New ‘Fit Happens’ TV series

Season Two of my Fit Happens TV series is now ready!

Initial TV transmission in the UK is in May 2017 by the Community Channel.

Season Two is five half-hour episodes similar in format to the episodes 1-4 of Series One, but bigger and better with an extra cast member – joining Keith Cormican and me on the studio sofas and in fitness locations globally – is top fitness personality Nicola Feustel.

As well as improving the looks of the sofa-sitters massively, Nicola brings massive knowledge and experience from working on her own fitness, individual clients and group training.

There are many new features in Season Two – a new logo, more segments, more subjects, more cameras – our first drone footage – and a massive crew of highly-talented media production individuals putting it together.

Expect to see crossfit, boxing, spinning, fun-running, bike testing, group workouts, a brand-new ultra-cool kitchen with great new recipes, and new workouts and exercises all over the place!

Plus more expert guests to join the three of us from the world of fitness.

The current transmission times are here: Fit Happens Transmission Times May 2017

Keep looking on or the Fit Happens Facebook page for more details of future transmission times.

Easy Nutrition

I’ve spent a few years following various nutrition approaches – from very precise all the way down to totally random!  These experiences have led me to devise an approach to nutrition for fitness which is flexible, enjoyable and workable in daily life.  It does require a bit of understanding, and there are rules to be – well, if not obeyed, then ‘observed’.  And there is a bit of maths involved too – not too much, but counting and multiplying do come into it.

The approach is designed for those who want to increase their fitness levels, decrease their fatness levels and – probably for most – a bit of both.  It assumes you are already pretty active and undertake exercise most days of the week.

To save ploughing through some big articles, I’ve put my recommended approach down into two videos; the first describes how the numbers work – calculating calories, grams of macronutrients and timing.  The second then takes those ideas further and translates them into real life eating – real meals on a real day on a real test subject (that’s me, of course).

The first video is and when you are ready to move on from the numbers to the meals, it is

I’ve kept both the detail of the maths and the full calorie and macronutrient breakdown away from the videos – but you can see this, if your geek-level is high enough, on my web site – then choose Easy Nutrition on the Nutrition tab.

I hope that all works for you and you pick up an approach to healthy eating that can see you through to your fitness goals. Drop me an email if anything needs a chat through!

Walden Farms review

IMG_8023Walden Farms is a US company supplying a range of products which should be particular interest to all fitness enthusiasts – indeed to anyone looking to up their fitness levels, and down their fatness levels, or indeed a bit of both.

Based in New Jersey, they supply a range of dips, sauces, spreads, jellies and dressings. Nothing unusual about that, you may say, but these are products that tend to feature fairly low on the fitness-fiend’s ‘to buy’ list. Usually packed full of sugars and saturated fats, fitness-focussed readers of this article would tend to avoid them – well, not quite like the plague, but certainly as much as possible.

So what makes Walden Farms products of interest to you, fitness-person? Across the entire range – which is growing almost daily – every single product has no calories, no fat, no carbs, no gluten and no sugars of any kind. Which is indeed pretty amazing!

Obviously, since its zero calories, there’s no good calories in there either – no protein, fibre or good fats – but those can be obtained from whatever it is you are putting Walden Farms products on top of in the kitchen. And I’m not going to mark them down for missing these nutrients.

By the way, when is ‘none’ not ‘none’? Here is the answer, because although the products claim to be zero calories, the ingredients list on each label says ‘Contains trace calories’. And what are trace calories? It is calories in such a small amount that you use more calories eating and digesting it than it provides. And due to that, it is all legally OK in the US and UK to call it zero calorie.

So, with practically no calories, what on earth is in these bottles? The main zero-calorie things I know are water, diet sodas, herbs and spices, coffee and teas. And none of the Walden Farms products are like those. The answer is: water. The biggest ingredient in each product is good old H20, purified and/or filtered. Plus much smaller amounts of many other items – some natural, many others less so – to give the flavour, colour and texture required.

The biggest nasty I found was sodium benzoate. Used as a preservative, it’s a compound that which a lot of people don’t approve of, although it’s totally legal of course in all foodstuffs. It is being phased out of Diet Coke, but is present in all the Walden Farms products I tried.

The nice guys at Discount Supplements – – sent me a box of various Walden Farms products to sample – so it was time to stop writing, and start tasting and reading labels!

I did an unscientific taste check on five of their products, one from each of several ranges. Here are my thoughts on taste and ingredients.

1. From the sauces, I chose the Seafood Sauce. It’s for seafood, not made from seafood – and I’m not sure why they limit it for seafood in their description, the taste would go with many savoury meals. The taste is tangy, and I noted hints of tomato, cider vinegar and horseradish. The main ingredient, of course, is water – and it is runny compared to most UK sauces, but comparable to American chop sauce. Other ingredients include tomato paste and sea salt. It is the sea salt that gives me a concern – it is pretty heavy in sodium. One serving gives you 10% of the US recommended daily amount. But that’s not outrageous when compared to calorie-heavy sauces that taste similar.

2. Another sauce I tried is their Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce. This actually has real bits of tomato and peppers in it (but still legally zero calorie), and is remarkably lovely in taste, and I‘m sure it would enhance any pasta substantially – and will do in our house. Again it’s the sodium which is likely to concern a few people. A portion of this gives you 350mg of it – 16% of your recommended daily value. A large number, but again comparable to other similar-style products that come with tons of sugar too.

3. Let’s leave meals and move to spreads – and I’m really looking forward to this one – its peanut butter with extra flavourings – to be precise its Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Spread. I love peanut butter, the taste and the texture. And I love the taste of this, I get the peanuts, the cinnamon and the raisin in the flavour. But it has a weird texture, more creamy than I’d expect, so it’s far better put onto something (like bread) rather than eaten by the teaspoonful, in usual Chris Zaremba-style. And real raisins too – I’m not sure how they can be zero sugar, but I’m sure it’s a legally valid claim. Sodium is a bit high – but I can confidently predict this jar won’t be in the cupboard for long in our house!

4. Don’t like peanut butter, you strange person? An alternative is a fruit spread – and I tried the Blueberry Fruit Spread. Looks the right colour, smells right and tastes fine, but again the texture is unusual. Spread it on bread, and don’t expect any lumpy bits of real fruit – they would, of course, bring calories with them. Sucralose is here as the artificial sweetener, but there’s no sodium involved.

5. Finally, to coffee – and Walden Farms Hazelnut-flavoured Coffee Creamer. Americans love their flavoured coffee, and this does the trick with that big zero calorie plus point. This product in particular is a chemical lab in miniature on the ingredients list, with remarkably few truly natural-sounding ingredients. It is heavy on carrageenan – which is used in many dairy products – and gives some people an upset tummy. And the sweetener sucralose is surprisingly high up the ingredients list. But – if you like this sort of thing – it tastes fine in coffee, sweetens it well, and the favour reminds me of many trips to coffee shops in the US, where adding the creamer often brings 200 calories or more to your coffee.

In summary, this is a range of products that I suspect their food technicians and chemical engineers have laboured hard to keep within the no calorie, no fat, no carbs, no gluten and no sugars claim. And that is going to get them a lot of customers, including me for some of their products.

If that no sugar, no fat, no calorie approach is paramount for you, then without doubt this is the range for you. I doubt there’s enough sodium benzoate or sucralose to cause you concern unless you eat far too much from the range. But keep an eye on the sodium, it will mount up.

However, if you like your products as natural as possible, regardless of calories, fat or sugars, then my guess is you won’t be buying much from the range.

Me? I’ll take the sauces and the peanut butter, and for these I’ll happily take the Walden Farms rather non-natural approach in exchange for the zero calories. But the spread and coffee sweetener/flavouring isn’t for me; I don’t consume these anyway in full calorie versions, and I’m not going to change that due to the availability of zero calorie options for these.

A final word of thanks again to Discount Supplements for sending me the box. It’s very kind, thanks guys!

Fitness TV time…

Snapshot - 101Interested in fitness on TV?

The TV documentary about me – ‘Fat To Fit at Fifty’ – is being shown by the Community Channel tomorrow. It tells my fitness transformation story and how I’m helping others down the same road. There’s contributions from some of my Personal Training clients, magazine editors, plus fitness professional Rob Riches – who is my own inspiration and the guy who introduced me to fitness in the first place. There’s also views from top local PT Russell Lee, celebrity fitness photographer Simon Howard, and my workout buddy, fitness model Alex Hughes.

It is being shown at the following times on these channel numbers:

Tuesday 17 June – 11AM

Wednesday 18 June – 5AM

The Community Channel is on Sky 539, Virgin Media 233, Freeview 63 and Freeview-HD 109.

I hope you get the chance to watch!

A fast 12

In my blogs, I try to pass on various tips that either increase fitness levels, reduce fatness levels or – ideally – a bit of both.  Sometimes these can be a bit complicated (especially when I find myself in the wonderful world of macronutrients ratios and timing), so this week I’ve taken a much more simple approach.

A key way to get the body burning more bodyfat as fuel is to give it no alternative – but without activating the State of Alert or Starvation response.  And the best and easiest way to do this is to maximise what is already the body’s longest fat-burning period, which is overnight, starting from a few hours after your last meal.

The easiest trick I know for this, is to have a 12 hour period every day (overnight) without eating.  So, if your last consumption of food or drink was at 9pm, don’t have anything else until 9am.  If you’re out late and eating or drinking until 11pm, then tomorrow’s breakfast is at 11am.   It’s that simple.

The body will use the fuel from the carbs in your last evening’s meal or drinks for the first part of overnight, then will turn to it’s built-in fuel reserve for the next few hours – until you ingest some food or drink again.  That built-in fuel reserve is your body fat.  So prolonging this second period significantly helps in making the body turn to its fat reserves for fuel.

Don’t be tempted to grow the fasting period to beyond 12 hours, as this can have the opposite effect – a long fast period can put the body into what is known as the State of Alert and elicits the Starvation response – with the body going all unwell on you and clinging on to bodyfat, as it thinks times have gone really tough and no food is coming for goodness-knows how long.   But 12 hours as a fast is fine, and to do it well, you should do this 12 hour gap every day.

To make this more effective, try to have some exercise in the morning before the end of the 12 hours.  Ideally light to moderate cardio – nothing too strenuous that puts you out of breath.  I find 40 minutes on a cross trainer at level 12 or 30 minutes slow jogging does the trick for me.

And if you want another tip, have some black coffee before that exercise session – this opens up the fat cells and encourages the release of fat to the bloodstream for use as fuel. By the way, black coffee is allowed in the 12-hour non-eat period as it has no calories.  Black tea and water are the same, allowed as they have no calories.  So the idea is not really avoiding meal or food in that time, it’s keeping clear of anything with calories.

Of course, what you eat and drink in the other 12 hours of each day is very important too – but outside the scope of this week’s blog.  Talking about that would get me started on macronutrients ratios again, and I’m giving that subject a miss today. So for a simple rule, that really helps in reducing fatness levels, get into that everyday 12 hour fast, quick!