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Are you better with exercise or food?

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I think that most people who make an effort to lose or maintain their weight do better with either food or exercise. I know there are people who are great with both - but my guess is that most people struggle with one or the other in the long term. For me, the struggle is definitely with food.

Sure, I don't always exercise as much as I could but overall I think I do pretty well. I identify opportunities to fit some exercise into my day. There are days that I don't work out at all, but I think it's been well over 3 years that I've actually gone an entire week without some sort of physical activity beyond just walking around. I love it and rely on it to help clear my mind, improve my mood and manage stress. My day just does not seem complete without exercise. But food is something I still need to work on, even now - after 3 years of Sparking.

*ETA: OOPS...I lied! I did go weeks without working out after I had the baby. Six weeks plus the week in the hospital. That is actually a long time without exercise, but a good reason's orders. :)

My eating habits have improved ten-fold since I was 60+pounds heavier. I've worked hard to limit fast food and make better choices when I do eat it. I incorporate more fruit, veggies and whole grains in my daily diet. I pay attention to portions. I prepare my own, healthier, meals at home much, much more than before. Still, I know where I need to do better:

- Calories: I am not restricting my calories too much right now because I am breastfeeding. Still, I should stay within a healthy, reasonable (albeit higher) calorie range so I don't gain a lot of weight. Thankfully, I have been maintaining. But I have 8 pounds of weight that needs to come off. As it is now, I am consistently ending up way overboard on the calories by the end of the day. I'm good abut tracking my food, but that does me no good if I am always going over my calories anyway.

- Sugar: I have a crazy sweet tooth and get cravings for sweets late afternoon and evenings. Gum and distractions help, but I indulge more often than I'm comfortable with. They might be "better" indulgences (dark chocolate or muffins made with whole grains and applesauce for example) but they are indulgences nonetheless. I know that resolving never to have treats will set me up for failure. I am looking for balance.

- A balance of nutrients: There's that word "balance" again! This one throws me for a loop. Every evening after I run my nutrition report, I am, without fail, always over in some nutrients and under in others. If I stay within my range for fat, I am over in sodium, for example, or carbs. I am also consistently low in calcium and other key vitamins and minerals. I haven't yet been able to figure out how to stay within all the recommendations AND keep my calories within range. Because it seems like in order for me to be perfect in all these nutritional areas, I need to eat more food so I can have everything covered.

I will continue to explore ways to improve my diet so I can maintain a healthy weight AND still enjoy food and life. That is the only way to sustain weight loss for a lifetime.

So, Sparkfriends: How do you keep your nutrients balanced? What helps you curb a sweet tooth? Are you able to stay within your calories most of the time?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZIRCADIA 3/15/2010 7:32PM

    I feel like if I aim for enough lean protein and servings of fruits and veggies, then the carbs and fats take care of themselves. Sodium is all a matter of eating clean and as little processed as possible for me. The more I eat that's processed, the higher my sodium gets. But I'm better with exercise than food... hahaha :D I tend to splurge too much sometimes, until I get things under control... but I'm usually good about having balanced days with my macronutrient ratios.

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DNJEN471 3/15/2010 2:51PM

    I couldn't agree more.

I tend to go back and forth. When I am good with food, I don't exercise. When I am good with exercise, I eat like crap. I need to find that happy middle.

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SEPPIESUSAN 3/10/2010 11:15AM

    Great to see another active Sparker who's been on the site since Jan. 2007 like me! (My page says I've been on the site since Jan. 2006, but I didn't start really using it until 1/07). I agree with what your blog says - I'm better with exercise! I think food makes the bigger impact on my weight though. When I keep my food under control, I feel under control overall! As for the nutrient balance, being able to see all that on my screen has really been educational for me. With some nutrients I think I'm low just because the particular nutrient isn't often reported - Vitamin E for example. With others, I've learned to make better choices by seeing what was too high or too low - for example, I've learned many ways to cut down on my sodium intake. Very helpful!!

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STARTSPARKING 3/10/2010 6:02AM

    I'm quite consistent with my exercise program. I would even consider myself an exercise enthusiast, since I LOVE my group classes. However, making poor food choices has been my downfall all along. I simply take in way more calories than what I burn off, even with my consistent exercise regimen. emoticon

I really need to work on my eating habits. Consistency is key. Thanks for another great blog entry!

Comment edited on: 3/10/2010 6:03:18 AM

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SPARKNMOM 3/9/2010 9:43PM really are doing so very well. I'm typically pretty good w/ food - and not consistent w/ the exercise. I need to do better balancing both!

I do track my food, but I don't do so well balancing everything I should. I watch calories and carbs and beyond that, I don't fret too much. Working full-time plus keeping up w/ my own children often precludes me from doing as well as I think I should, but hey...I've not done too poorly.

As for sweets, I do eat treats that easily fit into my plan...I don't feel deprived, but I'm not going for the super duper high calorie/carb items, either.

Comment edited on: 3/9/2010 9:43:56 PM

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    WTG on your program!!

I have walked almost daily since I started along with logging all my foods.

But I have not been good with Strength Training at all.

To balance my nutrients I am faithful with the Nutrition Tracker. As time goes on, I find my sweet tooth is satisfied more easily now. I still have sweets now and then, but I log everything and try to keep within all the calorie/nutrients ranges.

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BRAVE_NEW_ME 3/9/2010 7:27PM

    Yeah, food is definitely harder for me than fitness. But I guess the fact that I'm now running marathons makes that a pretty obvious fact. =D

I too have had a lot of success with focusing on keeping my weekly averages in range rather than trying to hit all of my goals each and every day. I prefer being at least CLOSE to my ranges every day, but as long as I'm averaging out within range, I don't concern myself with being IN range every day. This applies to calories, macronutrients, and certain key micronutrients that I track. Not only does this give me a bit more flexibility, it also lets me "correct" my balances as I go through the week. If I'm a bit high on fats and low on carbs on Monday, then I can plan a lower fat, higher carb dinner for Tuesday. If I didn't get enough calcium on Wednesday, I can make sure I get ample calcium on Thursday. I know those same corrections can be made from meal to meal within a day, and I do that too, to an extent, but it's still not the same as being able to have a whole week to work with.

I also take a multivitamin. It gives me an extra bit of "insurance" so that I know I'm more likely to be in range on my micronutrients (many of which are very hard to track, since they aren't always listed on food packaging).

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SLENDERELLA61 3/9/2010 5:43PM

    Very astute blog. While you are breastfeeding, you do need plenty of good, healthy food. Be patient. Breastfeeding may make you hungrier all by itself. Be sure to drink enough water, too. And of course it is so hard for new moms to get enough rest. It truly is a wonderful, but very difficult, time in your life.

Yes, I definitely struggle with the food more than the exercise, although I can't claim every week for 3 years I've done what I should in activity.

One thing that made me feel better about my nutrient balance is checking off SparkPeople meal plans. Just temporarily check a whole day off and run the report. Later you can uncheck them. They don't hit them all perfect, either. Many of those nutrients are meant to be balanced over a week or more. (Some like the water soluble Vit B and C you do need daily.) For example, one egg puts me over on cholestrol, but the articles say it is fine to have several eggs per week.

I once posed a question to the "Get Help Here" message board for a SP expert. I wondered if I should be buying all separate nutrients - like copper, selenium, magnesium, etc, to take on days I don't hit the recommended amounts. The dietitian's response was never take a single supplement without a doctor telling you to do so. Also, some nutrients like magnesium are not required to be on labels, so you may be getting more than you know. Also, these nutrient amounts are averages and semi-guesses. Some veggies are very fresh and nutrient filled; some are old and over cooked. It is just a guide, not an absolute.

Hope that helps. Hang in there. You can do it!!

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    I am definately better with exercise. I eat healthy most of the time and am at a good weight. I eat lots of fruit and make most of my grain whole wheat, and I think that helps keep the nutrients in an ok range. the fact that I exercise a lot, makes me more careful of my eating( why waste my time if I'm going to eat it all back). Pam

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    I struggle with being "perfect" with both diet and exercise. It has happened a few times, but that was when Hubby is completely on-board, too, and so if I slacked on something he was right there to support (or kick) me (in the butt).

As for balancing nutrition, I view it the same as balancing calories. I look at my week rather than a specific day. If I know I'm consistently under in something, despite diet tweaks, then I consider vitamins and/or supplements. For example, I usually need to take one or two Tums for calcium daily and I also take a multivitamin (and extra vitamin D in the wintertime) and that keeps me right where I need to be. I tried to depend exclusively on food for my nutrition and I just wasn't hitting the right numbers without going over calories or simply eating too much.

(edited for bad grammar)

Comment edited on: 3/9/2010 3:01:02 PM

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My new Spark DVD came in the mail!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Happy Monday, Spark people! We've had a beautiful, spring-like weekend, and the nice weather is continuing today and tomorrow! I am so, so happy. My spirits are lifted just a little higher for every minute the day is longer and the sun is out. Looking forward to my walk with the little one later today and my workout at the gym tonight with hubby.

Not too long ago, I spun the Sparkwheel and won a SparkPeople exercise DVD. It came on Saturday. Woo hoo!! I was wondering if it would be one of the two I already own but thankfully it's different. It does have some of the same workouts on it, however. It's a little older, I think, and not as high-tech. But hey, it's free and will probably be a nice addition to my little collection of at-home fitness options! :) I haven't worked out to it yet, but I did pop it into the player to see what it was like. BTW, I tried to sell back Leslie Sansone yesterday at a nearby store that buys used DVDs and CDs but they didn't take it. And then hubby dropped some stuff off at Goodwill but forgot to grab it. It just doesn't want to leave me. Begone, Leslie! :)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKNMOM 3/8/2010 9:34PM

    How neat that you won a DVD!! I get excited about winning 5 points LOL!! We've had a bit of sun and warmth here as well - so very excited! Even went so far as to paint the toenails and wear flip flops on Saturday!! Exciting LOL!!

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    The workout fairies are trying to give you a hint about Leslie.


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BRAVE_NEW_ME 3/8/2010 10:49AM

    Free fitness videos are always good! Especially when you're in the middle of expanding your workout-at-home options. Woohoo!

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THINKINNOW 3/8/2010 9:07AM

    Happy Monday to you - exercise DVD's afe fun

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ASTER2606 3/8/2010 9:05AM

    Good to see two such happy posts from you. And really, do whatever you have to do to evict Leslie Sansone from your house. Some people really like her and maybe she's good if you're really starting out from status "couch potato", but you don't need her. Happy Monday to you too!

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Just Dance!

Friday, March 05, 2010

OK, it's definitely time for a new blog! It's been a while. The snow has since melted and we have been blessed with some sunny days. This weekend, we are supposed to get an inkling of Spring. Sunny and mid-50s. I'll take it!

So, what's new? I've added a few more fun, at-home workouts to my lineup! For my birthday last week I received 3 games for the Wii: Just Dance, EA Sports Active and EA more workouts. "Just Dance" is just silly fun but it gets your heart pumping! There are songs of all kinds and an avatar that dances to each one. All you have to do is mirror the dance moves of the avatar on the screen. Sounds easy, but if you are uncoordinated like me, it's kind of a challenge. You get your results at the end of each song: % great, % OK, % X. I'm usually around 50% great and OK combined, at best. LOL. I'm sure I will improve as time goes on. If not, it's OK. It is fun anyway. There also could be miscommunication between the remote and the game when you are moving it around so much.

The EA game is pretty cool. You get a personal trainer that is supposed to whip you into shape. You can choose your own workouts/exercises or set it to a 30-day challenge, which chooses them for you. Each day you have different combination of exercises. So far, I've done boxing, tennis, running and walking on a track, jumping, and lots of ST moves such as squats, lunges, etc. I think you can even work out online with someone else who has this game, which would be fun too. Anyone out there have it?? I have to play around with it more, for sure. So far I've just let it set my daily workouts. It also shows you your progress and estimated calorie burn, though I wear my HRM to be more accurate. While the workouts are great, so far it is not getting my heart rate up high enough for a sustained amount of time. That's because for each new exercise you do, you get a little "show me how" video, which slows me down. But I watch it so I can see how to do the moves correctly. Eventually once I get through all the exercises once, I won't need those videos and just skip them.

I've also been making it to the gym more often lately! Last night I went to Body Combat. YAY YAY YAY! Plan to go again as usual tomorrow morning.

Oh, and I found out what my waist-to-hip ratio is! I subscribe to a Jillian Michaels newsletter and today's e-mail contained information about how to find out what your ratio is. Jillian says this is a better indicator than BMI. My ratio is .81 - pretty much where it should be for women (.80 is ideal). :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ETAGGEL 3/5/2010 10:29PM

    They soud like really good fun! Enjoy them!


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SPARKNMOM 3/5/2010 9:07PM

    Oooh!! Fun workouts! :) Good for you. Sounds like life is good in your neck of the woods!

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KARALVS2SCRAP 3/5/2010 6:05PM

    Sounds like you have having fun!

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    emoticon Sounds like you are having fun with your exercising/cardio workouts!!


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STARTSPARKING 3/5/2010 12:47PM

    Oh, I hear ya about blogging. My average has gone down to just about once a month... not nearly enough! Am I really THAT busy?! emoticon

Your birthday was last weekend? Sorry I missed it... Happy Birthday! The three new Wii games sound like so much fun. Thank you for your reviews. Good for you for going to the gym more often! The Body Combat class sounds TOUGH but a great workout. I'm glad you are enjoying it.

I'm glad your waist ratio is where it should be. I've learned from Dr. Oz recently that having too large a waist is serious danger to developing diabetes. Yikes!

Take care, and have a wonderful weekend! emoticon

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    I'm thinking I'll ask Birthday Bunny Claus for a Wii, too. Have fun!

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BRAVE_NEW_ME 3/5/2010 11:48AM

    Sounds like you're making great use of that Wii. Out of curiosity, since you are using a heart rate monitor during your EA Wii workouts, how accurate do you find the Wii supplied calorie burn estimates to be?

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Out of sorts...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

...and trying to pinpoint why. Is it hormones? The weather? Cabin fever? Feeling pulled in different directions? All of the above? Probably.

The "Emotional Eating Monster" has arrived and is wreaking havoc. I am eating sweets (brownies, chocolate) like crazy! I mean, like the world is running out of them. Earlier today I ate the last brownie in the pan I made on Sunday, then 4 squares of really high-calorie chocolate with hazelnuts from Trader Joe's. Yummy but I have now blown through my calories for the day and I haven't even had dinner yet. In the words of Oprah (and I don't quote Oprah very often), "What am I hungry for?" It's not my appetite (physical hunger). My stomach wasn't growling from not having enough to eat before I decided to gobble up all that chocolate.

We've had a crazy amount of snow lately and it's just now starting to melt. We might get more snow at the end of the week or early next week. GAHHHHHH! The mommy/baby class I signed up for has now been postponed till March as a result of the weather, but that's fine with me. It will be easier to push a stroller to the gym after the snow melts.

Speaking of the snow, a terrible thing happened last week that I can't get out of my mind. My husband's colleague and work friend was on his way home from work last Tuesday when a cab in front of him got stuck in the snow. He got out and helped to push the cab out. A while later he started having chest pains and drove himself to the hospital. He had a heart attack and unfortunately passed away. I did not know this man personally, but from everything my DH told me about him, he was a good person with a wonderful sense of humor who went out of his way to help people.

A few examples: That past Friday, when the snow first really started to come down, he saw my husband walking home from work and gave him a ride. Last year when he found out we were expecting, he gave us a stack of Baby Einstein DVDs that his kids had outgrown. After we had the baby, he asked about her often and genuinely wanted to know how she was doing. He also tried to help us find a pediatrician (since we had her early we we were scrambling to find one).

He left behind a wife and two young kids, both under age 3. From what I knew of him, his family was his world. I've been thinking a lot about this family in the past week and hoping they are somehow able to find peace in this difficult time. So very sad. Hug your loved ones and friends. Life is short.

I usually try to be positive when I write these blogs. If there is one thing that being here on SparkPeople has taught me, it's that positivity is absolutely KEY to our success, not only in weight loss but in any goal we wish to accomplish. But I just had to get this out. Sorting through my mind, so to speak...
Thanks for reading.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMPLEJOYS 2/22/2010 11:37PM

  February is a tough month. February with a baby and snow snow snow...tougher yet. Perfection is out of the question - so apply the 90% philosophy and call it good! Life is meant to contain joy...and a really good chocolate bar once in awhile.

I was so sorry to read about your husband's co-worker as well. My good friend lost her husband quite suddenly 2 years ago - and the shock/numbness/paralysis is just now wearing off. I hope his widow has a good support base.

You hang in there, little lady. March will be here in no time!


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PRAIRIEDAWNPAM 2/18/2010 11:32AM

    The first step to getting rid of the emotional eating monster is to not buy him any food. If your cupboards lack the treats (or ingredients to make said treats) he desires, he won't stay. Its kinda like when you go to stay with a friend and they have nothing to eat in the house and they don't do any cooking for you, either. You take the hint and get a hotel, right? If you are like me, though, you are the ultimate host and when the monster comes calling you'll even go grocery shopping for him. We need some integrity here, sister! Both of us.

I do think there is much positive in your blog. Its unbelievably sad that your husband's friend has passed; I can't imagine what the man's family is going through. But that man left a legacy behind. How many people would honestly get out of their car to push a stuck cab out of the snow? How many people go to the effort of finding special gifts to share with another family? He was a good man. He made a difference.

Now go clean out your cupboards and stop feeding that monster. Brownies are for do-gooders. Actually, no. Good people deserve good food. Maybe you can send a healthy pot of soup to your husband's friend's family.



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DNJEN471 2/18/2010 2:26AM

    Wow that is so sad. Thank you for the reminder. We all need to be reminded of our blessings from time to time.

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SANDIE4HLTH 2/18/2010 12:18AM

    I am very sorry to hear of the unexpected loss of your husband's coworker. What a very sad story -- and yet inspiring, too, because his life serves as a model for helping others in need.

I can certainly understand why you're in a funk and the emotional eating. As you said, it's probably a combination of things. Whatever else you do, be very, very kind to yourself.

I hope you feel much better soon.


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BRAVE_NEW_ME 2/17/2010 10:00PM

    So sorry to hear about your husband's co-worker!

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SPARKNMOM 2/17/2010 9:51PM

    Ooh...sorry you're feeling out of sorts :( Not fun. I'm waiting for a little sunshine myself...

So sad to hear of your husbands' co-worker's death. Just last week on my way home from school, a car pulled out in front of me and our cars were totaled. I had the twins w/ me and my son was injured, but luckily it was not serious - contusions to his face and lots of swelling and pain. He now has healed from his wounds and I just got a new car today. Made me really think about things...and how fortunate I am and how things could have been different had it occurred seconds sooner or later - it could have been tragic. Sorry - feel like I blogged here....perhaps I will. Anyway...hope your funk passes soon and that we BOTH see some sun a warmth soon - although it's not in my forecast! Hugs.....

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HUGS2015 2/17/2010 8:17PM

    Sorry to hear of the loss of your hubby's work mate. It does make us think how fleeting life can be when someone we know of dies. He really sounded like a good person.
I'm sorry that the "hungries" are getting you down. I ate some sugary snacks over the weekend and I have been hungry ever since. I really do believe that sugar increases the appetite. (at least it does for me) Maybe you'll be able to jump back on to your good eating habits soon and find your pace again. Keep your chin up, you can do it! emoticon emoticon

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    How sad for that family and his friends. And his passing sounds like the way it should have been...helping someone else. Wow.

I'm with you on the emotional eating thing right now. Sugar cookies!! We had some leftover from Valentine's day and I couldn't stay out of them. Should have just thrown them away!


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KARALVS2SCRAP 2/17/2010 4:46PM

    So sorry to hear about your husband's friend. He sounded like a wonderful man. As for the first part of your journal- join the club. I went back to work today after having a week and a half off. Everyone said the same thing. We all over ate. I decided to forgive myself and move on. I'm starting a sugar fast with one of my friends. Care to join me? emoticon

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Ready to be inspired!!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

I am so excited about the Olympics starting tonight! I am ready to sit and stare at the TV screen in awe of all the amazing athletes from around the world.

While I am nowhere near their fitness level, I know that if I just keep exercising, trying new things, and challenging myself a little more each time - I too am capable of great things.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ASTER2606 2/18/2010 8:15AM

    I am so sorry about your husband's colleague. I hope his family is getting the emotional support they need and that the more practical things are being taken care of as well.

About the eating I don't know what to tell you except to get that stuff out of the house and don't bring any more in. I too am really ready for winter to end, but it's going to be a while.

Take care. Hugs, Ann

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    Join me in an Olympic challenge? Can you do something physical while watching? I'm going to get onto the elliptical.

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SPARKNMOM 2/12/2010 10:11PM

    Yes, you are!!!!!

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MOM2ACAT 2/12/2010 3:33PM

    I love the Winter Games!

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BRAVE_NEW_ME 2/12/2010 3:10PM

    I agree as well! The olympics are always fun and inspiring!

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KARALVS2SCRAP 2/12/2010 1:27PM

    I totally agree!

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