Rachel P's Reviews > Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs
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Mar 20, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: first-reads
Read from April 10 to 20, 2012

I won this book as a goodreads giveaway and I am so glad I did! In his novel, “Drop Dead Healthy”, A.J. Jacobs documents his 2 year long journey to become the healthiest man alive. He does a tremendous amount of research and reads a vast amount of studies from a variety of sources on the subject of human health. I appreciate how he makes this book about total health instead of just about diet and exercise. He breaks down the story by body part; focusing on a different part of the body in each chapter.

**SPOILER ALERT**

I actually rate this book 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed how he went for it; fitness crazes, fad diets, alternative medicine, etc. Out of the mountain of research he selected a few key studies to relate and expert advice to pursue. I took pleasure in learning about the calorie restrictive diet (living on the edge of starvation), the Paleo Movement (living like a cavemen), walking and running barefoot, replacing manufactured beauty products (such as shampoo and soap) with natural alternatives (such as baking soda and vinegar). Somethings I tried out with great success (like deskercising – desk exercising) and somethings I wouldn’t go near unless I got my own book deal (like acupuncture).

It is a spectacular read but there are a few issues that prevent me from giving it the full 5 stars. For instance, there are two chapters on the stomach in which A.J. discusses different diets he’s trying but the diet is an ever-present element of the entire journey and I don’t feel like he always devotes as much attention to it as he should. For example, the author mentions at the end of a chapter he started eating steel cut oatmeal but doesn’t mention why or how this came about. I know that he didn’t want to make this book too long and perhaps in the interest of prioritization he couldn’t explain every food/diet choice and how it came about but I personally would have been interested in learning much more. He does sum up key points in the appendices but I still think it’s not enough. There are also no consistent measurements reported at the end of each chapter except weight. Granted, I don’t expect a whole long list of measurement indices but more consistency would’ve been better.

Here are a few key highlights that I took away:

- Eat on smaller plates because we tend to eat everything that’s on our plates.
- Chew your food thoroughly and eat with family and friends instead of watching TV or reading. You will eat slower and thus give your body the 20 minutes it needs to feel full.
- Stand more and choose activities (or modify existing ones) that put you in motion. Studies show that spending 1 hour at the gym and the rest of the day at a desk or on the couch is not much better for you than if you spent the whole day stationary.
- There’s no such thing as superfoods. All fruits and veggies are equally good for you. Just make sure you wash non-organic produce in hot water and vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Set fitness goals. Buy a pedometer and complete against yourself or a partner to see how many steps you can walk in a day (the recommended amount is 10,000 steps or 5 miles per day). Also, registering for a marathon and then having to train for it is great motivation to get or stay in shape.
- Keep your brain fit by challenging yourself and trying new things.
- Enjoy life. Don’t let your health become a preoccupation to the exclusion of all other aspects of your life. Enjoy spending time with people that you love and you are happy to be around. Don’t waste time stressing over getting enough exercise or counting calories.

This novel is packed with so much quality information it is definitely a keeper for me. A.J. is very relatable starting out as your average out of shape American male. He includes his family in his health project and intersperses his story with personal anecdotes which I think make his experience more real. And his writing is hilarious; I’m talking LAUGH OUT LOUD funny. So I actually burned calories while reading this book especially when I was doing it while iPloding on my treadmill desk. Thanks A.J.!
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04/11/2012 page 100
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