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April 12, 2012

"Drop Dead Healthy" — A.J. Jacobs goes from flabby to fit


Full disclosure: I have never met A.J. Jacobs. I have spoken with him on the phone; we have had email correspondence; I have written an appendix to his new book (above).

You might ask, how did that come to be, joe?

And I would tell you that one or the other of us started corresponding about something or other to do with building a treadmill desk, and one thing led to another and before you know it, he'd put the arm on me to write an appendix — a quick-and-dirty guide to creating your own treadmill workspace on the fast and cheap — for his then-in-progress book.

Oh, yeah, he added, one more thing: I need it in a week.

No problema, said I, always happy to take on a project on a short deadline for no money now or ever in the future: there's a reason I coined the word TechnoDolt®™© (still not yet in common parlance but I'm working on it, believe me... but I digress) to describe myself.

Anyhow, he liked what I wrote and it's Appendix C in his book (screenshot from "Look inside the [Kindle] book" below).


On Tuesday of this week USA Today featured A.J. (no — I do not know what the initials stand for nor do I care, though I do recall that for a while there he left off the periods, i.e., "AJ," but that seems to have been a passing phase 'cause they're back but I've not restored them to his name in my address book for sentimental reasons.) — and his book in a front-page/above-the-fold story/interview by/with Bob Minzesheimer in its Life section, which piece gave me no end of delight.

My A.J. quote from the article: "I try to put myself in interesting situations. I have little shame, no dignity."

That's precisely why he and I get along so well.

I have long believed that "no shame + no pride = no limits."

Excerpts from the USA Today piece follow.


"My old body was a fixer-upper," he says at the gym, near his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side. His 26-month rehab project, chronicled in the book, taught him that "bodily perfection is a bit of a myth. Because you have huge biceps doesn't mean you're perfect."

The old Jacobs got winded playing hide-and-seek with his three sons (ages 8 to 5).

The new Jacobs can run a mile in less than seven minutes. (For readers keeping score, that's a bit slower than the world record for 80-year-olds).

The old Jacobs wasn't fat — at 5-foot-11 he weighed 172 pounds. But his stomach formed what he calls "a python-that-swallowed-a-goat type of body" [below].


That, he learned, "is the worst kind of fat" — visceral fat that surrounds the liver and other vital organs.

The new Jacobs [below], now 156.5 pounds, knows that the size of your waistline is one of the best predictors of heart disease. His dropped by 3 inches.


His "Project Health" began three years ago when he was hospitalized for three days with severe pneumonia.

His wife, Julia, who for years has worked out at a gym, nudged him about his expanding belly. She called him "Buddha" and warned him: "I don't want to be a widow at 45."

His at-home workplace was inspired by Mayo Clinic doctor James Levine, who thinks we should all have desks in front of treadmills. Jacobs jury-rigged his, joining what he says is a "small but loyal following of treadmill desk jockeys" who use terms like "deskercise" and "iPlod." Jacobs calculates he walked 1,200 miles while writing his book.


More? You want more A.J.? Who wouldn't?

Your wish is my demand: below, a video interview that accompanied the USA Today story.

April 12, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Its sad, you get only one page Joes. Bought...

Posted by: clifyt | Apr 13, 2012 10:28:36 AM

This is a real good stuff Joe, thanks for the post. I will investigate on amazon. Steve

Posted by: friskypainter | Apr 13, 2012 12:01:30 AM

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