Sunday 24 September 2017

Dáil is ready to witness the fitness of new Taoiseach and his trim team

Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler, who has reversed his type 2 diabetes Photo: Arthur Carron
Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler, who has reversed his type 2 diabetes Photo: Arthur Carron

Nicole Anderson

From dinner in the middle of the day to avocado toast, skinny lattes and a spot of Pilates, all is changed, changed utterly as we 'witness the fitness' of the new Taoiseach.

When the gym in Dáil Éireann opened 11 years ago, deputies offered a raft of reasons as to why they did not use it. Back in 2006, Senator Brian Hayes claimed: "I hate exercise."; then foreign affairs minister Dermot Ahern explained he "prefers swimming", and Jackie Healy-Rae exploded that he had no intention of ever using the facility, describing it as a "bloody joke", adding: "I have no idea in the wide earthly world where it is."

Now, however, Leo's crew are more likely to be found taking part in a 5k run in their spare time than propping up the Dáil bar, with Simon Coveney, Damien English, Kate O'Connell, Maria Bailey, Eoghan Murphy and the Taoiseach himself amongst the many fresh-faced running fanatics. Richard Bruton is also a long-time fitness devotee.

While the Leinster House canteen is still dishing up full Irish breakfasts and meat, veg and potatoes served three ways, salads are also muscling in. Lattes they can also do - though avocado toast the deputies will have to find elsewhere.

Leo himself is setting the pace, with his recently acquired trim waistline. In the early stages of his campaign, he brought grumpy reporters on a 5k sprint on a Sunday morning, accompanied by Junior Minister Eoghan Murphy and Senator Maura Hopkins.

Fine Gael Senator Ray Butler has reversed his Type 2 diabetes through diet and exercise, after being diagnosed last August.

He had found out about his illness by chance after a backroom staff member bought a blood pressure unit in Lidl. After repeated high readings, he went to the doctor and was shocked when he left the chemist with "a bag full of tablets".

"I thought to myself, 'This ain't happening'," he reveals and set out to steadily reform his lifestyle, cutting out refined carbs and potatoes.

A former crisp fiend, he found savoury snacks the hardest to cut out, but after six weeks found he no longer craved them.

Last month his cholesterol had dropped dramatically from seven to 3.3 and his doctor and nurse were "astonished".

"I'm back to the Ray Butler I was 20 years ago," he says.

Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy TD says there is definitely a new interest in health and fitness in Leinster House and believes her own efforts to lose a few pounds has stimulated an interest amongst party colleagues.

"It is tough. You really have to tell yourself to make changes in what you eat."

She walks 3km to 6km a day and says many colleagues go for walks around Stephen's Green or Merrion Square.

Her party colleague Maria Bailey has long been a keen runner and competitive swimmer.

"It's great in the summer because I can get up at 5.30am or 6.30am and go for a run before the day begins," she said.

Irish Independent

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