All posts by bearjohal

Top Books of 2021

They said 2021 was going to be different than 2020… Alas, we still found ourselves in periods of lockdown, covid anxiety, and pandemic pandemonium. A disaster for ones’ social life, but quite conducive to dedicated reading time.

With everything happening in the world this past year, I found myself peculiarly drawn to books on investing and finance. Three of them made the top 5 and I highly recommend them, regardless of your past investing knowledge.

Here are my top 5 books of 2021:

5. Breath by James Nestor

Breath is everything. Breathe through your nose.
I love the style of James Nestor’s books; he’s a great writer who delves into topics with humility and self-experimentation.  In this case, the world of breathing (aka everything), made interesting through his own medically guided experiment with breath work.

4. Richer, Wiser, Happier by William Green

The first investing book to appear on the list, I loved it because the writer is a journalist (not an investor), but is fascinated with marquee investors. This book is his interviews with some of the world’s top investors, having them explain their strategies to a complete novice.

3. Crossroads by Kaleb Dahlgren

It’s not my top 5 list without a sports book, this one hits home and hits hard. Written by a survivor of the tragic Humboldt Broncos crash in 2018, it’s one of the more powerful memoirs I’ve ever read. Huge respect for Kaleb and just so sad to read the tragedy from the ground level. This book made it’s way through most of my family this year as a must-read.

2. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

Perhaps the most pragmatic investing book I have ever read. Housel hammers home how everything financially related in your life, comes down to your relationship with money. Except he puts it in much better terms than I just tried to there.

1. The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness by Eric Jorgenson

Loved this book and was my most gifted book of 2021. Naval Ravikant is one of the best thinkers in our time; Jorgenson compiles and organizes an entire book made up of Ravikant’s tweets, interviews, etc. Hard to put down, will be re-reading this month.



Top Books of 2020

2020, what a year! If you didn’t read some good books this year, then it may time to give it up…just kidding.

It was actually a bit tricky at time, when libraries closed during the lockdown and I had to actually buy books! Luckily it also made me go through some of my library that I hadn’t read (or decided to re-read).  Getting pets – especially dogs – can provide a caring companion that loves your child unconditionally and support them in their daily activities. Any pet can be an adventure – but dogs have proven to be especially effective because of their protective and friendly “pack” dynamic, you can get more info here.

Alas, out of the 26 books I read in 2020 (humble brag) here are my top 6:

6. Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot by Bill O’Reilly

Killing Kennedy by Bill O'Reilly

I’ve been trying to find a good book about JFK for a couple of years now, it feels like every one is 1000+ pages. I stumbled upon this one in the library and grabbed it due to its brevity. I simply could not put it down, finishing it in one quarantine weekend. As a millennial, I missed the Kennedy era, which was a fascinating time in World History (yes World, not just American). This book is an excellent introduction to Kennedy’s presidency and assassination. It’s brief, stays out of the weeds, but it’s a well-written, gripping read.

5. From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

If you live in Vancouver, this book hits home, in an unsuspecting way. A true (and rare) story of a homeless man who made it out alive. A raw and often gruesome depiction of one man’s life through foster homes, addiction, and living on the street. Also hard to put down.

4. Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey

Note: highly, highly recommend listening to this on audiobook, as McConaughey narrates it himself.
Second note: McConaughey has incredible life philosophy, is far more intelligent than his Rom-com image portrays, and is a hilariously good story-teller.
Third note: Alright, alright, alright!

3. Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan

Shoot for the Moon by James Donovan

Similar to the Kennedy interest (in fact the two go hand in hand–many historians believe that America doesn’t make it into space without Kennedy’s vehement endorsement), I’d been looking for a good moon landing book for a few years. I stumbled upon this in the library and it was also an absolute page turner. The space race was nothing short of spectacular–imagine a war that instead of battles the two opponents are literally racing to get to the moon first. What was accomplished in this race truly vaulted technology (and humanity) by decades.

2. The Splendid & The Vile by Erik Larson

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

A phenomenal historical non-fiction piece like only Erik Larson can do. Reads like fiction and covers the period of time where Winston Churchill came into power as Prime Minister, while Britain prepared to enter (and eventually did enter) WW2. This book was enhanced by true depictions of Britain’s lockdown during the relentless German night raids–making Covid lockdown seem much more palatable.

1. The Future is Faster Than You Think by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler

The Future Is Faster Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis

Although this book isn’t the gripping read that the previous 5 on this list are (so it certainly isn’t for everyone), I rank it as #1 for a few reasons. Firstly, I love the positive spin it takes on the future of humanity. Secondly, it’s well researched but still written in relatively digestible terms and lengthy. Lastly, a good book: you can’t put down. A great book: changes the way you think about things. This one does the latter–and during these times, what’s more important than the future?


Honourable mentions:

  • American Kingpin by Nick Bilton
  • Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss
  • Forged in Crisis by Nancy Koen
  • Forever Terry by Darrell Fox (letters written to Terry Fox, no dry eyes)
  • Range by David Epstein
  • Upheaval by Jared Diamond

Quarantine Challenge: Bodyweight/Gymnastics

On the day that this being written, Canadians have been “staying at home” in self isolation for over 31 days, due to the Covid-19 crisis. After the first week of shock & panic, I came to a realization that it’s six pack or beer gut–no in-between.

Like many others, my means of exercise and fitness were robbed of me: the gym, the ice rink, and yes, even the public rec centre sauna. In that first week I was determined to be like Thor on the left, but had neither the means nor motivation to do so. Pushups and squat jumps every day had my triceps screaming mercy and my left achilles inflamed, but the rest of my body unscathed–and my motivation waning.

That’s when I brought it back to the drawing board and, in writing this blog, hope that I can share some of the things have that gotten me over the hump on back on track. If you’re in a similar situation, consider exploring options like for home fitness solutions.

My Quarantine Fitness Goals

Let’s be honest, motivation can vary for the individual, but two elements are generally universal: (1) setting an actual goal, (2) being accountable to that goal. Here are my goals for Quarantine, with the hopes that by sharing this, it will hold me more accountable:

1) Pistol Squat x 5 on each leg

download (5)

Difficulty: Intermediate

-It requires substantial work on hip and ankle mobility
-It’s a very challenging unilateral (fancy for one leg) exercise that will translate well to strength and balance on the ice, when hockey returns!

Current Status: 1 rep on each leg with 25lb as counterweight

My reference  video for training: A Pistol Squat Progression That Actually WORKS (Full Tutorial)

2) Front Lever on Rings for 5 seconds

download (2)

Difficulty: Advanced

-I got some gymnastic rings and this move makes you look like a boss
-Requires an incredible amount of lat & scapula strength (posterior)
-Scapula strength is crucial to remedy some shoulder injuries I’ve suffered over the years

Current Status: 2 second hold in tuck position (long ways to go!)

My reference videos for training:
Front Lever Tutorial (IN DEPTH) by Tom Merrick (BWW)
Full Front Lever Tutorial on Gymnastic Rings by GMB Fitness

3) L-Sit to Handstand on Paralettes

download (4)

Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced

-Also makes you look like a boss
-Combines core strength (L-sit) with shoulder stability (hand stand)
-It’s a transitional move, requiring a ton of focus

Current Status: L-Sit only (just ordered paralettes)

My reference video for training:
L-SIT TO HANDSTAND | 3 Crucial Progression Tips

So, there you have it. These are the three moves I’m trying to master during my days of self-isolation and no gyms or sports. One thing I must add is the element of learning an entirely new skill has been extremely challenging, but also very satisfying. It’s that flow state that I’ve been missing, completely immersed both mentally and physically, not unlike a competitive game of hockey–minus the camaraderie… But that’s ok, a little solo time amidst a quarantine is never a bad thing! However, I do miss the guidance of my trainer and the convenience of gym equipment services.

Would love to hear your own challenges and/or new hobbies.

What Does it Mean to Be Human?

The Covid-19 pandemic that has swept across the world is putting our species to the test. Suddenly we are forced to answer the question: What does it mean to be human?

Our character as an individual is revealed not in a moment of triumph, but in a moment of hardship. The same can be said collectively, for our species.

In a crisis there are three choices one can make: (1) do nothing, (2) look out for oneself, (3) look out for others. I believe the last one, to look out for others, is the most important. Yes, we must look out for ourselves, too. However, sole focus on oneself and we drag others down to brings ourselves up (see: hoarding toilet paper and supplies). Sole focus on others and we jeopardize our very ability to help (eg. getting sick and unable to be present for a family member). Why not a combination of the latter two; called “look out for everyone, equally.”

Moreover, this mindset is the basis of human success over time. No great feat was ever accomplished alone. Throughout the course of time, we have united against a common challenge in order to product our most outstanding achievements. The 2nd World War was not won by one person, or even one country. It was a collective effort and the collective part was vital to success. Now the entire world, the entire species is facing a common enemy. This certainly will not be the last time we do. How will we respond? How will you respond?

My Top 10 Books of the Decade

Well, everyone’s doing it, so I thought I’d hop on the train and reflect on this past decade, from a reading perspective. Below are my top 10 reads from the last 10 years (2010 – 2019). It was a monumental decade of reading for me; having completed my undergrad in 2011, the years ensuing were the first of my entire life that entailed total freedom in my reading choices. These books influenced me the most in this past decade, so much so that this year (2020) I will be re-reading every single one of them.

10. Grit by Angela Duckworth
I found this book to really hit home, based on it’s concise writing style and consistent mantra: passion and perseverance for long term goals.

9. So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
I remember reading this book, being blown away and immediately re-reading it, taking notes the entire team. Cal Newport completely turned my millennial world upside-down with his dichotomy of the craftsmen mindset “focuses on what you can offer the world” over the passion mindset “focuses on what the world can offer you.”

8. Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
A gripping read that I couldn’t put down. Excellent character development and vivid portrayal of the tumultuous life in Bombay, India. It’s the only fiction book that cracked the list for me (although it’s supposed to be influenced by true events, I’ll let you read it and be the judge).

7. Principles by Ray Dalio
This book is like the management bible, I read it when it first came out (2017) and tried to absorb everything (my copy is littered with notes and post-its). It’s not a short read, basically three books in one, but full of excellent insights. This one I’m very much looking to re-reading, now that it’s a little more relevant in my career.

6. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Another gripping read, an incredible true story about an Olympian turned soldier who survives at sea and then ends up in a Japanese POW camp. I’ve gifted this book a few times as it has something for everyone.

5. Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
I’ve ordered this list in the impact that these books had on my life. Gawande’s incredible book changed the way I will forever look at life, death, and aging.

The TOP 4

4. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
This book was a massive influence in one of my biggest life and career choices to date.  It made me slow things down and realize that my ego was clouding my vision, pulling me away from my true self. Highly recommend for all and a short read, too.


3. Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer
Probably my first life-altering read after undergrad, I credit this book with jumpstarting my head-first journey down the path of self development books. Pat Tillman (who the book is about) lived an incredible life and Jon Krakauer does a marvellous job of telling it.


2. ‎Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
I challenge you to read a self-development book that doesn’t mention the concept of flow. Csikszentmihalyi literally invented the term the captivates the very movement and it’s called flow. I consider this to be a must-read for all. I read it once in 2012 and it was a little over my head. I read it again in 2016 and picked up a lot of new things. I’m excited to read it a third a time this year.


1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
My number one book and easily my most gifted book. It’s written by a holocaust survivor, while he’s in a concentration camp. It is a timeless & powerful testament to the human spirit.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
-Viktor E. Frankl



Bonus! Three more recommendations from my 2019 readings:

1) The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

2) Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

3) In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park


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!

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 4.02.11 PM

Screen Shot 2019-07-02 at 4.02.32 PM

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!

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


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

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