For the last ten minutes, I’ve been sitting here wondering whether it’s ironic that I picked up this book about AJ Jacobs’ quest to become the healthiest man alive in the same week that I jacked up my shoulder at the gym trying to do a somersault and discovered that I’d gained three pounds. I’ll be honest, Alanis Morisette’s song “Ironic,” listened to repeatedly at an impressionable age, has blasted the true definition of the word right out of my comprehension. Although the word is technically within my knowledge base, it’s like one of those tricky logic puzzles that, for whatever reasons, remains right outside the circle of understanding. And so I sit here, ice packs strapped to my back, knowing it’s probably just a really irritating coincidence…and on top of that, one that makes me feel stupid.
Or maybe I’m just cranky because my home-brew combination of pain meds, bags of ice, and massage sticking aren’t having the desired effect. That’s probably it. There are very few things I enjoy when I feel this way, and reading about someone else’s quest for perfect health is right at the top of the list. Even if that person is AJ Jacobs (I reviewed his Year of Living Biblically a while back), a self-confessed neurotic spaz of a man who is onto his third life-altering challenge in this most recent book (the first being to read the Encyclopedia Britannica in its entirety, and the second being his year of living out the Bible in the most literal way possible…so, Mind, Spirit, and now Body).
Though honestly, if anyone were going to undertake such a health odyssey, I’m glad it’s him. He’s a self-made expert, and although he has access to sources I don’t, I feel a sort of kinship with his brand of crazy. Instead of coming from a perspective of long-term, successful healthy living, he samples a bit of everything, trying to best his natural laziness and desire to suck down chalupas with a spectrum of diets and exercise fads available to the general public.
Of course, half way through his experience, even I can tell that he’s had the most success from going to the gym regularly and eating a diet that’s more plant-heavy than carboloaded, but it’s still amusing to hear about his forays into the world of pole dancing classes and paleo fitness in Central Park. Plus, he covers topics we all know we should learn more about (the best sleep patterns, good skin care, detoxing the home) without coming off like a preachy jerk. Does he get swept away in some of his successes? Of course. But who doesn’t? Who among us has not acted like a self-righteous blabbermouth when we discover some secret formula that improves our health? We all think we have the answers at some point or another – Jacobs is just especially good at capturing those experiences on paper.
I’m especially looking forward to convincing my husband that what Jacobs says I need for optimum health as a writer is a treadmill desk…
Read more about AJ Jacobs here.