Update in my journey of switching to safer products

Why Safer Products:

I have been on a quest for over a year to find the best non-toxic beauty, personal care, and household products. This includes everything from skincare, to make-up, to hair products, and cleaning products. Basically everything I am putting on my body, breathing in, or using in my home. I am so conscious of everything I put in my body nutrition wise, it only makes sense that I have the same approach for all of the products I use. There is so much information out there however it’s hard to know what is actually safe to use and what to avoid. Keep reading for the reason why I made the switch, why you should consider doing it too, as well as a few tips to get you started.

I first started becoming conscious about what was in my beauty products when I adopted a vegan lifestyle 7 years ago and discovered that a lot of brand named products were tested on animals. While I am not a vegan anymore (click here to see why) this made me realize I needed to learn to read the labels on products just like food labels, and look for approved symbols on products such and “vegan” and “cruelty-free”. I made the switch to many “natural” products at this time, but only did so based on making sure they were vegan and cruelty-free. What I didn’t realize was that just because a product was labelled “natural”, “organic”, “vegan” or “cruelty-free” didn’t necessarily mean it was non-toxic, or even healthy for that matter.

The next change I made was to my cleaning products. As someone who is very sensitive to smells and chemicals I was already very picky with what cleaning products I would buy, gravitating towards unscented options. I decided to switch most of my household products to Norwex products which are free of harsh chemicals and better for the environment. Making this change made me realize just how sensitive I am to many smells and chemicals. I now get a massive headache around anything with a strong, chemical, or perfume smell, and even get itchy/red eyes and break out in hives. My body is obviously telling me these chemicals are bad for me.

Then came my discovery of Breast Implant Illness last year and my ruptured silicone implant (click here for the full story). I found out that the chemicals in my breast implants were toxic, some carcinogenic, and many were endocrine disruptors which cause certain hormones to become more dominant, throwing off our natural hormonal balance and potentially causing reproductive issues. This sparked me to look further into these chemicals and I discovered that many of the so called “natural products” I was using also contained these hormone disruptors, carcinogens, and other ingredients not healthy for our bodies. I knew I had to make changes to many of the products I used and thus began my search.

While I was tempted to just throw out every beauty product in my house and start fresh I knew that wasn’t an option, not only financially but I also didn’t know where to start. The beauty industry is an over 500 billion dollar industry and natural or “clean” products have continued to gain popularity over recent years. Many of the big brands are jumping on board, and labels such as “natural,” “pure”, and “green” are popping up everywhere. The scary thing is there is a massive lack of policy around chemicals in beauty and personal-care products in North America. The FDA has not updated the law passed in 1938 that gives them almost no authority to regulate beauty products. Right now, companies are allowed to put nearly any chemical into personal-care products sold in the US—even known carcinogens—without any safety testing and without disclosing all the chemicals on labels. The FDA in the U.S. has only banned thirty potentially harmful ingredients in cosmetics, 600 are banned in Canada, while the European Union has banned over 1400! Companies are allowed to market and label their products as “natural”, “organic”, “non-toxic”, “clean” (you name it) and it means absolutely nothing. How terrifying is it that we are putting these products on our skin everyday and letting it absorb into our bodies through our largest organ (our skin) leading directly into our blood steam?!

Thankfully there are good companies out there who are committed to making products that are truly non-toxic but unfortunately it took a lot of trial an error on my part to find the right ones for my sensitive skin, even developing a skin condition (called Perioral Dermatitis) in the process. I also unfortunately learned the hard way that my skin does not like coconut oil or other oils that rate high on the comedogenic (pore clogging) scale, as well as certain essential oils. Another lesson in that “natural” does not always mean good for your skin.


Start Slow:

I’m sure by this point you are wondering where to get started and might even be feeling a little overwhelmed. Don’t worry though, a year later and I’m still transitioning some of my products so don’t expect to do it overnight. I suggest making the switch to new products slowly, perhaps as you run out of one, or are ready to try something new. I started with products I used the most like deodorant, soap, toothpaste, chapstick, and body lotion (click on each underlined hyperlink for my favs). Then one-by-one I eventually replaced all of my products including skin-care, makeup, hair products, and sunscreen.


Download The EWG App:

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) has a fantastic app called Skin Deep where you can scan or search for your products and it will give you a safety rating. This is a great way to find safer, nontoxic products for you and your family and was super helpful for me when transitioning products. I keep mine on hand when shopping to see where a product scores. Anything in the “green zone” is considered safer with the “EWG Verified” symbol (shown in the photo below) being the best rating. The app is not funded by any specific company (unlike others out there) so all of the information is unbiased and based on scientific literature. You can click on each ingredient in the product you are searching or search for them individually to get the details.

In my search over the past year I was introduced to Beautycounter products, and their mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone spoke to me. Not only do they make high quality and beautiful products, but they are advocating for stricter guidelines and regulations in the personal-care industry to shift it away from using harmful and questionable ingredients. Going above and beyond the EU’s guidelines Beautycounter banned over 1,800 ingredients in their formulations, called The Never List™. I personally fell in love with their charcoal soap, shampoo, conditioner, and lipgloss.

The more I learned about Beautycounter’s story and the more products I tried, the more impressed I became with the company’s motto to advocate, educate, and formulate safer accessible personal-care products for everyone. Naturally I decided to sign up as a Beautycounter Consultant to help others make safer choicer for them and their families since optimizing health from the inside out is my passion. I truly love and believe in these products and I am grateful to have found a company whose standards and values align with mine.

I’d love to help you find products you love too, whether it’s Beautycounter or some of the many other brands I use. Reach out with questions or recommendations and I’d be happy to help.


What’s Next?

It’s no doubt that more and more people are making the switch to safer non-toxic beauty and household products. But how do you know it is truly non-toxic and what should you look for on the label? Stay tuned for future posts where I’ll help you find out if your product meets the list, as well as what top ingredients you should absolutely avoid. Did you find this article useful or interesting? Please give it a like below, subscribe for future posts and share it with someone who can also benefit.

Be Well, Krissy – xo

How toxic are your beauty products?

It’s no surprise that many chemicals we ingest or breathe-in are harmful to our health. But did you know there are an alarming amount of toxic chemicals we use every day in our beauty and household products without being aware of the impacts they have on our health? Click here to read why. For that reason more and more people are making the switch to healthy non-toxic beauty and household products. But how do you know if your favourite product is truly non-toxic, and what should you look for on the label? After-all many of the ingredients lists are long and contain compounds that are hard enough to pronounce let alone understand. Unfortunately claims such as “natural”, “vegan”, “clean”, “green”, “organic”, or “non-toxic” doesn’t necessarily make it safe. Keep reading and I’ll help you find out if your product meets the list.

Let’s first start off with a list of common potentially harmful and/or irritating chemicals. Go ahead and grab some of your favourite beauty products and see if they contain any of these ingredients I’ve listed below in alphabetical order. Just a little warning that this list can be slightly overwhelming. I don’t expect you to avoid all of these ingredients at once, or at all if you choose not to. But I do think it’s important for you to look into these chemicals more and know what is in your products, especially if you have current health condition such as hormonal imbalances or chronic inflammatory conditions. These chemicals might just be the root of your problems, or at the very least not helping your health.

30 Common Potentially Harmful Chemicals in Beauty & Household Products:

  1. Alcohol
  2. Aluminum
  3. Benzalkomium Chloride
  4. Benzoyl Peroxide
  5. Bisphenol – A (BPA), BPS
  6. BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), Toluene, BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
  7. Carbon Black
  8. Coal Tar Dye, P – Phenylenediamine (Colours listed as “CI”, “FD&C,” or “D&C”)
  9. Dibutyl Phthalate, Phthalates, DHP, DBP5, DEHP
  10. Dioxins
  11. Formaldehyde – Releasing Preservatives (DMDM Hydantoin, Quanternium-15, Diazolidinyl Urea, Imidazolidinyl Urea, Methenamine)
  12. Gluten, Hydrolized Wheat Protein, Wheatgerm
  13. Heavy Metals (Nickel, Lead, Mercury, Arsenic, Mercury, etc)
  14. Hydroquinone
  15. Octinoxate
  16. Para – Aminobenzoic Acid, PABA, Benzphenone, Avobenzone, Ethoxycinnamate
  17. Parabdens (Ethyl, Butyl, Methyl, Propyl, Isobutyl, Methyl)
  18. Paraphenylenediamine (PPD)
  19. PEG (Polyethylene Glycol), Dioxane; 1,4 Dioxane (Ingredients ending with eth/oxynol like Ceteareth)
  20. Petroleum, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Petrochemical (Paraffins ending in “anol” such as isopropyl alcohol, isopropanol, methyl alcohol, methanol, butyl alcohol, butanol, ethyl alcohol or ethanol)
  21. Phenoxyethanol
  22. Propylene Glycol, Butylene Glycol
  23. Silicone
  24. Siloxanes (Cyclomethicone and ingredients ending in “siloxane”)
  25. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
  26. Sunscreens (Retinyl Palmitate, Oxybenzone and Octyl Methoxycinnamate)
  27. Synthetic Fragrances (Parfum, Fragrance)
  28. Talc
  29. TEA, DEA, and MEA (Triethanolamine, Diethanolamine, Monoethanolamine, Cocamide DEA, Lauramide DEA
  30. Triclosan

Now What?

If you are like me you have discovered that many of your favourite products contain numerous of these chemicals. So what’s the next step? Of course I don’t expect you to throw out all of your products and start from scratch. Who has the time or money to invest in that? However here are a few tips I suggest to help you start making the switch to healthier products:

  • Check your products on the EWG’s Cosmetic Database. This can help you decipher which of your products are the most toxic and which ones you might want to switch first. You can also search for individual ingredients you are wondering about to see how they rate on the toxicity scale.
  • EWG (Environmental Working Group) recommends avoiding at least these top 5 harmful ingredients as a start:
    • DMDM Hydantoin
    • Diazolidinyl Urea
    • Imidazolidinyl Urea
    • Ceteareth
    • PEG and Polyethylene
  • Download EWG’s Healthy Living App and search their website for EWG Verified Products
  • Consider switching to a healthier product as you run out of another or are ready to try something new.
  • Copy the list above into your “notes” on your phone or print it off. That way when you are shopping for a new product you can check your list to see how it matches up. Look for samples to try first or travel sizes.
  • Follow my tips here on the 3 products I suggest switching first.
  • Do your research when looking for a new product. Read reviews and look for unbiased feedback from other users.
  • Take your time when switching to new products. I have slowly been making the switch over the past year am and still experimenting/looking for the best products.

Of course keep following my blog and social media posts as I continue to test out new products and give reviews. Have a suggestion for me to try or looking for my feedback on a product? Leave me a comment below or fill out a contact form and I’ll get back to you soon.

Did you find this article useful or interesting? Please give it a like below, subscribe for future posts and share it with someone who can also benefit.

Naturally, Krissy – xo

Intermittent Fasting: Fasting Approved Beverages

Now that you understand the benefits of Intermittent Fasting (IF), as well as the difference between a fasting window and eating window, I’m sure you are wondering what you can consume during a fast. Keep reading for a short but sweet article on fasting approved beverages.

If you missed my post on the benefits of IF please click here, and click here if you missed my article on the 3 most common types of IF protocols.

As we learned in my last 2 articles, one of the main goals for IF is to keep blood sugar levels low and to avoid spiking insulin. In order to remain in a fasted state you cannot raise insulin levels. If you do then the benefits of IF are voided. This of course means that anything consumed while you are fasting cannot raise your insulin levels. For that reason fasting approved beverages do not contain any calories, carbohydrates, protein, or fat.

Here is a list of both fasting approved beverages and things to avoid during a fast.

Fasting Approved Beverages:

  • Water
  • Black coffee
  • Tea (green, black, or herbal – avoid anything with real fruit in it)
  • Pure liquid Stevia
  • Plain soda water or Stevia flavoured soda water
  • Zevia sodas
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Calorie-free electrolyte powders sweetened with Stevia (click here for my favourite)

Not Fasting Approved:

  • Milk, cream, butter or MCT/coconut oil in your coffee (sorry!)
  • Sodas or beverages flavoured with Aspartame, sugar alcohols, Splenda or any other sweetener other than Stevia
  • Bone broth (that’s right it contains protein and fat!)
  • Alcohol
  • Any drink powders containing calories (read the label)

Of course it goes to say that all foods consumed will also break your fast. I also recommend taking any supplements you can with your meals, especially food-based supplements and oils, because these could break your fast.

Now if you are just starting off with IF and need to put a little MCT oil in your coffee to keep you tied over in the beginning, this is ok. But it is something you will need to cut out as your body becomes fasting adapted, especially if you would like to achieve all of the health and fat-loss benefits of IF.

It also depends on what your goals for fasting are. If you are looking for the Autophagy benefits it is actually recommended that nothing be consumed during your fast except water. You can work up to this if you would like however. I still have electrolytes in my water while fasting as well as 1 cup of green tea. On my longer fasting days I also have a can of Zevia Root Beer mid-afternoon as I find the carbonation very filling.

Have a question about something missing from the list? Leave me a comment below. And please share this article with someone else who you think would benefit.

Naturally, Krissy

Intermittent Fasting: When to Eat and When to Fast

Last week I talked about what exactly Intermittent Fasting is and its benefits. If you missed that post please click here. Today let’s go deeper into the three most common kinds of Intermittent Fasting which include:

  • The 16:8 Fasting Protocol
  • The Warrior Diet
  • OMAD

I’ll break down how-to implement each protocol, as well as the benefits and downsides of each.

16:8

The 16:8 fasting protocol is definitely the most common type of intermittent fasting. In fact, you might be doing it already without realizing it or labeling it as IF. It’s great for beginner fasters and is a lifestyle many maintain long term. The 16 stands for a sixteen hour fasting window during which time you do not eat, and only drink fasting approved beverages. The 8 stands for an eight hour eating window in which you consume your meals. Many health professionals actually now recommend that everyone follow a period of fasting after their last meal of at least 12 hours.

How-To :

The first step to start the 16:8 fasting protocol is to choose the hours in which you would like to consume your meals. For example many start with having their first meal (ie break-fast) at 12 noon. This would mean that they would eat all of their meals within an 8 hour window, coming their last meal before 8 pm. If this sounds too difficult for you to start with you could also have your first meal at 10 am, consuming your last by 6 pm. Or you could even have your first meal at 9 am and last by 5pm. Some people find they need to ease into it at first, pushing their window back more as their hunger hormones adapt. But I personally found waiting until 12 pm easy and you might be surprised too. The great news is you can accommodate your eating window to what suits your lifestyle best.

That being said it is easier schedule-wise if you maintain the same window each day. Your hormones (as I talked about here in my last article) will also adapt to your new eating protocol. Of course life happens so if you eat past your eating window one night, just push your break-fast back the next morning so that you are fasting for 16 hrs.

The next step is to decide how many meals to eat within this window. I personally recommend eating 2 large meals during this time, but some people like to start with 3 smaller ones. It is not recommended to eat anymore than 3 times a day however, snacks included. This might go against everything you’ve been taught but I’ll explain why. As I talked about in the last article each time you eat your body produces insulin. When insulin is present your body cannot burn fat. This lasts for a several hours after you eat. If you are eating every few hours your insulin levels will always remain elevated in your body, inhibiting your fat loss potential during this time. This is the same reason I recommend consuming 2 meals a day so your insulin levels have time to decrease in between meals. It can take anywhere from 4 – 6 hrs (or more) for your insulin levels to decrease after a meal, depending on how insulin resistant or sensitive you are. Thankfully intermittent fasting decreases insulin resistance and improved insulin sensitivity.

Benefits:

  • Great for beginners
  • Easy to implement
  • Can be flexible to your schedule & lifestyle
  • Long space between meals which some people find easier for digestion & consuming larger meals
  • Easy lifestyle to maintain long-term
  • Practical for social occasions
  • Easy to consume recommended calories and nutrient intake
  • Easy to adjust eating and fasting windows as your body adapts

Downsides:

  • Some people who are very insulin resistant still find it difficult to implement in the beginning until insulin sensitivity is improved
  • Autophagy (cell recycling as I talked about here in my last article) only comes into play after fasting for at least 18 hrs
  • Fat loss benefits are reduced as insulin is present in the body longer
  • Some people find energy levels decrease after each meal so the earlier you eat it could affect your energy levels
  • The possibility of overeating is still present due to the large space between meals
  • As your body adapts you will need to decrease your eating window and increase your fasting window if you want to maximize health benefits (fat loss, autophagy, energy, etc.)

The Warrior Diet

The Warrior Diet is the popular name for the 20:4 fasting protocol in which the individual follows a 20 hour fasting window and 4 hour eating window, with 2 meals consumed during these 4 hours. It is a natural progression for many people as their body adopts to fasting. Many athletes and bodybuilders prefer this type of IF protocol as it works well for building muscle, maximizing energy levels, and fat loss.

How-To:

Again the first step is to decide what your eating and fasting windows will be based on your lifestyle and schedule. For example if your first meal is at 2 pm, your second (and last) meal would be finished by 6 pm. Or if you prefer to eat later at night you could have your first meal at 4 pm and your second consumed by 8 pm. Again these times can be flexible depending on your day and social schedule, as long as you are fasting for at least 20 hours.

Benefits:

  • Fat burning potential is higher as the fasting window increases, in this case burning fat for 20 hrs a day, because your body has no choice than to use your stored fat as fuel
  • Decreases insulin resistance and improves insulin sensitivity even more which increases fat burning potential
  • Has 2 hrs of autophagy (cell recycling) benefits
  • Maximizes energy levels and muscle building potential
  • Still consuming 2 meals a day so able to split calories and nutrients up into 2 meals
  • More difficult to overeat as the meals are large and not as spaced out
  • Has higher hormonal benefits as the fasting window increases
  • A natural progression for those wanting to decrease fasting window to increase benefits

Downsides:

    Difficult for beginners to implement
    Some people still find it hard to consume all of their calories and nutritional requirements in a 4 hour window
    Can be harder for some people to digest 2 large meals close together
    Eating 2 meals a day still spikes insulin levels twice during the eating window

OMAD

OMAD or “One Meal a Day” is the common name for fasting 23 hours a day, and eating for 1 hour a day. This is the optimum fasting protocol for many people because it maximizes fat loss and health benefits. The one meal eaten is obviously very large in order to ensure nutritional macronutrient requirements are met. For this reason the meal can be consumed gradually over the 1 hour period. Most people choose dinner time as their eating window, which can vary depending on your schedule. The meal could be consumed any time of the day however after a minimum fast of 23 hrs.

Benefits:

  • Is the optimum fasting protocol for fat burning because insulin is only spiked once during the day
  • During the fasting window your body also has no other macronutrients to use as fuel except for fat
  • Autophagy benefits are also maximized (5 hours of autophagy)
  • Many people find OMAD is the easiest protocol to follow meal prep wise
  • Consuming a large, nutritionally dense meal can also reduce food costs
  • Very difficult to go overeat when only consuming one meal a day
  • Is the most beneficial for maintaining energy levels because insulin spikes can decrease energy, and OMAD only spikes insulin once during that hour
  • Maximizes the hormonal balance discussed here in my previous article

Downsides:

  • Very difficult for beginners to implement
  • Can be difficult to consume calories and macronutrients required until your body becomes adapted to eating a large, nutritionally dense meal
  • Can be hard on some people’s digestion
  • Can be difficult sometimes for social schedules

When following an intermittent fasting protocol the most important thing is to find the right balance for you. The great thing is it can be adjusted as you body becomes more adapted or when goals and/or schedules change. You can also alternate between all 3 fasting protocols if that works for you.

I personally follow The Warrior Diet most days because I find it works best with my schedule and lifestyle. It’s easier for me to meet my macros in 2 meals and it keeps my digestion system happy. That being said I do implement OMAD once or twice a week so that I can take advantage of the many benefits OMAD maximizes. I definitely worked myself up to this however, but it is so easy now that it has become my lifestyle.

I absolutely love Intermittent Fasting and my results prove it is the best fit for me.

Of course WHAT you eat during your fasting window is crucial. Stay tuned for this as well as more tips and information on IF. In the meantime please share this article with someone who you think would benefit, and give it a thumbs-up if it also benefited you!

Naturally, Krissy – xo

  • Intermittent Fasting: What exactly is it and what are the benefits?

    When I tell people I follow intermittent fasting I’m often met with a few objections such as “I have to eat first thing in the morning”, “I love to eat and don’t want to limit myself”, “I just eat in a balanced way”, “I have to eat every few hours”, or “how do you eat enough food/nutrients?”. But many people will say these things without first learning what intermittent fasting is, or the many amazing benefits for both health and lifestyle. Today I am going to talk about what exactly intermittent fasting is as well as its benefits.

    What is Intermittent Fasting?

    Fasting is defined as the “controlled voluntary absence of food“. It is not starving yourself. Since the beginning of the Earth humans have practised fasting for several reasons including for health benefits and spiritual beliefs.

    Benjamin Franklin who is known to be one of the smartest men who ever lived said that “The best of all medicines are resting and fasting”. Mahatma Gandhi said that “A genuine fast cleanses the body, mind and soul”. Fasting was also a common practice in bible times.

    Fasting for periods of time is something that is natural to us. Our bodies are designed to store food in times of availability (as fat), and then to release this stored energy in times of food scarcity. In fact all animals have this same ability.

    Intermittent fasting (or IF) is an eating protocol in which you cycle between controlled periods of eating and fasting. It can also be referred to as “time restricted eating” in which the individual has both an eating and fasting window. The eating window would begin at the time the person had their first meal of the day, and it would last until their final meal of the day ends. The fasting window would be from the time the last meal is finished until the first meal the next day.

    There are several common types of intermittent fasting out there which are based on the eating/fasting windows. The most common IF timing is 16:8 (16 hrs fasting window:8 hrs eating window). This is great for those just getting started as it is very easy to adopt. The warrior diet is also popular (20 hr fasting window:4 hr eating window), as well as OMAD (one meal a day). I will talk about each of these in more detail in a future post.

    Health Benefits:

    Balances Fat Burning & Hunger Hormones

    Insulin – When insulin is present in the body it blocks fat loss, meaning you cannot burn fat when it is released. In fact insulin actually protects body fat. Insulin is released every time you eat, so if you are eating every 2 – 3 hours you will be spiking your insulin many times during the day, limiting the time when your body can actually burn fat. When you are fasting however you are decreasing your insulin levels and the amount of times it spikes during the day, thus increasing your ability to burn fat. Fasting also improves your insulin sensitivity, meaning how quickly your insulin levels decrease after a meal, promoting fat usage (ie fat-loss).

    Leptin – This is the appetite suppressing hormone signalling to your brain. If you have a lot of leptin resistance, your brain won’t trigger quick enough that you are full which can lead to overeating. IF helps to decrease leptin resistance so that your brain is able to tell you that you are full much faster, which results in you consuming much less food in a meal. This can lead to a calorie deficit which is needed for weight loss. If you are eating several frequent small meals in a day your body may become leptin resistant meaning you are less full and satisfied with meals. With IF however you are consuming larger less frequent meals, decreasing leptin resistance and helping you feel full and satisfied after your meal.

    Ghrelin – Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. It functions on a rhythm cycle and is released based on when you typically eat. For example if you are used to eating breakfast at 7 am or snacking at 8 pm at night your body will release Ghrelin at these times because of your habits, promoting hunger. Intermittent fasting regulates Ghrelin since you are reducing the amount of times you are eating making you less hungry in between meals. Your body will then get used to your new eating rhythm and Ghrelin will be released at the times you normally break your fast. For this reason IF is very easy to get used to once your new rhythm is established. Since you will be getting hungry less often you will inadvertently decrease the amount of times you eat in a day, thus decreasing your total calories consumed.

    Neuropeptide Y – This hormone also stimulates appetite and hunger. Since meal frequency is reduced with IF Neuropeptide Y it is also regulated by fasting.

    The combination of all of these hormones being increased and/or controlled through intermittent fasting promotes fat loss.

    Autophagy

    Autophagy is the natural process of cell self-eating. This is when your cells seek out and eat weak or damaged cells and produces new cells. Intermittent fasting promotes autophagy which has many health benefits including killing cancer cells, promoting healthy hair, skin and nails, and protecting the heart, liver, pancreas, and other organs. Autophagy does this by killing the damaged cells and producing new healthy cells.

    Mental Clarity

    Intermittent fasting improves the function of the hippocampus in the brain which is important for learning, memory and spacial awareness. Fasting improves memory, slows aging of the brain, improves emotional state, promotes new nerve cell growth, and helps with learning and mental function.

    Muscle Growth, Performance & Preservation

    There are several hormones that are increased with intermittent fasting that can help build, repair, and preserve muscle as outlined below.

    Norepinephrine – This hormone triggers the release of glucose from muscles which helps to protect muscle cells. IF increases the production of norepinephrine thus decreasing muscle loss.

    Epinephrine – This is the fight or flight hormone which among other situations is produced through intermittent fasting. When epinephrine is released it increases energy and strength. This is why many people find working out while fasted is the most beneficial for performance and progress.

    Human Growth Hormone – This hormone is also increased during IF which protects muscle loss, increases energy, and promotes fat burning.

    Other Benefits:

    There are many other non-health related lifestyle perks I have noticed from intermittent fasting including saving money by eating less meals, spending less time cooking, and developing a new healthy relationship with food.

    Intermittent Fasting has so many amazing benefits it is no wonder it is all the rage lately. Thankfully Dr’s are now prescribing it to their patients, as well as natural health practitioners.

    Now despite all of the information available there is definitely a right and wrong way to do IF, and many mistakes can be made to hinder your progress. Stay tuned for my next post in which I will give tips on how to do intermittent fasting the right way.

    If you liked this article please give it a thumbs-up and feel free to share it with someone who will also benefit.

    Naturally, 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

    How I Lost 30 lbs with These 3 Changes I Made to my Diet

    You might not know this about me but I gained over 30 lbs in the past 6 years. Not all at once, but slowly and surely it kept creeping on. I would say the weight gain was due to a few factors: moving to the country and not having gym close-by, settling into the routine of commuting 50 min each way to work, entertaining a lot at our new lake house, work stress, life stress, and of course my chronic pain, fatigue, and other health issues affecting my ability and desire to exercise.

    I tried many things to help shed the weight and I would lose 10 – 15 lb here and there, but before long I’d fall off track and gain it all back. The thing is I didn’t feel good at this new weight so much so that it affected my self-esteem and way-of-life. My clothes didn’t fit as I liked, I didn’t enjoy going to certain places (like the beach), and don’t have a lot of photos of me on vacations because I didn’t want to be in them. Of course I didn’t expect to look like I did when I was competing, but I just wanted to get to a place that I felt comfortable again.

    In January of this year I decided I had enough and had to make some permanent changes to my lifestyle. My inflammation was at an all time high after indulging too much while on vacation and I knew that if I didn’t do something about it now my mental and physical health would be in a bad place. Thankfully my husband was in a similar situation and was also motivated for change.

    I had the initial goal of losing 15 lb, which turned into 20, and now 30. I am feeling the best I have in 6 years and am finally feeling comfortable in my own skin again. Today I’m sharing the most significant changes I’ve made to help me achieve my goals. 

    The 3 Changes I Made to My Diet:

    1) Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet

    2) Keto (High-Fat/Low-Carb) Lifestyle 

    3) Intermittent Fasting

    Now before I go into more details about these I feel I should add a little disclaimer because I know what some of you might be thinking. I am not giving this advice as a Dietitian or Nutritionist. I actually resigned my membership this year because I felt my views aligned more with natural and holistic nutrition. I am simply sharing what worked for me. I will go into each of these in more detail in a future post, as well as the science behind them. I’ll talk about the “how” later; today let’s focus on the “what” and “why”. 

    Anti-Inflammatory Elimination Diet:

    The elimination diet is what started this whole journey for me. Despite the weight-gain my main goal was to decrease my inflammation and chronic fatigue so I could get back to living my life as I remembered. I had experimented with an elimination diet the year before but didn’t cut out all inflammatory foods entirely (coffee and wine), and the whole thing totally fell apart once I started adding food groups back in. In order for the diet to be the most beneficial you have to add groups back one at a time for 3 days and note your symptoms. If any of your symptoms are feeling worse then you are supposed to cut the food out, and try a different one. I was fine when it came to eggs, and next tomatoes, but it all went downhill once I added dairy back. I mean how can you give me cheese and then take it away again?! This left me knowing dairy was a trigger of mine, but I unfortunately threw in the towel before narrowing it down more.

    I came across a book called “Fibromyalgia Freedom” when I was feeling motivated in early January and knew it was important I give it another go. I also decided to document my journey on social media as a way to keep me accountable. I have discovered some new triggers (including coffee, wine, and peppers), and some foods that don’t seam to bother me (eggs, butter, green tea). I’ve been feeling so good however I’ve decided to keep the rest of the “possible” food triggers out for now (like gluten) until I’m ready to experiment again.

    Keto (High-Fat/Low Carb) Lifestyle: 

    I suspect this to be the most controversial thing about this post but hear me out a little. The Keto or Ketosis Diet has become extremely popular over the past few years and everyone is jumping on board. The only issue is that people are not going about it in the right way or not making the right choices. Some are even purchasing expensive supplements which are frankly a waste of money. For that reason even just the name itself comes with a preconceived notion. We’ll get to the right and wrong way in a future post but let me first tell you why I follow a Keto lifestyle. 

    We actually first tried a Keto diet a year and a half ago when hubby wanted to give it a try. I had only started eating meat a month before and the nutrition student in me cringed at the idea. I wanted to support Dwayne however and had a weight loss goal for an upcoming trip. We didn’t put a lot of research in it at the time but purchased a beginner’s plan by a well-known Keto advocate. We initially both lost quickly but after we finished the plan we wanted to try new recipes to switch it. Cue Keto Pinterest recipes! We really enjoyed what we were eating but a lot of the recipes were high in cream cheese, cream, and cheese. I had heard of people decreasing their inflammation on Keto, but of course I wasn’t since I now know that dairy is a huge trigger of mine. Since our goal for doing Keto at this time was mostly weight-loss we didn’t follow it while on vacation or with company so we slowly gained it back.

    We have remained Keto on and off since then but really started researching and experimenting with our macros and what works for us in January. And while I am not going to go into details in this post I will tell you I am not eating any dairy currently and really only consuming one serving of meat a day. All of my fat comes from other sources such as my coconut yogut, avocados, eggs and nuts. In fact I don’t even like to use the term “keto” because of the stigma it comes with. I prefer to call it “high-fat/low-carb” or a “fat adapted lifestyle”.  I know that sugar is a huge trigger of mine and I feel a million times better without it. And yes this includes sugar from fruit as well as from other grains, because it all turns to sugar (or glucose) in our bodies.

    My anti-inflammatory diet in combination with being fat-adapted has made me feel the best I have in years. I don’t crave any sugar or carbs (I don’t have any cravings really), and it helps to keep our blood sugar levels low which is really the goal for both weight maintenance and overall health. More on that later as well. And before anyone asks you don’t need grains or fruit to meet your nutritional requirements. All you need is protein, veggies (ie carbs) and fat!

    Intermittent Fasting:

    Intermittent Fasting or IF has also been getting a lot of attention lately, but it’s certainly not a new eating protocol. I actually did IF for my last fitness competition which was the most enjoyable competition plan I’ve followed. We’ve done it on and off since then, but again really didn’t put as much research or experimentation into it as we should have. Many of the Keto gurus we follow also are big promoters of IF.

    We decided to pair our fat adapted lifestyle with intermittent fasting this time because it is the best way to control blood sugars. As I mentioned above this is very important both for weight loss/maintenance and overall health. I will go into scientific detail later but I know what you might be thinking? What about breakfast Krissy? You told me that was the most important meal of the day! And the answer is yes it is, but you don’t have to eat it first thing in the morning. “Break-fast” is simply the first meal you eat to break your fast. Another term for intermittent fasting is “time restricted eating” or in other words eating all of your meals within a certain time frame. There are varying ways to do this and both Dwayne and I follow different eating windows because of what works best for each of us. We make sure we get all of our calories and macros within this window which ensures we meet our nutritional requirements.

    Another benefit we enjoy from IF is the amount of time it saves in meal prep. Instead of worrying about eating every 2 – 3 hrs, we have larger meals only a few times a day. It’s also saves us a lot of cost on food because we are consuming calorie dense high-fat foods which means we don’t need as much. There are many out there who see benefits from just doing IF and don’t follow Keto as well. This may be something we try eventually once we are in the maintenance phase but we are feeling great now as is.

    And there you have it, the 3 changes I made to my diet to help me lose 30 lb. I realize these are big changes, but each of them have become a lifestyle now since I can’t deny how great I feel. 

    I’m sure you have lots of questions like: What do you eat in a day? What times do you eat? What do you have for treats? How do you eat out? Do you workout too? And don’t worry I will get to each these. In the meantime I’d love to know what other questions you have an I can add these to the list as well. Please leave a comment below and feel free to share this article with someone that could benefit from it.

    Naturally, Krissy – xo 

    How I Kicked My Coffee Habit

    It’s officially been 3 months since I’ve quit my coffee addiction and I’m never looking back. Keep reading for how I’m feeling now without it, as well as the perfect substitution I’ve found to replace it.

    I decided to give up coffee in January when I started my second Fibromyalgia and anti-inflammatory elimination diet. I didn’t part with it when I did an elimination diet last year because I was always so exhausted, I couldn’t imagine life without it. I needed at least one coffee to wake me up in the morning and often a second one to keep me going after lunch. I loved the smell, the bitter taste, and looked forward to every single cup. I thought it was important to give my elimination diet 100% this time around though and wanted to rule out the possibility of adrenal fatigue.

    I’m not going to lie, the first three days were awful! Day 1 was the worst. I was a horrible person to be around because of my irritability and was so exhausted I needed a nap (which I never do despite my chronic fatigue). Day 2 was slightly better, and day 3 a little more. Based on what others told me I thought I would go through these withdrawal symptoms for at least week or two, but thankfully by day 4 I was fine. I had so much energy by day 5 that I did my first workout on our elliptical machine in forever.

    My energy continued to increase in the weeks after, and while I did cut out a lot of other inflammatory foods from my diet, my chronic pain, IBS symptoms and Interstitial Cystitis (IC) were all much better. I added green tea back in last month so I am having a little caffeine again but it doesn’t seem to affect me the same way as coffee. Recently I decided to try one medium coffee just to see how I’d feel and this confirmed it’s definitely one of my triggers. I woke up very sore the next morning and my IC and IBS were acting up. It also makes me anxious and sweat more. Unfortunately I’ve discovered decaf coffee isn’t good for my IC either. So as much as the smell still gets me, I’ve decided to break-up with coffee for good. The fact is coffee is very acidic and inflammatory. It’s clear my body knows what is best for me and I’m going to listen to it.

    Thankfully I’ve found the perfect substitution that not only helped with my initial transition but is a regular yummy treat for when I’m craving a warm coffee-like drink. Dandy Blend not only smells like coffee, it looks like coffee, has a rich and slightly sweet taste, and a smooth texture giving it the closest resemblance to coffee I’ve found.

    As it’s name suggests Dandy Blend also has all the benefits of dandelion root which include:

    • Improving gut health
    • Helping digestion
    • A good source of vitamin K & calcium
    • Can prevent gallstones
    • Balances water
    • Can decrease eczema
    • Can help with muscle & joint pain
    • And so much more!

    Thinking of kicking your morning coffee habit to the curb? Or looking to cut back? Click here to try Dandy Blend yourself and let me know what you think!

    Do you have a coffee substitute you like? Let me know in the comments below and please share with someone you think would like this article.

    Naturally, Krissy – xo