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Max Owen before and after his 44-pound weight loss

Max Owen

24, Halifax

Pounds dropped: 44 lbs., over 2 ½ years

My turning point

Max Owen: My mum gave me a one-month membership to the YMCA so I could try it out.

Audrey Samson: It was July 2010 and Max had hit 167 lbs (on his 5-foot-3 frame). His doctor said it wouldn't be a bad idea to lose some weight. As a person with Down Syndrome, he's at higher risk for some health conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and early-onset Alzheimer's. Maintaining a healthy weight and diet, and being active, could help stave these off.

He'd always been fairly active through dance and Special Olympics sports, yet he was gaining weight. I had just discovered group buying sites such as TeamBuy & Groupon, and one of them was offering a deeply-discounted one-month membership to the YMCA. I thought that might be worth a try, and I asked our friend and respite care person, Justin Eweka, to introduce him to the gym and workout equipment.

Max loved it – I think it was a guy-bonding thing. He and Justin have been going ever since. Once Max adopts something as part of his routine, he sticks to it. I say he's a creature of habit, but maybe I should give him credit for his unalterable determination. Nothing gets in the way of his workout.

Once the first month was up, the Y was great about setting Max a low monthly membership rate (which they are willing to consider for any low-income individual). His support person accompanies him for free.

My method

Max Owen: I work out every day except Thursday; Thursday is my day off. Twice a week I go to the Y with my work-out buddy, Justin. It's good to have a buddy because it makes working out more interesting and fun. Justin helps me use the machines the right way, and he works out too. We both get fit together. Sometimes another buddy, Jason, comes with me and then I get an extra Y workout in the week. On the days I don't go to the Y, I work out at home. I have my own 15-lb. weights, and on work days I set my alarm for 5:20 so I have time to exercise before I go to work. I never skip working out. Mum says it's an obsession, but I say it's a passion.

Around the same time I joined the Y, I mostly gave up eating meat. I wanted to be more animal-friendly. I started eating a lot more fruits and vegetables and grains.

I liked all the positive comments I got as I started to lose weight and look more buff. It helps me keep motivated.

My kryptonite

Max Owen: All-you-can-buffets, and social events that involve endless food. I don't always know when to stop eating, and then afterward I regret it, because I don't feel so well. My New Year's resolution is to never over-eat.

This interview has been edited and condensed by Amberly McAteer.

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Editor's note: This is a corrected version of a previously published story. Audrey Samson had been misidentified.