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!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • 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.