Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection
Amazon Best Books of the Month, April 2012: You may know A.J. Jacobs as the man who attempted to read theEncyclopedia Britannicafrom cover-to-cover. Or you may have been introduced to him when he spent a year trying to follow the Bible as literally as … see full wiki
I've always been amused by people who are health fanatics following some particular trend or fad that promises to fix every issue known to medical science. A. J. Jacobs decided to follow all the health advice he could find for a year, and the result is his book Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection. With the type of humor displayed in his prior books, Jacobs shows just how impossible it is to follow all the health advice out there (or even a small part of it). Ultimately, you'll be dead anyway...
You could probably look at Jacobs as being the everyday version of George Plimpton. He sets out to do things that many of us would not have the time, money, or emotional fortitude to stick with. Few people would subject themselves to the ridicule of going everywhere with noise-cancelling headphones to try and live a quieter life (although we do pass plenty of time with earbuds and iPhones). He started running errands... as in actually *running* his errands. He subjected himself to strange food combinations and exercise routines, all in the quest for physical perfection. What he found out at the end of the experiment is what most people need to remember... moderation in all things. He did become more aware of toxins and actions that cause major problems with our health. But he found that not everything that is right/healthy is worth it when you run it through a personal cost/benefit analysis.
I think what was most telling (and perhaps one of the most important messages of the book) was the life of his aunt Marti. She was extreme in her avoidance of all forms of toxins in everyday life... special food, all-natural supplies instead of chemical cleaners, and shielding from electronic radiation. But during Jacobs' experiment, she died after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. All that work and avoidance of life's "bad things", and she dies just like everyone else. It's a good idea to try and live healthy, but at some point you have to live in the real world.
I enjoyed reading Drop Dead Healthy, if nothing more than to see what some people advocate as being the true path to health. Plus, it looked good as the book I was reading while working out on the elliptical at the gym...
Contents: The Stomach - The Quest to Eat Right; The Heart - The Quest to Get My Blood Pumping; The Ears - The Quest for Quiet; The Butt - The Quest to Avoid Sedentary Life; The Immune System - The Quest to Conquer Germs; The Stomach, Revisited - The Quest for the Perfect Meal; The Genitals - The Quest to Have More Sex; The Nervous System - The Quest to Hurt Less; The Lower Intestine - The Quest to Go to the Bathroom Properly; The Adrenal Gland - The Quest to Lower My Stress Level; The Brain - The Quest to be Smarter; The Endocrine System - The Quest for a Nontoxic Home; The Teeth - The Quest for the Perfect Smile; The Feet - The Quest to Run Right; The Lungs - The Quest to Breathe Better; The Stomach, Revisited - The Continued Quest for the Perfect Diet; The Skin - The Quest to Erase Blemishes; The Heart Revisited - The Quest for the Perfect Workout; The Inside of the Eyelid - The Quest for the Perfect Night's Sleep; The Bladder - The Quest to Figure Out What to Drink; The Gonads - The Quest to Get More Balls; The Nose - The Quest to Smell Better; The Hands - The Quest for Magic Fingers; The Back - The Quest to Stand Up Straight; The Eyes - The Quest to See Better; The Skull - The Quest to Not Be Killed in an Accident; The Finish Line; Epilogue; Appendix A - Guerrilla Exercise; Appendix B - How to Eat Less; Appendix C - Five Tips on Treadmill Desks; Appendix D - My Five Foolproof (for Me, at Least) Methods of Stress Reduction; Appendix E - The Ten Best Pieces of Food Advice I've Gotten All Year; Appendix F - How to Live the Quiet Life; Appendix G - Five Toxins I Now Avoid; Author's Note; Acknowledgments; Index