LEAVING the Cabinet table helped former Labour minister Willie Penrose to shed the pounds.
The 56-year-old politician has lost a remarkable seven stone since last October and he now intends to lose a further stone-and-a-half.
It was only when told by his doctor that he was at the "last chance salon" for diabetes and health issues that the Longford-Westmeath TD decided to do something about it.
When he started on a diet he weighed 24 stone – he is now down to 17 stone.
Mr Penrose told the Herald that "one of the unintended benefits of not being at the Cabinet table" was that it helped with the weight loss.
He served as Minister for Housing from March 2011 until November 2011, when he resigned in protest at a Government decision to close a barracks in Mullingar.
"My health was becoming a bit of an issue," he said of his time as a minister, citing work-related stress and poor eating habits.
"I used to play football and hurling, I loved playing sports but that all that fell away when I went into politics.
"One of the downsides is you don't look after yourself as well as you should. I was living a very sedentary lifestyle," he added.
Mr Penrose said that he used to laugh at the idea of a diet.
But now he hopes that his success will help to encourage people in his situation to do change.
"If I can do it, anybody can do it," he said. "My advice would be to just get the head down and do it," he added.
The politician has gone on a motivation diet and lifestyle plan, consisting of high amounts of protein and low amounts of carbohydrates, such as bread.
He said that he now walks upwards of 14 miles a week, feels more free and able to things he couldn't do before and is hoping to take up squash.
Mr Penrose credited the support he received from colleagues in the Oireachtas, including restaurant staff, for his change.