‘Mountain Man’ Maintains Work Out Regimen with ALD: A Wall Street Journal Profile 

Whose ready for some Monday motivation to get your week started?

Readers of the Wall Street Journal might be familiar with their “What’s Your Workout?” series, profiling someone’s fitness and diet journey, often highlighting inspirational or remarkable circumstances.

Last Friday’s profile was about a rugged outdoorsman who was determined to keep his active lifestyle going through his X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) diagnosis!

We were equal parts amazed and downright jealous of his hustle!

What is ALD?

Adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a rare genetic disorder that causes damage to the protective membrane around the nerve cells of the brain known as the myelin sheath. Individuals with ALD cannot break down certain very long chain fatty acids (VLCFA) causing a buildup in the brain’s nervous system and adrenal gland.

The symptoms of x-linked ALD vary by the form of the disease present. Types include childhood cerebral demyelinating ALD, adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN), Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism), and female ALD.

Click here to learn more about ALD and each of its different types!

The Man Who Can’t Be Slowed Down

In 2011, Ben LeNail was diagnosed with ALD after nearly 3 years of trying to get to the bottom of his sudden lethargy and trouble walking. Up until that point, his life was one physical adventure after another, regularly engaging in cycling, backpacking, skiing and more.

In fact, he described himself as a mountain man – and that’s not even an idiom. He’s literally climbed Mount Rainier in Washington and Monte Rosa in Switzerland!

So the diagnosis of this rare disease was an unwelcome obstacle he found difficult to climb.

“Suddenly, I had the body of an 85-year-old,” said Ben. “Our society has a very traditional vision of masculinity—a man should be able to throw a ball, jump, run. I had to reinvent myself with my disease.”

So Ben tackled this challenge the only way he knew how. At 53, he committed himself to a disciplined, daily regimen of exercise and activities that included Pilates, physical therapy, swimming, and more.

“I may not be able to summit a mountain, but I promised myself I would remain a vigorous human being both mentally and physically,” he said. “Ironically, the disease makes it more important than ever to exercise every day.”

So… What is His Workout?

Here’s a rundown of his regimen that keeps his muscles active, to avoid the atrophy ALD causes:

  • Core training and squats
  • Slow dancing
  • Pilates
  • Yoga
  • Swimming
  • Hiking with his dog

But don’t just take out word for it, click here to read the WSJ’s profile and get ready to get inspired!

 


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