43-year-old with Down syndrome drops more than 50 pounds

Man drops significant weight after having thyroid issues, being prediabetic
43-year-old with Down syndrome drops more than 50 pounds
Mike Gorski and Zach McQuade

Every Tuesday morning Zach McQuade can be found on the floors of Hybrid Fitness. His favorite new exercise involves boxing gloves.

“It’s really fun, and you go really fast with punch, punch, punch,” McQuade said.

Trainer and dietician Mike Gorski didn’t know what to expect when McQuade started training with him about a year ago.

“I was excited. I never worked with a client like Zach before,” Gorski said, “He’s definitely been one of the most fun clients I’ve ever worked with and one of the most rewarding.”

McQuade, who is profoundly polite and motivated during his work outs, has Down syndrome. He used to be prediabetic and suffered from thyroid issues. More noticeable than anything, he used to be 50 pounds heavier. That was before his sister brought him to Hybrid, and Gorski started him on an exercise and eating regimen.

“My family is so happy for me,” McQuade said.

Gorski has stressed more water and less junk food. McQuade is allowed a weekend cheat day, but is expected to track his movement and meals on a checklist when he’s not in the gym.

Gorski said McQuade never lacked confidence, but now he has the balance, strength and endurance to match.

“People with special needs often don’t get what they deserve as far as some people might just give up on them and think that they have special needs and that’s that and things can’t be changed,” Gorski said. “But I’ve seen Zach’s balance, his coordination, his mobility all improve, and I know that’s led to a more independent lifestyle for him.”

Michael Shinners is a clinical nurse specialist with the Waisman Center, and he used to work with McQuade on his treatment team. Shinners said the fact that McQuade is able to stay with a consistent plan is crucial to his success.

“The folks that I work with, there’s lots of staff coming through the doors, and often weekends are a whole different picture than Monday through Friday,” Shinners said. “So kind of maintaining the exercise program through the weekend can be difficult.”

McQuade has lost about a pound every week. He said his phone is now ringing off of the hook with single ladies attracted to his thinner physique.

“By all means, it’s very important for him, and it would be important for other people with special needs to get more active, even in a small group setting,” Gorski said.

At 43, it’s the first time McQuade has gotten serious about staying healthy, but Gorski said it’s working.

“I’m very proud of him. He’s come a long way,” Gorski said.