Welcome to Beautifully Well Blog

There is something about January that inspires me to get back to blogging regularly. I have started, restarted, and revamped my blog many times over the years. Writing is a passion of mine and a form of therapy. When I was a teenager I used to write poems as a form of self-expression and as an escape from the emotions and pain I was experiencing as a result of childhood trauma. I didn’t realize it at the time but there is something so freeing about writing out your thoughts and feelings, and for me even more so when I share my story with others. But since it’s still mostly just a hobby of mine it always gets pushed aside when the responsibilities of life get in the way.

If there’s one thing that 2020 taught me however is that it’s important to make more time in life for the things that bring you joy and nurture your mental health, and to let go of those that aren’t serving you anymore. Like many last year was personally a huge year of change, coping with new challenges, learning, and growth. It was full of ups and downs and of course most of these things were out of our control.

Change brings change and whether it is forced or planned change it can help us put things in perspective and give us the opportunity to set new goals. So with that I have revamped my blog to reflect my ever-evolving wellness journey as part of my own healing process and in hopes I can help others along the way. I will be sharing non-toxic living tips for mental and physical health, clean beauty tips and products I love, positive thoughts and inspiration, as well as my own beautifully imperfect story from chronic illness to wellness.

Whether you are here for support or for inspiration for your own path to wellness I appreciate each and every one of you. Thank you for following along!

Be Well – Krissy

My Breast Implants Were Making Me Sick, So I Removed Them

I’ve been struggling with whether or not to share my experience with Breast Implant Illness publicly since the subject is so private, and even so how to go about it. What would people think? What if they view me as vain, or don’t believe my illness was real? What if they don’t sympathize with me, after all I did this to myself, and things could be worse. Still I think it’s important I share my story in hopes I can help other women suffering. So hear it goes…

Why Implants?

Let me first begin with a little background as to why I decided to have a breast augmentation in the first place. It was over 13 years ago and I was the naive and impressionable young age of 23. Looking back now it feels like a different life. I was working in the bar industry and was dating a guy who was horrible for my already fragile self-esteem. I had talked about getting breast implants to my mom when I was in high school, but I don’t think anyone thought I was serious. I also don’t think either of us realized the impact my dad’s mental illness would have on my self-esteem, or have caused my body image issues and the need to be “perfect”.

Let me be clear in that my boyfriend at the time did not encourage me to get breast implants. I don’t blame him for my decision. But I was sick of his comments on the size of other women’s breasts, particularly his exes, and I decided implants might make me feel like I was enough for him…that he might respect me more, stop cheating on me, and help fix our toxic relationship. I was also thinking of getting into fitness competitions so I justified the idea because all of my fitness idols had them as well. I paid for the $7,500 surgery with my student loan and had them done after my December exams. I started training for my first competition in January.

The Turning Point:

Fast forward to 5 years ago. I had just competed in what would be my last fitness competition and had noticed my health declining over the past few years. I didn’t realize it at the time but my body was telling me something, that it was fighting against worsening symptoms caused by my breast implants. I sought the help of every health practitioner out there for treatment and diagnosis, both traditional medicine and holistic. I changed my diet in so many ways, even becoming vegan. I stopped lifting heavy weights in case that was the cause and eventually had to stop working out all together. Finally my doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia last year after no other explanations, and while I knew there was no cure, I was happy to finally have a name for my condition.

It was as only a few months later that my husband sent me an article about a celebrity removing her breast implants due to what she referred to as “Breast Implant Illness”. I didn’t even read it thinking “there is no way my implants are making me sick”. Then shortly after 2 friends sent me similar articles. Again I denied that there could be any link between my fibromyalgia symptoms and breast implants. I basically said “Thanks but I’m good. I have fibromyalgia and I don’t believe my implants are making me sick. I love my boobs”, because let’s be honest I did! I paid a pretty penny for those girls, they were a part of me now. I already had them when I met my husband and up to this point they did help improve my body image…or at least I thought they did.

Finally in September I decided to look more into these articles when another friend, also with breast implants, asked me my thoughts. She was having similar symptoms and we had both heard about more and more women in the fitness industry removing theirs. I came across a Facebook page called “Breast Implant Illness and Healing by Nicole“. The group (at the time) had over 50,000 women all with very similar symptoms, as well as links to articles about breast implant illness. Women in the group were removing their breast implants daily or “explanting” and feeling relief from their symptoms. I spent hours researching the information from this group and other resources and had over 80% of the 50 symptoms listed. Could my breast implants be the cause of my health declining over the past 6 years? I made a Dr’s appointment for the next day.

Breast Implant Illness Symptoms & My Diagnosis:

Here is a list of symptoms caused by Breast Implant Illness, also known as BII. My symptoms are underlined below:

  • FATIGUE
  • BRAIN FOG, MEMORY LOSS
  • MUSCLE AND JOINT PAIN
  • HAIR LOSS, DRY SKIN AND HAIR
  • PREMATURE AGING
  • WEIGHT PROBLEMS
  • INFLAMMATION
  • POOR SLEEP AND INSOMNIA
  • DRY EYES, DECLINE IN VISION
  • HYPO/HYPER THYROID SYMPTOMS
  • HYPO/HYPER ADRENAL SYMPTOMS
  • PARATHYROID PROBLEMS
  • HORMONE IMBALANCE, DIMINISHING HORMONES, EARLY MENOPAUSE
  • HYSTERECTOMY
  • LOW LIBIDO
  • SLOW HEALING, EASY BRUISING
  • THROAT CLEARING, COUGH, DIFFICULTY SWALLOWING, CHOKING, REFLUX, METALLIC TASTES
  • VERTIGO
  • GASTROINTESTINAL ISSUES SUCH AS ACID REFLUX, GERD, GASTRITIS, LEAKY GUT, IBS AND SIBO
  • PANCREATITIS
  • FEVERS, NIGHT SWEATS, INTOLERANT TO HEAT/COLD
  • PERSISTENT BACTERIAL, VIRAL, FUNGAL INFECTIONS
  • YEAST INFECTIONS, CANDIDA, SINUS AND UTI INFECTIONS
  • SKIN RASHES
  • EAR RINGING
  • SUDDEN FOOD INTOLERANCE AND ALLERGIES
  • HEADACHES, MIGRANES AND OCULAR MIGRANES
  • SLOW MUSCLE RECOVERY AFTER ACTIVITY
  • HEART PALPITATIONS, CHANGES IN NORMAL HEART RATE OR HEART PAIN
  • SORE AND ACHING JOINTS OF SHOULDERS, HIPS, BACKBONE, HANDS AND FEET
  • SWOLLEN AND TENDER LYMPH NODES IN BREAST AREA, UNDERARM, THROAT, NECK, GROIN
  • DEHYDRATION FOR NO REASON
  • FREQUENT URINATION
  • NUMBNESS/TINGLING SENSATION IN UPPER AND LOWER LIMBS
  • COLD AND DISCOLOURED LIMBS, HANDS AND FEET
  • GENERAL CHEST DISCOMFORT SHORTNESS OF BREATH
  • PAIN AND OR BURNING SENSATION AROUND IMPLANT AND OR UNDERARM
  • LIVER AND KIDNEY DYSFUNCTION
  • GALLBLADDER PROBLEMS
  • TOXIC SHOCK SYMPTOMS
  • ANXIETY, DEPRESSION AND PANIC ATTACKS
  • INFERTILITY 
  • FEELING LIKE YOU ARE DYING
  • SYMPTOMS OF FIBROMYALGIA
  • SYMPTOMS OF LYME DISEASE
  • SYMPTOMS OF EBV
  • SYMPTOMS OF AUTO-IMMUNE DISEASES SUCH AS; RAYNAUD’S SYNDROME, HASHIMOTO’S THYROIDITIS, RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS, SCLERODERMA, LUPUS, SJOGREN’S SYNDROME, NONSPECIFIC CONNECTIVE TISSUE DISEASE, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
  • SYMPTOMS OF BIA-ALCL LYMPHOMA
  • DIAGNOSIS OF CANCER

Unfortunately there are no tests to diagnose BII and I knew this before going to see my Dr. But my mind was racing with the hope that I might be able to find a cure for my illness, and I wanted validation that I wasn’t crazy. While my Dr admitted she had no experience with BII, she did agree to refer me for a MRI. Unfortunately it could be up to a years wait to go through provincial health care. I opted to pay for the MRI through a private clinic and was booked in the following week. I felt that if everything looked ok then maybe I wouldn’t have to worry as much, that I would get my implants out eventually but perhaps it wasn’t as urgent as I thought. I didn’t realize it at the time but the decision to pay for that $850 MRI would become one of the best decisions I’ve made for my health.

I got the MRI results back the following week and it confirmed 2 things: 1) my right silicone cohesive gel breast implant had ruptured and 2) a lump in the same breast was detected. I had no idea as everything looked and felt normal. I knew at that time however I needed to have my breast implants removed as soon as possible and that I did not want them replaced. Thankfully the lump turned out to be benign, but I heard of confirmed cases of breast implants causing a new form of cancer called BIA-ALCL and I didn’t want to take the risk. Even if there was a small chance I would feel relief from the pain I’ve been suffering with for years I’d take it and have them removed for good.

Breast Implant Safety:

Let’s talk about my prior education about breast implants for a moment. I had my initial breast augmentation consultation a year before my surgery, making me 22 years old. My Dr told me of a new silicone breast implant on the market called cohesive gel or “gummy bear” implants. Unlike older models these cohesive gel implants were supposed to stay intact if torn, like a gummy bear would if cut. I was told the risk of this happening would be low however, and while the warranty was only for 10 years, many women had theirs for even 30 + years. They were “safe” and the risks associated with breast implants were low. I was given a small pamphlet about the brand he recommended (Mentor) which talked about risks and expectations, and that was basically it. No talk of how the company now recommends a MRI every 2 – 3 years, no mention of the auto-immune response many women are now experiencing, and definitely no mention of why silicone breast implants were taken off the market in the 90’s. He also didn’t mention the lack of adequate long-term studies conducted on breast implant safety or how many medical devices are approved by the FDA or Health Canada without proper testing.

I should also mention I scheduled a follow-up with my Dr when my implants were 9 years old due to lumps I had discovered. My breast implants would have still been under warranty at the time but he said everything looked and felt fine. Again I asked about replacing them and he gave me the same vague answer: some women have to replace them after 10 years, some don’t. The lumps turned out to be fibroids but I also had a mammogram done just to make sure. Was this the cause of the rupture? I’ll never know. But what I can say for certain is that a ruptured silicone cohesive gel implant does not resemble a gummy bear. It looks like sticky, runny, horrifying goo. Click here to see for yourself. This photo is what my ruptured implant looked like after it was removed from my body. Click here for what the intact one looked like, what it is supposed to look like. The red tissue are my capsules.

Explanting:

I finally had my explant surgery March 25th, 2019 and while I couldn’t wait to have these foreign invaders in my body removed, I was completely terrified. I almost didn’t remember what I looked like before implants and they had become a part of me now. My husband hadn’t known me without them, and I was electing to have a major surgery.

Believe it or not unlike breast implanting, proper breast explantation comes with higher risks and a much more extensive surgery, especially when an implant is ruptured. A skilled explant surgeon removes both the implant and the capsule surrounding it “enbloc” (as a whole). In some cases it cannot be removed via enbloc and then a total capsulectomy needs to be performed in which the remaining capsule is scrapped out of the chest cavity. In certain instances the capsule can get stuck to ribs, and grow very close to vital organs and nerves. The capsule must also be removed in order for no silicone, toxic chemicals or BIA-ALCL cancer causing bacteria to be left behind, and the only way to do this with a ruptured implant is via an enbloc explant surgery. The recovery process is also longer than with implanting, muscle tissue can be loss or damaged, and more bleeding can occur. Not to mention that a proper explant via enbloc total capsulectomy can cost anywhere from $5,000 – $10,000 US. Thankfully my surgery went well and my ruptured implant was able to be removed via enbloc. I had my follow-up appointment today and I am extremely happy with my results. Girl, what were you thinking in the first place?

Naturally Me Again

It has almost been 2 months since my explant and I already feel amazing. There is a “detox” process the body goes through after explanting however and total healing time varies. When you think about it, it took years for my symptoms to get to where they were and there was silicone and other toxic chemicals leaching in my body for years. Of course it is going to take time to heal completely. But I’ve noticed several symptoms that improved almost immediately after explant: my posture was instantly better which has helped my neck and back pain, my brain fog has lifted, my skin is glowing and my eczema is gone, my interstitial cystitis is also better, and my headaches are almost non-existent. I also lost 5 lbs immediately (probably from inflammation) and am finally able to get my weight under control again. I have so much energy I actually want to workout again and am doing it without intense pain. The best part is I am more comfortable in my own skin now and love my new natural, smaller, and imperfect self.

While I had made changes to my diet prior to my explant I truly feel my implants were the missing “inflammatory” link. Perhaps the catalyst to it all. These changes did help, but only if I keep all inflammatory foods out of my diet long term. I am conscious about everything I put into my body and believe in natural holistic health. It only makes sense that a foreign object implanted in my body caused it to fight back. In fact we are now seeing that 40% of women who have breast implants will experience an auto-immune response to them. I am confident I will continue to heal and I look forward to sharing the rest of my healing journey with all of you.

If you are reading this and either have breast implants, are considering them, or know someone who has them then please don’t brush it off like I first did. Share this article with someone who you might be able to help just like the beautiful, caring ladies did who shared information with me. I will forever be grateful to you girls, to my fellow BII survivors who have supported me through this journey, to Nicole and the group admins for your tireless work at raising BII awareness, to my family and friends for supporting me, and most of all to my amazing husband for loving me for who I am.

To my 23 year old self: you are smart, kind, strong, resilient, and beautiful just the way you are. You are perfectly imperfect and will find someone who loves you for that. You. Are. Enough.

Nicole’s group now has over 78,000 female members and is growing daily with women suffering from Breast Implant Illness, for those considering implants looking for more information, and those supporting loved ones. Please join us in raising awareness. You can also visit this website for extensive research and information: https://healingbreastimplantillness.com/

Resources:

Canadian Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/553040228225793/

Other Resources: https://healingbreastimplantillness.com/resources/

Naturally, Krissy – xo

Why I’m Not Vegan Anymore

I know this post is long overdue but I didn’t know quite how to write it until now. After I started eating meat again I was so nervous to make it public because I didn’t want to offend any of my vegan friends and followers. I almost felt like I had failed them, like I had failed myself. I had guilt and shame for putting my health above my compassion for animals. Still, I think it’s important for me to be real with you and share my story.

Why Vegan?

Let me begin with why I became vegan in the first place. It was around six years ago. Now that I look back this is where I remember my fibromyalgia symptoms had first started, although I didn’t know it at the time. I had taken a break from competing, had gained around 10 lb, was feeling exhausted, and my IBS was in a bad state. I stumbled upon the plant-based movement after watching a series of documentaries. After doing lots of research I decided to give plant-based eating a try. Before long I became full vegan because it became so much more to me than my health…it was now also about animal cruelty and the environment. I was fighting for a cause that I cared about.

In the beginning I felt amazing. My energy had increased and I was able to lose some weight. I took a plant-based course from Cornell University and before long I was helping others with their plant-based and vegan diets. I felt so great I decided to celebrate my one year vegan-anniversary by stepping back on the competitive stage as a vegan athlete. It was probably the easiest competition prep I’ve ever had because I got to eat so much food! I couldn’t help but share my beliefs with others.

The Turning Point

Unfortunately it wasn’t long after my competition that my health started to decline again. This is when the chronic fatigue started to impact my daily routine and I started developing new conditions including eczema, interstitial cystitis (overactive bladder), and chronic pain. My IBS progressively got worse as well and my skin and hair lost their glow. I didn’t blame my vegan diet for this of course, but I knew something didn’t feel right.

I continued as a vegan for another year while experimenting with an elimination diet to find out my triggers for interstitial cystitis and IBS. I discovered that grains, soy, legumes, citrus fruits, whole almonds, and night shade vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and eggplant) made my symptoms worse so I had to cut these out as well. This obviously eliminated huge staples of mine as a vegan. It wasn’t an easy choice but this is what caused me to add eggs and dairy back into my diet. Then after a year as a lacto-ovo vegetarian I got blood work results back that showed I had low iron and vitamin D. I tried supplementing with high doses of iron but it didn’t help. Still I was determined to keep trying because of my love and compassion for all animals.

Up until this point I hadn’t had any cravings for meat. My husband was not plant-based and I prepared many of the non-vegan meals for him and our guests. It didn’t phase me at all that I wasn’t joining them. That is until 2 summers ago when I noticed myself starting to crave meat again. One evening he was grilling hamburgers and for the first time in four years I had an intense desire to eat one. I wasn’t even a fan of hamburgers. So I decided to listen to my body and ate a hamburger. It honestly tasted amazing and I had such crazy energy afterwards! I was afraid my digestive system wouldn’t be happy with me but it didn’t bother me at all. I had so much energy that I had a hard time falling asleep that night, when I was normally zonked by 8 pm. It was at that point that I decided that my body must be telling me something, so I officially added meat back into my diet. It was only a few months later that my iron levels had risen back to normal again, and in turn my energy increased.

Taking Back My Health

When I first added meat back into my diet I told myself it was a temporary thing. Unfortunately I couldn’t deny how much better I felt. Since my diet was already so limited without eating grains, legumes, soy, whole almonds, and nightshade vegetables I just couldn’t imagine cutting out another food group again. I decided I needed to listen to my body, and as much as my conscience bothered me, I knew it was time to take my health back into my hands again.

Now I am not saying that a plant-based diet caused my fibromyalgia, IBS or Interstitial Cystitis, but unfortunately it didn’t help my symptoms. I have massive respect for those who can eat a vegan or vegetarian diet and thrive. Sadly that was not the case for me no matter how much I supplemented, food paired, tried different macro nutrient ratios, etc.

I am now following an anti-inflammatory eating protocol that is almost the exact opposite of vegan (high fat/low carb) and I am finally starting to feel like myself again. It’s been almost 2 years since I’ve been eating this way, and while I am eating meat again I have to say I have a whole new appreciation for the animals who provide me nourishment. I source my meat locally so that I know where it comes from and we try to only buy free-range and grass fed. Even so I only eat a small amount of meat a day and never take more than I need.

If you are a vegan or vegetarian reading this I want to say thank you for listening to my story. I respect your cause and I truly do understand your position. Keep doing you girl (or guy), and I hope you can respect my decision in return.

I understand food is very personal and what works for me doesn’t necessarily work for the next person. We are all individual and have unique needs. These needs also change as we age and deal with health issues. That’s why it’s so important to listen to your body and be in tuned with how food makes you feel.

Feel free to leave me a comment below if you have questions and stay tuned for more details about my current eating protocol.

Naturally, Krissy – xo

Let me introduce myself…

Hi, my name is Krissy! Krystal actually – but I made all my friends and family called me Krissy as a kid and I guess I’m stuck with it now. I am a former dietitian and personal trainer turned fashion sales rep. In my spare time I love to create abstract art and sing really loudly when no one (except hubby) is listening. I am a former Pro fitness model and competition coach who traded in the spotlight 4 years ago for slower living in the country. I strive to put God first in my life and to be kind to all those I meet. I am happily married to the love of my life and have 2 amazing (and super spoiled) senior dogs.

Sometimes social media can be so one sided – only featuring posts of the best parts of our lives – and I am so guilty for that! But oh guys let me count you the struggles I’ve overcome to bring me to who I am today. Without getting too “This is Us” on you let’s just say I had a tough childhood that forced me to grow up very quick. As a result (and being a true middle child) I’ve always felt a strong desire to help others and to use my experiences in life to make me stronger.

Since then I’ve had many ups and downs. Unfortunately I stopped taking my own advice after a recent series of stressful events, one being dealing with the chronic pain and fatigue caused by fibromyalgia. This has forced me to look at my fitness goals in a whole new light and truly put my health first – mental and physical from the inside out. So guys this is me, the real vulnerable me (ok with a little help from a photo editor app). I am sharing in hopes to inspire others and to help me in my own quest for health. Thanks for following!