By Judy Carmack Bross
Elizabeth O’Connor Cole, author of the newly released Nurture and Thrive, seemed the perfect subject for our Valentine’s Day profile. Simple Steps to Live in Good Heath subtitles her book, which places love as one of her six pillars of well-being, along with hydrate, nourish, move, sleep and breathe. Calling herself a wellness explorer, Cole shares over 80 tips across her six pillars.
“The way I view love is how you connect with yourself and with others. It is also the way we connect with the natural world. Perhaps pre-pandemic we took for granted how beautiful the world outside is. With age has come a growing appreciation for nature and its amazing healing powers,” she told us. “In my book, we explore how to actively nurture positive relationships by taking an intentional approach to staying connected, as well as being kinder and gentler to ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around us. Taking that time to get to know ourselves and how to connect with others is truly love.”
The founder of SALVEO Lifestyle in 2015 and a certified yoga instructor, Elizabeth and her husband Michael live in Chicago with their four teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. She relates that she began her wellness journey at the age of 40. A cum laude graduate of Georgetown University, she once taught in Chicago’s underserved communities through the Big Shoulders Fund. After graduating from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern she worked in both mergers and acquisitions and investor relations at the Tribune Company. “I was wired and tired, needing coffee in the morning to get going and a glass of wine in the evening to wind down,” she remembered. “I had been an achiever and a doer all my life but had not taken charge of my own health.” Since leaving the Tribune she has focused on wellbeing, family, and philanthropy.
For the past five years, Cole has headed SALVEO retreats in Chicago and at other near and far destinations. Citing her lifelong love of learning she traveled to Asia to learn ancient natural healing remedies using plants and herbs, to the Holy Land where she tried the enriching mud and mineral-rich products of the Dead Sea, and to Italy where she studied cooking with all-natural ingredients. She had to cancel a retreat to China for 15 women and to Italy due to the pandemic.
“The book became my passion project. I had always wanted to write a book and since I just turned 50 the timing seemed just right. I worked on it every day and had the goal that it would come out early in 2021.”
The book is further enriched with photos by Olivia Kohler showing some of Elizabeth’s favorite places such as North Pond in Lincoln Park and the lakefront where she walks her dogs daily, Lake Geneva where her family has had a home for 40 years and at the farm in Woodstock which has been in the family for 87 years.
Just talking with Cole makes you feel better! Her vibrant message to all—that a healthy lifestyle can be simple, fun, and accessible to all resonates as well as her belief that small habit changes and daily wellness rituals–can impact people of all ages.
“Whenever I went to buy a book on health and wellness the choices were obvious but disappointing. You could either get a very clinical book by a doctor with loads of footnotes or what I call celebrity lite featuring a 25-year-old Hollywood actress with her green smoothie in hand on the beach at Malibu. I wanted to write something that was healing, well researched, and scientifically based. My tips are almost all totally free, you don’t need to hire trainers and chefs and they are simple. My tips work for all ages. My 13-year-old daughter, my 48-year-old husband, and my 83-year old parents have found tips they embrace.”
Elizabeth Cole’s parents, Ellen and Jim O’Connor, with their dog Buddy
“Sometimes people tell me that they are already taking parts of my advice, that their grandmother told them to set the temperature of their bedrooms at 68 degrees at night for a better sleep or to put a slice of lemon in their glass of water. The world is all too critical—we need to celebrate what we are doing and what we know.”
Executed in grasscloth with a grosgrain ribbon as a marker and a beautiful photo of a butterfly on the cover, Cole’s book invites you to pick it up.
“I wanted it to be the type of book you might leave out on a table rather than just place in a bookshelf,” Cole commented. “You never know what time of day you might have a moment to pick it up and find an area that resonates. Take one tip, master it, and then build on it with another small habit when you are ready. This is not a linear, quick-fix book but a circular 360-degree one. You can enter wherever you like.”
We asked Cole to share some of her favorite tips with readers that lead to a life where you thrive.
“When talking about food I often start with breakfast. I have told my children that breakfast is often a beige meal—think cereal, oatmeal, and the like—I add color with an avocado bowl. By slicing an avocado in half, adding a drizzle of good olive oil, a pinch of Himalayan sea salt, and a protein if you wish such as an egg over easy or smoked salmon, you are good to go.”
A good night’s sleep is one of Cole’s priorities.
“I am up at 6:15 but always in bed at 10:15, I need those eight hours of sleep. I set the thermostat at 68 degrees, charge my phone in the other room so I am not tempted to look at one last Instagram message, set a simple alarm clock, have my glass of water nearby and make sure my bedside table isn’t loaded down with clutter.”
Cole recommended an easy way to keep hydrated.
“Hydration needs are individual and depend on a few factors, including one’s weight. A good baseline is drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water every day. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds you should take 75 ounces of water daily. If you exercise a lot, you can increase this number accordingly.”
Fridge and Freezer staples—including hummus, cauliflower rice, and fruits to grab for snacks –are listed. Included are essentials for a wellness journey which appear in a toolkit. Epson salts for the bath and green plants, such as eucalyptus and snake plants, which pull toxins out of the air, are suggestions.
Cole describes herself as a “crazy podcaster” who is always sharing them with those close to her. A good biography is her favorite thing to read. “I am an insatiable learner. The minute I learn something that I want to incorporate, I can’t wait to share it with my girlfriends,” she said.
Photos by Olivia Kohler
Books can be purchased here: https://www.salveolifestyle.com/book.