Sat, Apr 4, 2020

Lofa Tatupu played six years in the NFL as a Seahawk and went to three Pro Bowls before leaving the NFL as a result of injuries during his celebrated career. CBD had a big role in Tatupu’s journey of healing, which he credits for bringing him back into the zone. The brand ZoneIn is a tribute to the benefits he found in full spectrum oil, which is the basis for products that can now be found in Bartell Drugs around the country. We interviewed Tatupu to hear how CBD gave him a health resurgence, and became his new mission to share with others around the world.

How did your journey with the plant begin?
I enjoyed Cannabis when I was younger, when it was very frowned upon and people hated on the plant, both Cannabis and hemp. Being an athlete I knew that ingesting smoke was not the way I should go about it, so I let it go towards my later years of high school to really focus on sports. Honestly there was a lot of misinformation. Obviously smoking is not good for you, but the alternatives we were given as medicine are not good for us. Fast forward and I had left Cannabis for my first love, football, and I was blessed to go to college for it and call it a job in the NFL.

Your football journey led you to Seattle, where Cannabis was first legalized! How did your time in the NFL affect you? 
After six wonderful but hard years, physically, mentally, and emotionally I was trending into decline. I started out really good, went to a couple Pro Bowls, but I didn’t realize that even then I was going through trauma. Both mind, body and soul. So continuing on the best path I knew how, I took the medications I was prescribed and kept going about my daily grind. Eventually that’s what led to my career being short, in terms of the injuries. I was never able to correct the injuries or heal — it felt like massive pain. I’m still grateful for every opportunity I had and couldn’t have asked for a better organization than the Hawks, but when I got out of football I still felt those injuries. Even though you’re done playing ball, those injuries stay with you.

How did you end up working with Cannabis?
Me and [former Seahawk] Matt McCoy got into the recreational business with 1937 Farms, and even though I had been away from Cannabis for so long we got into it because we realized the healing it was doing for other people.

With great purpose and good intentions we got into this, and while I was not smoking I was hearing a lot about CBD. And I had heard about it towards the end of my career, but thought it was going to be like THC, the stuff I wasn’t allowed to have. Again, all misinformation and miseducation. So I started experimenting after hearing all these stories and testimonials, and tried isolate and broad spectrum oils, and then finally came across full spectrum oil.
It was eye opening, like being reborn.

How has CBD changed your life? 
It was like all of my opportunities started coming back. I was clear headed for the first time in a long while. I’ve had 10 surgeries, 15+ concussions, and there was a lot of disconnect going on between my mind and body. So I was looking for a real solution, and I’m grateful to have found it in full spectrum oil. That was in 2017, and for three years I was giving it to friends because I started to make this miraculous recovery. I went from 280 pounds down to 230. It wasn’t overnight, but it was me being able to recover quickly enough to go to the gym. And it just started this positive change of reaction, and everything started falling into place.

What was the tipping point for  starting ZoneIn CBD?
When the Farm Bill passed in 2018 I made it my purpose to help others and create a national brand. It takes a team, because nobody does anything by themselves, and we partnered with a lab and have what I believe to be one of the best formulations that seems to resonate with a ton of people.

“I get up and go to the gym and don’t think about being sore, I conquer it. Then I go about my day and have a work day that I crush, and when my kids come home it’s family time. And I’m in every single one of those moments.”

Where does the name ZoneIn come from? 
A big difference in our product is that while others say CBD is for sleep or anxiety, we say ours is for performance enhancing, for life enhancement. I think everyone can attest to wanting to be in the zone, which is where the name comes from. ZoneIn is a play off the zone, which in positive psychology is flow state, which is what full spectrum oil has brought me to. Where I don’t have to think anymore, I just do. I get up and go to the gym and don’t think about being sore, I conquer it. Then I go about my day and have a work day that I crush, and when my kids come home it’s family time. And I’m in every single one of those moments. Being in the zone is being in those moments, and it’s cleared up a lot of noise in my life and I’m grateful for it.

You have focused on two products, capsules and a tincture, along with a sore muscle cream coming out in the new year. They can now be found at Bartell Drugs, local retailers, and online. Why did you keep it simple when it came to the product line? 
We call our product Balance, because some people need to come down and some people need to come up, which brings you into homeostasis. So we have the same product, two different delivery methods as tincture or capsules. And we have a muscle rub coming out in Q1. We only have a couple products because you only need a few, we don’t need CBD everything. And with 60% of products mislabeled or without CBD at all, we want to focus on solid products and fight the misinformation that exists in the industry.

Do you wish you’d had access to CBD in the NFL? 
I swear that I would just be finishing my career if I had this six years ago when I retired. My title is Chief Evangelist and I know people can hear it in my words. I’m excited for our nation and the world, and for everybody to be a little nicer – not only to each other – but to themselves. All too often we are too hard on ourselves, being our own critics, and life is tough and even harder when you are fighting yourself. I feel like this has given me cognitive benefits that are what allowed my body to fall into place in terms of correcting and managing pain while moving effortlessly.

Since you’ve had concussions I want to ask about CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease from repetitive brain trauma) which is a national conversation surrounding football. Do you feel CBD can help other athletes like it helped you?
I always want to pay homage to the NFL, they are doing a tremendous job with the Players Association of reaching out and making sure guys get the help they need. I can’t definitively say, because you don’t know if you have CTE until you pass away and donate your brain, but there were cognitive issues I was having when I left the game. My short term memory was slipping, it was tough. My attention span and focusing on everyday tasks was hard. CBD seemed to bring back that clarity, everything making sense and no cloudiness or fog taking over my mind. It brought me back to a young mindset, and when you get older these are issues that everyday people face.

So even though ZoneIn is brought to you by athletes and doctors, it’s for the everyday person.

I’m grateful that this will help somebody, and you can’t make claims according to the FDA, but my story is my testimonial and there are more and more stories coming out just like it.

What excites you the most about the future of ZoneIn?
My circle of friends saw me go from 280 to 230 pounds and my health resurgence, and they all asked what I was doing. As I shared CBD my friends all said wow, this is real. It’s that snowball effect and it takes some time, but it’s going to lead to a healthier and happier world and I could not be more excited about that.

Interview by Wes Abney @beardedlorax | photos by ZoneIn CBD