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Becoming the Healthiest Man Alive

A.J. Jacobs spent two years learning (and living) every aspect of fitness.
Michael Cogliantry

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After tuning up his mind by reading through the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica and honing his spirituality in The Year of Living Biblically, writer A.J. Jacobs was left with one place to begrudgingly turn: His body. In Drop Dead Healthy, Jacobs seeks to become the healthiest man alive, spending two years ingesting all sides of every argument and employing an inconceivable array of diets and fitness regimens. Jacobs doesn’t stop with the gym and the trips to Whole Foods. His health quest covers everything from improving his hearing to his immune system to his brain to, yes, even his genitals. It’s a nice bonus that the systematically investigative book is part memoir, and that it’s compulsively readable. Men's Fitness caught up with Jacobs to learn more about his two-year quest to absorb every aspect of fitness humanly possible.

A.J. JACOBS'S QUICK TIPS:
Incorporate Exercise Into Your Daily Life “When I talk to my kids, I’ll squat down to their eye level, then I’ll pop back up. I’m doing 50 squats a day just by hanging out with my kids.” Get Your Rest “If you want to fall asleep, don’t count sheep. There have actually been studies that say it doesn’t work. But if you count backwards by three, then that will put you to sleep. I’m telling you, that changed my life, because that puts me to sleep. If you’re a math whiz, you might want to go to something big, like sevens or 17s.” Floss! Seriously! “I’d never flossed my teeth before this project, and now I am a daily flosser. It’s not even about the teeth, it’s about the research that says there’s a bacteria in our gums that can go into the bloodstream and really wreak some havoc on our cardiovascular system. So you’re really doing it for your heart health as well.”

Making It Stick

Speaking to Jacobs fresh off a blueberry smoothie-slinging book release party, we ask him, first and foremost, how much of the exhaustive research and practical application of Drop Dead Healthy has stuck around with him today. “I don’t act in the same way I used to. I used to sit for 16 hours a day and not exercise and eat whatever was put in front of me. I have come quite a ways from that,” says the 44-year-old Jacobs. “I can’t continue to do everything I did in my project because otherwise there’s no time in the day for anything else. But a lot of it I have continued.” One of Jacobs’s early discoveries in avoiding a sedentary lifestyle was his custom-rigged treadmill desk. “I write and read on my treadmill and I love it. It’s totally changed my life,” Jacobs says, adding that he uses it to this day, then asking if we can hear him walking on it as we speak. We can't. NEXT: The small changes >>

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