GR: For people that haven't read your book (the few), Drop Dead Healthy, can you describe what you did for it?
AJ: My books are all about extreme experiments in self-improvement. So this one was about trying to improve my health -- which I needed to do because I was in terrible shape and never exercised. I ate whatever partially hydrogenated stuff came into my purview. This was my attempt to get as healthy as possible and follow all the medical advice I could find to see what worked, and what didn't. I revamped my diet, my exercise regimen. But also my sleep. The way I breathe. Handle stress. My sex life. My posture. Every little thing.
GR: Of all the experiments you've tried for the book, what's stuck?
AJ: One doctor told me that sitting is the new smoking, so I've been trying to be as mobile as possible. I put my computer on top of my treadmill and I now write, answer emails and talk on the phone while I'm on my treadmill. I wrote the book while on the treadmill -- it took me like 1,200 miles. Since then, I've walked about the distance from New York to Glendale, California.
GR: So you've actually closed the gap of mileage in our interview just through the course of walking?
AJ: That's right! If you had given me two years notice, I could've walked on over.
GR: Well now I know how to book our next encounter. So, considering your research, are you saying that I shouldn't have had that bite-size Twix after breakfast today?
AJ: Well, what I will say is chocolate's very healthy. Antioxidants. Of course, it should be the kind with 95% cocoa. The kind that tastes incredibly bitter. Like chalk. That's the one that's really good for you.
GR: So, why do Oscar winners live three years longer than non-Oscar winners?
AJ: The theory is because they have lower stress levels. Because they've been publicly acknowledged, they feel that they have the respect of their peers. And peer support is very important -- like being with friends and having a close-knit social group.
GR: The McDonald's Happy Meal is probably one of the worst foodstuffs you can put in your body -- yet so many do. What message is not getting out in your opinion when it comes to nutrition and fitness?
AJ: Well, I think it's that we've gotten into these terrible habits. That kind of food is omnipresent and cheap. And food is everywhere. It used to just be in the grocery store and restaurants and now, you can't turn around without running into food. It's at gas stations, libraries, at schools with soda machines and candy machines. That's the problem -- we've got to stop putting food everywhere. Or counter that by making fresh, healthy, whole food -- that's actually grown in the ground -- more accessible.
GR: Sounds smart to me. One of the things you come up against in your book is the pro-mastication community. Not to get personal, but how much are you chewing your food these days?
AJ: I am still practicing Chewdaism as you might've read it's called, but I'm not orthodox Chewdaist. They are recommending something like 50 chews per mouthful, which is insane 'cause if you followed that strictly, it would take about four hours to eat an apple. So I do more in the 12-15 range, which is not that much but it's certainly better than what I used to -- which was like 5 or 6. I was definitely in the 'wolfing down' category.
GR: I once read that Alicia Silverstone chews her food before she gives it to her baby. I don't know why I'm mentioning it other than the fact that I want it be in this article.
AJ: (laughing) Aside from Alicia Silverstone (who I'm not sure has a Ph.D in nutrition), I did not get that advice from any expert. So I let my kids chew their own food.
GR: You're so old fashioned! Rumor has it that Disneyland had to revamp It's a Small World a few years ago because the boats could no longer hold the weight of its passengers. The ride was essentially losing too much water according to a few reports. So I ask you how can our country become less obese based on information you've dug up in your research?
AJ: I hadn't heard that. That is a crazy story and I imagine the headline writers had a good time with that.
GR: They did.
AJ: It's Not Such a Small World?
GR: There you go. You're a pro!
AJ: Obesity ... there are a couple of ways to attack it. One is the quality of food. The other is the quantity. Portions are out of control. Drink sizes are like buckets. And hamburgers are 2,000 calories ... So there are a lot of great strategies. Chewdaism is one of them. Eat slower. The slower you eat, the less you eat. I use small utensils, my kids' utensils. That actually slows me down. There's [also] repackaging -- like when you get a big bag of potato chips, put the potato chips in smaller plastic bags. Otherwise you'll just eat the whole bag.
GR: Invoke the 'New Study Syndrome' for a second and tell me what fitness trends you see gaining steam in 2013?
AJ: The whole Paleo movement can't get much bigger, but I think it will become even more mainstream. That stuff where you try to eat like a caveman. Basically a very neat, protein heavy diet. But also CrossFit, which is linked to the Paleo -- a hardcore, intense workout where the mascot is named Pukie -- because the goal of CrossFit is to work out until you're so nauseated that you vomit.
GR: Pukie. That's hilarious.
AJ: There are a growing group of people that have this masochistic streak -- I think that's the most fascinating thing. And Tough Mudder is getting huge -- like it just started four years ago and now it's a $70 million business. This is the one with races through the mud, where you climb over walls. It goes through electric hanging wires that give you electric shock. So it's like the most unpleasant obstacle course in history ... and people love it!
GR: For CrossFit, it seems as if working out until you throw up might be a great weight loss regimen, but maybe not the healthiest way to keep the food you need, right?
AJ: Yes, I tried CrossFit for a little while. It works for some people, but it wasn't my thing. I think the problem with working out really intensely is that often after you do that, you binge eat because you have this misconception that you've just burned so many calories that you can eat whatever you want. In terms of losing weight, exercise is not the best way to go ... It takes 20 minutes of running to burn off one chocolate chip cookie. In terms of losing weight, adjusting your diet is a much better strategy.
GR: How does it feel to be our country's most famous guinea pig?
AJ: I am honored. I love it. I feel so lucky that I'm able to do this for a living. At least for now, who knows what the future will hold. For now, it's like going to school all the time.
GR: For 'The Year in Living Biblically,' you actually stoned adulterers. How did that go?
AJ: That was actually a little bit stressful. I felt that it was important because I was trying to follow everything in the Bible. I'll tell you how it happened ... it was in the middle of the year and I was trying to get into the whole immersion part of it. So I was actually dressing like a biblical person and I had on my robes, my sandals and my beard. And this guy comes up to me in Central Park and asks "Why are you dressed like that?" I said it's because I'm trying the follow all the rules of the Bible from the Ten Commandments to stoning adulterers. And he says, "Well, I'm an adulterer. Are you going to stone me?" And I said, "Well, yeah, that'd be awesome. That'd be great." So I take out a handful of stones -- 'cause I'd been carrying stones around for the longest time, hoping to run into an adulterer. Here he finally was. I showed him the stones -- small, like pebbles -- and he grabs them out of my hands and threw them at my face. Sort of for an eye for an eye, I thought I'd throw 'em back. Even though, they were pebbles, it was a surprisingly intense confrontation.
GR: I'm sure. It gives new meaning to having the stones for something. Last question. In a nutshell, how can all of our readers live to 100?
AJ: Well, in a nutshell, it's move more. Eat less. Relax. And sleep. Those are the four pillars. The other strategy is to wait for the medical advances so that medicine will make you live forever. That is a risky one.

To pick-up a copy of 'Drop Dead Healthy' by A.J. Jacobs, find a local bookstore.

Read A.J.'s article on How to Be the Healthiest Person Alive.