HeadLine: JUST CALL ME GYMMY HOOD
Daily Record, 15/10/1998, p29
by SHAUN MILNE
Jimmy Hood shudders when he looks back at photographs from the days
when he stuffed himself with junk food and took no exercise.
He’s ashamed of the state he was in – weighing 24 stones and with a 56-
A heart attack made him realise what he was doing to his health – and
persuaded him to completely change his lifestyle.
The Clydesdale MP now spends hours at the gym, has his own personal
fitness trainer and goes for long walks with the family dog.
And he has dumped the fatty foods and takeaway meals for cereals,
salads and lean meat.
The difference is striking – he has lost seven stones and taken 12
inches off his waist.
Jimmy, 50, said: “I’ll never throw out these old photographs – I keep
them to remind me how I was.
“I’ll never go back to eating only fish and chips, T-bone steak and
takeaways. My heart wouldn’t be able to cope and, quite frankly, I
don’t want to die.”
He almost did. Having ignored the tell-tale warning signs, he collapsed
with a heart attack at the Foxbar Hotel in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, in
It has taken him months to recover and he is now ready to make a return
to Parliament when the House of Commons resumes on Monday.
He also plans to use his position as an MP to try to help others avoid
his fate – by persuading Ministers to let GPs write prescriptions to
send at- risk patients to the gym rather than giving them drugs.
The father of two said: “I’d been to the doctors three days before I
had my heart attack and he told me I needed to lose weight. He gave me
some tablets for blood pressure and I went away.
“I was at risk. He knew it, but there was nothing else he could do. He
couldn’t make me go to the gym. I want to make it so they can.”
A study into the idea is already under way at both Lanarkshire and
Borders health boards.
And Jimmy believes the country’s frightening death rate from heart
attacks would plummet if people could be educated into exercising and
He said: “These days, I eat to feed, I don’t just eat for the sake of
it or because I’m bored. I still get cravings, especially at night.
It’s like an alcoholic is always an alcoholic – he can never go back.
“But I never want to return to the days when I was so overweight I
would fall asleep in mid- conversation because my weakened heart could
not get enough oxygen to my brain.
“Or have to pull into a lay-by to rest as I drove home because I was so
Jimmy admits he did lapse at Labour’s Blackpool conference two weeks
ago when he treated himself to a fish supper.
But he immediately went to the gym to work it off.
His personal trainer, Angela Duffin, said: “The difference is
fantastic. He’s probably 80 per cent fitter now.
“I think what helped is he had such a positive outlook on it and does
exactly what he is told.
“He sticks to the diet, mostly, sticks to the exercises, and the
difference is there for all to see.”
Last night, Jimmy was due to return to the Foxbar Hotel for the first
time since his heart attack.
He said: “It will be a strange feeling, but I hope I meet the porter
and anyone else who helped me that night. I think I owe them a big
TYPICAL DAY BEFORE
Jimmy would arrive at the Commons having already had a bacon roll for
At Parliament he would have another roll – with sausage – washed down
Then he would demolish a packet of chocolate biscuits and guzzle
numerous soft drinks.
He would scoff some sandwiches at functions early in the day before
lunch – fish and chips was a favourite. In the afternoon, there would
be another function with food.
His evening meal would be T-bone steak and chips or some other calorie-
By the time he got home at after midnight, he would order a Chinese
takeaway or fish supper.
Incredibly, he would snack during the night as he found it difficult to
To make matters worse, he would not exercise
TYPICAL DAY AFTER
Mornings now begin with a bowl of cereal with skimmed milk. If he is
still peckish after that, he will have fruit.
Tea or coffee is black or with skimmed milk.
Lunch comprises a salad roll or lean meat, cheese or chicken sandwich.
He allows himself a snack of low-fat crisps or more salad if he gets
The main evening meal is packed with healthy options like salad or
prime cut meat, grilled, not fried.
Instead of chips he will eat potatoes. Home-made soup helps fill him up.
If he is tempted to eat at night then takeaways are no longer an option.
He can have a bowl of cornflakes or something else low in fat .
Twice a week he will go to the gym and spend an hour each time
following a strict, supervised programme.