Lessons on Being Kind to Yourself

Rebecca Bell is quick to credit yoga for her ability to train for a 100-mile mountain bike race at the age of 50. She also notes it’s what allowed her to gracefully accept defeat when she had to drop at mile 80.

Mindset is number one. That’s where meditation and yoga comes in,” she says. “Learning and knowing when to rest and be kind to myself and not beating myself up. I do believe it’s one of the reasons why I feel the way I do and that I was able to do mountain biking for 10 hours when I was training.

Rebecca, now 55, has practiced yoga regularly for 35 years and been an instructor for 27. With experience as both a student and teacher, she maintains an openness to learning that allows her to gain just as much knowledge by doing as she does by teaching others.

“I was first exposed to yoga by my mom when I was very young,” she says. “I started practicing in my late teens because I had anxiety. It calmed my mind. And that led me on this path to want to study yoga. I wanted to be a teacher and share how yoga healed me.”

Rebecca’s experience at the High Cascades 100 race prompted her to become internationally certified as a mountain biking coach. It also encouraged her to launch Ruby Rides Bikes, an all-woman yoga and mountain biking retreat. Today, she leads these events to encourage and support women while nourishing them with farm-to-table meals.

“Women would approach me saying they felt intimidated [to mountain bike,] especially in this town,” Rebecca says. “I wanted to give them these three days to really connect with themselves and each other and learn how to mountain bike in this safe space.”

Rebecca’s love for mountain biking is largely influenced by where she has lived. As a “ski bum” in Utah, mountain biking was something everyone did in the off seasons. When she and her husband settled in Bend, OR, it was a sport they could do with their two boys as a family. Living in an area where there are “trails out the door” was intentional.

“It gave me access to get into the wilderness,” she said. “I have chosen to put myself in these locations, out in nature. It’s a community, a lifestyle. It’s being surrounded by people who share your same values.”

The self-awareness and self-acceptance Rebecca has gained through yoga has led to a number of healthy decisions throughout her life.

She became sober in her early 20s. She strength-trains three times a week and uses diet as preventative medicine, favoring regional and seasonal eating. She’s also making more of an effort to rest.

I’m learning now in my 50s to really make [sleep] a priority,” she says. “I could be that person going to bed at 11 and up at 6 to do yoga in the morning. But now the goal is eight hours of sleep. That’s also part of learning to be kind in my self care.

It’s these types of personalized insights and advice that BellSant proactively provides its members, so they don’t need to guess about what their bodies need for health.

By observing and revisiting patterns, Rebecca has also used goals to make micro-improvements that she hopes will sustain her well into her 80s and 90s. Goal-setting is an integral part of BellSant’s efforts to prevent health problems and improve lives. By receiving a personalized health plan, clients can see how small changes can lead to big results.

Having goals is really important, because for me, that will keep me disciplined,” she says. “This is what I need to refuel in order to do what I really want to do tomorrow or the rest of the year.

When Rebecca set a goal to race High Cascades 100, her focus was to “plan plans, not results.” Staying grounded in the present moment is what made the journey such an exciting and inspiring experience.

“I don’t think I would’ve put myself out there in that way if I wasn’t training for this particular race,” she says. “I got the experience of mountain biking in these exquisite locales that were remote. Being out there alone really teaches you to rely on yourself and grow stronger because of it.”

Today, Rebecca is toying with a High Cascades rematch. She’s also considering a trip to India to continue studying yoga. What she chooses to do is not as important as how she does it.

“You can have goals, but without structure, you can’t do anything,” she says. “I had the structure of yoga. And because of that, I got to experience all of these moments on the bike that changed me as a person and gave me the confidence to coach mountain biking.”

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