Top Books of 2019 (so far) & How to Read More

This year I set out with the goal of reading 30 books. It seemed like a reasonable number, seeing how I managed 32 last year. Somehow, I got on a roll and eclipsed the 30 mark yesterday, exactly halfway through the year. The coveted 52 books in 52 weeks is within reach! But first, here are my top from the first half of 2019:

5. Essentialism by Greg McKeown

This book is exactly what the subtitle says “The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.” A book on minimalism, it stays true to its theme and provides excellent advice in a succinct manner.

4. What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney

If you’ve heard of Wim Hof, you’ll love this book. If you haven’t, you absolutely must read it. A writer’s  quest to dispel the “Iceman” ends with an attempt to climb Kilimanjaro with him… I won’t spoil the rest.

3. Beartown by Fredrik Backman

I don’t read a ton of fiction, but this one was recommended by several people and did not disappoint. Backman’s writing style is incredibly captivating; as he tells a story of a hockey town in Sweden.

2. Educated by Tara Westover

This book has received a lot of critical acclaim and rightfully so. It’s non-fiction, but certainly doesn’t feel like a true story. Tara Westover’s own memoir of being raised as a fundamentalist Mormon survivalist (it’s a real thing) and defying all odds to succeed beyond measure.

1. Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese

This historical fiction novel is disturbing, but powerful. Set in 1950s Ontario it’s a dark reveal of Canada’s past and the awful residential schools. The young protagonist finds hope and salvation in the sport of hockey, but ultimately cannot escape his past.

Honourable Mentions

Atomic Habits by James Clear
Love & Courage by Jagmeet Singh
Conspiracy by Ryan Holiday
The Art of Stillness by Pico Iyer
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins – must be audiobook!

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THREE Tips for Reading More
1. Schedule It In

If you don’t schedule it in, other activities will push it aside. I aim for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes before bed. Obviously I don’t hit those every day, but I’m more likely to if it’s in my calendar. Another tip I learned and practice is to bring a book everywhere. It sounds odd, but you’d be amazed at how much dead time there is throughout the day when you’re waiting aimlessly for a meeting or an appointment. Instead of clicking away on the phone, why not crush a chapter of a good book?

2. No TV Shows

This one is always met with opposition, but nowadays everything is fighting for your attention. TV shows are designed to grab you and keep you hooked. It’s difficult to fit both in your leisure time, forcing you to ask yourself: which one do I get more out of? Nothing wrong with the odd TV season binge here and there–I’m personally guilty of crushing Season 8 of Thrones in one glorious weekend–but if you want reading to be your ritual then I recommend axing the TV shows.

3. Get a Library Card

A library card allows you to get unlimited books. Why is this important? A book should completely grab you, if it doesn’t then it’s not the right time to read it. I have 4 library cards for different regions and 5-10 books at my disposal at all times. I try to not read more than 2 books at once, but this allows me to always have several different books at the ready; because you never know what you’ll be feeling when it’s time to grab the next read!


The Sleep Lab

The Sleep Lab is the room that used to be my bedroom.

I know what you’re thinking: how did I convince my girlfriend to turn our bedroom into a pitch black, temperature controlled room, devoid of all sensory stimuli and optimized for recovery?

The key selling point was calling the room “The Love Lab.” 

For all intents and purposes, this said room will be referred to as the Sleep Lab. Its inspiration came in many forms, with the greatest being my ever growing fascination with sleep; the one single activity that we spend 1/3 of our lives doing.

My findings on sleep & recovery are distilled into THREE sections, with much of the content either taken from or inspired by the book Sleep by Nick Littlehales, an incredibly enlightening read.

I. What’s Your Chronotype?

II. The Myth of 8 Hours

III. Build Your own Sleep (Love) Lab


I. What’s Your Chronotype?

First of all, what is a chronotype?

A person’s chronotype is the propensity for the individual to sleep at a particular time during a 24-hour period.

In plain English: it determines your most energetic (and productive) time of day. There are morning people, there are night people and there are in betweeners. In Littlehales’ book, he cites chronotype being so important that Real Madrid had their players take the test and would factor it in when it came to penalty kicks and who they would choose, depending on whether it was a morning, afternoon, or evening match. Wild.

Unfortunately the leading quiz, the Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (MCTQ) is being moved by its creators on the web, so the other two I recommend are:

Chronotype Quiz by Michael Breus: What’s Your Chronotype

Additional info on your sleep-wake cycle: Horne-Ostberg Morning-Eveningness Questionnaire

I took both, but you really only need the first one for your chronotype. It asks for an e-mail and provides a video at the end, the following are the “animals” or chronotypes, which make characterization easy. Most people are “Bears,” fittingly I was too.

Taken from Breus’ website:

Which sleep chronotype describes you?


Most people fall into the bear chronotype category. Bears’ sleep-wake patterns follow the sun, and they have no difficulty sleeping. Bears are most ready for intense tasks smack in the middle of the morning, and they feel a dip in the mid-afternoon.
Overall, bears have steady energy and get things done. They can maintain productivity all day as long as they don’t try to push past the mid-afternoon recharge period. Bears tend to be friendly people-people.


Lions wake up early. These are the go-getters, the leaders, the type-A movers and shakers. They might not reach for a cup of coffee until a little before lunch, and their most productive hours have already passed by that time. Because of their action-packed mornings, they tend to fizzle out in the evening and turn in early.


Wolves are on the nocturnal end of the spectrum. They get a later start to their day and ride the productivity wave while the rest of the world winds down. Interestingly, wolves have two peak periods: from noon to 2 pm and again just as most of the working world is clocking out.
Wolves tend to be makers — writers, artists, coders. The creative areas of the wolf’s brain light up when the sun goes down. More often than not, wolf types tend toward introversion and crave their alone time.
The wolf chronotype schedules later meetings and invites you to dinner just past the restaurant’s dinner rush.


Dolphins may or may not have a regular sleep routine. As light sleepers, they frequently wake throughout the night and often do not sleep enough. Dolphins struggle to fall asleep, ruminating over the day’s failures.
Dolphins’ extreme intelligence and tendency toward perfectionism probably explain why they spend so much time chewing over the day. They do their best work from mid-morning through early afternoon.


In summary, knowing how your body is wired will allow you to work with it, instead of against it. I try and get all my hard tasks done when I’m at my best; mid morning from 8am until 11am. I use afternoons for meetings and planning.


II. The Myth of 8 Hours

This was perhaps the single biggest takeaway for me from Littlehales’ book.

According the Littlehales, we do NOT sleep in a full 8 hour shift, but rather, 90 minute cycles. The question should not be how many hours did I sleep, but rather, how many cycles did I get last night?

Here is an example of an athlete with a 7:30am wake time:


There are a few key elements to this:

  1. Your wake time is the anchor

    You can vary the time you go to bed, but try as hard as you can to keep the wake time constant. There are studies behind this, your body prepares itself for wakeup by secreting hormones, but only if you keep it consistent. This is why when you’re in a good routine you don’t even need an alarm clock, you’re up at the same time feeling relatively alert, even on weekends. Which, by the way, you should be doing on weekends, even if it’s a late night, more on that later.

  2. 5 cycles is ideal, 4 cycles is sufficient 

    Simple. Get to bed at midnight for 5 cycles, if something pushes your evening back, then wind down and go to sleep at 1:30am, to ensure you don’t wake up mid-cycle when you arise at 7:30am.

  3. 90 minutes Pre-Sleep is essential to the quality of your sleep

    I cannot express the importance of this enough. I used to try and rush to sleep to get my 8 hours, sometimes it would result in anxiety and often poor quality sleep as I tossed and turned feeling guilty every time I woke up. Since I wake at 6am, my sleep time is 10:30pm. That means at 9:00pm I’m winding down. Electronics away (yes, phones), usually doing some reading or something relaxing. The best part? This provides flexibility for real life. I play a lot of evening sports, often not getting home until past 10pm. Instead of rushing to bed, I just move my sleep time back a cycle, accept that I’ll only be getting 4 cycles with a midnight bed time, sip tea and decompress. It’s changed my life, no joke.

  4. 90 minutes Post-Sleep is essential to the performance of your day

    I am not a morning person, which is actually why I wake up earlier than needed and dedicate 90 minutes to a relaxing morning ritual. Much to the dismay of my partner, my (our) alarm goes off at 6am; providing a full 90 minutes to meditate, journal, read, shower, and have a breakfast shake. All of this before heading out the door for my 8am start time at the office.

  5. Think Big Picture

    It’s important to strive for a weekly total of 35 cycles a week (5 cycles per night for 7 nights). If you get 30, that’s still pretty good, life happens. There are ways to hack this, they are called naps. Yes, the things you did as a toddler are actually incredibly effective. Littlehales’ strongly advocates waking at the same time on weekends and incorporating a mid-day 90 minute nap; “It’s far better to do this than to try and go back to sleep in the morning. You’ll be in a better place for starting the week again.”

III. Build Your own Sleep (Love) Lab

So how do you construct your own recovery room?

It’s actually not as complicated as you think.

1. Darkness

Total darkness, like a cave. Blackout blinds are ideal, however I currently use a sleep mask. I’ve tried out several different models, this is by far the best (100% worth the price, even if just for travel): Manta Sleep Mask.

2. Remove Stimuli

No computers, no tvs, and especially no phones. My partner and I charge our phones in the living room and use a Phillips Daylight Alarm Clock, which emulates the rising sun and gradually wakes you with light and some radio music. I also moved my bookshelf into the living room and our desk into another room.

3. Temperature

The ideal temperature is between 15-20 degrees celsius; some experts peg it as an exact 18.5 degrees celsius. Decently cold, if you have a/c and a thermostat, I’d recommend it. If you don’t, just open the window in the cooler months a few hours before bed time.



Sleep by Nick Littlehales

Manta Sleep Mask

Phillips Daylight Alarm Clock




Eating for Taste & Health

To preface things, I’m not a doctor, nutritionist, or a dietician.

I’m just a guy who enjoys eating well. What started out as a realization that if I ate more, I could gain weight (something I still struggle to do), has since involved into a near fascination with how food can impact everything about us. Not just weight gain and loss; but also athletic performance, energy levels, mental stamina, and ultimately happiness. I’ve gone on both sides of the spectrum: fast food every day for gluttonous calories, but consequent lethargy; as well as raw Vitamixing for great nutritional profile, but consequent dread of liquid meals that look and taste like cement.

I’ve found a nice middle ground where I eat for both taste and health and I’m starting to find that sweet spot of great tasting food and feeling awesome. Below is the “prototypical day,” but it’s more like the ideal day I shoot for. Do I hit it all the time? Not a chance. Real life happens: sports, social dinners, working late, vacation, etc. The worst thing you can do is stress about missing a scheduled meal (something I am guilty of). At the end of the day, this is a plan that I make for some semblance of direction and it helps keep me on track. It may or may not work for you, but I thought I’d share, in the hopes that at very least it inspires you to eat well…and don’t forget to allocate days where you can just cut loose–everybody needs a cheat day…or 7.

Prototypical Day

6am – wake-up and drink 800mL of water (the size of my Kleen Kanteen)

Morning supplement stack:
Vitamin D drops (2000iu)
Probiotic (either Align or Genuine Health)

7:30 am – Morning Shake* (in Vitamix)

Morning beverages:
2 cups of tea (green,  black, or yerba mate)
800mL of water

10:30am – midday snake
2 hardboiled eggs
1 jar of overnight oats*

12:00pm – Gym (moving is winning)

1:00pm – Lunch
1lb of organic ground beef (with fat)
1/2 cup of quinoa
1 cup of diced vegetables (peas, green peppers, garlic, jalapeno pepper)
All ingredients cooked in a stir fry
1 whole avocado and some cilantro on top

Afternoon beverages:
800mL of water
800mL of cold brewed green tea (big on this right now, simply steep green tea in the fridge in an infuser for 6 – 12 hours)

Afternoon snacks:
1 Lara Bar
1/2 cup of macadamia nuts
1 vegan fermented protein bar

4:00pm – Vegetable Juice*

7:00pm – Dinner
1 chicken breast (cooked in avocado oil, lemon, garlic, and pepper)
1 yam
1 cup of steamed broccoli

9:00pm – Pre-Bed shake (on heavy training days)
1/2 cup of pumpkin seeds
1 tbsp of turmeric
1/4 cup of almonds
2 tbsp of coconut oil
2 cups of coconut milk

Pre-bed stack:
Magnesium Glycinate (easy on the gut)
Fish Oils
L-Theanine (if needed)



I use My Fitness Pal once a month, the beauty of eating generally the same thing

Ideal Daily Calories: 4,443

Ideal Daily Water Intake: 3500mL

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Daily Recipes

Morning Shakes (best if made in a Vitamix or high-powered blender)


Strawberry Cream

  • 1 banana
  • 5 strawberries
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein (grass fed)
  • 1 scoop of Genuine Health Greens+
  • 1 tbsp flaxseed
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 1 cup of kale
  • 2 cups of coconut milk


Pineapple Ginger

  • 1 banana
  • 2 cubes of ginger
  • 1/2 cup of pineapple
  • 1 scoop of vanilla vegan protein
  • 1 scoop of Genuine Health Greens+
  • 2 tbsp of hemp seed
  • 1/4 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 cups of coconut milk


Blueberry Muffin

  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup of blueberries
  • 1 scoop of vanilla whey protein
  • 1 scoop of Genuine Health Greens+
  • 2 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/3 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup of mixed greens
  • 2 cups of coconut milk


Overnight Oats


Classic Overnight Oats
(courtesy of, visit this link for 7 more EPIC recipes: https://wholefully.com/8-classic-overnight-oats-recipes-you-should-try/)

⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt
½ cup (heaping) rolled oats
⅔ cup unsweetened milk of choice
1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flaxmeal
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
0-2 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Whisk together all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Spoon into a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

Close and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight before eating.


Vegetable Juice (just toss in the Vitamix or a high power blender and gradually increase to full blast for a minute)


Ginger Zinger

1/2 cup of carrots
2 stalks of celery (celery is an easy way to add water)
1 orange
1/2 lemon
2 pieces of ginger
1 tbsp of turmeric
1 tsp of cayenne (if you’re feeling naughty)
250mL of water


Strawberry Mint

3/4 cup of strawberries
5-6 mint leaves
1/4 cucumber
2 stalks of celery
1 cup of kale/spinach
250mL of water



Review of 2018 Goals – New Goals for 2019

2018, what a year! We were blessed with some excellent sporting moments (what I usually use to distinguish years) including France’s FIFA World Cup, a Winter Olympics in Pyeong Chang that tragically lacked NHLers but did immortalize Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as Canadian royalty, and of course Alexander Ovechkin with that emotional cup raise that hockey fans will never forget.

Review of 2018 Goals

1. 365 Meditation Sessions
☒ Tried the daily meditations again, fell short at 213

2. 208 Serious Gym Sessions
☑ Went to the gym 230 times

3. 52 Yoga Sessions
☒ Way off, only went once; yoga isn’t my thing

4. Meatless Monday
☑ Every week (minus holiday Mondays)

5. 28 Fasting Days
☑ Yes, did Intermittent Fasting for the month of April

6. Trip with Carly
☑ Visited Montreal, Winnipeg, Edmonton, and Victoria together

7. NY Trip to visit Cam
☑ Yes! Boys trip in NY, first time in the Big Apple

8. Dallas trip to visit Magoo
☒ Unfortunately couldn’t swing this one this year

9. Read 25 Books
☑ Yes, read 32 of them this year

10. Pay off Car Loan
☒ Just shy, moved to Vancouver, which tied up the funds

11. Take a Course
☑ Yes, bought the Wim Hoff course, started it and loving it!

12. Write a Quarterly Blog Post
☒ No, only wrote 2

13. Do a Spiritual Retreat
☒ No, didn’t do a retreat

14. TWO new Sports Tournaments
☑ Yes, both hockey tournaments (Pacific Cup & Wildcat)


2019 Goals


  1. Workout 250 times
  2. Do a pistol squat on each leg


  1. Read 30 books
  2. Hire a career coach for weekly sessions
  3. Find a cause to volunteer for twice a month
  4. Give THREE presentations


  1. Monthly date night of new restaurant or activity
  2. Perform an acoustic guitar set at an open mic
  3. Travel somewhere new (country or city)
  4. Complete Wim Hoff Course


2019 Rituals

  • Date night once a month
  • Volunteer twice a month
  • Guitar three times a month
  • Red Meat once a week
  • Meatless once a week (Monday)
  • Career coaching once a week
  • Polar dip once a week (Thirsty Penguins)
  • Sauna once a week (Steam Boyz)
  • Play sports twice a week
  • Wim Hoff 3 times a week
  • Workout 5 times a week:
    • 2 Heavy
    • 1 Mobility
    • 1 Cardio
    • 1 Accessory




My Top Books of 2018

I feel humbled that people actually read this annual post, even more so that they occasionally trust my advice and find great enjoyment out of the books I endorse.

Without further ado, here are the top books I read in 2018:

7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson

I usually try and distill it down to a top 5, but this year I just couldn’t. A lot of good books and this one was actually a fluke. I had finished my book on a weekend trip and picked this up at the airport in Edmonton. There was a lot of hype around it last year, but for some reason the title always threw me off. Don’t let it.

6. Bruce Lee by Matthew Polly

I’m a sucker for a good biography and this one is sensational. Whether you know a lot about Bruce Lee or not, it’s irrelevant, he’s such a polarizing figure and Polly brings him to life. It’s not a short read, but I’d be surprised if you didn’t fly through this one.

5. Tiger Woods by Jeff Benedict

It was hard to choose between this one and the Bruce Lee one, but given its relevance I gave the Tiger Woods biography the edge. This book took years to make and is the first time that an authoritative biography has been done about the enigmatic icon that is Tiger Woods.  Sports fan or not, it’s gripping.

4. The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony

This book was part of a book club that I started with a few friends; presenting new reads that I would have never found on my own. This book is a collection of stories about a man in Africa who starts a wildlife range and good (or bad) fortune presents him with elephants. A refreshingly different book with deep insights into the animal psyche.

3. Play On: The New Science of Elite Performance at Any Age by Jeff Bercovici

Again, this one falls into personal preference, a fascinating dive into aging athletes and methods they use to prolong their careers. It’s broken down to appeal to elite athlete and weekend warrior alike, as Bercovici interviews the trainers of Federer, Lebron, Serena, and Jagr; to name a few.

2. Grit by Angela Duckworth

Another recommendation from aforementioned book club; I was fortunate to read this early in the year and benefitted from its mantra of grit: passion and perseverance for long-term goals. In the endless realm of self-help books, I still coin this one a must-read. Duckworth’s ability to articulate her ideas on page are uncanny and remember: enthusiasm is common, endurance is rare.

1. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

This was one of the first books that I read in 2018 and endured the test of time to remain my favourite one. There’s not much more to say about Being Mortal then the fact that you will never look at life the same (in a good way). Over the years I’ve come to realize that a good book will grab your attention and entertain you. A great book will change your perspective on things. This is a great book.


Honourable Mentions

  • Bad Blood by John Carreyrou – The wild story behind Theranos labs
  • Endure by Alex Hutchinson – Explores the human endurance limit, focusing on the 2 hour marathon
  • Thrive by Dan Buettner – The happiest places on Earth and why 
  • Own the Day by Aubrey Marcus – Great book on living better in general



Top Books of 2017 & Goals for 2018

It’s become a ritual now, I like to start off every year by reviewing the past one (2017) and then setting intentions for the upcoming one (2018).

2017 was a good year, especially so for reading. I’ve very rarely regretted the purchase of a book; a $20 investment for hours of enjoyment and the potential for life-altering wisdom is a definite “sans-brainer.” I set out a goal of reading 15 books and by year-end, nearly doubled it with 28. This was thanks to my library card, which completely freed up with financial burden of reading; combined with ample recommendations from friends. I highly recommend the former and hopefully this list helps you with the latter!

Top Books of 2017

5. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Ryan Holiday is a modern day proponent of stoicism: “…happiness and judgment should be based on behaviour, rather than words. That we don’t control and cannot rely on external events, only ourselves and our responses.” This book is powerful, concise, and incredibly practical. Once you read it, you will become aware of just how often your ego rears its ugly head.

4. Peak by Anders Ericsson

I love these type of books, it’s probably the driest out of the top 5, but if you love performance psychology, this one is a must. Anders Ericsson who was the scientist who gathered the 10,000 hour data, that Gladwell made famous in Outliers. This is the REAL truth behind 10,000 hours and what it takes be at the peak of anything.

3. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

One of the better sports epics out there, hard to not be captivated when you combine Olympic sports and WW2. This true story depicts the US rowing team in Hitler’s infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics.

2. Red Notice by Bill Browder

This book is gripping, disturbing and incredibly relevant (and of course, all true). Bill Browder had his life threatened in the writing of this book, but had to get his story out. An American who starts an investment fund in Russia and ends up going toe-to-toe with Putin. Whether you’re into politics or not, it’s a story that needs to be read.

1. Game Change by Ken Dryden

Admittedly a tad biased, as I love hockey more than life itself and this is quite simply one of the best hockey books ever written. It is a landmark in sports books addressing the future of Canada’s game with the growing concussion epidemic. It is marvellously narrated through the life & death of former NHL player Steve Montador, providing an uncanny glimpse into the highs and lows of professional hockey. I literally could not put this book down.

Honourable Mentions
  • When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
  • Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (must do audiobook)
  • Sleep by Nick Littlehales
  • The Hidden Life of Trees by David Wohlleben
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande


Top Moments of 2017

2017 was a monumental year in Canada, representing our 150th birthday (est. 1867). As a result, I wanted to spend any travel time I had within our vast and beautiful country.  I made visits to the following:

British Columbia

1. Victoria (home)
2. Vancouver
3. Whistler
4. Prince George


5. Calgary
6. Canmore 


  Winnipeg: #CoolerThanYouThink #ywg #thepeg #manitoba #canada   A post shared by Bear Johal (@bearjohal) on

7. Winnipeg
8. Gimli


9. Toronto


Game at the Bell Centre: ✅ #HabsvsBlues #GreatCanadianBoysTrip

A post shared by Bear Johal (@bearjohal) on

10. Montreal
11. Quebec City

New Brunswick

Plaster Rock


Review of 2017 Goals

1. 365 Meditation Sessions
☒ Just off, did 284

2. 350 Sweat Sessions
☒ Just off, did 312

3. Deadlift 400lbs
☒ Just shy, did 350lbs

4. Visit ONE New Canadian Town/City
☑ Did THREE: Gimli, Plaster Rock, and Prince George

5. Visit FIVE new Gulf Islands
☒ Did TWO: Thetis Island and Gabriola Island

6. Read 15 Books
☑ Did 28!

7. Coach Minor Hockey
☑ Yes, currently coaching Midget

8. Something New Every Month
☒ 8/12 months: Acro Yoga, Ballroom Dancing, MEC Trail Run, Hula Dancing, Car Camping, Sculling, Pottery, and Curling

9. Year of Sobriety
☑ A lifestyle change (with the exception of best friend’s stag)


2018 Goals

Healthy (Habits)

1. 365 Meditations (Daily)
2.  52 Yoga Sessions (Weekly)
3. 208 Serious Gym Sessions (4 x Week)
4. Meatless Monday (Weekly)
5. 27 Fasting Days (Bi-Weekly)

Wealthy (Saving & Spending)

1. $10,000 in TFSA
2. Pay off Car Loan
3. Trip to somewhere new with Carly
4. NY trip to visit Cam
5. Dallas trip to visit Magoo

Wise (Self Improvement)

1. Read 25 Books
2. Do a Spiritual Retreat
3. Take a Course (any course)
4. Write a Quarterly Blog Post (starting with this one!)
5. Partake in TWO new sports tournaments


No Passport Needed

It all started just over a year ago, my roommate Stu and I were watching Hockey Day in Canada; an annual quadruple header, hosted by Canada’s own Ron Maclean and Don Cherry. Somewhere amidst the 13 hour broadcast we saw a feature on the World Pond Hockey Championships; hosted every year in Plaster Rock, New Brunswick. 100 teams from around the world, gathered to play the greatest game on Earth, outdoors on the lake. It sounded like heaven, we signed up on the spot.

_CHI1325 (1)

Fellow teammate Colin and I flew in a week early to spend time in Montreal, Quebec City, and Fredericton; before meeting the other three. It was the middle of February and the Eastern part of the nation was in full winter mode–real Canadian winter. As a west-coaster born and raised, I had never experienced these defining elements of the country first hand. Out West snow comes once or twice a year if you’re lucky, hockey is played solely on indoor rinks, and few of us even own a real winter jacket (something I learned the hard way).

I stepped out of the Trudeau airport in Montreal in nothing but a hoodie and a waterproof shell and I knew I was in trouble. That night the city would take 20cm of snowfall in gusty -18 weather and yet nobody missed a beat. This was a common trend; that the weather couldn’t and wouldn’t stop you.

Quebec City

Locals in Montreal, Quebec and Fredericton were often taken aback when they learned that we were vacationing in their city from Vancouver at this time of year. We experienced record snowfalls in both Montreal and Fredericton and yet I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t think the word “vacation” needs to be associated with palm trees and sunny beaches. The literal definition is the act of leaving something one previously occupied.

This leads me to the origin of this trip: a reunion of good friends, leaving their respective occupations and hometowns to somewhere completely new and different, all while staying in our own beautiful country. For short, we called it the #GreatCanadianBoysTrip.

With our gracious host/East Coast mom, Pauline Porter

Canadians are known to be very well travelled globally and yet the diversity of our own country often gets neglected. This trip started with a hockey dream, but ended up with so much more. The adversity of cold weather need not always be viewed as a burden. As we quickly learned, the lessened time spent outdoors leads to excellent pubs & cafes with  incredible comfort food and live music. There is an over-arching sense of camaraderie in cold places, as everybody shares the experience.

World Pond Hockey Championships

The tournament itself was utter bliss. Words can’t describe that feeling of walking out onto a frozen lake that has been cleared to make 20 hockey rinks for over 500 players who all share the love of this great game. The snow would fall in intermittent spurts throughout the day and the blistering cold at night was no match for the sweating bodies that cut across the ice until the floodlights went out. For some, it was a chance to display years of outdoor hockey prowess on a world stage; for us, it was a chance to just play hockey outdoors–and to our heart’s content. For all, it was the greatest gathering of hockey, camaraderie, and all things Canadian that we will ever experience…until next year, of course.

Sharpen your skates, gather four of your best friends, travel 5,000km and leave your passport at home.

Now that’s a vacation.

WestCoast Chedder Team
Team WestCoast Cheddar, 2017



2016 Review & Top Books

2016, what a year! As per usual, even-numbered years always have the advantage on the sports landscape, this year was no different. The Rio Games were the first time in 2 decades where Canada truly impressed on the Summer Olympic stage and who can forget Usain Bolt’s historic and unprecedented Triple Triple? Penguins won the Stanley Cup, Broncos won the SuperBowl, Chicago Cubs (yes, Cub–and yes I just referenced baseball) won the World Series and Canada breezed it’s way through the newly revived World Cup of Hockey.

On a personal note, 2016 was particularly memorable for me as I put real life on hold and backpacked through Asia for 2 months right in the middle year. 6 countries in 7 weeks, it was an eye-opener with a few good times along the way. I told a few friends I would share my TOP reads of the year, so here they are:

Favourite Books:


  1. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Quite possibly the most unbelievable true story I have ever read. An Olympic distance runner finds himself on the front lines of WWII, stranded at sea for a record length only to be washed up to a Japanese POW camp.

  1. The Road to Character by David Brooks

An eloquently written book that changes the way you think; are you more interested in what achievements you can put on your resume, or how others will remember you on your eulogy?

  1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

I’m a little biased here, because this book hits on both sports and business; two of my favourite subjects. That being said, this story is remarkable and I simply could not put this book down. The story of Nike is a roller coaster ride that anybody and everybody can learn from.



Honourable Mentions:

The New Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins

King of the World by David Remnick


Episode 8: Goal Setting with Billy Quirke

An educational feature on goal setting with Billy Quirke from HunkAlert

The 8th episode of the series, I wanted to try something a little different and really give the guest the driver’s seat to provide more of an educational session, than a traditional interview. Billy is a good friend, but has also really influenced me on his goal setting methodology. He has the process dialled in; from choosing goals in different areas, setting accountabilities, tracking progress and reviewing it all at the end.

Some highlights to look forward to in the show:

  • Goal setting broken down and dissected
  • A review of Billy’s 2015 goals (listed here)
  • The process of how Billy set his 2016 goals (listed here)


“Building a life of design, not default.”

– Billy on the motivation behind goal setting


Billy’s Answers

The One Thing by Gary Keller

Hero to Have Dinner With:
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Check out Billy on the social channels:




Episode 7: Hayley McLean

Becoming a professional musician, producing a debut album, and the transition from country to electronic

The 7th episode and 2016 debut features the talented Hayley McLean. Making a name for herself by winning Fender’s 2013 Guitar Goddess of the Year, she went on to record  a very successful debut album “I”, which took the country pop world by storm. It was followed by promotions, touring and an inevitable move to Nashville. Now based out of Nashville, Hayley has transitioned her career to producing music, specifically of the electronic genre under the recording name Texada. She has just released two brand new EPs Texada’s Gold EP and Texada’s Blue EP, already receiving strong praise in the music world.

Some highlights to look forward to in the show:

  • Making a living as a musician
  • Performing live shows and the accompanying state-of-mind
  • The power of YouTube and the digital age in gaining exposure
  • Texada (at the 17:00 mark) starting as an outlet for creativity, now turned into an electronic music success


“I think life would get pretty stagnant if one decided to stay within the borders of someone else’s titles. I consider it an honour, but not a definition.”

– Hayley on her transition from country-pop to electronic music.


The New Texada EPs:

Texada’s Gold on iTunes and Spotify

Texada’s Blue on iTunes and Spotify 

Texada’s debut music video “Walking on the Moon” (Police Cover)


Hayley’s Answers

Interstellar (also one of my all-time favourites)

Hero to Have Dinner With:
Brian Eno (legendary music producer)

Check out Hayley on the social channels:






Unlocking Human Potential