Tuesday, May 01, 2012

"Drop Dead Healthy" by A.J. Jacobs

I finished a few days ago Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection
by A.J. Jacobs and found that it combined together solid information with humor and heart (literal reference not intended).

Jacobs previously wrote The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World (about reading the encyclopedia) and The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible so this latest effort was very much in line with his style of books.

If the goal of Drop Dead Healthy to provide both entertainment and information, the first achieved through Jacobs being both a funny writer and including content about his family (wife, kids, grandfather Theodore Kheel, Aunt Marti). From an learnings/wisdom perspective, below are the things which stood out to me from the Jacobs book (derived over the course of two years consulting with health experts and using his body as a guinea pig)...

Overarching premise - True, stuff can still kill you regardless of your actions, but that shouldn't be used as a cop-out for not trying to be (at least moderately) healthy.

Body / Exercise:
- High intensity interval training for exercise - slow cadence weight training the same idea
- Don't worry about stretching - doesn't accomplish much
- An in-home treadmill an excellent thing to have - can build a computer station into it using stacks and a plank of some sort
- Walking as much as possible (wear a pedometer) - literally running errands
- Barefoot running can be good, but for all people nor at all times - Jacobs does 25% of running without shoes

Body / Other:
- Book recommendation - The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss
- Breath through the stomach (particularly while exercising) - exhale and flatten stomach, push stomach out on the inhale
- Take care of your hands - Greg Irwin YouTube Finger Fitness videos
- Walk right - Helping your back by walking with upright posture, leaning forward and breathing from stomach
- Wear headphones to reduce noise - Bose Quiet Comfort and SureFire Ear Pro Defender both good
- Develop the habit of massaging your own shoulders, arms, hands
- Wear sunscreen and brush/floss teeth well

- Small portion sizes for food
- No fish high in mercury (Marlin, Swordfish or others high on food chain), less sugar, less salt
- Chewing food thoroughly
- Lots of fruits and produce - organic better
- Drink enough water - doesn't have to be the famous 8 glasses a day, but you shouldn't get thirsty
- Protein for breakfast - egg whites, quinoa and walnuts all are good

Lifestyle / Activities:
- Don't drink to excess and don't smoke
- Be safe - smoke detectors, helmets, put knives away from kid areas, no-slip decals for tab, drive carefully
- Hand washing - not anti-bacterial soap
- Avoid using products with BPA - and don't microwave in plastic
- Get enough sleep - A good way to go to sleep is simple math problems like counting backwards by 3s

Lifestyle / Approach:
- Live a fulfilling and social life
- Meditation as a partial cure for pain, and acupuncture
- Think of things in a positive light - note sensations like pain or unhappiness and then move on
- Stay active mentally - do things that challenge your brain like crossword puzzles
- Holding hands as therapeutic

So... there's a bunch of content listed out and this could of course been done by someone without it being a several hundred page book, but Jacobs really does craft an entertaining yarn around being healthy. Good book and definitely recommended.