Better With Sprinkles

The Colourful Side to Healthy Living.

Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy


Hello loves!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reading Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs.

A writer for Esquire magazine, Jacobs takes it upon himself to become to healthiest man in the world after a health scare on a family vacation. The book takes place over two years as he tries to make himself healthy in all aspects in his life, from his diet, exercise routine, sex life and hygiene. He also focuses on aspects of his health a lot of us don’t consider, like his posture, his eyesight, and minimizing his chances of being injured in an accident. It was interesting to think about these approaches to health outside of food and exercise – really, how often do we consider our posture, our finger mobility, or noise pollution when we consider our health? While it could be deemed obsessive, I like how it gets away from diet and exercise as the only means of measuring someone’s health.

The Diet

Jacobs attempts a variety of diets and eating techniques throughout the book, including raw foodism, calorie restriction, Paleo, juicing diets and excessive chewing. Obviously, I found these chapters particularly interesting (what healthy living blogger wouldn’t?) and enjoyed reading about these diets from the view of someone who was literally trying everything. He approaches each diet/way of eating without bias, considering the positives and the negatives of each one.

Particularly, I enjoyed the chapter where he speaks to Dr. Steven Bratman, the doctor who coined the term ‘orthorexia’. He thinks that when people become to concerned with being healthy, they’ll stress themselves out to the point where all that healthy food won’t really be doing them any good. You begin to feel excessive guilt when you stray from healthy foods, become socially isolated, and use healthy eating as a replacement for religion as a means of feeling virtuous (I never really thought of it in religious terms, but it makes sense to me).  He considers other diets/approaches to food in this chapter, ending with a shopping trip with Marion Nestle (one of the most highly respected people in the business of nutrition), who tells him “You’ve got to enjoy food. It’s one of the great things in life.”

Sums it up pretty well, don’t you think?

The Exercise

Like the chapters dealing with diet, Jacobs considers a variety of different approaches and strategies with his exercise habits – both formal exercise (HIIT workouts, caveman-style workouts, barefoot running) and informal attempts at being more active (treadmill desk, literally running his errands). Again, he considers all the different approaches and research without any real biases, looking at the research and how he felt when he was completing each workout. In the end, I found that this section confirmed that as long as you’re moving, you’re golden. People are not meant to sit all day, so getting up and moving around a little is vital to your health. He actually has me wishing that I had room in my apartment for a treadmill desk, considering how often I sit on my couch with my laptop.

The Takeaway

There’s a lot of health trends out there, and quite honestly, a lot of them contradict each other. We all have a limited time on this planet, so maybe there’s more important things than discovering ‘the key to health’. Don’t overthink it – try to move your body as often as you can, eat your fruits and vegetables, wash your hands once in a while, and try to limit exposure to loud noises. If you keep your approach to health simple, you’re fine.

Towards the end, Jacobs seems to realize that by trying to be the healthiest person on the planet, he seems to isolate himself a little bit and adopts a ‘healthier-than-thou’ attitude – something I’ve noticed before in certain individuals (and honestly have recognized in myself at time). Maybe, we should focus more on our relationships with others, as opposed to worrying about the latest health fads. Most extreme diets and regimes are just that – extreme. A more subtle approach seems to be the way to go about it.

Jacobs uses an awesome sense of humour and his experiences with his family to add to his story, making it more entertaining and more relatable. Overall, I really enjoyed it and would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about their health, or just looking for a fun, yet informative read.

<— Have you read Drop Dead Healthy? What did you think?

<— If you haven’t read it, does it interest you?


14 thoughts on “Book Review: Drop Dead Healthy

  1. I’ve heard about this book and have been curious to see what other people thought. It sounds like something I would enjoy though, so I”m thinking I might be looking into it soon 🙂

  2. I love that book. I read it not too long ago and am already thinking about reading it again. I love this sentence you wrote: ‘Maybe, we should focus more on our relationships with others, as opposed to worrying about the latest health fads.’ That is the perfect way to sum it up, and I couldn’t agree with you more. I know that I have fallen into the trap of choosing exercise or something like that over time with people, which is so wrong. So thanks for the reminder!

  3. Wow I think I might use this book in my research paper for my class this semester. It’s exactly what I’m planning on writing about. This is all really interesting and I love that it talks about the vicious trap of a “healthy” lifestyle. Thanks for reviewing this! It’s really helpful!

  4. I haven’t read the book but it sounds really interesting. I agree with you that many of the current healthy ‘fads’ contradict each other. Does he talk about how each of the diets makes him feel? I like all food groups and will continue to eat them but would be interested to hear how his body responded to the different diet and exercise plans.

    • He doesn’t go into a ton of detail with each one, but he does talk about why he chooses to minimize his meat consumption and how the more extreme diets (no sugar diets, juicing diets) made him feel.
      It’s definitely a great book if you get the chance to read it.

  5. Okay, I’ve had this book in my kindle but hadn’t started reading it yet, but this review reallyyyy made me want to pick it up and read it!
    It sounds super interesting and I love the points made. Food should be enjoyed, we should all live healthy lives, but not obsess over the small things…like food. Our relationships with people are far more superior to the relationship we have with food.

  6. I actually have this on my “to-read” list. I love that he tried ALL types of diets, exercise plans etc. It seems like a much better review of what’s out there than just being like “Ok, I’m going to do Paleo for 30 days.” It was nice to have these unbiased opinions on the variety of diets out there instead of just discussing one at length.

  7. I’ve just downloaded the sample on my kindle and have read it – I’m going to have to buy it now! It’s sounds like such an interesting read! I’m learning more and more that being healthy isn’t about eating ‘clean’ and exercising, it’s got a great deal to do with your emotional health. I’ve focused on nutrition for so many years and been so unhappy because I had pushed out all of the people in my life, leaving me isolated, but slowly I’m learning that to be truly healthy I need to change this balance.
    Sorry, I’ve rambled!

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