Big thank you from

You'll be seeing a lot less of your assembly member
- and everyone's delighted



MLA Thomas Burns before he shed four stone MLA Thomas Burns after the recent weight loss
MLA Thomas Burns
before he shed four stone
MLA Thomas Burns
after the recent weight loss

IT'S a common complaint that you see a lot less of politicians between elections. But in the case of local MLA Thomas Burns, that would be a compliment as he's shed a whopping 40lbs in just four months.

Fed up with struggling to get into his size 36 inch trousers and 18 inch shirt and standing at 14 stone 61b he was persuaded by wife Therese to join Weightwatchers and now proudly weighs in at 11 stone 8 pounds.

And while Thomas is used to winning elections, he admits it was a tough battle to lose weight. The SDLP man joined the classes at St John's Hall in Crumlin on May 11 after struggling with his weight for a decade. He agreed to join Therese in Weightwatchers so they could motivate each other - but only on the condition they were in separate classes.

"I was actually starting my diet ten years ago," said Thomas. "In fact, every Monday I would start a diet determined to lose weight, but by Wednesday the diet had gone by the wayside and I was eating my children's leftovers as well as my own. I couldn't stick  to a diet.

"Eventually Therese said we couldn't make any more excuses were just going to have to lose some weight."

Thomas's daily diet before consisted of cornflakes for breakfast, scones and tea at mid morning, sandwiches for lunch, followed by more tea in the afternoon. Dinner was meat, potatoes and two vegetables and then he would scoff his children's dinner and supper leftovers before rounding off the day with bread and tea before bedtime.

During the day he was often at meetings which came accompanied by tea and finger food - cocktail sausages, chicken bites and vol au vents - all laden with fat.

He soared to a beefy 14 stone six, was wearing 36 inch waist trousers and struggling to get into an 18 inch shirt.

"I think I just never had the mental attitude to lose weight and I knew that had to really work at it," said Thomas. "I am an all or nothing sort of person and either have to do it right or not at all. This business of saving and keeping some points over was just not me at all. I had to be very strict within myself."

He joined Weightwatchers in May determined to finally win his battle.

He started to drink two litres of water per day - something that was quite alien to him - and walked up to half an hour each day. He lost his first stone within four weeks and by September 7 had got to his goal weight of 11 stone eight pounds, a loss of almost three stones.

"I was very strict and it was only after the first six weeks I started to count the points," he said. "When I lost eight pounds then I wanted to lose 10lb then a stone and so forth."

His breakfast became a bowl of porridge with plenty of fruit. There were no snacks before lunch which consisted of soup and dinner had plenty of vegetables. Any leftovers from the children had went straight into the bin.

The only time that he waivered was when he went on holiday to Donegal. The weather was grim so he decided his diet deserved a holiday too.

He ate a fry, sweets and ice cream and as a result he put on 2lb when he returned to his
class. But it was only a temporary setback. Now he's reached his goal weight Thomas says he'll continue to attend Weighwatcher classes.

"I feel a lot better within myself now," he said. "I am now 32 inch in trousers and 17 inch shirts and feel a lot fitter. I am happy to be under 12 stone - I would not want to be anymore.

"The classes were great. They helped me get motivated and taught me about food and the myths behind foods."

Ulster Star