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Body Makeover Challenge: It’s back with a new candidate

karen greenfieldIt’s Healthista’s first body Reboot of 2015 and mother of two and businesswoman Karen Greenfield, 41, has taken up a 12 week challenge which will consist of yoga, strength training, long walks and a unique diet approach to lower her stress levels and fat 

Hi, my name is Karen. I’m 41 years old, married to my husband Vic for the past 19 years and we have two children together – our daughter Sidnie,17, and our son Robbie, 16. We also have two dogs, Reggie and Willow who are my exercise companions! I live in Worthing, West Sussex and my husband and I run our own plumbing, heating and fireplace business.

I have just about hit my lowest point ever as my weight has hit it’s highest point. I cannot bear to look at myself at the moment and was in complete shock when I saw the pictures my daughter took of me for this blog.  I’m 5’7” and have a fairly heavy frame so I’ve never really been ‘light’. However, until about three years ago, I always used to be a size 12 and maintained my weight at about 11 stone which is where I would love to get back to.

Karen swimwaer - face on
Karen was shocked when she saw her body in these pictures

The last five years in particular have been incredibly stressful, mainly as a result of running our business. I have found it more and more difficult to cope with even the smallest stressful event, to the point where I will completely overreact to every slightly difficult situation.

I have struggled with sleeping for a good few years now and regularly take herbal sleeping remedies to try and get to sleep and very rarely wake up feeling refreshed. I have tried so many diets in the past including the usual slimming clubs, boot camps and juice detoxes and managed to lose weight but that was when I only had about a stone to lose.

I was in complete shock when I saw the pictures my daughter took of me for this blog.

For the last year I haven’t wanted to step on the scales but realised I had to sort myself out urgently when I stood in front of my wardrobe sighing and rummaging through all the clothes that no longer fitted me. As winter had set in I had been wearing stretchy skirts with tights to work and joggers at the weekend so I didn’t realise quite how bad things had got until I reached for a pair of my ‘fat’ trousers and even they didn’t fit me. I couldn’t get the clasp to meet even though I was breathing in.

Karen-left-side1When I finally plucked up the courage to dig the scales out from under my bed and weighed myself last month I was 14 stone 2 lbs! I cannot believe that I now weigh more than my husband. Oh my god, what the hell has happened to me? I felt quite panicky, I was going skiing for Christmas and suddenly realised my ski trousers wouldn’t fit me either so I had to buy a new pair in a size 16! The skiing holiday was actually one of the most stressful holidays I have ever been on; our daughter couldn’t come away with us as she had a new job and my son’s friend came along instead, so I was even more worried about any accidents or injuries the whole week as we were now responsible for someone else’s child, plus we ate and drank so much all week as we were staying full board in a hotel. On the day we were supposed to fly home, 80cm of snow fell so it took us 11 hours to get to the airport (11 hours!) and we then had to stay in a hotel overnight – my nerves were in tatters by the end of this experience. I have decided never to go away for Christmas again, it definitely wasn’t the relaxing break in the mountains that I was hoping for.

Anyway, back to my intention to lose weight…I have read so many self-help books, my kindle is literally full of them but one which really struck a chord with me was The De-Stress Diet: The Revolutionary Lifestyle Plan for a Calmer, Slimmer You by Charlotte Watts and Anna Magee, what an apt title! Not only did I need to lose weight but also get rid of some of the stress before it really started to affect my health, especially as I had noticed that my rosacea, (a skin condition that makes your skin turn red and can lead to burning or stinging sensations, visible blood vessels and spots ) had started to get much worse over the last year and I was also suffering from more frequent attacks of cystitis (inflammation of the bladder). I signed up to Charlotte’s website and couldn’t quite believe when I got an email through about being a case study for her new book The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness. I immediately emailed back and was absolutely delighted to be selected as a case study.

Finally, a diet which I knew made perfect sense for me, no fads or counting calories and I could be a case study! I was going to be accountable to someone.

I met Charlotte for the first time last Friday and immediately felt as though she was the right person to help me. We discussed my lifestyle, what I ate (not the healthiest…KFC for lunch!) and drank (large amounts of coffee in the morning and rather large glasses of alcohol in the evening) to the various supplements I was already taking. I have been taking a really good BioCare probiotic as I suffer from IBS (brought on by stress) and also Pharma Nord Co-Q10 Gold for my flagging energy levels. Charlotte recommended supplements including magnesium to help me sleep and calm down and also some supplements to assist my poor liver after the battering from alcohol, she said that these would help improve the condition of my skin and help me cope with stress a bit better, an added bonus. Charlotte explained how good sleep is the key to helping my body feel safe during the day, so that stress hormones can come down. I didn’t know that there was such strong, proven connections between both stress and poor sleep with weight gain.

 Charlotte recommended supplements including magnesium to help me sleep and calm down and also some supplements to assist my poor liver after the battering from alcohol,

Having read The De-Stress Effect, I understood that my feelings of ‘constant alert’ were keeping up the stress response, which can cause us to put on fat, especially around the middle. In our session, as I explained my symptoms like acne rosacea and recurrent cystitis, Charlotte explained that these were inflammatory conditions. Inflammation is apparently a key component of stress, as it’s there to stop us bleeding to death if were to be wounded from the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ that our bodies are expecting from sensing danger, who knew? She went on to say that this was related to the digestive issues I have been having; stress can cause disruption both in the bowel muscles and also in the gut environment itself, with low beneficial probiotic bacteria linked to not only inflammation, but also poor stress coping and weight gain. Charlotte arranged for me to do a stool test (yikes) to see what was happening in there, and recommended I continue my current probiotics until we got the results back and take magnesium to help calm both my nervous system and my bowel muscles for regular movements.

On the food front, Charlotte recommended that I continue eating eggs for breakfast (which I absolutely love) 

The De-stress lifestyle measures we discussed – like walking, less ‘doing’ all the time and letting go of the control that I feel I have over everything at home and work – would also feed in, helping bring down inflammation and settle my digestion to help me detox more naturally and efficiently to reduce stagnation and puffiness.

On the food front, Charlotte recommended that I continue eating eggs for breakfast (which I absolutely love) but make sure that I eat them with some tomato, cucumber or spinach for their alkalising properties and maybe some toasted rye bread. I much prefer a savoury breakfast and find that if I only eat carbs I get hungry very quickly. Charlotte also recommended making stews with lots of veg to take to work for my lunch, and said that a Thai coconut milk based stew or curry would be great for boosting my metabolism, which is ideal for me as I adore Thai food.

Thai coconut milk based stew or curry is great for boosting metabolism

Probably one of the hardest things for me to implement was removing sugar from my diet. In the run up to Christmas I dread to think how much sugar I had consumed in alcohol alone (particularly Port which probably has one of the highest sugar contents). However, what Charlotte said to me about the effects of sugar zapping my energy made me really think how my sugar consumption was doing me absolutely no good so it was time to put all of the above into action, (watch this space).

I adore good coffee (freshly ground coffee bean coffee from my new Sage coffee machine), although I get quite jittery if I have too much and never drink it after 2pm as I have problems sleeping. Charlotte said that as I was giving up alcohol and sugar I was still allowed to have one coffee a day, which might just keep me sane in the early stages of withdrawal. She also said to drink herbal teas throughout the day between meals; I had already been doing this but always had to sweeten them with honey as I didn’t like the taste of them on their own. I work opposite a KFC and am addicted to their chicken pieces (no fries just three pieces of chicken will do me). They must put some ‘drug like’ substance into the coating because I crave it every lunchtime. Charlotte said absolutely no more KFC. I think I can manage this especially if I have a delicious Thai chicken curry for lunch.

Charlotte advised that I get up from desk at least once every hour to keep my metabolism from slipping into ‘sedentary mode’

We also discussed exercise. I currently walk my two gorgeous dogs, Reggie and Willow for 45 minutes every weekday (my husband walks them at the weekend). Charlotte advised that I walk at every opportunity and get up from desk at least once every hour, to keep my body moving and my metabolism from slipping into ‘sedentary mode’. (It has been my first day back at work today so haven’t quite managed that one but will set an hourly alarm tomorrow). Next week I will meet Charlene Hutsebaut, who is the trainer for The De-Stress Effect and will be putting me on my strength training and body conditioning routines.

karen-greenfield with dogs, Body Makeover Challenge, By
Karen walking her dogs


I have also used my mini trampoline for 20 minutes per day and walked my dogs twice a day, 45 minutes over the downs and 20 minutes street walking at a fast pace. Following on from Charlotte’s advice I was intending to walk to work every day but have not yet managed to do this, it seems to be taking me a long time to get motivated in the mornings. I do have a good excuse for this; I have not had any alcohol or sugar (not even any honey in my herbal tea, although I have to say that I didn’t even notice that I didn’t add it this morning) since I met Charlotte and as a result I am feeling like I am completely washed out and have no energy. I know this is the very early stages and that my body will take time to adjust but I have now realised that if I do not do this now I would just continue to gain weight and feel awful. I am attending Charlotte’s yoga sessions twice a week starting on Sunday.  I am really excited to see how my body and mind will change over the course of the next three months. Bring it on.

Charlotte’s recommendations for Week One:

1) Continue eating eggs for breakfast but add some veggies.

2) Make stews for lunch so I am not tempted to visit KFC.

3) Remove sugar from my environment to avoid any temptation.

4) Move every hour – must set an alarm to remind me to do this.

5) Take more time off work to allow myself time to relax.

6) Get a cleaner. (I am a bit of a control freak and like to do everything myself to the point of exhaustion so Charlotte advised me to let go of this control and delegate more).

7) Purchase supplements (which I will go into more detail about next week).

Here’s a typical day’s diet on my new regimen:

Breakfast: Smoked salmon and 2 scrambled eggs with lots of cucumber slices with 1 Latte J

Lunch: Homemade guacamole (avocado, lime, chilli, red onion, tomato) with gammon, lettuce and beetroot.

Dinner: Roast beef with sweet potato (cooked in coconut oil), brussels sprouts and carrots.


Starting stats: Karen swimwear back

Waist: 38”

Tummy: 46”

Hips: 46”

Chest 37”

Right Thigh: 26”

Left Thigh: 25.5”

Right Calf: 16”

Left Calf: 15.5”






7 DIET PRINCIPLES OF KAREN’S REBOOT – from her nutritional therapist Charlotte Watts
The nutrition focus of this diet is a flexi-Paleo style with no-sugar; for good blood sugar balance, adrenal support and appetite satisfaction

Drop the junk foods: preparing own, nutritious foods from fresh ingredients and avoiding junk fats that upset body appetite and weight mechanisms.

Protein, savoury breakfast: to set up appetite for the day and avoid turning to quick-fix foods later.

Lots of vegetables: to support all body mechanisms to work optimally and support good appetite, relationship with food and provide carbs for energy to replace lower grains/beans.

No sugar: to discourage fat-storing mechanisms in the body and break the patterns that lead to cravings and guilt-ridden binges.

No alcohol: Karen is keen to give this up as her main sugar source and causes her bloating and digestive issues.

Reduce/avoid grains, beans and potatoes – particularly in the evening: this is eating flexi-Paleo style where avoiding these ‘novel’ foods (only in the human diet in any amount for 10,000 years) helps reduce the inflammation, digestive issues and insulin fluctuations now known to be linked to weight gain.



Charlotte Watts is a nutritionist and yoga teacher whose work has focused on how nutrition and yoga can meet to help people cope with the demands we face in the 21st century. Her practice and teaching of mindfulness weaves these together and has culminated in her new book The De-Stress Effect: Rebalance Your Body’s Systems for Vibrant Health and Happiness. She has also authored The De-Stress Diet (with Anna Magee) and 100 Best Foods for Pregnancy and 100 Foods to Stay Young. Find out more at Charlotte is also Healthista’s Calmista blogger. Follow Charlotte @cwnutritionyoga

CharleneCharlene Hutsebaut B.P.E, B.Ed, CSCS is a personal trainer, pilates instructor, brand ambassador, speaker and writer with over 15,000 client hours and 22 years of experience in the fitness industry.  Charlene runs her Personal Training Consultancy in London at the exclusive St. Pancras Hotel Spa and  is a sought after inspirational corporate wellness speaker. She has a regular fitness column in Total Sports Performance magazine as well as for Passport – the inflight magazine for Monarch Airlines and has written for Bodyfit, Prima, FitPro, Fitness Life New Zealand and has been featured in London, Fabric, Grove, Woman, Natural Health magazines, as well as The Daily Mail and Express. To find out more about Charlene, please visit her website. Follow charlene @positivelyslim.

Check out our previous Reboot journeys…

REBOOT 1: Charmian Walker Smith


REBOOT 2: Caroline Williams

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REBOOT 3: Thelma Mensah


REBOOT 4: Anastasia

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