Sunday, March 22, 2015

Drop Dead Healthy

Motivation for reading:

I read A.J. Jacobs book Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfectionin search of ideas and inspiration for my 2015 Challenge to Live Healthy on a Budget.

What is Drop Dead Healthy about?
While on vacation in the Caribbean Jacobs is hospitalized for tropical pneumonia.  After his wife tells him she doesn’t want to be a widow at 45, he decides it’s time to get healthy. He conjures up a challenge for himself to become the healthiest man in the world.  This book chronicles his challenge. Each month he focuses on a different area of his body performing research, consulting experts and implementing what he learns.

My Thoughts:
Initially, I enjoyed Jacob’s escapades to get healthy, but the more I read the more his challenge seemed like a farce. Instead of teaching us to become healthier the book felt like a gimmick. Even Jacobs tired of the variety; after trying several different fitness classes he writes:
It is getting numbing instead of inspiring.  It almost always boils down to moving your arms and legs in a room of mirrors. (Pg. 250)
He then decides he needs an exercise goal and begins training for a triathlon. He doesn’t chronicle his training (which may have been interesting), but instead continues writing about different areas of his body.

I did enjoy his visit to Whole foods with Marion Nestle author of What to Eat;particularly his discussion with Nestle about super foods and antioxidants.  He writes, "We tend to believe the food with the antioxidants is the best.  It makes us overlook all the other non-super foods such as apples and oranges." Here is what Nestle says about blueberries:
The blueberry obsession can be traced, in part, to the clever marketing efforts of the Maine wild blueberry growers.  A decade ago, the Maine blueberry industry was in trouble.  In years past, blueberry promoters had tried several strategies: They attempted to market blueberries as candy.  Even odder, they ran a campaign suggesting blueberries as a condiment to put on hamburgers.  Nothing worked.  But when a Tufts study said that wild blueberries had a high antioxidant rating, they ran with it, and blueberries have become the prototypical health food. (Pg. 97)

In the end, Jacobs does complete a triathlon and according to his stats is healthier.  He includes a list of the best tips and advice he received in the appendix. This is helpful since much of the advice he writes about is confusing and contradictory.  

Bottom Line:
I was looking for a more serious take on this topic, but did find the book to be entertaining and not a complete waste of my time. If you enjoy experimental journalism and or humorous books you may like this one, if not skip the book and read the appendix.

Have you read Drop Dead Healthy?  If so what were your thoughts? What books would you recommend for a live healthy challenge?


  1. I loved his book The Know it All where he read the encyclopedia from A - Z, but his other works seem contrived. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. I haven't read this one, but I do like experimental journalism :)

    1. I like it too. I just think there are better books out there. I've started reading Marion Nestle's book What to Eat and so far like it much better. It is more serious and informative.

  3. Celtic Julia,
    I've heard good things about The Know it All too. I think it may have been hard to write about health because there are so much contradictive information out there, everyone's body is different and becoming healthy is time-consuming and a lot of work.