Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs

Why I read it: Getting close to finishing the A.J. Jacobs suite.

Summary: A.J. takes his third step in his quest for the betterment of his mind, spirit and body.

My Thoughts: There are a lot of nuts in New York City. And this is not a blind squirrel joke.

A.J. Jacobs (The Year of Living Biblically, My Life as an Experiment, The Know-It-All) took it upon himself to better himself physically in two years. His method? One month, one body part; next month, move onto the next; combine all that was learned into a new, healthier lifestyle. He dives in with his usual zealousness, dragging his family with him.

Along the way, he consults the best in every field, "best" being a relative term; same for "field." There are some real crackpots out there espousing all kinds of remedies and treatments and methods. But A.J.'s lucky. He lives amongst them in New York City. Want to take up barefoot running? There's a group in Central Park, of course. Need acupuncture? Want to try pole dancing as exercise? Don't go far.

The only thing I found missing from the book was the "after" shot. We get a "before," a sad sack affair (very creatively described by one of his doctors as a "python that swallowed a goat"), but we never see the results. Come on, A.J.! You did all that work over two years, did the triathlon, you deserve to show it off.

Putting the book down and thinking about what I wanted to take away from it, I came up with this: we have a long way to go before we understand our own bodies. Evidence is contradictory on almost any biological subject. The same herb that one study says hurts us is touted as salubrious in others. A.J. took it to the extreme, trying to make every movement count, every second of his life productive. No doubt he's since backed off. He found that if you followed all the advice out there, your life would be one of several hours of routine per day. We just don't have that kind of time.

But thank you, A.J., for your pioneering work. I'm already putting your Appendices to good use.

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