BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
Who doesn’t want to feel better? —Elizabeth Cole
If you want to live life to its fullest, ask stunning Elizabeth Cole her secret—think Grace Kelly meets Gal Gadot. There’s no better recommendation for her Salveo Lifestyle self-care retreats than a visit with Elizabeth herself.
To retreats for women, couples, and families, which have taken groups of 10 to 15 participants to Wyoming, Palm Beach, Lake Geneva, and private clubs here in the city, Elizabeth has added continuing education programs that explore Chicago while teaching both healthy habits and self-love.
“Each month I devise a different seasonal theme, and we explore a different destination with wellness as our constant. Exercising at the historic Theater on the Lake, doing yoga in the park, and biking the 606 with a welcome stop at a healthy juice place in Bucktown are a few examples. We’ve had children’s sessions on the lakefront.”
“What is constant is the lesson that gratitude is the key to being happier. Everyone on my retreats keeps a gratitude journal.”
Elizabeth, who studied Latin at Georgetown, chose Salveo—Latin for ‘live in good health’—as the name of her almost always sold out retreats and continuing education programming.
“The word has become a verb and an adjective among my family and friends, as in ‘can we salveo this?’ After one too many pizzas at a friend’s house, one of my children asked for a salveo meal at home.”
Salveo team members share their skills with participants. Trainer Phil Chung founded Practice, the fitness and wellness-coaching studio in Lincoln Park. Allure has named Phil one of the country’s top fitness experts. Phil confesses that he was once weighed 205 pounds at 5’9” and was the king of any “all-you-can-eat buffet” before he reworked his relationship with food.
Psychotherapist and yoga teacher Sarah Cunningham is a holistic wellness expert and owner of Whole Life Wellness. During her immersive Salveo classes, she combines Eastern and Western healing approaches to psychotherapy, yoga, fitness, and nutrition.
The founder and owner of the private chef company Drizzle Kitchen, Kendra Peterson prepares meals for the retreats using what she calls “happy foods alchemy,” which she describes as “freshly prepared, nutritionally dense and allergy friendly foods which do not compromise on eating pleasure, flavor and taste.”
Although Elizabeth doesn’t advertise, Salveo has been highly sought after since its founding in 2015.
“Information about my retreats has been passed word of mouth to women who are busy with careers and families, and issues like aging parents. I encourage people to recharge, decompress, and have time alone.
“For each retreat, I might give participants bath salts, silk pillowcases, lavender mist sprays, or a little of a fragrant sage to burn. The importance of sleep is an area we cover.
“We teach that a healthy lifestyle is simple, fun, and fashionable.”
On the first day of a Salveo retreat, which is usually two to three nights and three days, participants reflect on their lives and their highlights. They are asked to journal their habits.
Using a circle noting 12 aspects of a person’s life—home, profession, creativity, and health, for example—Elizabeth asks those present where they are right now. She then turns to the future, asking where they want to be if they spend more time on themselves. She asks, “What might you change about your life?”
“It is so important to know your heritage and openly embrace it. I think there are real benefits to the 23andMe DNA genetic tests. Different nationalities process food differently. I am all about embracing who you really are.”
Elizabeth is the daughter of Ellen and Jim O’Connor, Chicago’s social and philanthropic power couple for several decades. Blonde, blue-eyed Ellen is not only one of Chicago’s great beauties but also a devoted volunteer. Elizabeth begins her praise of her own roots in describing both her grandmothers.
“My mother’s mother once played tennis on the White House lawn—almost all her life she was athletic and full of vitality. Helen O’Connor, my father’s mom, was always curious, always taking classes, learning computer skills in her 70s.”
Elizabeth, the mother of Brendan, 15; Charlotte 13; and Caroline and Regan, 10, says her own parents are “the crystallization of what people should be.”
“They are more of the go, go, go mindset and are always doing for others. I have learned that you have to have a balance. Having travelled a lot, I have learned about Eastern medicine. I love its concept that our body is like a garden, and we must constantly tend to it by watering it.”
In addition to exercise, meditation, healthy meals, and soothing rest, participants in a Salveo experience walk away not only recharged but with deeper friendships.
“It is a great feeling to know people you can count on to cut you some slack—there’s real bonding. Email and text chains show that everyone is cheering for you. Someone might decide to throw away the plastic and store things in glass or get rid of junk in their closets and then find that Salveo friends are giving them an electronic high five.
“I like to think that people will walk away from my retreats or continuing education programs feeling recharged and asking themselves what they need to change. We ask the question: ‘When are you the happiest?’ and follow that.”
For further information about Salveo Lifestyle, contact Elizabeth Cole at email@example.com.
PHOTO CREDIT: BARB LEVANT