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A stone overturned in therapy

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I see a therapist once a week who helps me deal with guilt and anxiety issues stemming from chronic familial stress. Yesterday she helped me lift a veil that seems so plainly obvious now, yet I couldn't see the forest for the trees.

A couple weeks ago, I had a great weight loss. I had been really working it, using my exercise bike after work every day, tracking every piece of food, and feeling generally completely in control. It was difficult, it wasn't always fun, but I was proud of myself. I broke a plateau and moved from 240 to 236.8 in a week. Go. Me.

So on Monday of the following week, when I didn't feel like using my exercise bike, I gave myself a pass. Gave myself a pass when I had a little mini-binge on Tuesday. Gave myself a pass with full-blown binges and no biking all week on Wednesday and Thursday... must be getting my period, I said. Allowed myself a tracking free weekend, because at that point... really, what the hell. Knew I was gaining. Knew I was undoing my hard work. Didn't care. I didn't want hard work, I wanted pleasure and comfort and FUN! When I stepped on the scale on Monday morning I was back to 240. No anger. No wondering why. A shrug, and acceptance, and with that I went on with my day.

I recounted this to my therapist, because the entire week that I spent unraveling my recent success, I did so willfully. I never felt out of control, I felt like I was stubbornly doing exactly what I felt like. I couldn't explain, either to myself or to her, the reason why. She looked at me thoughtfully. "You often say that your mother loves with food. Do you think you maybe love yourself with food?"


I slowly widened my eyes as I looked up at her. The whole week I spent food-shoveling I was feeling like I wanted comfort. And a reward. The temperatures are changing, work is busy, I'm premenstrual, and I want a hug. A big, chocolaty, caramel, potato chip, crackers and cheese, beer and wine, fried food hug. Whaddya know. That's why I wasn't angry about it... I was just lovin on me.

That was yesterday. I spent the drive home from work making a mental list of other, healthy ways that I can love myself.

- by eating fresh, healthful foods
- by keeping a clean and tidy home
- by not only associating memories of food with pleasure, but also memories of running and playing outside as a child - through the trees.
- by hydrating my skin
- by keeping a regular schedule of medical check-ups
- by asking for help when I want it (notice I didn't say NEED it... I think I should ask before that).
- by using and moving my body
- by finding little pockets of time that are quiet and peaceful and living in that pocket for a moment, just me, turning over quiet and peaceful things in my mind.
-by quite literally and physically giving myself a hug
-by giving my husband, mother, friend, or cat a hug. Unsolicited.

This morning, I woke up at 6 am (I am usually an after 7 waker) and quietly dressed in my working out clothes. I made a cup of pumpkin spiced coffee, and eased myself on to the couch with my mug and a home-made low fat banana muffin. The sky was still dark. I watched it become light while I sipped my coffee and chewed. I felt loved. Not because I was chewing, but because I knew that I was fueling for a work out, and I was at peace. 35 minutes of sweating on the bike followed, and then a hot shower. I was productive and successful at work today, and ate clean all day. Now I sit here typing, and I still feel loved. A piece of my obesity puzzle in place... another stone overturned.

If you are reading this, tell me... how do you give yourself love?


All the Little Things

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's been about a month since I've posted a blog, but I have been very active in my Spark journey during that time. I have had thoughts kicking around for a few days, and wanted to put them down so that I could capture this moment in the changing of my life.

There have been so many little changes that I have noticed lately. Not just changes in what the scale says, or how my clothes fit (that has been happening - very slowly, but it's still happening), but behavioral changes. Honest, real changes in the way my mind works and thinks about food, family, work, and myself. It's very encouraging. I am open and listening for all these little changes so that I can incorporate them into the final version of "me" at goal. I am crafting my future self (MFS).

Let me give some examples of what I am talking about.

*The other day, I considered cauliflower a treat. This is true, and I smile every time I think about it. This past weekend I was standing in the frozen food aisle at the store, finishing my grocery shopping, when I spotted those Green Giant single serve cauliflower and cheese thingys. I took a package out of the case, and immediately looked at the nutrition information. 40 calories - pretty good, 1 gram of fat - great, 410 mg of sodium - oh.... that's not so great. I turned them over and looked at the picture on the box, and shrugged. As I placed them into the shopping cart, I thought to myself "I'll just have to be careful and have it once in a while - *as a treat*". I realized the significance of that thought right away, and stood in the frozen food aisle grinning like an idiot and shaking my head for a couple of seconds. I love the feeling of that memory. Frozen cauliflower - as a treat.

*I am buying less food, and what I buy lasts longer. Before I started my journey, I would have told everyone who would listen that I don't eat that much food. I would have honestly believed it, too. Since I have been being so selective about what goes into my body, food is lasting so much longer, and there is no doubt that I am buying less of it. It leads me to ask myself: "How the hell was I downing a box of cereal a week by myself, a whole box of Triscuits, and a whole package of string cheese?". Every week used to consist of snack replenishing. Now, we stop at the mouth of the chip aisle and say, "We've still got half a bag of Pita Chips and some Popcorners left, we should be good until the end of the week". I still haven't quite gotten this down, and find myself throwing away food sometimes, because I'm simply not gobbling it down fast enough like I used to. I have started doing a lot of half portions as well. If I'm about to make dinner, but starving, I THINK about a serving of almonds - and realize I can get by on 1/2 an ounce before dinner, drastically cutting down the calorie and fat intake. This is a new concept for me. And I thought I didn't eat a lot.

*I've been more focused at work, and leaving earlier. I have a very busy job, and for the past 6 months or so, have been getting really overwhelmed by my responsibilities. For the past week, I have had this renewed energy that seems to have come from nowhere. I am efficiently multi-tasking, and working through piles of crap that have been accumulating dust for months. Also, I am one of those people who is famous in the office for staying late. An hour, sometimes two past shut-down time. Most nights my hubby works late, and there was just no real push for me to leave. I didn't like time to myself, because that usually meant being lonely, and binging, and the negative cycle that goes along with it. I've learned how to break the binge-when-alone cycle (and I know that this may still happen - but knock on wood). Now, I really enjoy an hour of alone time. I can do anything I want! My interests are developing more - I have started to really enjoy time with me. I've gone from someone I avoided being with to someone I can't wait to see.

*My family is getting on board. I'm incredibly close to my family, and my mother loves with food. In the past, every weight loss attempt would fail as soon as I made the drive across the state to spend the weekend at my mom's house. She's a food pusher. It's how she shows affection, and she's always done it. When we went home for Easter, it was the first time in a few months that we'd seen her, and she noticed my weight loss right away. On Saturday night, I got in a little bit of trouble with the Easter candy she had around, so I vowed to not have one piece of it the next day (Easter Sunday). I told her, and she watched me keep my promise. She later told me that she was really impressed and inspired by my attitude shifts. The next time we came home (Mother's Day) she asked me to show her how to use Sparkpeople. So, I walked her through setting up an account, showed her how to use the nutrition tracker, and that was about it. My mother is technology and internet challenged, and I could tell she wasn't getting it. In the back of my mind, I felt that I was wasting my time. Well, she called me that week and told me that she had discovered the recipe side of the site, and had already made one dish, and was about to make another. I was so shocked!! The funny part about this is that the two recipes that she was talking about are two that I have made a few times each. So, we found something new and healthy to bond over... I am so thrilled about this. Viewing food as fuel and not a tool to show affection is going to be a difficult transition for my family - but I will be happy to lead the charge!

*Less glasses, more contacts. I am not sure if anyone else has had this experience. I have worn glasses since I was 7. Around 15 I was allowed to get contacts, and wore them every day until I was about 26. As the years went by and the pounds went on, I wore them less and less. For years now, the contacts only made appearances for special occasions. My glasses have the side effect of making everything look smaller. For years, I was literally looking at myself through rose colored glasses (ok, they are more brownish-red, but stay with me). About a week ago, I tore my bedroom apart looking for where I had put my stash of disposable contacts. I wanted to wear them. I found them, and popped them in. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I was saddened. I looked so much bigger with my contacts in, and the outfit that 20 minutes ago had looked just fine, now made me look fat. I looked at my face... my eyes are now visible... I should put on some makeup. My hair is a mess... I should style it. Let me put on something a little more flattering... I was hiding behind those glasses. When I got to work, people noticed. Someone even commented that she never noticed that my eyes were blue. That made me want to cry - my eyes are my prettiest feature, and one that I have always been proud of. WHY did I hide them? So what if I think I look bigger in the mirror - I look the same size to everyone else. From now on - less glasses. More contacts!

These changes are all behavior modifications that are making me become a healthier person, physically and mentally. Mental shifts are what I am after with this weight loss journey - I know that I cannot change my lifestyle if mind does not follow body. Body will follow mind.

It really begins in the brain. Everything you eat, everything you do, originates with a signal from your brain. All the little things we think of during the day are so often ultimately reflected in our actions. I am really pleased with these little changes. They feel natural. They feel like the "real" me. I think they are a sign of MFS beginning to take form.


A week of restaurants, and I didn't gain weight!!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I am so happy - I didn't really believe this was possible for me! I ALWAYS gain weight on vacations. I always spend the week after vacation fighting through at least a 2-4 lb weight gain to get back to where I was before I left. Not this time though!

I was scared. We were flying to FL to stay with my FIL all week, and I knew there would be restaurants. Lots of them. Which we would eat at. Every day. I knew this. Sooo, I decided that I would pack my suitcase with work out clothes and my sneakers, and get plenty of activity in. Except my FIL just had a knee replacement, and wasn't able to be as active as he usually is. So, that plan kind of fell through. Anyway - I will recap what I ate/ did all week since I didn't track a thing, and I want this for future reference!

Day 1 - Monday: Our flight was at 11:30. I had 1/2 cup of Fiber One cereal with milk and a banana at home for breakfast. Once we got to the airport and checked in, I grabbed a bottle of water and a toasted english muffin with butter on the side at Dunkin Donuts. I ate that, and then we boarded the plane. On the plane, they served us a tiny bag of peanuts and a decent-sized bag of little plane crackers (think Ritz consistency). I glanced at the bag - 130 calories, 3 grams fat... OK, not great, not too bad though. I ate the crackers around 2pm, ordered a diet coke, and put the peanuts in my bag for later. My FIL picked us up once we got to Orlando, and we made the hour drive to his place. We got there around 4:30, and decided to clean up and go out to dinner. We went out to a cute beachy themed restaurant called Mulligan's, and I did a mental scan of what I had eaten so far. A lot of carbs. Very little protein. No vegetables. Little fruit. I looked at the menu, and decided my best choice was a delicious looking blackened salmon salad with strawberries and blueberries. YUM. I ordered it because it looked good, and it would provide me with nutrients I hadn't given my body yet. Since I was on vacation, and happy hour doesn't exist in MA (stupid puritan laws), I also ordered two frozen margaritas. And drank about a gallon of water. We went back, and went to bed pretty early - we were wiped from traveling.

Day 2 - Tuesday: I woke up at around 8 AM and had a cup of coffee and 1/2 a grapefruit with my FIL on the porch - a nice warm breeze coming through. It was heaven. Dan slept pretty late, so FIL and I chatted for quite a while. Once Dan was up and showers were done, it was about 11:30, and I was getting hungry. I downed the little bag of peanuts from the plane to put out the fire. Then we piled into the car and went to a little restaurant called the Roadside for lunch. This place was cute, but I could tell right away that they didn't value "healthy". There was about 12 different burgers on the menu, fried gator tail, etc. They did have salad -- but they had "chef, caesar, or garden". And I could tell that I would not enjoy a salad at this place. I was thinking brown lettuce and dull, starchy tomatoes; sometimes you can just tell. So, I settled on a veggie burger, that was actually a portabello mushroom cap with roasted peppers and grilled onion - no cheese. I ordered a side salad instead of french fries - balsamic vinagrette on the side. It was delish! Then we went to the store to get some basics to cover us when we weren't eating out at restaurants. Here was what went into our cart:
Fiber One Cereal
Florida Grapefruit
baby carrots
2 portabello mushrooms
1 red bell pepper
deli turkey
deli ham
deli swiss cheese
Arnold multigrain sandwich thins
Popcorners popped corn chips
lots of Yoplait light yogurt
boneless skinless chicken breast
barbeque sauce
12 pack Blue Moon beer
1% milk

That night, I had a grilled chicken breast (w/ barbeque sauce) with grilled zucchini for dinner. After dinner we went for a leisurely .5 mile walk. I had 1 bottle of blue moon before dinner, and one that evening, and an apple for a snack.

Day 3 - Wednesday: Wednesday was probably the most active day - and it was also my favorite day. I got up around 8 again, and had a breakfast of Fiber One and milk with cut up strawberries, 1/2 a grapefruit, and coffee. Then we went for a walk by the Indian River - probably about 1.5-2 miles. We then went back to the house and I had a lunch of carrots, hummus, an apple, and a yogurt. We went to Sebastian Inlet (a really beautiful place with a sandy beach and a fishing pier w/ great waves) and did some more walking, and Dan and I splashed in the waves and I felt like a kid. Lots of sun, walking, and fresh air. After cleaning up a bit at FIL's, we went out to dinner at Chili's. I again did a mental intake. What had I eaten? Not much protein or carbs; veggies, fruit, and dairy. So, I ordered the margarita grilled chicken, which comes with rice and black beans. Usually I eat half, but I was so hungry that I ate it all. I also ordered a strawberry margarita and got into a little bit of trouble with our bottomless chips and salsa. Oops. Oh well - it was vacation!

Day 4 - Thursday: Again I woke up at about 8, and had the same breakfast as the day before. We decided to have lunch and dinner home that day (which I was happy about!) For lunch I had deli turkey and a slice of swiss with cucumbers and a bit of hummus on a deli flat. Some Popcorners on the side, and an apple. Then we went on a fan boat ride in some Florida wetlands. We saw lots of birds! And some alligators! I definitely recommend the fan boats - they are a little terrifying because they go VERY fast through alligator infested waters... but the scenery is always beautiful, and it's very cool to see the gators in their natural habitat. For dinner that night I had a grilled portabello cap with roasted red pepper (I broiled a fresh pepper - yum, so much better than canned!) and a slice of swiss, and grilled zucchini on the side. Then Dan and I went for a short bike ride through the park. 2 beers that evening.

Day 5 - Friday (last day): Woke up at 8, same breakfast w/ Fiber One, strawberries, and grapefruit. This day we just lazed around... I read a lot, we packed, did laundry, etc. I knew that we were going to dinner, so for lunch I had a plate of cucumber and carrots with hummus, and a yogurt. Around 3:30 we left for the restaurant, since it was a little over an hour away. Dixie Crossroads is in Titusville, FL and it is excellent. They serve rock shrimp, which are little shrimp with very hard, tough shells - like lobster or crab. And they taste like lobster or crab! I ordered a dozen and a half with a sweet potato, and shrimp soup. Unfortunately, instead of free bread, this place puts out free corn fritters with powdered sugar. Holy mother of God they are good. We have not stopped talking about them yet. I had about six... and I do not regret it. SO good. Our flight home was at 8:30, and we were at the airport with plenty of time to spare. On the flight I ate the plane crackers and the peanuts, and ordered another diet coke.

So, there you have it... restaurants all week, and not a pound gained. Looking back, I realize that I enjoyed my vacation - I ate well, allowed myself treats, but tried to eat smarter. It's OK to have carrots and cucumbers for lunch if you know that your dinner is going to be upwards of 1200 calories. If you have had a lot of carby "travel foods", get a salad with protein for dinner. I didn't use vacation as an excuse to over-eat and throw all of my good habits out the window. I drank a ton of water. I got a lot of sleep, and ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. I didn't feel deprived at all. BUT - I didn't track my foods at all, didn't allow myself to feel frustrated, and didn't really worry too much about it. When I got back Friday night, I was ready to begin tracking on Saturday, which I did. I am literally back on track, and looking forward to returning to the gym tomorrow and resuming my normal schedule. YAY! I finally feel like this is easy!

Next challeng: LOSING on vacation! :)


A Real A-HA! Moment

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Like a lot of people who have struggled with their weight for all their lives, I have had a lot of false starts. As a matter of fact, when I re-started Spark in January, I was not gung-ho nor confident nor happy about it. I felt like I was being backed into a corner, and this was the only door I could go through.

You see, I first joined Spark in July of 2010, and used it until October - losing about 12-13 lbs. I was excited, and confident and gung-ho then, until I just... stopped. I stopped tracking. Stopped paying attention. I was under a lot of emotional stress, and I am not a multi-tasker. I decided to work on the stress, and began seeing a therapist to learn better ways of coping.

Then came the holidays, and then my 32nd birthday, and then a wedding in New Jersey that I felt beautiful at, until I realized that my dress didn't fit quite right (it was too small) and I kept yanking at it and feeling uncomfortable all night. And fat. Way too fat. On the ride home from that wedding, my husband carefully broached the subject. "So... what are you doing? You know... with your eating and weight loss and health". Instant shame. We talked about it, and it was all fine... but I just felt so guilty. The health problems in my mom run from type 2 diabetes to herniated discs to high blood pressure/ stroke and back again. He doesn't want to be married to a crippled, stroking diabetic as long as we can help it. And I don't want to be one. Last year I made a promise to him that I would get healthy, and I broke it.

I came back to Spark the next day. I had regained the 12-13 lbs, so I was basically starting over. I knew this time that I had to make it a mental journey as well as a physical one. The first time I tried Spark in July I was just starting to touch on that, and this time it was already in the forefront of my mind.

I started by playing games with myself to spark new habits. I've blogged about my two week challenges. I started really learning about myself. I started going to the gym - happy to say that I have been to the gym 16 times in the month of March! That may not sound like much to some of you, but it is a personal record for me, and I tend to drive that up even more in April. I have re-lost the 12-13 lbs, and now I am where I was when I quit in October. Phew.

Now... onto my A-HA moment. As I said, this is a mental journey as much as a physical one. For my entire life, I have had the mentality that tracking, measuring, exercising, paying attention to portion control, etc. were things that fat people who were trying to become thin did. For my entire life, I would go through waves of doing this, either losing or maintaining weight, and then getting sick of it and stopping. And would begin to slowly gain weight because I was not paying attention to my caloric intake. For my entire adult life, I tricked myself into thinking "I eat pretty healthy food - I should not be fat". And I DID... most of the time. But I wasn't paying attention to calories. When I paid attention, I didn't gain.

When I started really paying attention not only to myself, but to other people's eating habits, I slowly started to realize something. Tracking, measuring, exercising, paying attention to portion control, etc are things that thin people do. They may not need to be so mindful of it, because they've been doing it all along. It is a rare person who can really eat whatever they want, not exercise, and not gain weight. Because of my lifetime of being obese, I just sort of thought that to be thin must be completely different - they can eat whatever they want! Well, no... I've started noticing my thin friend that comes to work three times a week with a big salad for lunch. Not because she's fat. Because it's healthy and tastes good and she likes it. Or other thin people who have gym bags, just like I do. Not because they're fat. Because going to the gym is part of their lifestyle and it keeps them healthy.

I mentioned to my husband the other day that I have to accept the fact that this is now my whole life - I will never be able to NOT track, measure, exercise, pay attention to portion control, etc if I want to maintain once I lose. I felt sort of ripped off. Like, I have to do all this work and then will STILL have to do it once I'm at my ideal weight.

The A-HA moment was when I realized that it's not work... it's life. It's called being a healthy person. Healthy people around the world who have never struggled with weight a day in their lives do this EVERY DAY. I am in the process of joining the ranks of the healthy. I eat well, I exercise, I don't consume more calories than I need. My new mantra, for the rest of my life.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PROUDMOM2BOYS 4/5/2011 8:08PM

    I love your blog! I'm glad you had that aha! moment, and it was a wonderful observation. Diets don't work, and 85% of people who lose weight on a "diet" gain it back within two years. This truly has to be a lifestyle change and something we can live with the rest of our lives.

Keep up the great work!


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HAPPYCHICK10 4/3/2011 7:52PM

    I like your ah ha moment :)

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RESULTS of 2 Week Challenge - THE GYM

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First of all - did anyone see the moon last night? Breathtaking!

So, how did I do with my 2 week THE GYM challenge? In an effort to put a stop to my all-or-nothing you didn't do everything 100% so you FAILED mentality, I will simply say: WIN. I did very well. I wasn't perfect. And that's OK.

Week One I conquered. I was there every day, Monday - Friday after work. Every day it was a struggle, and I had to psych myself up and talk myself into it ev-e-ry time. I have to say, I feel SO self conscious and out of place at the gym. I know that no one is watching me and keeping score, but I feel like all eyes are on the "inexperienced girl". I just feel so mousy and awkward. BUT - I realize that this is the start. Everyone feels like this at some time or another, and this is my time. I have to remind myself that either A) people don't notice me at all, or B) they DO notice me, and say to themselves "she's been here a lot lately - good for her". Also, I will look a lot less awkward if I smile and make eye contact. Fake it til I make it. This thought cycle went round and round and round all week. So - week one - definite win. My goal was to get there every day after work. DONE.

Weigh in after week one: Not. an. ounce. gone. NOTHING. Deep breath. That's OK - I said this wasn't a weight loss challenge, and I know I am building muscle. I can feel it. Body fat % keeps going up and down on the scale, so I am shifting jiggly parts around up in there - I just know it.

After my week one weigh in on Saturday morning, I had a very challenging eating day. The plan was to meet up with some friends for lunch at PF Chang's, and then meet up with different friends for dinner at a local French - fusion bistro. YIKES. At PF Chang's I did reasonably well. I ordered the Buddha's Feast, steamed, which was EASILY the healthiest thing on the menu. For the whole plate, it was only 110 calories. I also had a vegetable spring roll, which was probably another 150 cals and some crispy (fried) green beans (wasn't planning on those - but I didn't have any of the dipping sauce, and I stopped before it got out of hand). To drink I had water - no dessert.

Dinner was definitely harder. I did have 2 glasses of red wine. I ordered Cornish game hen with wilted spinach and polenta. This ended up working fairly well, because I only ate 1/2 or the game hen breast and gave the rest to hubby for dinner the next night. Hubby ordered dessert and I had 2 small bites. Not TOO bad, I have done much worse there.

Still, I wasn't surprised to be up a little on Monday morning. Eh, what can you do. I had a lot of fun with friends - time to buckle down for the week and get busy. Except I "forgot" to pack my gym bag Monday morning. That's what I told myself. Really, I slept in too late (damn daylight savings) and didn't give myself enough time. So, Monday was a bust. I simply didn't go to the gym.

*BEEP BEEP BEEP. Old habits kicking in. Self destruction near. Danger. Danger. Warning. Warning*

Due to this alarm ringing in my head all Monday night, I made damn sure my bag was packed for Tuesday morning. This is a win. Tuesday - Thursday made it there, no problem. Getting stronger. Then Friday morning happened.

After my shower Friday morning, I noticed that I had a rash all over my chest. ? So, after much Googling, I contacted my DR's office to make an appointment. They got me in right away. Turns out it is Petechiae. Has anyone ever has trouble with this? It is essentially your capillaries bleeding into your skin in little reds dots all over. The on-call DR that I saw ordered a CBC blood test just to make sure my platelets were OK, but said I shouldn't worry about it. I do take a low-dose aspirin every morning because I have a blood clotting disorder (factor V Liden). So, I went back to work... OK, but still freaked out. When you google petechiae, a LOT of very scary stuff comes up. Oh well. I finished work late, VERY crankily changed in to my gym clothes, drove over to the gym, and realized that I never packed my sneakers that morning after being so preoccupied with my rash-o-death. NARDS!

So, I went Saturday morning. :) And broke out with more petechiae. :( It seems to somehow be related to working out. I need to call my primary doc tomorrow and see if I should have more tests done.

Bottom Line: In 10 THE GYM challenge days, I went 9 times! I missed one. 9 out of 10. That's a 90! 90 is an A!

AANNNNNDDDD: weighed myself this morning, and the scale finally caught up; in two weeks of gym time I am now down 3.4 lbs. I will TAKE it!

What should my next challenge be? I have some thoughts... the vegetarian challenge... the vegan challenge... the nothing but water (to drink) challenge... the new exercise every day challenge... the go to bed at 10 pm challenge... so many ways to improve my health. :)

Here's to a great week!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    i just love your mini-challenges... and CONGRAT on rockin' the GYM challenge!! You did awesome (not perfection, it's progress!)

Can't wait to see what you chose next!

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