Couch Potato to 'Drop Dead Healthy'

After Scare, Scribe Turns to 'Chewdaism' to Change Life

By Lisa Amand

Published May 05, 2012, issue of May 11, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 2)

Jacobs concluded that there’s no need to spend big bucks to get healthy. Little purchases, like dumbbells, a vegetable steamer and a pair of chopsticks, can be as beneficial as the most expensive trainer or gym.

Among his new habits: “It’s good to have five or six smaller meals throughout the day. Because I find if I get really hungry, I’ll just eat whatever.” Jacobs cites 12th-century Jewish philosopher Rambam, who said, “Only eat until you are three-quarters full.”

Jacobs said the worst thing people do in the name of health is beat themselves up for lapses. “I’m human — I slip, I regress. But I try,” he said.

But he noted that socializing with friends and family is among the healthiest things you can do: It reduces stress and boosts serotonin levels. “You’re still allowed to have feasts: You’re still allowed to binge once in a while. Like at Passover — ah, those macaroons,” he said, savoring last April’s Seder.

Jacobs’s two-year project in pursuit of better health was not intended to produce another self-help book; rather, it was meant to entertain and enlighten people. “I’m not a doctor,” Jacobs explained.

Yet, he prefers being approached for health tips rather than about spiritual dilemmas. After “‘The Year of Living Biblically,’ I was asked, ‘Why does God let evil exist? Why should I divorce my husband?’…. I’d do my best to answer.”

Included in “Drop Dead Healthy” are “Tuesdays With Morrie”-like visits with his beloved grandfather, whom he told, “I’m going to include you in the book because I’m going to live as long as you.”

“Even in his 90s, my grandpa was still involved in projects, still coming up with ideas. You can retire, but you still have to be active, have a passion,” Jacobs said.

Since finishing the book last August, Jacobs is not hitting his neighborhood Crunch as frequently, but he does exercise. For people who feel they don’t have enough time for exercise, he suggests a concentrated workout called HIIT, or high-intensity interval training: “It’s not pleasant, but all you do is go running for 30 seconds, sprinting as hard as you can, then rest or walk for 30 seconds. Then do it again, 10 or 12 times.”

These days, he’d rather be home on his wife’s ancient StairMaster, or lifting weights while watching “Downton Abbey,” than taking classes. “I must have authority issues, because I don’t like when people yell at me,” he explained.

Of all the things he’s done in his life, “This is the most surprising twist in my career,” Jacobs said.

“Basically I ignored my body for 40 years…. I think there is a Jewish stereotype that we are too intellectual and don’t pay enough attention to our body. I don’t know if that’s true in general, but for me it was. I loved to study but I forgot about the body.”

Lisa Amand is a feature writer from Brooklyn.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.