The Ultimate Guide to Good Posture at Work – Infographic

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BOOK a Corporate Wellness Talk with Charlene on exercises & positions to improve your posture today!

Relaxation techniques to reduce stress

Many years ago when I worked at the Kinsmen Rehfit Cardiac Rehab centre  in Winnipeg Canada I had the opportunity to practice my relaxation techniques with the members.  They loved it so much they asked if I could come home with them to help them fall asleep!  At their urging I made a relaxation technique CD with progressive relaxation, guided imagery and autogenic training.  I am pleased to say I still have several good friends from University working at the Kinsmen Centre helping people of all ages stay healthy.

I also used these techniques with larger groups in corporate event settings, once having over 100 people lying on mats in a hospital gymnasium.  That was a sight to see.

With the benefit of modern technology I am now able to offer my CD online in my shop. Oh, the wonders of the internet….

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Kozzi-closed_eyeThe benefits of using relaxation techniques are many:

Slowing your heart rate
Lowering blood pressure
Slowing your breathing rate
Increasing blood flow to major muscles
Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
Improving concentration
Reducing anger and frustration
Boosting confidence to handle problems

For a good listing of some of the research into relaxation techniques and their health benefits see the following websites (articles):

National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Mayo Clinic

I still offer the Relaxation Techniques in corporate settings….

Check here for more details…

Covet London – A Guide to London’s Female Entrepreneurs

Charlene is featured in Covet London, a guide celebrating female entrepreneurs and all they have accomplished. These women add diversity to this great City by putting their hearts into their business and giving back to their communities.

The Covet Guide connects you with inspiring female entrepreneurs who help shape the culture of this eclectic city. You will be introduced to a diverse range of creative, talented women in business; from innovative fashion designers with the latest styles, to hands on healers that miraculously dissolve your stresses to food experts with delectable delights.   These are the people we love to meet, the places and spaces that nourish us, the resources that we covet!

Buy here

Covet London - Book montage

10 Great Reasons to breast feed your baby

I came across this great information through a friend on twitter.

See the 10 Great Reasons to Breast feed your baby……

10 Great Reasons to Breast feed your baby from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

TRX Training

As originally seen in “Total Sports Nutrition” magazine – June/July 2013 – Vol.2 Issue 1


TRX is a clever bit of kit that allows very functional movement patterns under resistance. lts biggest fan, Charlene Hutsebaut, shares her favourite exercises


Are you looking for an excellent, versatile and fun piece of fitness kit?

The TRX suspension trainer should be your equipment of choice. Before I start gushing about this particular fitness apparatus, let me say that I am not employed by TRX, nor am I directly related to them. So, let the gushing begin!

As a personal trainer of more than twenty years, I have seen equipment of all shapes, sizes and concepts come and go. Some stick, some fade away. Does anyone remember the ab roller? Total waste of space! Or the vibrating belt machines? These may not have been effective pieces of equipment, but perhaps the upside was that they inspired some people to move.

Reasons to use TRX
When buying fitness kit, you will want value for money, durability and of course effectiveness. The TRX easily delivers on all of these. Using one as a personal trainer has opened up my exercise repertoire, especially when outside with clients. Being in a park has always been tricky when wanting to include back, biceps or core exercises, especially if the ground is soaking wet.
The nature of how the TRX functions allows for self-resisted body work. An example of doing this without equipment is a press-up, which can be performed against a bench or on the ground. A backpulling type exercise cannot be done in the same way without equipment: the TRX allows positions where the backpull can be performed because when a TRX is set up, the user simply pulls themselves towards its anchor (a pole, tree or playground equipment). ln this way, the back muscles, arms and core can be engaged.

Use at Home, in the Park or at the Gym
TRX comes with two different attachments. One is a loop with astrong climbing carabiner; the other is a door stoptype pad. The former can be wrapped around a pole, tree, playground structure or anything strong enough to take more than the weight of the participant. lt is always recommended to gently test the structure before doing any major moves. The latter attachment is a clever hard-type pad with a soft, protected outer surface which can be hooked at the top of a closed door: this pad lies on the other side of the door to where the participant is working. lt’s best to work to the outside of the door (the direction to which it closes). TRX also makes a variety of door and ceiling mounts if you have the space and strong walls to accommodate (www.trxtrai ni n

TRX Working the Myofascial Lines
ln one of my previous IS,N articles about pilates and resistance training (Aug-Sep 2012), I introduced you to the concept of myofascial lines. lf you remember, I explained myofascial lines in this way: “Myofascial lines could be said to have the core area as their foundation, running through the middle of most lines’ They are in fact lines of connective tissue that run through the body. I like to think of them as lines that run across muscle groups, connected by fascia (sticky, web- ike stuff ). The old way of talking about working muscles was to think of them as individual muscles or groups of muscles: this is still the way anatomists will explain muscles and their locations because there does need to be a baseline of understanding. Myofascial lines just bring a new view to how we can utilise our muscles effectively and efficiently. Due to the freedom of movement that TRX allows, it becomes a very functional exercise and the body can be trained according to this new principle of myofascial lines.To read more about myofascial Lines,see Anatomy Trains byThomas W. Myers.

Why Work Functionally?
Many of you will have read some article or definition about functional training. My easy explanation of this is that it is similar to everyday movements. I feel that training in a functional way is much more effective than segmenting out specific muscles or groups of muscles. The functional training more readily allows our bodies to be long, lean and strong.


View the original article here

Ask the Experts – Functional Training with Pilates

As originally seen in “Total Sports Nutrition” magazine – Oct/Nov 2012 – Issue 3 


“Functional Training with Pilates” discusses weight training combined with Pilates. How to get the flat abs without getting big muscles?

Weight training for women has so many advantages. Let me first say that you will not get big by lifting weights. Body builders take years with very structured routines and eating plans to achieve their physiques. As a recreational resistance trainer you will tone your muscles, decrease body fat, strengthen bones and increase your metabolism without gaining huge mass. There are other benefits as well such as healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Visualise a very simplistic picture of the body in layers with the skin being the first, followed by fat cells and then muscle below. As you increase your muscle mass, your fat cells will begin to shrink which means an overall toning and “slimming”effect around the body as these layers re-shape.This, along with the increased metabolism, occurs because muscles burn more energy than fat cells. The article was meant to convey the integration of the body as a unit rather than segments.The combination on of mindfully working the core muscles whilst doing weight training moves plus the overall body benefits of lifting, along with a healthy nutrition plan should achieve the flat abs you are ooking for. And again, I can assure you, as a woman lifting weights, you will not become huge like a body builder.


View the original article here

Health Essentials

As originally seen in “Bodyfit” magazine – Oct 2012 

The inside scoop to keep you in peak condition

Hunched over a desk all day, or lugging around a heave handbag? Your back might be under a lot of stress and strain. Luckily there are ways you can strengthen your spine…

Start the strengthening process at home with some ballet-like stretches in the shower. lt may seem strange, but while washing your armpits lean over to the side and bring your rib cage closer to the top of your pelvis. Hold this for around 15 seconds and then switch sides. Next, while brushing your teeth, stand with what you feel is good posture by holding your shoulder blades back towards your spine, shoulders away from your ears, rib cage floating over your pelvis and tummy muscles gently engaged. These positions get
your posture set for the day ahead by using your own strength to pull your shoulder blades back, open your chest and get your core muscles firing. All these elements are important if you’re after better posture at your desk or hunched over a keyboard.

stand tall
Posture and core strength can be improved throughout any exercise or movement you do. The key positions to remember while active, whether you are at the gym, swimming or doing a brisk walk, is to retract and depress your shoulder blades before you begin your exercise. Hold this position while you’re moving, then gently tighten your abs, by pulling your belly button back to your spine

go for a walk
At work you can focus on strengthening your back and stretching your chest during these desk breaks. Try standing in the corner of a room or a doorway, and placing your forearms and hands on the walls. Then, step through into the corner with one foot or through the doorway, keeping your abs engaged and your elbows below shoulder height. Allow your chest to stretch and lengthen your collarbone.


View the original article here

Bodyfit Magazine reader re-vamp

As originally seen in “Bodyfit” – May 2013


Dilini Ratnayeke asks:

I’m a dancer and also do lots of rowing. During the day I have an office job and sit for long periods of time. But, no matterhow often I train, I continuously have tight hamstrings – how can I improve my flexibility?”

Charlene answers:

The reality is that sitting in a chair forces your hamstrings to shorten. Improving the flexibility of any muscle group takes regular practise and the correct combination of exercises, stabilisations and dynamic and passive stretches. If you are weight training regularly, be sure to have a balance of quad (front of leg) and hamstring (back of leg) movements. I suggest you downplay the hamstring work for a few months. Still working with them, but less and with different moves to your normal routine. Avoid old fashioned machines where you isolate the muscles to a single (such as knee) joint action. Instead perform bridges on the floor and hamstring drags on  a Swiss ball. These bring more core stabilisation (abs and back) into the movement, allowing for more strength through your back. What this means for you, is that your hamstrings won’t be able to pull your pelvis down, but be balanced more by the back muscles that pull your pelvis up. Even strength between these muscles creates a neutral balance where the hamstrings don’t take over.

Include Pilates, yoga and both passive (non-moving) and dynamic (moving) stretches in your repertoire. Another tip is to have regular Thai and/or deep tissue massages. They’ll keep your tissues supple through the stretching and release of pressure points which can cause tightness.


View the original article here

10 minute tummy tighteners

As originally seen in “Woman” magazine – June 2012 


Take inches off your waist in no time with these super-quick tricks…

Start the day with yoghurt for breakfast

‘Low-fat dairy products may help lower the levels of fat that get deposited around the abdomen’ reveals Charlotte Stirling-Reed, a registered public health nutritionist and founder of SR Nutrition. ‘Try a breakfast of low-fat, plain yoghurt with some oats and fruit.’

Imagine you’re in a ‘corset’

‘While standing, imagine the muscle tissue from your ribcage to pelvis as a corset,’advises Charlene Hutsebaut, a Pilates instructor and personal trainer. ‘Now, imagine the corset being pulled and tightened fiom behind, and try to move the muscles in the same way. This will help strengthen the tranwerse abdominal muscles and help give you an internal ‘corset’ making your stomach look firmer.’

Skip sugar-free foods

While loading up on refined sugars is a sure-fire way to land yourself a spare tyre, you aiso need to be aware of the dangers of some sugar-free options. Sweeteners such as
sorbitol are broken down and absorbed very slowly by the human body, meaning they can feed the gut bacteria that produce belly-bloating gas.


Ready to take your own action?! 

Press here to start my 6 Sneaky Steps to Slim your Tummy Series 


Try a super-powered plank

‘To work your stomach muscles, try an alternative side plank’ says Charlene. ‘Lie on one side and push yourself off the floor, while one hand reaches up and the other supports you with your fingers facing forward and pull your tummy towards your spine as you bring the top arm up and over towards the one on the floor. Go as far as you can without dipping. Hold for 10 secs.’

Lay off the leggings

While skin-ti9ht leggings and skinny jeans can hold you in, they can also make your core muscles relax and sag as they become lazy. Switch to clothes
where you have to hold your tummy in yourself to help tighten those midriff muscles back up.

Flush out fluid

To deflate a bloated belly, try adding foods with diuretic properties to your diet to help ease any fluid retention. Watermelon, celery asparagus and cucumber are all good choices, plus they taste great!

Hang up your killer heels

Yes, we know a pair of shiny stilettos can make your legs look longer and leaner, but experts say they can also turn a taut tum into a pot belly thanks to the way they encourage your pelvis to tilt, pushing your abs forward. Switch to f lats for an instant tummy trimmer, and try to go barefoot at home.

Can the cola

It’s easy to reach for caffeine when you need an energy hit, but by ditching the coffee and coke you could minimise your midriff. Studies have suggested that caffeine could cause levels of the stress hormone cortisol to spike for a shocking 18 hours after you’ve finished sipping your drink. Secreted by the adrenal gland, excess levels of the hormone can mean fat cells get dumped in your tummy.

Talk more sl-l-o-w-l-y

It might sound far-fetched, but researchers at the American College of Gastroenterology have found that nattering away can increase the amount of air you take in, making your belly balloon.

Shop yourself slim

For a no-fuss way to instantly slim your stomach, shapewear is getting better and better. Our fuvourite waist whiltler is Miraclesuit’s new lightweight Sheer Hi Waist Brief,£31.95,

Get minted

If cravings are stopping you from sculpting that stomach and keeping flab on your abs, try taking a sniff of peppermint. Research from the States found that people who sniffed mint or certain fruits when they had a craving lost more weight than non-inhalers.

Go wholegrain

Switch processed white bread for wholegrain. Studies show that wholegrain-rich diets are linked to a smaller waist circumference.


Ready to take your own action?! 

Press here to start my 6 Sneaky Steps to Slim your Tummy Series 


View the original article here (Woman, June 2012)

View the original article here (from Woman Diet Special, April 2013)


Are you eating enough fat?

Whether you lie in the low-fat consumption camp or indeed, have ignored this dominant health message in pursuit of culinary content, you are almost certainly deficient in fats – good fats that is

A group of nutrients called essential fatty acids (EFAs), known as omega-3 and omega-6, are critical to our health and well-being. EFAs are the main structural component of every cell membrane, meaning that their presence contributes to the function of each system in the body. However, the average person today will consume only one sixth of the omega-3 fats that were consumed in 1850, a fact that results in more than 90% of the British public being deficient in these vital fats (1).

Deficiency in EFAs will compromise our outward appearance with problems such as dry, flaky skin, weak nails and dull, brittle hair (2). This deficiency is possibly the fuel for the current boom of the cosmetics industry. Moisturisers are now a prominent feature on every woman’s (and many men’s) bedside cabinet. Have you ever stopped to consider, as you reach for a bottle of lotion from the chemist’s shelf, why we need to improve our skin quality through the application of external creams? Our complexions are simply a reflection of our nutritional health, and cosmetics alone will not resolve the deeper imbalance in well-being.

fatty acid deficiencies
Besides poor skin quality, common indications of EFA deficiency include: water retention, lack of energy, lowered immunity, pre-menstrual tension, impaired brain function (e.g. attention deficit), depression, skin conditions (e.g. eczema or acne), food cravings and allergies. On a more sinister note, deficiency in EFAs has been linked to hypertension, high cholesterol, heart and circulatory disease, mental deterioration, arthritis, male sterility, miscarriage, auto-immune diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis), cancer, and many other potentially life-threatening illnesses (1, 3).

eat more fat and lose weight
Another sign of EFA deficiency is a sluggish metabolism, which may contribute to obesity. According to ‘Fat’ Guru, Udo Erasmus (1) essential fatty acids (especially omega-3) may help us to lose weight for the following reasons, since they:

  1. increase activity of the enzymes that control fat breakdown and decrease enzyme activity for fat storage
  2. decrease reliance on carbohydrates for fuel and boost fat metabolism
  3. help stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels
  4. suppress appetite by increasing feelings of fullness
  5. improve thyroid function, helping to normalise metabolic rate and energy levels, in turn making it more likely that the individual will increase their activity levels
  6. help decrease inflammation (omega-3) and the resulting water retention in the body, removing excess water via the kidneys
  7. help reduce food cravings
  8. help enhance mood and decrease depression, factors that often lead to overeating and under-activity.

a closer look at the good fats

The parent omega-3 fatty acid is called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which can be converted in the body to longer-chain omega-3 fatty acids, eicospentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Among other protective mechanisms, EPA and DHA are responsible for keeping our arteries free of plaque and holding blood lipid levels, blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors in check (1). In addition, DHA is an important structural component of the grey matter in the brain, so your mother was actually correct when she told you that fish will make you intelligent! In a healthy person, 5-10% of ALA will be converted to EPA and DHA, but this process can be inhibited in certain individuals (4).
The conversion enzymes may be compromised in diabetics and people with excess consumption of: sugar, cholesterol, saturated fats, alcohol, processed oils and trans-fats (from margarines and other processed foods). In this case, it is therefore recommended that individuals consume direct dietary sources of EPA and DHA such as fish or fish oil.

The parent omega-6 fatty acid is called linoleic acid (LA), which can be converted to the longer-chain gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) and arachidonic acid (AA). GLA has been associated with the same health benefits of omega-3 oils such as; cardiovascular protection, increase in metabolic rate, improved hair and skin quality, although it is perhaps best known for its ability to relieve pre-menstrual syndrome in up to 90% of sufferers (1), usually via supplementation of Evening Primrose Oil. AA is not so beneficial to health and can be associated with inflammatory reactions and water retention. In a healthy person, conversion of LA to GLA and AA is much more efficient than the omega-3 process, although the enzymes can also be affected by the same health factors mentioned above.

The balance between omega-3 and omega-6 oil intake is crucial, because too much of one will lead to a reduced conversion of the other into its longer-chain fats. For example, a diet low in omega-3 and high in omega-6 (through consumption of vegetable oils) is a very common scenario, which will mean that more LA will be converted to arachidonic acid (AA). AA is known to increase inflammation in the body, with resulting conditions such as eczema and arthritis and increased fluid retention from the kidneys, with a resultant rise in body-weight. The National
Institute of Health (NIH) in America recommends that we consume omega-6 and omega-3 oils in the ratio 2:1 to 3:1 (5).

where can i get good fats?
Omega-3: rich sources of ALA include; flax seed, hemp seed, canola, walnuts, soy and algae. Rich sources of EPA and DHA include deep-water fish (such as mackerel and sardines) and omega-3 enriched eggs.
Omega-6: rich sources of LA include; sunflower, sesame, pumpkin and hemp seeds, walnuts and soy beans. Rich sources of GLA include evening primrose (definitely recommended for Pre-menstrual Syndrome), borage and blackcurrant oils. Since the majority of the population does not eat fish or flaxseed on a regular basis, omega-3 oils are the main source of deficiency. ALA should be incorporated into the diet in the shape of flaxseed (either its oil or milled). Be careful though, as longterm use of flax oil can cause a relative deficiency in omega-6. At Health Dept. we solve this problem with Udo’s Choice Oil, which includes some omega-6 rich oils such as sunflower and sesame with flax oil. To obtain adequate levels of EPA and DHA, the American Heart Association recommends two servings of oily fish per week. Alternatively, you could supplement with fish oil daily (we use Eskimo 3).

In order to avoid an over-consumption of omega-6 oils, severely limit your intake of processed vegetable oils, margarines and processed foods. With a healthy, balanced diet that follows the guidelines above, it is unlikely that you will be deficient in the omega-6 GLA.

recommendations for a healthy diet and effective weight management

1) consumption of omega-3 and omega-6 rich foods in their whole form or as a cold-pressed oil. Examples include: fresh seeds, nuts, oily fish and flax, Udo’s or Eskimo 3 oil. Essential fatty acids should make up at least a third of total fat consumption.

2) intake of vegetables (five portions per day in varying colours and textures); fruit (3-4 pieces per day); whole grains (consume according to energy requirements). As a rule, a meal should constitute two thirds vegetables and one third meat and/or grains.

3) exercise – moderate aerobic exercise at least 2-3 times each week and weight training two times each week (has the effect of increasing muscle mass, which will boost metabolism).


1) saturated fats and cholesterol (from meat and dairy products). Aim for within 20% of total calories from fat.
2) processed vegetable oils, hydrogenated fats and other ‘altered’ oils (from cooking oils, margarines and many processed foods).
3) refined carbohydrates (sugar, most baked goods and refined grains such as white flour, pasta and noodles). Use glycemic index charts to help with carbohydrate choices (6)

View the original article here


1. Erasmus U (1993). Fats that Heal Fats that Kill. Alive books. Burnaby, Canada.
2. Earle L (2002). New Vital Oils. Vermilion, UK.
3. The Fish Foundation, P.O. Box 24,
4. Davis BC and Kris-Etherton PM (2003). Achieving optimal essential fatty acid status in vegetarians: current knowledge and practical implications. Am J Clin Nutr. 78(suppl):640S-6S.
5. Simopopulos AP, Leaf A and Salem N. (1999). Workshop on the essentiality of and recommended dietary intakes for n-6 and n-3 fatty acids. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health.
6. Mendosa, R. Glycemic Index Lists. Rick Mendosa, 238 Coronado Dr., Aptos, California 95003-4011,