How Do You Eat an Elephant?

… One Bite at a Time!

This blog was inspired by my Motivation Monday post on Facebook.

I have been thinking a lot about achieving goals in fitness, life, work, etc… and they really all have a common theme. Many times the goals that I achieve are those that I have approached logically, with mindfulness, and in a task oriented fashion. Without this, these goals would seem like elephants, huge and immovable.


When it comes to health, most people have huge, vague goals that are kind of amorphous. These seem to be extremely difficult to attain because they are ill-defined. Many people start with the generic, “This year, I am going to get healthier.”

What a fantastic statement! By using this as a springboard, we can delve deeper, make a plan, and actually achieve “healthier”. However, if this single statement is the goal, how will we mindmap-2123973_1920know if it has been attained?

Let’s break it down.

What is “healthier”?

  • Is it a goal weight?
  • Is it a fitness goal like a marathon or a Strongfirst certification?
  • Is it fewer illnesses through the year?
  • Is it less back pain?
  • Is it being able to play with your grandchildren?
  • The list goes on!!!

Since a marathon in 2017 is my goal, I will use that as my example in this scenario.

Define the goal: A marathon is a 26.2 mile race. marathon-1649905_1920

What will it take to achieve the goal?

  • Commitment to a training schedule
  • Several smaller races
  • Having a support group
  • Self-Care to ensure that you maintain health while training
  • etc.

Action Steps:

  • I have made monthly goals for miles run weekly and/or cumulatively
  • I have started running with a running group that meets several times a week
  • I have a training partner in my husband who also wants to run a marathon with meTraining Photo
  • I have signed up for a 12K in 2 weeks (7.4 miles)
  • I have plans for a half-marathon in late May
  • I am taking care of myself physically
    • Sleeping 7-8 hours each night
    • Limiting sugar and alcohol in my diet
    • Ensuring that I am eating enough protein and vegetables that are responsibly sourced
    • Getting adjusted by another Chiropractor (see my other blog on this topic)
    • Participating in “prehab” exercises to help prevent injury during training
    • Drinking plenty of water on a daily basis!

Since high school, I have wanted to run a marathon… but I always thought it was too big, too much, an elephant you could say.

Moving to Seattle and deciding to take a logical approach to goal setting and improving my health has made what seemed like a pipe dream, a reality. Along with the encouragement of my husband and new friends, this long time goal is becoming a reality.

What goals have you been avoiding because they are too big or scary? Maybe you can approach them using this type of break-down.

If your goals are health-related, consult your Chiropractor and/or Primary Physician to ensure that you are taking care of your body in the process. I am always happy to help others achieve their health goals. Please feel free to contact me using the form below if you would like to schedule a consult!

Spring into Health

Spring is a great time to start making healthy choices for your life.

IMG_9935As the sun is a bit warmer, the grass a little greener, and the flowers are blooming, we start to come out of our own hibernation. We stretch out the kinks in our muscles, sometimes notice a few new aches in our bones, and set about the business of re-engaging with ourselves and the outside.

Now is a time to listen to our bodies and take the time to ensure that they are ready for a new activity level. It is the time to assess our nutrition and consider what we need to do to properly fuel our bodies, as well.

It is really easy to get carried away with the sunshine and end up with an easily SR bikepreventable injury. Remember that our bodies are incredibly intricate machines. You check out your bicycle and oil the chain before riding it after it has been in the garage for awhile… why not give your body the same courtesy. Getting checked by a Chiropractor can help to prevent injuries in addition to helping to manage old problems.

So, if you are feeling creaky as you stretch out those joints and start to turn over your garden, contact us in the form below and schedule your evaluation with Dr. Samelak. Start off this spring with a new bounce in your step and the support of a Doctor of Chiropractic.

Magic 8’s

The human brain is divided into 2 hemispheres that must work together for us to function and work productively in our environment.


The right side of the brain is most commonly associated with our innate artistic ability and our connection with non-linear thinking. The left side of the brain helps us to be analytical and think in a linear fashion- from point A to B. Many people have one side that is more dominant than others, but we are most well-rounded when the two sides work together cooperatively.

Enter: The Figure 8.

Drawing a figure 8 or doing cross patterning forces the two brain hemispheres to coordinate and work together.


In times when you are stressed, having a hard time focusing, are frustrated when test taking, etc. it is important to take a step back, breathe deeply, and integrate the hemispheres of the brain.

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to simply draw a figure 8 with your fingertip on whatever surface is nearby- your steering wheel or thigh is perfectly acceptable. When you draw a figure 8 without picking up the pencil, you are coordinating your brain.

If possible, though, it is great to do a full body cross brain activity. This can be done through cross crawl marching, slapping the opposite knee as described below.

Stand tall and with soft knees, lengthening through your spine. With arms stretched outward, march, and bring your hand across your body to tap the opposite knee. In this way, the right hand taps the left knee. Some people find that this is very hard to coordinate and need to tap the same-side knee 2 or 3 times  before moving to the cross patterning.

Many times, people note increased mental clarity and even improved physical coordination following these activities. I first heard about this when researching study and test-taking skills while in Chiropractic school and it made a significant difference in my test anxiety and study productivity. I implemented it in anatomy tutoring and now, I often have patients perform the cross crawl marching after an adjustment to help sync their body and brain while the nervous system is firing .


There are many more iterations of this concept that are geared at right brain-left brain coordination. If you would like an individual assessment, please contact me!

10 Step Fix to a Better Morning Routine


Prep the night before

Feel more prepared for your day by picking out your clothes, reviewing your schedule, and prepping lunch and snacks the night before.

sandwich-1580353_1920.jpgSometimes getting dressed is an ordeal. When work doesn’t come with a uniform, it is a good idea to choose your outfit (or maybe a second choice) the night before. Knowing my wardrobe is taken care of and that I won’t end up wearing 2 different shoes because I am running late always helps me sleep more peacefully.

Reviewing your personal schedule and your family’s schedule helps to make sure that you have everything you need and that there will be no last minute surprises.

Prepping food the night before helps us to make better choices. When rushed in the morning, sometimes we choose things that are easy, pre-packaged, or just decide to eat out. By choosing to make our food as part of evening kitchen clean up, it is easier to make healthy snacks and lunches.

Control your evening to help keep chaos out of your morning! Once you integrate these into your evening routine, you will not be able to imagine going to bed without these things done!


Leave your phone OUT of your bedroom

This may sound like it would not make a huge impact, but ask yourself these questions:

Cellphone in bedDo I use my cell phone in the 30 minutes before bed?

Do I check my phone for messages/alerts in the middle of the night?

Do I check my email/Facebook before getting out of bed in the morning?

Do I sleep with my phone IN my bed?

If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, you are probably addicted to your cell phone. Each of these questions targets an area of your health.

If you use your cell phone  before bed or during the night, the type of  blue light that it emits reduces melatonin production, the hormone that helps you sleep.

If you are checking your email or Facebook before even getting out of bed, you are not taking space and time for yourself and allowing yourself to fully wake up in the morning before you permit stress to enter your life. Work stress, in particular is pervasive and we allow it to invade our lives outside of office time. Did you know that in France  a law allows workers to refrain from checking work email outside of office hours.

If you sleep with your phone in your bed, consider the low levels of radiation that phones emit and how close you are to your phone throughout the day. We don’t have longitudinal studies regarding the effects of cell phones on health.

If you must have your phone in your room because you are on call, you may want to designate a “phone bowl” near your bedroom door. This way you have to get out of bed to answer the phone or check notifications and are minimizing your interaction at night.


Get up at the same time, daily

We are creatures of habit. Our bodies fall into a circadian rhythm and this requires consistency. By getting up at the same time every day (yes, even weekends) we are signaling our brains to our routine and are more likely to sleep soundly. The time that is best for you may not be the same time that works for me. Some people naturally stay up later and need to sleep later as a result. Others are early riser, naturally. Tune into what your body does best with and start getting up at a set time. Check out this Article for some more tips on sleeping better.

alarm clock

Getting up at the same time each day also helps our morning routine by making sure that we always have the same amount of time to get things done before leaving the house or starting work. It is easier to be punctual when you have a steady routine.


Visualize your best self

Each night before I go to bed, I have a second alarm set. This alarm is not set for me to sleep longer. Instead, when my first alarm goes off, I sit up and meditate for 10 minutes using visualization. For those 10 minutes, I begin by picturing my body in perfect health, then what it feels like to be supremely happy. When I have both of these in my head, I combine them to form my “Best Self”.


To be perfectly honest, some days I do not get as far as my “Best Self”. Some days I struggle with what my body feels like or I take a long time to find supreme happiness. No matter what, though, I stop when my alarm goes off. The mental discipline that it takes to consistently meditate is beneficial to our overall happiness. In fact, my husband has often noted that I must have skipped meditation when my fuse is shorter in the morning. Dr. Joe Dispenza has some fabulous information about visualization. Check out his website for more information about his books, speaking engagements, etc or follow him on Facebook.


Oil Pulling

coconut-oil-on-wooden-spoon-2090575_1920Oil pulling has been performed for centuries and comes from Aryurvedic medicine. The theory is that you use a tablespoon of coconut oil (or another vegetable oil like grapeseed) in your mouth first thing in the morning (before taking anything by mouth) and swish it as you would mouthwash for 15-20 minutes. This is followed by rinsing, flossing, and brushing as normal. As you perform this, the oil, which is naturally antimicrobial, helps to lower the bacterial and viral load in your mouth and, therefore, your body. While there is not a ton of research that has been done, many people report whiter teeth, fresher breath. I notice that when I oil pull regularly that I have less tartar on my teeth.

A word to the wise, a tablespoon of coconut oil is a lot and it does take a minute or so to fully melt in your mouth. I usually use more like a teaspoon because my mouth isn’t that big! When you are done, spit the used oil into the garbage to avoid clogging your drains. I also had to work up to my 15-20 minutes, my jaw got way too tired at the start.

This technique is hitting the mainstream with even WebMD talking about its benefits.


Sun Salutation or stretching/movement

Forward FoldGentle movement in the morning is important. By taking our bodies, which have been still for hours of sleep, through a series of stretches or yoga poses, we can work out the kinks and feel more flexible and healthy throughout the day.

I choose to start my days with a series of yoga sun salutations. This simple series of movements helps me to lengthen my muscles and spine while keeping my focus inward.

Try watching a few sun salutation videos and working with a yoga instructor on your form before doing this on your own. A textbook sun salutation looks like this.

Some other great things to help get you moving in the morning include lying on the floor and gently pulling knees in to chest, rocking side to side or doing range of motion stretches.What types of exercises or stretches are right vary from person to person. Check in with your chiropractor, yoga instructor, massage therapist, or physical therapist for ideas of stretches that are beneficial for your body.


Choose tea over coffee

tea-1132529_1920 (1)

I know, you love your coffee. The jolt of caffeine first thing in the morning helps many people face the day. Here is what I propose. If you take your morning into your own hands and work on these steps, you will not need the jolt of caffeine associated with coffee. The caffeine in coffee enters the system quickly and only lasts 5 hours, maximum. Tea, on the other hand, is more time release with caffeine stimulating your system for around 10 hours. Also, when you only drink coffee sporadically, the jolt that you get from it packs more of a punch. I generally only drink coffee on travel days when I am at the airport. These days, that extra push of caffeine is beneficial for me.

For a more detailed description of this, check out this blog.


Sit down while you eat breakfast

Standing while we eat is a poor habit to get into. Sitting down we eat more slowly and digest our food better. Breakfast is an important meal, when we take time to appreciate it, it becomes an indispensable part of the morning. You are less likely to search for morning snacks in the office kitchen when you have consciously eaten a healthy breakfast. While I sit down for breakfast, I work on my gratitude journal (see below)


GratitudeChoose gratitude

Focusing on gratitude sets a tone for our day and helps to stay more focused. I wrote about this more completely around Thanksgiving. Taking time for gratitude reminds me when things are rough of just how much I have that is good in my life. Bullet journaling is a great way to focus on your gratitude.


Hug someone you love/spend time with a pet

Physical contact with another person or creature has innumerable health benefits. This article from Mind Body Green talks about the benefits of 8 hugs per day. At the same time, spending time with your pet (or your neighbor’s) increases your serotonin levels and improves our feelings of well-being.

It wouldn’t hurt to combine these two things, too…

Hug your pets.jpg

These are all things that are part of my daily routine. I work to create a morning of mindfulness that helps me focus and enter my day ready to meet its challenges with a smile. Please let me know how you feel about these ideas and if you have routines of your own that help keep your mornings smooth and happy!