Monday, June 11, 2012

Couch Potato Makeover

A.J. Jacobs was a couch potato with “the physique of a python who swallowed a goat” when he caught pneumonia and became certain he would die. Many people might react by swearing to eat less red meat, or by getting a gym membership—not A.J. Jacobs. A.J. Jacobs reacted by swearing to become MAXIMALLY healthy—and he meant it.

In Drop Dead Healthy, Jacobs chronicles his efforts to wade through acres of conflicting information, misinterpreted studies, and just plain quackery to find out what he really should, can, and will do to maximize his chances for a long healthy life. He doesn’t just read about it—he does it. Not the crazy things like trepanning (drilling a hole in one’s skull). Just the crazy things like IntenSati, a workout combining aerobics with shouted affirmations. And arguing, to keep his mind sharp (his wife loves that one.) And lowering stress by going to a laughing club.

One of my favorite things about the book is that he spends his book advance on health-related expenses like high-powered juicers and brain-wave monitors and DNA testing I could never afford, so I get to learn about their efficacy vicariously without blowing a thousand bucks.

This is the same A.J. Jacobs who’s the editor-at-large of Esquire magazine. He wrote The Know-It-All, in which he read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica and summarized the best parts, and The Year of Living Biblically, in which he attempted to follow ALL the tenets of the Bible for a year, not just the socially acceptable ones. He’s just compulsive and wacky enough to make the pursuit of health both amusing and interesting. This is a quick and funny read, and who knows, you might be inspired to open your mind to new ways of being healthy.  (PS-- He did lose the goat, by the end of the book!)

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