“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.”
– Jerzy Gregorek
Jerzy Gregorek (@TheHappyBody) immigrated from Poland to the United States with his wife, Aniela, in 1986 as political refugees. He subsequently won four World Weightlifting Championships and established one world record.
In 2000, Jerzy and Aniela founded UCLA’s weightlifting team. As co-creator of The Happy Body Program, Jerzy has been mentoring people for more than 30 years.
In 1998, Jerzy earned an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. His poems and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including The American Poetry Review. His poem Family Tree was the winner of Amelia magazine’s Charles William Duke Long Poem Award in 1998.
Naval Ravikant (@naval) also joins us on this podcast, as he introduced me to Jerzy. Naval is the CEO and a co-founder of AngelList. He is an active angel investor and has invested in more than 100 companies. His deals include Twitter, Uber, Yammer, Postmates, Wish, Thumbtack, and OpenDNS, which Cisco bought for $635 million in cash.
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Want to hear another episode with Naval Ravikant? — Listen to his first appearance on the podcast. In this episode, we discuss the habits and behaviors of highly successful and happy people (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Jerzy Gregorek:
- Connect with Naval Ravikant:
- The Person I Call Most for Startup Advice (my first podcast with Naval)
- The Happy Body: The Simple Science of Nutrition, Exercise, and Relaxation by Aniela Gregorek and Jerzy Gregorek
- Video testimonials from Happy Body clients across all ages.
- Marco Polo Black Tea
- Native Foreigners: Jewish-Polish Poetry Between the World Wars by Aniela Gregorek and Jerzy Gregorek
- The Happy Body Flexibility Test
- The Happy Body: Food For Your Soul by Jerzy Gregorek
- A video of Jerzy showing how to maintain good posture while aging.
- The Happy Body Exercise Program Poster by Aniela Gregorek, Jerzy Gregorek, and Alex Atkins
- The Making of a Martyr — The Murder of Father Jerzy Popieluszko by Chris Sibilla, Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training
- Amazing Grace
- The Happy Body: Mastering Food Choices by Jerzy Gregorek
- The Happy Body: Mastering Exercise Choices by Jerzy Gregorek
- Squats Are Safe, But You’re Probably Doing Them Wrong by Mark Rippetoe, The Huffington Post
- Gold’s Gym in Venice, CA
- How Not to Write: The Essential Misrules of Grammar by William Safire
- Tae Bo
- The Karate Kid Part III
- Transcendental Meditation
- Thais: Meditation by Jules Massenet
- Plato’s chariot allegory
- Introductions and “Victor” unmasked. [06:44]
- Reconditioning an overweight, out-of-shape 64-year-old with hip and shoulder replacements into a flexible 74-year-old capable of high-speed snatches. [07:33]
- What I need to work on. [14:48]
- What Naval has learned from Jerzy and Aniela. [16:26]
- Jerzy shares his age, weight, body fat, and other stats. [17:06]
- Naval and I recall our first meetings with Jerzy. [19:44]
- Jerzy tells the story about how The Happy Body program came about. [21:45]
- The importance of flexibility, strength, speed, and posture at any age. [23:26]
- The physical and mental progress a young man with cerebral palsy has made under Jerzy’s training. [25:42]
- Jerzy’s poetry. [31:23]
- How Jerzy helped me achieve perfect posture. [32:34]
- Winning in small increments. [35:16]
- How Jerzy’s morning routine made me the most flexible person in my yoga class. [37:04]
- Jerzy explains the mindful structure of The Happy Body program and its meditative benefits. [38:43]
- On Solidarity, political upheaval, unconditional love, and poetry. [47:34]
- Why Jerzy believes that people who struggle with weight loss need poetry. [1:00:40]
- Jerzy recites “Who Cannot,” a poem he wrote that was prompted by a woman who said she had no time for exercise. [1:04:58]
- Naval and I agree: Jerzy is an expensive trainer, but a cheap therapist. [1:11:18]
- “Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” [1:13:03]
- The rusty hinge analogy. [1:20:11]
- The fastest soup eater in the east. [1:23:12]
- How does a “social beast” like Jerzy control his desire to eat everything on the menu? [1:31:40]
- How an accidental introduction to weightlifting reclaimed Jerzy from three years of blackout drunk alcoholism. [1:36:28]
- How The Happy Body workout helped break Naval’s drinking habit. [1:41:36]
- On daily routines and triple happiness. [1:42:30]
- What is Jerzy’s daily diet? [1:44:41]
- Family history, a change in diet, and a medical emergency averted. [1:53:37]
- Comparing autopsy results between someone with an average lifespan and someone who lived to be more than 120. [2:00:23]
- Jerzy is 62 and has never had knee problems. Here’s why. [2:04:12]
- It’s more important to maintain focus on the positives we’re trying to achieve rather than the negatives we’re trying to leave behind. [2:13:53]
- Why Jerzy ends a workout with Massenet’s Thais: meditation and lavender oil. [2:18:11]
- Dialogues between the master and the fatalist: choosing one potato over two. [2:27:26]
- Try to surround yourself with people who avoid these three things: sarcasm, complaining, and blaming. [2:36:45]
- Parting thoughts from Naval and Jerzy on the “second” body and being present. [2:39:00]
- Aniela Gregorek
- Marco Polo
- Wojciech Jaruzelski
- Jerzy Popieluszko
- Mikhail Baryshnikov
- Billy Robertson
- Michael McCullough
- Jeanne Calment
- Christopher Sommer
- Billy Blanks
- Thomas Ian Griffith
- Jules Massenet
- Donald Trump
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