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Tribute To A Legend

The Rugby World is mourning the loss of its original global superstar. Jonah Lomu launched into sporting stardom as a fresh faced 19 year old at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. But this came as no surprise for the many who had the privilege of witnessing, or even facing him on the field leading up to his record breaking world cup debut. As a 15 year old I was a witness, then as a 16 year old I was an opponent. On both occasions Lomu was representing New Zealand schools against the Australian Schools. I remember sitting high in the stands of the Sydney Football Stadium thinking that the New Zealand number 8 was impossibly larger than anyone else on the field, like a man amongst, literally schoolboys. He backed his size up with a barnstorming performance that night, which had tongues wagging at the prospect of a future world rugby sensation. The problem for me was, Jonah Lomu was still young enough to play another year of schoolboy rugby, and while it was a huge honor and privilege to be selected to represent Australia at schoolboy level to play New Zealand, I was faced with the daunting task of facing New Zealand’s newest prodigy…a 120kg prodigy at that!

That match against NZ Schools in Roterua in 1993 is now a bit of a blur, but I do recall certain moments vividly. Like my first tackle of the game, which involved Jonah Lomu picking the ball up from the back of the scrum and running straight at me to test me out. It wasn’t so much a tackle but rather him tripping on my flailing arms and legs as he steamrolled me like helpless roadkill. It was a tough day at the office for me, but with team mates like Joe Roff, Ben Tune and Mat Rogers, we put up a good fight. We were no match however for Lomu and his buddies, which included Carlos Spencer,  Christian Cullen, Anton Oliver, the list goes on…

The incredible thing about this junior giant, was that he was not only extremely large and strong, but he was fast. He had two options when approaching a defender – either run over the top of you, or run around you. This was most evident when Jonah was selected for the NZ sevens team to play in the 7s World Cup in Hong Kong, leaving dozens of would-be tacklers in his wake, and millions of rugby fans excited about the arrival of a sporting phenomenon onto the senior International stage.

Jonah 7s

It was actually playing sevens where I would potentially meet Jonah again on the field. In 1998 Rugby 7s was introduced as a Commonwealth Games sport, and the Kiwis went to great lengths to secure the inaugural Gold medal, selecting the likes of Lomu, Christian Cullen, Joeli Vidiri, Eric Rush etc. etc.

I was lucky enough to be selected for the Australian team for those Games, with David Campese as our captain. And while ‘Campo’ was a rugby legend in his own right, he wasn’t exactly Jonah Lomu. The impact of Jonah’s inclusion in the NZ team was evident at a tournament charity function where all the teams submitted a jersey signed by the whole team to be auctioned off. Jonah’s All Black 7s team jersey sold for over 10 times that of the next highest sold.

NZ gold at Comm Games

bronze

Unfortunately and fortunately, we never met the Kiwis that tournament, which would have been in the final had we snuck past the Waisale Serevi and his flying Fijians in the Semi Final. Instead, NZ took the Gold and we had to settle for a satisfying Bronze medal.

During the Commonwealth Games, my team mates Richard Graham, Tyron Mandrusiak and myself toured around the Athlete’s Village interviewing various athletes from different nations and sport, as a fun memento of our experience at the games. I caught up with Jonah to ask him a few questions about his experience, and the video below has only been for private viewing, until now…

During my Super rugby career with the Waratahs, Jonah, who played for the Hurricanes and the Chiefs, and I were passing ships in the night as a result of injuries on both sides. Again, not necessarily a bad thing!

Fast forward to 2005, and I signed a deal with the Cardiff Blues, and there had been speculation that a certain Jonah Lomu was also to join the club. This came as a surprise to everybody, particularly as he had already retired from rugby due to health issues involving Jonah undergoing 2 years of dialysis and a full kidney transplant.

But the rumors were true, and sure enough, Jonah was now my team mate. It was surreal for virtually all of us on the team, even players like Martyn Williams who had nearly 100 test caps under his belt for Wales, and played against Jonah already a handful of times.

me and jonah cardiff

Yet this was a man who was on another level. Jonah had etched himself into rugby history as a true global superstar. Even though his presence was unmistakeable when he turned up at his first training session, his aura had been softened somewhat by the fact that he was far from his peak health and fitness. He seemed almost human.

As a result, he didn’t make the immediate impact everybody was anticipating, with the Cardiff Arms Park experiencing sell out crowds with fans eager just to get a glimpse of the big man in action on their own soil.

But being the true champion and professional that he is, Jonah fought his way back against the odds with hard work and determination, improving his fitness and playing levels to shades of those we had seen when he was at his dominant best, only to break his ankle in the penultimate game of the season against Scottish Border Reivers.

Jonah Cardiff

Off the field however, I was actually able to get to know the real Jonah behind the celebrity facade. Quiet and humble, good humored and generous. He handled his superstardom with grace, and treated the game and his team mates with the utmost respect.

Jonah X dude and me

He was quite the jokester too. I’ll never forget the time I was in the gym, warming up with some barbell squats. I’d increased the weight to 100kg building up to the serious lifting, when Jonah waltzed over and casually asked “Hey cuz, mind if I do a quick warm up set with you?”

“Of course not mate” I replied, expecting Jonah to crouch under the bar, placing it behind his neck in preparation for some squats. Instead, he proceeded to shoulder press the bar, hoisting it into the air with ease, completely astounding me with his strength, while emasculating me at the same time. “Thanks bro”, he said with a straight face as he walked away to another machine.  I’m still not entirely sure if he was being legit, or if he was joking around with me, but knowing Jonah’s sense of humor, I suspect it was the latter.

That season would be his last as a professional rugby player, after which he stepped seamlessly into his role as ambassador for the sport, and various charity organizations.

jonah-lomu-naff-main

It is with a heavy heart I bid farewell to this extraordinary human, whom I have idolized since the age of 15, and will continue to do so until my last breath.

Jonah, you may no longer be a living legend, but a legend you will forever be. Peace be with you friend, but more importantly, THANK YOU…

 

 

MS

 

 

 

 

Thanks a Million!!

Well it’s been over a year now since we created a little video to accompany our article about American Football vs Rugby and we are pleased to say that it has attracted over 1 million views!! Thank you folks! We especially enjoy all the comments and arguments induced by the video.

As we’re in the thick of the Rugby World Cup and the 2015-2016 NFL season, now is the perfect time to watch the video again and join the debate about which of these two sports is the more Yoggish…

The Power Of Now

This International best seller by Eckart Tolle was somewhat of a savior of mine. Shortly after my career ending injury, my 2 ½ year relationship also broke down and I had also rented out my house and needed to figure out short term accommodation as I was planning on moving abroad to start fresh. It was always a tendency of mine to over analyze situations, with fear of making wrong decisions which could adversely affect my future, while also dwelling on unfavorable past events.

Having now found myself losing my career, my relationship, and my home, these tendencies were exaggerated and kicked into overdrive, fearing whether the decisions I had made or the decisions I needed to make were the right ones.

That’s when a concerned friend gave me the book “The Power Of Now” to read immediately, despite only being halfway through it himself.

Power of Now

Put simply, this book started me on the right path to being able to focus on the present moment, and to quit over-analyzing or worrying about the past or the future. As Eckart Tolle points out, the future doesn’t exist and neither does the past, and therefore worrying about them denies you the ability to enjoy the only thing which is real…the present, or the NOW.

The practice of being present is crucial when attempting to “live life to the fullest”, which is one of the main pre-requisites of being a YOG.

Tolle continues to talk about how our own minds and in particular our ego can be extremely destructive. He points out that our mind is a tool which is necessary to complete certain tasks, then should be laid to rest. Instead, our mind commonly leaks vital energy beyond its purpose. He suggests we actually become slaves to our minds, and if we can eliminate the “noise” which is created in our minds, we can achieve an intelligence beyond this noise and awaken a focus on the aspects of life which really matter, ie. Beauty, love, creativity, joy and inner peace.

So if the voice in your head is constantly talking to you about the past, or making you worry about the future, you need to read the Power Of Now…right NOW!

 

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Branched-Chain Amino Acids For Building Muscle

Many YOGs and wannabe YOGs approach me about the preferred uses  and dosage of protein when it comes to building muscle. The following article provides a few tips to get you started…

Amino acids are split up in 2 groups: Essential and Non-Essential:

Since Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body I will not discuss them in this article. Instead let’s focus on the what to feed ourselves in order to get the most out of our workouts.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids. Namely valine, leucine and isoleucine. They are essential which  means we must get them through diet as our bodies do not produce them. Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein and have multiple functions related to energy production before  and after workouts. Therefore, they are needed during the ‘rebuild window’ and the correct amount is vital.

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Make sure you are getting your Amino Acids from a trusted source and keep them as pure as possible. Most protein powders will have BCAAs however, absorption is key so just another reason to get a pure protein powder. I personally use a pea protein free of all the chemicals a lot of ‘meathead’ stores sell. Remember that 36g of protein does not mean your body will accept all 36 grams.

Uses:

Branch chain Amino Acids have long been used to prevent fatigue and improve concentration, but the most common practice of taking BCAAs is to improve exercise performance and reduce muscle breakdown. Some practitioners have even used BCAAs to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease, brain conditions due to liver disease and cancer patients. Not only do BCAAs promote muscle recovery, they play an important role helping regulate the immune system which can be weakened after intense or prolonged exercise.  Another notable use is that BCAAs spare muscle glycogen, or energy stored in muscles.

b2ap3_thumbnail_bcaas3.jpg

Dosage:

A balanced diet with adequate protein provides enough BCAAs, even for the strenuous exerciser. It is noted that no amount above 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight is beneficial. The key is trying to get them into your diet through meat, fish, eggs and legumes. Dairy is another option however due to the rising intolerance of casein (the main protein in dairy) I would suggest minimizing it. For those of you that are loading up with higher doses of protein, make sure you stay very well hydrated as water loss can be increased from nitrogen excretion during protein breakdown.

 

 

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Russell Brand

A valuable, and one might say necessary YOG quality, is humor. And while there is a plethora of Comedians out there making we YOG bloggers giggle regularly, we consider the more yoggish funnymen to be those who can joke around and also be serious, combining their wit with a passion for educating and taking a stand on important current issues.

Russell Brand is case in point. The outspoken 39 year old Brit can hold his own with any political analyst, chew up any news reporter’s word and spit it back at them, and charm the pants off any woman caught in his far reaching gravitational pull.

Brand is open about his history of drug abuse, and uses it inspire other abusers to abstain,  just as he has done for the last 13 years.

His Youtube Channel called Trews (True News) is a great testament to Brand’s freakish intellect, wit and humanitarianism as he sarcastically exposes the broadcasting of news which is lacking in importance and/or integrity.

Keep up the YOGness Rusty!

KELLY SLATER PERFORMS FIRST EVER AERIAL 540°

Looks like YOG Hall Of Famer Kelly Slater has done it again! The 42 year old 11 time world champ has reached yet another milestone, raising the bar for all those beneath him. This time, in similar fashion to pro skater Tony Hawk and his groundbreaking 900° air, Slater has successfully landed a 540° aerial, landing backwards after 1 and a half rotations. Even more exciting, is that it was caught on film!

During a lay day at the Rip Curl Pro surfing event in Portugal, Slater hit the water with fellow pro surfers Brett Simpson and Kolohe Andino.

The trio were interviewed about the amazing feat, with Slater remaining humble as usual about the maneuver, demonstrating once again his YOGness.

At 42, I guess it just goes to show…you can teach an old dog new tricks, or in this case, a YOD (Young Older Dog).

Keep up with Kelly’s progress in the Rip Curl pro HERE, as he looks to continue his winning form after winning his Round 1 heat against Matt Wilkinson and local boy Nic Von Rupp, advancing him straight to the 3rd Round. 

Insomnia sucks!

No, I’m not talking about the 2002 thriller starring Al Pacino and Robin Williams. That was quite good actually. I’m talking about the real life, common problem of struggling to get some good quality z’s. Let’s take a look at some causes, and some relief from insomnia…

It will come as no surprise that stress is often at the root of insomnia. However, stress  is not always bad, but what matters is how we deal with it. For example, a new project at work can be intensive and exciting especially if you are passionate about what you do. This can cause a stress response in the brain, and can cause many sleepless nights. As someone who has suffered from chronic insomnia, I can attest that mine often came from over excitement which lead to not being able to switch off. Learning to manage that stress became important in dealing with the underlying cause. On the opposite side of the coin, lies a much more frustrating symptom. Worrying about school, work, bills, family etc can be a lot harder to shake and always needs some sought of treatment plan.

Stressed out at work

Some treatments that can help stress related insomnia include:

  • Alphabiotic Alignments. This reset of the nervous system lowers adrenal stress and brings a calming effect allowing for a better nights sleep.
  • Accupuncture. Bringing balance to the meridians calms the brain and has helped people find a better sleep pattern.
  • Massage. Who doesn’t love a relaxing massage? A little pampering is important in these times of stress.
  • Reiki. If you are not a fan of needles then give reiki a try.
  • Meditation. This one is free and can done daily. A 10 minute session every night before bed will go a long way towards a better night sleep.
  • A hot bath with epsom salts an hour before bed can be just what the doctor ordered. The magnesium helps to relax the muscles and calm the brain. Doing your meditation in the bath will bring even better results especially when the lights are off and a candle is lit.

The above suggestions will help anyone deal with their insomnia but for some it’s not enough. I’m talking about a melatonin imbalance. The pineal gland drives your sleep patterns and a lack of melatonin production from the pineal will not only cause sleepless nights, but drive up your morning cortisol levels, creating an imbalance on all other hormones in the cascade.

Insomnia 1

Let me explain. Low melatonin creates a poor sleep cycle even if you are not suffering from insomnia. You will however, notice fatigue or low energy and feel a need for a jump start in the morning. Most people grab for caffeine at this point or they struggle to make it through the day. Caffeine then puts further stress on your adrenals as well as your brain.

Caffeine buzz

Stressed adrenals also cause an imbalance in another vital hormone called DHEA. DHEA leads to the production of androgens and estrogens (male and female sex hormones). So you see how the entire cascade of hormones become affected. Being that I focus on bio-identical hormones in my office, I make sure that  not only do the numbers come back within range but most importantly the ratio between all the hormones. The reason why I jumped a little deeper into hormones other than melatonin, is because when they out of balance, bed time becomes a stress as apposed to a healing cycle.

Finding the right melatonin supplement can be a challenge, so stick to a sublingual form. Tincture or powdered dissolving tablets will do the job. I usually recommend a slow release so that it helps you stay asleep. One tip I will leave you with, is to only take it for a month at a time or your brain will get lazy and rely on you to feed it. Take it for 30 days and then if you don’t feel any change then you’ll want to do a full stress profile test to see if your cortisol levels are high at night. If this is the case then that will need to be dealt with separately.

woman sleeping

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A Life-Changing Lesson For All

One of the most common epidemics infecting the world, particularly the developed world, is known as Taking Life For Granted. Sadly, it often requires one to experience tragedy, either directly or indirectly in order to pay more attention to, and show more gratitude for not only the precious breaths we breathe, but all the wonder that this universe has to offer.

So if we compare this wondrous life to, say, a large flowing river, then our body is surely the vessel that helps us navigate the waters, moving us forward in exploration, and aiding us through constant challenges.

Now ask yourself “What would I do if the boat broke down? Or worse still, if the boat sank?”

While this analogy may not be perfect, hopefully you still get my drift (pun intended), in that how important our body is for daily function, and how easy it is to take it for granted, and not keep it well maintained.

However, no matter how well maintained one’s vessel is kept, misfortune can still cause malfunctions, such as debilitating disease like ALS, or worse yet, Spinal Cord damage due to serious injury.

This is the case for 22 year old Welsh International rugby player Owen Williams.

Owen is currently in hospital recovering from significant damage to his cervical vertebrae and spinal cord sustained while playing rugby for his Professional Club team the Cardiff Blues at a tournament in Singapore in July.

Owen Williams in hospital

While he is making positive progress, the full extent of his likely recovery is still unknown, and the support from family, fans, and fellow rugby players from all over the world has been “overwhelming”.  A charity has even been set up in his honor using the hashtag #StayStrongForOws to help raise awareness through social media.

Not knowing if he will ever regain full use of your limbs again is a terrifying thought, and can stir up a myriad of emotions. Even though Owen, being a professional athlete must already have a mental toughness and determined nature that helps him remain positive while recovering from injury, there must still be moments of worry and even panic as he resides in the unknown and contemplates his odds of a full recovery.

I know this, because I’ve experienced just that. I also broke my neck while playing rugby and was paralyzed from the neck down for a good amount of time before being transported to hospital for emergency surgery, ending my rugby career.

that was a fun day

With a lot of luck, a great surgeon, and some determination, I have made a near full recovery, and I expect the same fate for Owen. The ordeal has been a life changing experience for me, in that I learned very quickly how important my arms and legs were, when I was faced with the reality of never being able to use them again.

To this day I vividly remember the emotional rollercoaster of being momentarily paralyzed, which serves as a constant reminder to be grateful for a fully functional body, and to celebrate the fact by using it as much as possible and challenging its capabilities.

One way I like to do this, is whenever I come across an elevator or escalator with a nearby option to take the stairs, I will take the stairs. This is not only a way of displaying gratitude for my working limbs, but keeps me fit too.

escalators or stairs?

I urge you all to practice celebrating your body more by taking the easy option less. Take the stairs instead of the escalator. Hike to places where cars can’t reach. Ride your bike to work instead of driving.

A further display of gratitude for your mobility could be in the form of volunteering for or donating to causes such as the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.

The #StayStrongForOws campaign is selling wristbands for the cost of a Budweiser. This is a great way to remind yourself constantly to appreciate your health, while supporting a young star in the making as he fights to get back on his feet…literally.

StayStrongForOws wristband

For those of you who struggle to relate to the possibility of damaging your spinal cord while playing a professional contact sport, perhaps the story of James Gribble will inspire you. James set up The Puffin Magic Foundation after becoming a quadriplegic when he feinted and fell off a stool while waiting to go on a fishing trip in Africa.

James Gribble

Moral of the story? Make the most of the amazing vehicle that is your body. Challenge it to reach it’s full potential. You just never know when the privilege could be taken from you.

 

M

David Beckham

Before World Cup soccer fever grinds to a complete halt (some might say it already has), we want to pay tribute to a YOG who is arguably the most world recognized figure both on and off the ‘football’ field. This is probably due to him having played in 3 World Cups for England, married a pop star (she’s actually quite cool), launched his own fragrance, had a movie named after him, earned a bazillion dollars with some of the World’s richest soccer clubs… Need we go on?

Even though the 39 year old didn’t play in this World Cup, his handsome mug still appeared occasionally in various overpriced ad campaigns throughout the tournament’s broadcast.

And yes, the YOGness extends beyond his obvious fame and fortune, being involved with countless charities, setting up several youth academies for future champions and finding the time to raise four of his own future champions.

David Beckham, welcome to the YOG Hall Of Fame.

The Summer Of No Regrets

“Life is short”. “Carpe Diem”. “Live Your Dreams” etcetera. Whether posted on a billboard or tattooed in script on a college girl’s foot, there is no shortage of cheesy inspirational mottos out there reminding us how to live our lives.

And yet while cheesy and clichéd they may be, they still provide a positive trigger which can momentarily help drag us out of the doldrums and into a more positive mindset.

carpe diem on foot

However, most feel-good mantras tend to be rather generic, only focusing on the bigger picture. Therefore it’s easy to stray away from the daily habit of “living life to the fullest”.

So just like any long term goal, it’s important to set some short term goals to bring you closer to achieving that dream, that vision or just simply that ideal way of life.

So we YOGs have decided on a short term goal to cover the summer period of 2014. Last Summer our motto was “Best Summer Ever”!

This year, we declare these next summer months as “The Summer Of No Regrets”.

This will serve as a reminder to neither hesitate, nor procrastinate. To speak to that girl in the grocery store, rather than admire her from a distance and let the opportunity pass by.

To book that weekend trip away even though money seems tight and work is overwhelming.

To call our close family and friends more often, even if it’s just to check in.

To see more concerts, to surf more, to try a different restaurant at least once every week. To pitch that business idea to an investor.

We invite you to do the same. Live these next few months as “The Summer of No Regrets”. Write it on your whiteboard. Stick it on your fridge. Verbalize it. Hashtag it.

#summerofnoregret14

The more you can apply this to your day to day circumstances, the less you’ll feel like you didn’t make the most of the Summer as it fades away into the Fall…

After all, the day you’re having is the life you’re living.

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