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Robert Irvine of Restaurant Impossible' No excuses'

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On the eve of the Oct. 22 season 12 premiere of the Food Network's highly rated 'Restaurant Impossible,' fearless chef and restaurateur Robert Irvine took some time to talk about the show and his new book 'Fit Fuel: A Chef's Guide to Eating Well, Getting Fit and Living Your Best Life.'

A virtual poster boy for becoming (and staying) fit in a sedentary world of culinary temptations, Irvine has a two word philosophy for healthy living: 'No excuses.'

'I believe there are no excuses in life for anything,' Irvine told me in a phone call last week. 'You can achieve anything in this country that you want. You just need the passion, a little knowledge and the drive to do so. Fitness is a huge part of my life.'

Irvine says he was told that people would have no interest in reading a fitness book written by him.

'I said, Oh really?' I wrote it anyway and it's doing great. It's currently number one in its category on Amazon and people are loving it.'

'Fit Fuel' is designed for those of us who so easily choose a night of Netflix and Ben & Jerry's over a visit to the gym.

'It's a guide to making a contract with yourself to change your lifestyle,' Irvine told me. 'It's not expensive. It's about how do you cook? How do you purchase the food? What's in the food that you don't know about and what should you look for? There's also great recipes. We give you eating plans and all the tips to go with it, the fitness workout and how to do the exercises.'

Irvine stresses the importance of getting the family involved in a new fitness plan.

'The old family pastime is gone. We don't spend enough time with our kids anymore because we're all so busy and they've got after school projects. [With 'Fit Fuel'] I wanted to bring food, family and fitness all together. If we have supportive people in whatever we do, we always do better. Get your kids involved, show them where the food comes from and let them help you cook it.'

I asked Irvine why so many of us are easily thrown off-track when it comes to keeping up a fitness plan.

'I think we get so busy and so sidetracked from life. It's tougher to make a living now, and both parents are working when years ago it was just one mom or dad. Life is so fast that the fitness part is the first thing to go for a lot of us.'

Complimenting Irvine's text in 'Fit Fuel' are beautifully shot pictorials.

'We shot the book literally as I put the food on the plate. People say to me, My food looked just like that picture in your book.' Well, great! That's what it's supposed to look like. How many times do you buy a book, do what it says, put the food on the plate and it doesn't look anything like it did in the book? They've used lighting, glues, screws, sticks and wires and other things. It's disheartening to me. When I cook something, I want it to look the way the book looks, and that's what we did.'

On 'Restaurant Impossible,' Irvine visits struggling restaurants and determines why they're not working. With a $10,000 budget and a two-day time limit, he attempts to turn them around. Irvine promises a twist for the 12th season, premiering Thursday, Oct. 22 at 9 p.m.

'I can tell you that season 12 is the most unique season of all. It's called Restaurant Impossible: Ambush.''

In past seasons, Irving had no advance notice of where he would go or the specific problems he might encounter there, whereas the restaurants selected for transformation had at least several weeks' notice to prepare.

'The owners have no clue that I'm coming,' Irvine told me. 'This upcoming season will have a lot of drama, a lot of change and a lot of shock factor.'

Irvine will also serve as judge on a new Food Network show called 'Chopped Impossible,' debuting at 8 p.m., just before 'Restaurant Impossible.'

Last year, when Irvine and his 'Restaurant Impossible' crew visited Maine to help the struggling Uncle Andy's Diner in Portland, they were met by owner Dennis Fogg in an ape costume.

'I remember the owner made characters out of his pancakes,' Irvine said, laughing. 'I love Maine and we had a great time doing that show.'

'The Big Morning Show with Mike Dow' can be heard on Big 104 FM The Biggest Hits of the '60s, '70s & '80s - airing on 104.7 (Bangor/Belfast), 104.3 (Augusta/Waterville) and 107.7 (Bar Harbor/Ellsworth)

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