Today on the blog we are welcoming Elizabeth Swail.
If you have yet to meet her, she is the co-founder of Alive and Well, a holistic community offering services, supplements & more. They are passionate about functional medicine & therapies and also have a wellness spa. They support people with hormone imbalance, sleep issues, allergies, gut health & more.
In this post Elizabeth is going to tell us about her journey from pain to purpose as she opens up about her childhood, overcoming adversity, and becoming a successful entrepreneur with passion & hard work. Huge bonus, she’s even spilling the tea on all her tips & tricks for minimizing stress & anxiety, plus the supplements she swears by.
Let’s dive in.
Top Wellness Practices from Alive & Well’s Elizabeth Swail
I am fit and healthy, very happily married, financially secure, and have four beautiful children. I also have meaningful friendships and I do work that is fulfilling. Yes, I am blessed but my life has not always been this way. In short, I’m not supposed to be here. Odds would tell you that I should be struggling with drug addiction, barely managing to make ends meet as a single mom with no career and no sense of real purpose in life. Yet, here I am, overwhelmed with gratitude every single day of my life.
I know first hand how frustrating an unfair life can be. As I look back at my journey and the massive amount of adversity I have overcome and am humbled by the transformation and growth that has taken place. I share my story in hopes that it will inspire others to look beyond the challenging hand they’ve been dealt to find their own purpose in life.
My childhood was anything but privileged.
Born to a 14 year old mother and 16 year old father, I was raised by my immigrant grandparents. Home life was chaotic. I was surrounded by a great deal of dysfunction due to the drug addiction of many of my family members, especially my parents. There was no structure, no money, no guidance, and no gifts to wake up to on Christmas Day.
Exposure to sexual abuse, drug use, racial discrimination, and poverty were the backdrop that led to abysmal grades, disordered eating, and a suicide attempt. One silver lining was my athletic ability. Being an athlete and dancer kept me in the right crowd and out of trouble. Sports taught me that no matter my starting point, I could control my outcome with hard work and discipline. Still, it is only by the grace of God that I survived high school. Alive but not well; my unstable roots left me with clinical depression and major health issues.
I slowly pulled myself out of chaos and dysfunction – starting with getting accepted into college by the slimmest of margins. Free from the constant exposure to a malignant home life, I thrived in college becoming the first person in my family to earn a degree. Throughout, I followed my passion for dance, becoming one of the few women to have danced for both the Houston Rockets and Houston Texans.
Despite this newfound success, my long history of poor diet, trauma, and environmental toxins continued to hold me back. I suffered frequent migraines, gut issues, depression, and hormonal imbalances on a daily basis. Poor health perpetuated my inability to use my gifts and talents to live out my destiny.
Finally having medical insurance, I sought help from various medical doctors – they had a pill for everything.
They helped mask symptoms but never attempted to explore the root of my problems. Interestingly, it was my husband, Michael, who introduced me to the concept of “food as medicine.” His father was a pioneer in the holistic wellness movement in Austin, TX. Michael had inherited a passion for helping others in the same way.
Based on Michael’s inspiration, the first evil I fought was gluten. The next was dairy. Then I tried my first cleanse. I felt a shift. My brain fog was gone. My bloating and skin issues were at bay and my hormones felt more balanced. Not exaggerating a bit: That was the beginning of a new journey that would change my life forever. So, this is what it felt like to thrive and not just survive. With more energy and a clear mind, I was able to embrace my place in life and stop being a victim of my past.
THE LESSONS I LEARNED
So what has all of this taught me? It taught me that no one is hopeless. We all possess the power to overcome our past and to “have it all,”with a combination of hard work, a positive attitude, and support from the right people in life. I’ve learned that forgiveness of yourself and others is critical to moving forward. You are not your past. You can only get out of your body and mind what you put into it – garbage in, garbage out.
Seeking temporary comfort and altogether avoiding hardship and friction is a recipe for long term misery and can turn into missed opportunities. Taking shortcuts will rob you of the valuable preparation you will need to live a rich, purpose filled life. Most importantly, I’ve learned you can’t do it on your own.
Together with my husband, we have been able to merge our gifts, taking all our expertise and experience, along with our frustration for the current healthcare system, to turn our passion into a crystal clear mission:
To empower others to take control of their health and live out their purpose.
We want to help people live the fullest expression of who they were created to be and provide a place where people can go to find the tools they need for their journey. Enter Alive and Well. Alive and Well offers an alternative path to healthcare. We offer an ecosystem of wellness services to support our team of world class providers and practitioners offering a functional approach to health. Our guests can find support at any point on their health journey – from wellness novice, to those struggling with chronic conditions, to advanced biohackers.
After more than 10 years along my own health journey and being blessed to have access to cutting edge holistic therapies and practices, I’ve tried it all. I’d love to share my top 3 favorite wellness hacks for sleep, hydration, and stress. Of course, I’m including a few of my go-to supplements as well.
HEALTH TIPS AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
These are the things I do every single day without fail…and so should you. Please note that quality and bioavailability of supplements is critical. Whatever you do, do not buy the crap on Amazon or at big-box retailers. It’s a waste of money. I’ve linked many supplements from the Alive and Well shop page and others. Do your research and buy from independent companies doing things the right way.
♡ Tip 1: Sleep
Go the F to sleep! Seriously though, stop sabotaging your sleep. Your day begins with the sleep you had the night before. Get seven to eight hours of quality sleep 6 nights a week. Studies show that the most restful sleep is between 10:00 PM and 12:00 AM so eat dinner early and stop scrolling around 9:00 PM (at minimum change the night shift in your phone settings to adjust the temp of your light). Track your sleep (Oura ring or Whoop Band – use code SKINNY for 15% off).
If your sleep is not good, fix it. How do you do that?
Start with building a bedtime routine beginning two to three hours before bed. No alcohol, no food, drink a calming tea/mocktail (Mantra Labs Rest, One Farm Dream Tea, decrease light exposure (Blue blockers + swap bedroom lamps out with red light bulbs – bonus, you’ll look sexy in the light! More on that here), read a book, take a warm bath with mineral salts (or Dr. Singha’s Mustard bath for extra detox) and a cool rinse after, take magnesium and calming supplements (Quicksilver Liposomal Gaba w/ L-theanine, Cymbiotika Adrenal Super Tonic, Xymogen OptiMag Neuro, NuMedica Liquid Melatonin).
Make your bed a place you can’t wait to crawl into. No clutter. Invest in a great, clean mattress (Avocado), nice sheets, great pillows for your sleep style, turn the temp down and get the F in bed! Do a little calming breathwork if you still need to calm down (love this company: Frequency).
If you do not wake up feeling refreshed by your sleep after a few days of this, something is wrong and you should explore a sleep test or hormone test to find out what. Sleep is not a luxury. It is an absolute essential for living a long, healthy life. These are mostly free/low cost therapies/practices anyone can do. No excuses!
For waking, replace your phone with a real alarm clock (Hatch Restore). Don’t reach for your phone right away. If you like to stay in bed for a few minutes – hop up really quickly, open a window and crawl back in bed a few minutes to stare at the sky from bed while thinking about a few things you’re grateful for. This will reset your rhythms, connect you to life giving sunshine, and start your day off with a positive attitude. Think: sky before screen!
♡ Tip 2: Hydration – Ditch plain water:
Drink up, B! If you truly want to age gracefully and lessen your exposure to disease, throw out the old “8 glasses of water a day” lie you’ve been peddled since childhood. Being properly hydrated supports metabolic regulation, which protects your system from chemical, emotional, and physical stressors that are produced in response to the day to day stress we experience. As we all know, this kind of daily stress is one of the leading causes of chronic illness…Plus, you’ll get wrinkles if you don’t hydrate and nobody wants that.
The truth is that proper and true hydration means being hydrated at the cellular level, which can only occur when electrolytes can get to the lining of your cells and blood vessels and into the intercellular areas of your body. This is one reason hospitals give you an IV with saline (salt) and electrolytes (which carry an electrical charge) when you come into the hospital with dehydration.
Also, stop looking at the color of your pee. This tells you nothing about how water is penetrating your cells. In fact, clear pee is often a sign of mineral depletion and dehydration in our system. When water carries a charge from electrolytes, our bodies read the charge and send it straight to our cells; it is bioavailable. Plain water is effectively dead and washes straight through our bodies. This is a less efficient way to hydrate and can even flush mineral stores.
Routine and products:
Drink 16 oz of mineralized water first thing in the morning for your inner bath and wait at least an hour before drinking caffeine. Some great minerals I use are Quinton (Isotonic or Hypertonic), Cellcore CT Mineral Drops and LMNT (Orange Citrus and Mango Chili are my favorites). Other ways to get minerals: diluted organic coconut water (Harmless Harvest or Nutra Coco clean, ethical, and tasty) and a pinch of regular salt (Celctic Sea Salt or Redmond Pink Salt).
Stay away from drinks with “natural flavors” because anything could be hiding in there. Adding a bit of apple cider vinegar (with the mother – Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar) or lemon in your water is great to have before a meal for adding minerals, balancing blood sugar, and preparing digestion for less bloating. Crazy water is a favorite water from Mineral Wells, Texas that is already charged and we only drink Alive Waters at home – the glass containers are so gorgeous). Hydrogen rich water is also great, especially when fasting. Hydrogen is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties that supports glucose homeostasis and fat metabolism. Fastonic is a great supplement too.
♡ Tip 3: Beating stress
We are all well acquainted with feelings of stress and anxiety. For many of us, we may have even adapted to these feelings so much that they are our normal. That said, if you do not address stress and anxiety, they will lead to longer term mental and physical ailments. So, addressing them is critical to your wellbeing. Whether you get them via your food, IV drip, or through supplementation, below are the top nutrients you need to keep stress at bay and from wreaking havoc on your wellness. I’ve also added some of my favorite supplements. I could write a blog post on each of these and their benefits. Since I don’t have time to do that here, please research on your own to learn more about their incredible benefits.
♡ B Vitamins
B vitamins support so many of the body’s functions and they are incredibly important to our ability to manage stress and anxiety. From adrenal gland function to serotonin production, B vitamins have been linked to boosting cognitive function, reducing the symptoms of stress and anxiety, and boosting cognitive performance even when subjects were not deficient. Pretty incredible.
Neuro Nutrients Mood Support has a great dose of B12 and B6 as well as some other great support for neurotransmitter support. A few other favorites: Quicksilver Liposomal Methyl-B Complex Liquid, Premier Research Labs Max B-ND Liquid, and Cymbiotika Synergy Vitamin B12 + B6.
♡ Vitamin C
Vitamin C is good for so many things but you rarely hear about the ways it supports stress and anxiety. It aids in reducing cortisol in the body, which in turn, reduces stress and anxiety and also helps your body manage glucose spikes that can occur during stressful times, making it easier for you to deal with the stress at hand. Longer term, it can also reduce the oxidative stress caused by chronic stress. Ditch the Emergen-C and opt for Xymogen Bio C 1:1, Professional health Products Pro C 3000 Drink (I mix this in my morning cocktail on especially stressful days or for recovery from lack of sleep or illness), and Thorne Vitamin C w/ Flavanoids.
♡ Ashwagandha + Adaptogenic Mushrooms
These offer incredible stress support that guard against unspecified stressors and can support your system to return to a state of homeostasis. Four Sigmatic makes incredible mixes that taste great. I love almost all their formulations but the Stress-Less formula is top notch!
Magnesium offers incredible support for almost all our body’s functions. We have a few posts on this miracle mineral here, here, and here. Two of my favorite forms for brain function are Magnesium Malate and l-threonate OrthoMolecular Reacted Magnesium and Cymbiotika Magnesium L-Threonate
NuMedica L-theanine liquid. I love to put this in my morning coffee or tea to smooth out the edges of a caffeine rush. Also, I recommend it an hour or two before a stressful activity or bedtime to calm nerves and ease your mind. Quicksilver Liposomal Gaba with L-theanin is incredible before bedtime or anytime you need to feel relaxed. I like these two supplements for their versatility. They are both calming without impairing your cognition or making you drowsy.
Extracted Kava root is an incredible plant-based supplement for calming the nerves and relaxing the body. Standard Process Kava Forte is a great one. I’m also obsessed with Feel Free Tonic (use code SKINNY for 25% off). I get clean energy with it, as easing of the mind and an open heartedness that helps me approach my stress with more clarity. I am a ¼ – ⅓ bottle user. If I drink more than that at one time, it’s a bit much for me. My husband, on the other hand, can drink a bottle within an hour and feel amazing. Play with the dosage but start slow.
One Farm makes some of the highest quality CBD on the market. I like to microdose in my water throughout the day by adding a dropper to 24 oz of water and sipping steadily. Also, taking a full dose all at once for acute stress or before bed can be very calming.
These practices and supplements have supported me in keeping up with four kids, managing my businesses, staying in great physical shape, and reducing my stress. They have provided the clarity and space needed to focus and perform well in all that I undertake. I am able to stay in a proactive state of mind, have healthy relationships, and have joy even on the hardest days. In short, my focus on holistic health allows me to live out my purpose.
Finding optimal health and living a life of purpose is my hope for everyone. It’s why we do what we do at Alive and Well. Wherever you are on your wellness journey, I encourage you to find a healthy, supportive community. Doing this alone is not realistic. Alive and Well has provided this support to thousands of people, but there are many other wellness specialists who can help. I hope you will start this process now and make it a priority. Who you are is not your fault, but it is your responsibility.
x, The Skinny Confidential team.
+ if you loved this post, scope this one from the founder of Cymbiotika.
++ check out this post for Lauryn’s bedtime optimization tips.