Many of us would like to be healthy – as long as it doesn’t take too much work. In “Drop Dead Healthy,” A.J. Jacobs spends more than two years striving for bodily perfection and then writing a book about his quest. No stone is left unturned (the Caveman Workout), no spice is left unsniffed (The Quest to Smell Better), and no toxin is left to poison the house (The Endocrine System). In the end, he settles into a new, healthier lifestyle that suits his schedule. Fortunately, Jacobs allows us to share the journey with its (often) humorous and (sometimes) poignant results.
Each month – and each chapter – is devoted to getting one part of Jacobs’ body as healthy as possible. Researchers tell us that it takes between 21 and 66 days to make a new behavior habitual, so focusing on one area for a month at a time allowed Jacobs to begin new behaviors without feeling overwhelmed. Of course, by the end of the book, he has so many new habits that he spends all day trying to eat, exercise, and work in healthy ways. That doesn’t leave much time for his family, although Jacobs incorporates them into various parts of his quest: doing arm curls using a son as the weight and taking his wife to various exercise classes with him.
For “Drop Dead Healthy,” Jacobs had a panel of “experts” to help him decide which leads to pursue. He also read voraciously and references many of the books in his book. He even spent time exploring the fringes, those things with dubious value, and trying a few of them. In general he tries to stick with diet and exercise that has general medical support. Jacobs includes several appendixes in which he tells what works for him and what is he trying to continue.
I have read all of A.J. Jacobs books and find him to be wonderfully humble and honest about his life and the things he does to himself and his family. My favorite thing about his books is his sense of humor. He is willing to look ridiculous to prove (or disprove) something and he writes about it so that we can all relate to him. Although his wife, Julie, doesn’t write in the book, she makes herself heard as the voice of reason married to a slightly kooky husband. I also enjoyed the responses of his young sons on some of the experiments Jacobs tried.
If you would like to be healthier, “Drop Dead Healthy” is a wonderful, humorous and surprisingly helpful and encouraging book.