I just finished Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs and give the book two thumbs up! The book’s tagline is One Man’s Quest For Bodily Perfection. In other words, the author devoted 2 years of his life to attain maximum health. Not only was it factual and an overall fascinating read, it was also laugh-out-loud funny. Do I dare say that some parts made endorphins flow through my bloodstream…how’s that for improving my health ;)!
In addition to the various facts such as the blueberries “superfood” claim was originally a marketing gimmick or that graham crackers are (supposedly) better than sex, here’s some of what I got out of the book:
- Pick your battles: Trying to keep up with every health claim is overwhelming, especially when most of them contradict each other. If eating with others who eat unhealthily will influence us to make poor decisions, what about the mental benefits that comes with human interaction? Is running good for our heart or should we avoid running because it can mess up our knees? I could go on but the bottom line: we are constantly going to bombarded with health claims so weigh out the costs and benefits, and see what works for YOU! He phrased it best: “To be totally safe, I could avoid cell phones. But the stress of living a cell-phone-free life? That might put me in an early grave. You have to choose your…battles.”
- Coco Chanel is a health villain, and no I’m not referring to financial health! Jacobs lists Chanel as one of the “top five health villains” because of her influence in creating the idea of worshiping the sun. He also points out her Nazi spy collaboration and writes, “Which makes her life especially ironic – she was involved with two opposed evils: white supremacy and tanning”. True story.
- Don’t turn being healthy into something unhealthy: As someone who does strive to be as healthy as possible, it turns out I’m nowhere near as healthy as I thought: We don’t have a smoke alarm at home; I don’t wear a shot glass of sunblock when I step outside; I strain my bowels by choosing to sit on the toilet apparatus instead of squat; despite its decibel rating, I wouldn’t ever wear noise-cancelling headphones if I ever entered the New York subway train station. The point is that there are infinite ways to be healthy, some practical and others simply absurd. Rather than drive yourself crazy trying to nail each one, pick the ones which are important to YOU and doable in the long-run.
- Live your best life: The idea that we are all going to die eventually is not a valid enough argument against adopting healthier habits. Can you live your life to the fullest if you’re straddled with diseases? Can you truly enjoy life when you are bogged down with extra weight, low on energy, and suffering pain? Does the quantity of years lived override quality? Wouldn’t you rather live more years so that you can truly maximize your life? You can’t control when death hits you but you can control the life you live.
What are you reading now? I need something new to get into!