IF I CAN, YOU CAN!: Journal editor's Fit Factor foray shows what can be achieved

Journal editor Brian Aitken signed up to this year's Fit Factor with great success, now he wants you to follow his lead and get healthy

Journal Editor Brian Aitken, before and after joining the Fit Factor
Journal Editor Brian Aitken, before and after joining the Fit Factor

I really don’t like looking at these pictures. Either of them – although at least the one on the right shows the difference that 12 weeks of Fit Factor has made.

As you can see there’s still work to be done, pounds to be lost and sweat to be poured.

So, if I dislike seeing those pictures so much, why am I allowing you to see them?

The answer is simple. I want as many people as possible to follow my example. Because if I can lose more than two stones of body fat in only three months then anyone can.

And it’s not that difficult.

The North East is the second most obese region in the whole of Europe. That depressing fact was the catalyst for The Journal to launch the Great North Fitness Revolution.

All we asked was for everyone to exercise a bit more and to eat a little bit more healthily – the theory being that if we all did a little it would mount up to a lot in reducing our overall obesity levels.

Four years on and the statistics are not any better, meaning a generation of youngsters are growing up with the spectre of heart disease, diabetes and strokes in adult life, and putting even more pressure on the nation’s health services.

And most of it is preventable.


Our graphic is full of simple ideas aimed at tackling the unhealthy lifestyle habits, overeating and lack of exercise that can cause significant damage to health as they can increase the risk of getting cancer and heighten the chances of developing heart disease, osteoporosis and chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

The fitness revolution advocated small changes over a sustained period. Three years ago we introduced the first Fit Factor competition as part of the revolution – but this time we set out to make a big difference in a short period of time.

Working in partnership with David Fairlamb Fitness, we certainly did that and the winner lost more weight in 12 weeks than the winner of TV’s The Biggest Loser.

David suggested that I join the Fit Factor finalists for this year’s 12-week competition to help raise awareness of the issue, and it’s fair to say I had my reservations.

But you don’t spend 10 year as Editor of The Journal without attending the odd business lunch and awards dinners. Or having the odd glass of wine.

My how they mount up.

The vital statistics were the clincher for my participation.

I was carrying 30% body fat, had a dangerous amount of visceral fat around my organs and my metabolic age was 68 – 14 years above my actual age.

Three months of training with the Fit Factor six and being inspired, pushed and cajoled by David have paid off.

I’m now only 49 years old, metabolically speaking, the amount of visceral fat has receded to safe levels, I’ve lost that two stone of fat – and have lost six inches from the tubbiest part of my stomach.

Journal Editor Brian Aitken at the Fit Factor boot camp at David Fairlamb Fitness in North Shields

Food played a big part in the turnaround.

David is an advocate of the paleolithic diet, commonly known as the caveman diet. The good news was whatever we were allowed to eat we could eat as much of it as we wanted.

The bad news was that bread, potatoes, processed foods, rice, cheese, sweets, crisps and sauces were all out.

We were encouraged to eat plenty of eggs and porridge. I don’t like either! But I was never hungry and ate a variety of meats, fish, fruit and vegetables.

Soon the Fit Factor finalists were swapping healthy recipes.

Tinned chopped tomatoes were allowed and they were used as the base for curries and a shepherds pie with the mashed potato being replaced with mashed cauliflower, carrot and turnip. Delicious.

You couldn’t have rice with the curry – but dry fried grated cauliflower was a tasty replacement. Honest.

I’m so pleased I took part in Fit Factor.

It really was a life-changing event for me. Some of the diet changes are now permanent, I will exercise more than I used to and I will carry on with the beach bootcamps at Tynemouth on a Saturday morning.

So what will you do?

Take another look at those two pictures of me and be inspired.

You won’t see them again!


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer