Friday, December 11, 2015

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A.J. Jacobs

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If you are thinking about putting "get healthy" on your list of New Year's Resolutions, you couldn't go wrong with a little guidance from A.J. Jacobs. And the laughter generated from his experiences will certainly burn off a couple of calories. 

Mr. Jacobs spent two years trying out a plethora of foods, advice, exercises, trends, tests, quackeries, and contraptions in his search for the perfect health regimen. The result of his efforts is the entertaining and enlightening book Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection (2012).

He begins his quest with a bit of research and puts together a 53-page list of things to do to improve his health. Items range from eating leafy vegetables to humming (prevents sinus infections). He assembles a board of medical advisers and athletic trainers. He even seeks guidance from his hippie Aunt Marti and his 94-year-old grandfather (who just might know something about longevity).

He spends a month focusing on one area of his body - stomach, ears, heart, hands, immune system and so on for 26 chapters. 

His escapades include:

**Experimenting with shoeless running.

**Going all caveman with the paleo diet.

**Controlling portions by eating off his son's nine-inch plastic dinosaur plate.

**Taking a pole dancing class. (He wasn't surprised to be the only male.)

**Having a good result slathering Retin-A on his wrinkles. But, he puts the tube back in the closet because he read it makes skin more likely to get sunburned (not healthy), and as he writes, "it's a money vacuum."

**Trying to sleep using a CPAP machine which makes him feel "like a golden retriever with my head stuck out of a car window."

As in the other of Mr. Jacobs's books that I have read - The Know-It-All in which he reads the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and The Year of Living Biblically in which he incorporates all sorts of obscure rules from the Bible into his daily life - he combines laugh-out-loud scenarios with scientific research and a hefty dose of skepticism.

I love Mr. Jacobs's breezy, down-to-earth writing style. He is never afraid to appear a bit foolish - the photos in the book are just darn funny showcasing his "python-that-swallowed-a-goat type of body" and the many gizmos he wrestled with during his quest.

Even if you are not ready to begin a health regimen of eating stones and seaweed for dinner, don't worry, Mr. Jacobs has done that for you.  You are free to snack on Snickers as you read of his adventures. Enjoy.


  1. I read The Know-It-All and enjoyed it, and this one sounds like fun! I do get tired of reading about how everything I like to eat is bad for me (slight exaggeration) so a humorous look at trying to be healthy might be a nice change.

    1. I agree, Kathy. I just eat what I want - within reason - and don't stress about it! Mr. Jacobs's adventures are very entertaining. I guess the one 'keeper' has to do with shutting the toilet seat before I flush otherwise germs are exploding out into the air...I am trying to remember that!