern, Michelle uses her natural ability to gently prompt and ask the right questions. I always find our conversations insightful as I learn to see from a new perspective and hopeful as I usually feel much more optimistic and grounded. I would highly recommend such a competent and encouraging counsellor!
IAN, EDMONTON, AB
Howdy Michelle! This new outlook on food ... will doubtless have a healthy impact on my life! I think what you’re doing is so compelling and super important in today’s crazy world where the simple act of eating can be cheapened. ... You made such a fantastic atmosphere for the class it was easy to ask ... questions. I mention my time with you at Blush Lane often and how awesome you and the experience were. ... It’s so valuable what you do! Thanks so much for providing these opportunities for the community. I wish you the best. Much love, Ian.
"SUSIE", EDMONTON, AB
[Your four-week mindful eating course at Metro] was a life-changing class. There are so many things I learnt about myself that I will keep forever. I can’t stop telling people about this course.
VAL, EDMONTON, AB
Hey Michelle, thank you for the wonderful night [at Noorish]! It was deeply touching. It’s so good for me to free the anxiety and emotions from my past. I have always pushed down the shame I’ve had for my eating behaviours. It was a comfortable environment to be with you and other who have had similar experiences. I’ve developed better eating habits the last few years and have been able to survive. However I have never experienced the slow mindful eating with insight into the associated emotions I have. Thank you for creating a safe place for this Michelle! It was comforting to know that you have been through a similar experience.
ROBERT, EDMONTON, AB
I invited my daughters, ages 22 and 26, to come with me to one of your Mindful Meals. As women, I knew they would find it interesting. And I know they way they eat. I was confident that something in the evening would grab them if they would get over their initial hesitance. To sweeten the deal, I offered to pay and make their dinner for the event. It was a kind of family picnic. As the evening wore on, they really got into it. The next day, my younger daughter called to tell me that she had packed spaghetti for lunch. Usually, she would just eat all of it because she’d brought it. But that day, based on what she’d learned at the mindful meal, she ate based on her hunger, which meant that she didn’t overeat. She proudly shared that it felt great. Something connected with her, and that is really good.