Reaching bodily perfection

by Khushboo on July 2, 2012

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!

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex @ therunwithin July 2, 2012 at 7:22 pm

I really need to read this book, I especially like the don’t turn being healthy into being something unhealthy. So true, what a slippery slope.

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

There really is a fine line between being healthy and obsessively healthy.

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Alexandra July 2, 2012 at 7:29 pm

WOW! What a fantastic book, I really have to pick that up, it sounds like the perfect read. :)

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

For anyone remotely into health & fitness, it’s defo worth a read :) !

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sprint2thetable July 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm

GREAT point here. Especially the last one about living your best life – it shock me how many people will shrug at their bad habits and say “we’re all going to die somehow.”

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Such a terrible attitude..if anything it’s such a cop-out!

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forgottenbeast July 2, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I want to read this book–I’ve heard it’s absolutely hilarious (while still making a good point). I just finished reading Divergent, which was an okay-enough young adult book, but nothing I’d rave about. I have a pile of books to read, I just have to choose which one next…

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Let me know once you get through your pile in case u do come across anything worth recommending :) !

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Brittany July 2, 2012 at 11:44 pm

This book sounds great! I am reading the hunger games series still, and I am also reading a book called, ” love the one you’re with” it’s cute so far!

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:14 pm

SO jealous you’re still reading Hunger Games….looooved the book! Would you recommend the 2nd and 3rd part of the trilogy?

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Corrie Anne July 3, 2012 at 2:35 am

I’ve been so curious about this book too!! I want to read it!! I’ve been reading the Dry Leaves of August. It kind of reminds me of the Help.

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Ohh I should check it out- I loved the Help..it was one of those books where I really didn’t want to end!

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Ameena July 3, 2012 at 3:09 am

I gave up on trying to reach bodily perfection a few years ago. And for the most part I am much happier! These days I am reading tons of fiction, most recently I finished “Sarah’s Key” and it was amazing. Puts things in perspective!

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Funny you mention that book- I actually heard about it a few months back but nowhere in Mumbai stocked it! Will definitely look out for it when I’m next in London!

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Tessa Merrick (@Tessa8m) July 3, 2012 at 6:13 am

Thank you for highlighting this book for us Khushboo! This is the second time today I have heard something about it, I think it’s time I gave it a read!

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Might be presumptuous of me but I do think you would enjoy it :) !

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ritika July 3, 2012 at 11:18 am

oh wow, and i need to read this, because sometimes, make it most times, i am jumping from good for you to another. i need to stop. i need to pick my battles.
i am currently reading ‘the man withing my head’ by pico iyer. and i realise it takes a little weirdness to be a good author. :D

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Haha so true- the quirkier the better!

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sonalii1988 July 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Amazing post, and all great points! The contradictions are so true but it really depends on the individual. This book seems like a great summer read, i’m going to check if it will be available on kindle?! Right now i’m finishing the second book from The girl with the dragon tattoo series, but it is pretty dark and twisted. Definitely not for the season! :)

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Khushboo Thadani July 3, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Thanks, Sonal :) ! Did you watch the Dragon Tattoo film? I’m still yet to both read and watch it!

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sonalii1988 July 4, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Don’t watch itt!!! I literally tried to see it by myself and had to stop within the first 20 minutes. It was wayyy too dark. The book was okay because it was left to my pink fluffy imagination, the movie is a whole other story!

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Khushboo Thadani July 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

Hahaha sometimes it’s nicer to make it up as u go along…that’s probably why books>movie versions most of the time!

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Sable Weisman (@SquatLikeALady) July 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

This book seriously sounds great! There is SO much conflicting information there that it’s easy to get paralyzed.

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Khushboo Thadani July 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

Paralysed is definitely an apt word to describe it- after a certain point, you kinda numb yourself over what to follow and what not to.

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Living, Learning, Eating July 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Haha, I don’t wear noise canceling headphones either and I’m on the subway daily (multiple times). I’m so glad that you mentioned not letting healthiness become unhealthy – that’s something that’s a HUGE issue (but kind of the elephant in the room) In the healthy living blog community. It’s the balance, guys!

But that about the graham crackers? Well, that’s disappointing. Graham crackers aren’t even as good as chocolate, or ice cream, or peanut butter. Eh, the disappointments of life.

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Khushboo Thadani July 4, 2012 at 12:35 pm

I agree- I’ve read some blogs which aren’t a bit too rigid to be considered healthy. And totally agree about graham crackers- although graham crackers in the form of s’mores are pretty amazing ;) !

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rach July 6, 2012 at 4:17 am

You both should read “Health Food Junkies” by Dr. Stephen Bratman. Seriously…SO MANY bloggers are orthorexic and its like one big mesh, it’s ridiculous…many of them are commenters of your blog, I don’t mean to offend…but let’s be real.

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Khushboo Thadani July 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

It’s so easy to get carried away with being healthy, and then once you’re so far in, you forget what is “normal”. I know at one point I was a bit too anal with what I ate & how much I worked out. Thanks for the book recco!

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Tara July 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

That book sounds great! I think people can try to be too healthy as well. There are a lot of people who have to eat perfectly and exercise every single day to feel healthy, but they don’t realise that having balance is a sign of heath too. It’s okay to have a (non-protein!) cupcake every now and then!

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Khushboo Thadani July 4, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Hahaha about the non-protein cupcake…if you want a baked a good, eat the damn thing. Don’t fool yourself into whipping up pseudo-concoctions that will unlikely do favors for your cravings!

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Honey What's Cooking July 6, 2012 at 4:35 am

I love that Coco Chanel quote, that’s 2 in a week that I’ve read.
OMG< I hate reading… but I love to read magazines and blogs. :-)

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Khushboo Thadani July 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

I go through phases with reading…books that is! I’m an all-year round reader of mags and blogs :) !

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