Benjamin Thomas's Reviews > Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs
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really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, humor

I’ve become a big fan of AJ Jacobs’ books wherein he describes his experiences when submersing himself in one subject area or another. This is the man who lived an entire year trying to follow the dictates of the bible as much as possible (The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible) as well as the guy who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica (The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World). These objectives are meant to be absurdist, of course, but Mr. Jacobs always manages to convey a lot of interesting information and perspective along with the humor.

This one is no exception. The topic this time is health, a subject that is huge and difficult to boil down into easy-to-digest (pun intended) nuggets. Mr. Jacobs has a plan to become the healthiest person in the world (tongue in cheek) after a two-year span. He divides his experience into individual months, each one devoted to a particular health topic as he adds to his lengthy list of all he needs to do to live a perfectly healthy life. Major chapters cover the stomach (diet), the heart (exercise), the adrenal gland (reduce stress) etc. Other chapters are shorter and cover such things as the feet, the skin, the nose, the eyes, ears, and many more. Safety (or how not to get killed in accidents) also gets its own chapter.

Mr. Jacobs does a lot of research and consults numerous experts, often seeking out the most extreme examples of each point of view. For example, he consults experts on nutrition who vary from those who are low carbs/high protein to those with the opposite approach. In fact, in almost every area of health there appears to be a continuum (like a political spectrum of left vs right) and each individual must decide where they fall on it and how to proceed. One thing I particularly appreciated was Mr. Jacobs’ pointing out the placebo effect. Just because you try a new style of footwear to improve your exercise, doesn’t mean that the small improvement you feel isn’t due to the simple fact that you expect it to improve. I also enjoyed how the author ties the whole book together, using his family as examples, whether it is his eccentric aunt who is obsessed with avoiding germs and toxic household products, or it is his aging grandfather as he approaches death. As always, I really feel for Mr. Jacobs’ wife, Julie, who must put up with his obsessions for months on end, but her sacrifices for my benefit are much appreciated.

The bottom line message to improve health can really be boiled down to five words: eat less, move more, relax. How one does this, of course, is the crux of it all. This book is for informational and entertainment purposes. It’s not meant to be a medical textbook. I’m thankful for that because reading it would not have been nearly as much fun.
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Reading Progress

April 30, 2018 – Started Reading
April 30, 2018 – Shelved
May 2, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction
May 2, 2018 – Shelved as: humor
May 2, 2018 – Finished Reading

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