Derek Sivers

Drop Dead Healthy - by A. J. Jacobs

Drop Dead Healthy - by A. J. Jacobs

ISBN: 141659907X
Date read: 2012-05-22
How strongly I recommend it: 4/10
(See my list of 320+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Funny and informative book by the always-brilliant A.J. Jacobs - about trying every health remedy and suggestion. Some surprising ones are effective.

my notes

Egonomics is a theory by a Nobel Prize-winning economist named Thomas Schelling. Schelling proposes that we essentially have two selves. Those two selves are often at odds. There’s the present self, that wants that frosted apple strudel Pop-Tart. And the future self, that regrets eating that frosted apple strudel Pop-Tart. The key to making healthy decisions is to respect your future self. Honor him or her. Treat him or her like you would treat a friend or a loved one.

HourFace digitally ages your photo. I did it with a picture of myself. When I’m wavering about whether to lace up my running sneakers or not, I’ll catch sight of Old A.J.
Respect your elder, as disturbing-looking as he may be. This workout is for him.

Of all the gadgets that clutter my closet, the most successful has been one of the simplest: a twenty-dollar pedometer.

Studies show that the more you pay attention to your body’s statistics, the greater the chance you’ll adopt a healthy lifestyle. This idea underpins the Quantified Self movement.

The mere act of weighing yourself daily makes it more likely you’ll shed pounds.

Keeping a food journal makes you eat fewer fatty foods.

The humble lobster may hold some clues to immortality, since aging doesn’t inflict damage on lobster cells. If not for outside forces like disease and predators, the average lobster might just keep on crawling along the bottom of the ocean for centuries.

Placebo comes from “I shall please” in Latin

“Just do it!” (the advertising copywriter got the idea for the phrase from the last words of executed murderer Gary Gilmore. So I can’t say it without thinking of a firing squad.)

Without some delusional optimism, you’ll suffer from Depressive Realism. This psychological theory holds that the people with the most accurate view of the world aren’t happier - they’re clinically depressed. Studies show they have a correct perception of how much they control the outcome of events - namely, very little - and it crushes them.

If you’re too delusionally optimistic, you’ll be unbearable. You’ll refuse to save money or make backup plans. You’ll invade foreign countries and expect to be greeted as liberators.

Like so much else in the body, stress started out as a helpful ally back in Paleo times.

There’s a law in New York that adults are forbidden to enter a playground unless they’re accompanied by a child. A grown man can’t just walk in by himself and loiter around the monkey bars.

Whenever I come to a hard problem, I do jumping jacks to try to dislodge the solution from my brain.

Why the obsession with toxins? It probably comes from our primitive caveman minds. We divide everything into either food or poison.

Land lightly on the front of the foot and let the heels just kiss the ground. Take small steps. Try to pull your legs up instead of stomping them down. Think of it like you have pancakes on your upper thighs, and you’re trying to raise your knees to flip them.

Get an IQAir Purifier. If you want the cleanest air, you should move to Tasmania.

Open the windows for fifteen minutes a day, because indoor air tends to be dirtier than outdoor air.

I love walking on the treadmill. I type on it, brush my teeth on it.

I need to get: a blender, a slicer, a spiralizer, a dehydrator, spirulina powder, blue-green algae crystals.

Unless you have a skin problem, one moisturizer is almost as good as any other.

Wrinkle-preventing options, just a few actually work.
The most established: tretinoin, known more widely as Retin-A. This acid helps the skin retain collagen, the elastic material. It might even have health benefits in addition to the cosmetic ones. According to The New York Times, it’s been used to treat precancerous skin cells. Studies show that after two years of use, abnormal cells returned to normal. At my request, my dermatologist prescribed me a tube of Retin-A. It’s absurdly expensive. Retin-A has other downsides. It makes skin more likely to get sunburned as it allows in more UV light.

A problem infecting all medicine: the specialty bias. Most experts see the world through the prism of their specialty.

Most health advice can be summed up in five words: Eat less, move more, relax.

High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Instead of jogging at 60 percent of your ability for forty-five minutes, you go at 100 percent for a mere thirty seconds. Then you stop and rest for a minute. Then sprint again. Then repeat eight times. The benefits are many: raised endurance, lower blood sugar, improved lung capacity, and weight loss. HIIT seems to alter the metabolism and muscle structure, so you burn more calories throughout the day.

Dolphins sleep one half brain at a time.

Try counting backward by three. I did. And in just a few seconds (400, 397, 394 . . .), I felt a gear in my brain click to neutral. Counting backward by threes is just challenging enough that it keeps my interest, and boring enough that it puts me to sleep. In a couple of minutes I’m out.

A gadget called the Zeo Personal Sleep Manager

The healthiest glass of water: The Tensui system. It’s fifteen thousand dollars.

Ice-cold water is probably healthier.

Low testosterone can cause cardiovascular problems down the road. It’s also linked to fatigue, depression, and decreased muscle mass.

Natural ways to boost your Testosterone: walnuts, salmon, whole grains.

Developing nimble finger skills is a surefire way of improving brain function.

Pro-hand book - The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture - argues that we have it all backward. The brain isn’t king. The brain is the hand’s handservant.

Grueling aerobic workout for the hands called “Finger Fitness.” You can find his videos on YouTube.

“Jack LaLanne and Dying,” and find this quote: “I train like I’m training for the Olympics or for a Mr. America contest, the way I’ve always trained my whole life. You see, life is a battlefield. Life is survival of the fittest. How many healthy people do you know? How many happy people do you know? Think about it. People work at dying, they don’t work at living. My workout is my obligation to life.

We should all be squatting at bus stops and while eating dinner.

To do the proper “Asian squat,” you have to keep your feet flat, your legs spread wide, and your arms forward for balance.

Wear UV-blocking sunglasses.

I recently met one of the inventors of the Lasik technology, and guess what? He still wears glasses. He’s wary of taking the risk. That gave me pause.

We drive to the store to get organic veggies (there is no actual data proving that organic foods increase longevity) . . . then check our email at the next red light (2,600 traffic deaths a year are caused by drivers using cell phones.

For cooling your house: Central air is the quietest option (and Lenox is one of the quietest brands of central air). After that, try a “mini-split.” These ACs have two parts - one in the window, a noisier section out on the balcony.      If you’ve got the sufficient levels of money and noisephobia, try buying two smaller window units, which are usually quieter than a big one (especially if you turn one off).