What I Learned from 29 Days on My Bike

What I Learned from 29 Days on My Bike

The 29 Day Challenge

On January 31 I signed up for a 29 day mountain bike challenge, #trailsforallchallenge, hosted by the NSMBA, our local North Shore Mountain Bike Association. The challenge was to bike 29 minutes every day for 29 days for the month of February in support of the North Shore trails.

The challenge was certainly going to be a challenge as flat and easy are not words to describe the North Shore trails. And to make matters worse, there was a glitch with the tracking software, Trailforks, which meant we had to make every ride at least 40 minutes to count in the challenge. 

Learnings from the NSMB Trails for All Challenge
NSMBA Trails for All Challenge Learnings
NSMBA Trails for All Challenge what I learned

So, for 29 days I rode between 40 and 90 minutes every day, averaging 300-500m elevation gain per ride while exploring the North Shore trails. I made sure to mix up my rides and keep it somewhat challenging and interesting. Some were easier and faster, some harder and more technical and then there were a few in the gnarly category to keep the ‘saw sharpened’ so to speak.

Rain or shine, sick or healthy, in pain or not, busy or not, I rode. 

NSMBA Trails for All Challenge what I learned
Learnings from the NSMB Trails for All Challenge
NSMBA Trails for All Challenge Learnings

What I Learned

 These are some of the things I learned from 29 days on the bike:


When I set a commitment to something and tell others about it, I’m more likely to follow through. There’s weight to others knowing about my commitment and I’m more likely to follow through because they’re cheering for me too.


If I decide on something that’s important enough, I’ll find the time to do it, no matter what else is going on. Day 4 and 5 of this challenge I had a stomach bug and felt so ill. All I wanted to do was lie on the couch. But I rode anyway because I’d decided this challenge was important to me.


Being part of a cause that was making an impact in my community added fuel to my commitment. The NSMBA does so much to build and maintain the trails I get to enjoy. Knowing that my donation and participation in this challenge was driving a bigger impact gave me motivation on those days when I needed it the most.


Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean I can’t do it. This was hard. My body felt so sore some days, I was increasingly getting more tired and fatigued. Some days I could barely get started on the climbing trail, feeling the resistance and aching in my legs. But by persevering through those moments, I proved to myself that I could do it, I could do something really hard. And I’ll do hard things again.


If you want to get better at something, do it every day for 29 days. My riding over the last month has improved dramatically. I’m not only stronger and fitter but my skill level on the trails improved in a surprising way. I found myself going faster on the downhills, getting more air on the jumps and navigating technical sections more smoothly without the hesitation I had before. I also became more familiar with the features on the trails and the best lines to take, as I was riding them more frequently. I learned that if I want to ride a trail well, ride it lots!


Sharing this challenge with my partner Stephen brought us closer. We both committed to this not knowing what we were in for while also doing a ‘dry February’ – not a drop of alcohol all month. We both are parents of young kids, we both have full-time work, we both have full lives. Doing this hard thing together meant we were supporting one another through the harder days while also feeling energized from the fun adventures we were often having on the trails. This rich and immersive shared experience will always be a positive memory for us.


Creating a challenge to ignite people to take action in their lives is a great idea! Beyond the prizes that have been handed out (which I have not received any yet, boo hoo boo!) and the tote bag I get in the end, the real prize is the experience I’ve had, what I’ve learned and how darn strong I feel right now! The fitness I’ve gained, my sharpened riding skills, the new trails I’ve discovered, the shared experience with Stephen and the people that have joined me along the way are the prizes I’ve won in this challenge. The actual prizes are now just a bonus…that I’m still shamelessly holding out for!


You can do hard things

In closing, if you get a chance to do a challenge, if someone says hey, do you want to ride, run, walk, hike, whatever it is, for 29 days or something, do it! Even if the challenge is to walk 10km in a month. Don’t shy away from it because it’s hard. Lean towards it because it’s hard. The prize from doing it will be far beyond what you expect. 

And, you can do hard things! 

Thank you again NSMBA for the 29 day #trailsforallchallenge and for all the prizes I didn’t think I’d get. 

How To Use a Growth Mindset to Overcome Adversity

How To Use a Growth Mindset to Overcome Adversity

When I say the word adversity, what comes to mind?

For some, it may be facing a serious illness for themselves or a loved one, loss of a job, end of a relationship, struggle with mental health, sustaining a serious injury as an athlete just to name a few.

For others, the challenges might be around a positive goal but still a challenging situation such as changing careers, starting a new business, training for an athletic pursuit or simply investing in personal development.

The similar thread that runs through all these examples is the struggle we all face with ourselves as we navigate these situations. It’s through adversity, big or small, when those common fears and doubts about ourselves come to the surface. It happens anytime we’re taken off course of the norm and what we’re used to.

In fact, our brain really doesn’t like it. It likes patterns, it likes sameness, it likes preserving energy and limiting change.

This is where mindset comes in, in particular a growth mindset.

Growth Mindset

According to Stanford professor Carol Dweck in her book Mindset, a growth mindset describes people who believe that their success depends on time and effort. People with a growth mindset feel their skills and intelligence can be improved with effort and persistence. They embrace challenges, persist through obstacles, learn from criticism and seek out inspiration in others’ success.

As opposed to a fixed mindset, where people see their qualities as fixed traits that cannot change. With a fixed mindset, talent is enough to lead to success and effort to improve these talents isn’t required: one is born with a certain amount of skill and intelligence that can’t be improved upon.

So how can we use a growth mindset when overcoming adversity?

How to use a growth mindset

There’s so much I could write here but as a starting point it comes down to these 3 things:

1. Focus on your strengths and what skills you could lean on to help you get through the challenge you’re in.

    • For example, if you’re generally pretty motivated, what might you do to start feeling motivated again – regular exercise, reach out to a friend, colleague or mentor for support, do things that bring you joy?

2. Use your challenge as an opportunity to develop and grow. You might feel stuck because you just don’t know how to navigate this challenge, not because you can’t.

    • What aspects of yourself could you heal and grow,
    • What skills could you develop?
    • What coping strategies could you learn to help you right now?

3. Give yourself compassion and be patient. Adversity can bring up our worsts fears and surface self doubt.

    • You’re not struggling because of who you are or for lacking anything. You’re struggling because adversity is hard!
    • Be compassionate towards yourself as you would towards a loved one and be patient.
    • Challenges take time, emotional energy and an openness to change to overcome.
    • You’ll get there with the right support and encouragement starting from you.

Remember, adversity happens to us all and it’s never easy. But when we believe we are capable of navigating it and that we might possible learn and grow from it, it makes the difference in being able to overcome it.

5 Ways to Make Embracing Discomfort Easier

5 Ways to Make Embracing Discomfort Easier

The number one thing that gets in the way of learning and growth is our willingness or ability to be uncomfortable.

You’ve probably heard of all these sayings:

  • Embrace the Discomfort
  • Lean in to the discomfort
  • Get our of your comfort zone
  • Comfort zones are most often expanded through discomfort

These all circle around the notion that discomfort is actually a good thing and a necessary thing for growth. It’s through it that we move forward. It’s what we discover while in it that helps us expand ourselves and broaden our perspectives.

Discomfort is a gift if we choose to use it.

But we need courage to go there because it’s a hard place to be, it generally doesn’t feel good. And it’s very personal from individual to individual, we all have our own personal experience with emotional discomfort. That’s why most of us avoid it. That’s why all the sayings above also revolve around gently inviting you towards it.

It’s a good thing, discomfort…but how do learn to go there, how do you learn to lean into it instead of avoid it?

It all comes down to one critical moment when you have a choice, embrace the discomfort and feel the emotions that arise during it or run from it and avoid the experience. Your choice in that moment will determine whether you are contributing to your growth or limiting it.

embracing discomfort

Here are 5 tips to make embracing discomfort easier.

1. Accept the Feelings that Arise

With discomfort comes a range of different emotions that might arise. We may be reminded of an event in the past or we might be worried about something in the future. You may feel sad, anxious, angry, irritable, scared, worried, annoyed or withdrawn and quiet. As your feelings come up, take a moment to acknowledge them and accept them for what they are. By acknowledging your feelings, you’re allowing yourself to accept them too. This is an act of compassion towards yourself which will allow you to be generally more accepting of yourself, giving you more freedom to grow and learn.

2. Tap Into Your Courage

Most of the time the emotional discomfort that comes with personal development and growth are only brief moments, sometimes as short as 7 seconds. I often tell my clients that if you can hang on for 7 seconds, the moment will most likely pass. The thing that will get you through these moments is courage, pure and bold courage. Courage is that force we all have within us that gives us strength in moments when we don’t think we have any. It’s that force that propels us forward when we feel stuck. It’s a gift that we all have within us, we just need to tap into it. By tapping into our courage in discomfort, it gives us what we need to move through those brief moments.

3. Take Action From Your Intuition 

Now that you’ve accepted what you feel and have tapped into your courage, you might have a sense of what the right thing to do is. You might have an ah-ha moment and a new realization. You might now be closer to the truth, your truth. This is intuition – those inner thoughts that are beneath the armour, protection and avoidance. These are the thoughts that arise when when you take a moment to really listen to yourself and what your body is trying to tell you – from your head, your heart and your gut. This is the source of your intuition, when you listen to all three. The key for moving forward in discomfort and starting to use it as an opportunity for growth is to take action from your intuition.  Taking action from your intuition will always move you forward in a positive direction.

4. Acknowledge Yourself For Your Bravery

At this point after taking action from a courageous place you might be standing back reflecting on the situation and most likely feeling relieved and, even though it was tough, you might be feeling pretty proud of yourself. It’s a massive thing you just did, to lean into the discomfort, to choose to be brave, to tap into your intuition. It’s a helpful and positive practice to acknowledge yourself, to reflect back on the challenging situation and give yourself a pat on the back. This inner work, stepping out of your comfort zone is not for the faint hearted, that’s why it’s rare. But it’s deeply important in so many ways and in so many aspects of your life. So make sure you regularly give yourself a pat on the back because you deserve it.

5. Make Discomfort Your Friend

So now that you know how to embrace discomfort a bit more easily and you’ve adopted a new practice of acknowledging yourself, the last thing to do is to make discomfort your friend.

Make discomfort your friend so that it becomes a regular part of your life.

Choose to look at discomfort the same way you look at a close and long term friend that has annoying habits but you manage to look past them and live with them because you deeply care about that friend and that friend deeply cares about you. Because all that discomfort is, is a signal or warning bell letting you know you’re stepping into your growth edges, that you’re expanding yourself and that you’re growing. It’s a positive thing and it’s there to help you grow, just like a good friend.

make discomfort your friend

Embracing discomfort is a hard thing to do, even when we have a strategy or tips to make it easier. It’s supposed to be hard, that’s why it’s called discomfort. But, that being said, just like other hard things, when we have a way through something and knowledge that going through it is worthwhile, we’re more likely to face and embrace the challenge.

Keep leaning in, it’s always worth it.