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One Bite at a Time

Saturday, October 27, 2012

No, this isn't a blog about diet. It's about organization, motivation, and peripherally about fitness.

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

A: One bite at a time.

That's a metaphor from a budgeting forum I follow. Over there, it's generally applied to the situation of digging out from under massive debt; but it can be applied to how you accomplish any task that is too big to just do all at once. I recognize that it isn't the most copacetic metaphor for a forum that focuses on weight loss, but it happens to be the metaphor that stuck in my mind the past couple of days.

Today I ran part of my scheduled walk/run intervals. The bad foot wasn't grumbling much, and the sore thigh was better than it had been in a week. The plan was 8 cycles of walk 1, run 3. During the 6th run cycle, I noticed the sore groin (which had been totally silent this morning) grumbling. The smart thing to do would have been to slow to a walk as soon as I noticed; but Mr. Testosterone convinced me to finish the 6th interval. I walked the rest of a shortened route, stretched, and got on with my day. That's one tiny bite at the elephant of rehabbing to be able to run again.

But the rehab isn't why the metaphor is going through my mind. A week ago, I let my gym membership lapse. I might have gone in to renew it, just in case; but the nice manager called me to ask about it. He mentioned I hadn't been there since May. I hadn't kept track, but I knew it had been a long time. Well, if I'm not using it, I may as well not pay for it. I've got weights in my basement, I can run on my lunch hour the days I work at home, and I actually use the chinup bar at home.

There is one minor difficulty with the weights in the basement. The past year was home improvement year with emphasis on the basement. A home energy audit revealed a mold problem. I shoved everything to the middle of the basesment so the mold problem could be corrected. Then I left it there to get the air sealing and insulation done, which didn't happen for a long time because I got busy at work. Then there was the replacement of the main wastewater drain. That one involved breaking up the concrete floor, pulling out the old pipe, laying new pipe, and putting down new concrete where the trench was.

So my basement had everything in the middle, and a lot of leftover stone dust from the jackhammer breaking up the floor. I couldn't get to the weight rack to use it, and it was a big job just to clean up after the wastewater drain repair.

That was an elephant, all right. It's just the kind of project I never start because I can't make visible progress. Just cleaning up the dust is daunting. But I've already let my gym membership lapse, so . . . one bite at a time. I need to get this done.

Yesterday I had a day off. The important task, renewing my driver's license, went quickly because I got to the DMV when it opened. I got a long walk in, and got to work on the basement a bit before noon. I spent about three hours doing stuff that didn't seem to make much impact and wanting to quit. I kept telling myself, "One bite at a time." By the time I quit so I'd have Friday evening with my daughter, I had cleaned the perimeter, moved a table, moved an assortment of stuff to the garage for the next trash pickup, and planned where things would go.

Today was similar, with the morning being taken up by the important stuff. By 1 PM, I set to work on the basement. There were lots of breaks to manage laundry and watch some football, but I kept telling myself, "One bite at a time." Got more stuff moved around, and cleaned up where I moved stuff away from. Took a couple of passes figuring out exactly how to place the weight rack, dumbbell rack, and plate tree; but I got that part done, and got a small start on the rest of the clutter.

I still don't have the basement where it needs to be, but it's down to where one or two more sessions like today and yesterday will get there. Most importantly, the weight rack is where I want it (for now) and I can lift weights in the basement whenever I have the motivation to do so. Like maybe tomorrow before I start in on the remaining clutter? Not today. I didn't do any serious weight lifting today, but I moved my collection of Olympic plates and dumbbells around while cleaning and organizing. That will have to be good enough for now.

As I write this, I notice that my 30 lb. dumbbells are still on the living room floor. I haven't used them upstairs for a while, since I brought up the 35 lb. pair for renegade rows. Time to put them on the dumbbell rack with the others, so they're near the bench when I'm doing things. One bite at a time, and that's a small, easy bite I can do now.

I've got some other stuff to do around the house that needs a lot of time put in. Mostly, it isn't as closely related to fitness as making the weight rack usable was. But it's stuff that needs to get done. I'll just have to get it done, one bite at a time.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MEXGAL1 10/28/2012 10:35AM

    just getting started on some jobs is all it takes. will keep this in mind for my "to do list"
Have a terrific Sunday.

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MISSUSRIVERRAT 10/28/2012 7:47AM

    I also use that metaphor in motivating myself. Had also gone through the same thought process you did when thinking about sharing it on Spark (with regard to using a metaphor involving eating a huge quantity)!
I also think of knitting one stitch at a time & walking one step at a time.
This helps me get through the big tasks also!
My home is organized on the surface, but some storage areas are not so good.
I used the concept to make progress drawer a day, one closet a day.
Seems like once you get project started, you get momentum and it is easier to keep going. Guess seeing progress is motivating.

Thanks for sharing.

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_LINDA 10/28/2012 1:12AM

    Way to tackle a massive project most would just love to sweep aside and forget about. Taking it in increments is the only way to tackle it. One bite at a time sounds more masculine for a guy then Spark's baby steps, maybe you have started something ;) But it does apply to every aspect of your life, eating smart, one bite at a time, reclaiming fitness one bite at a time, and decluttering one bite at a time.
There is really no reason for a gym membership unless it has something you don't have (like a pool), working out at home is a great time saver for a busy working stiff!
Sorry to hear your injuries are still protesting, that is sure requiring some patience there waiting for them to heal!
Hope you have a good week!

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GREENGENES 10/28/2012 12:31AM

    One bite at a time! I definitely need to remember that one! Thanks!

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HANSBRINK 10/27/2012 11:28PM

  Your story reminds me of today's Blondie comic strip

It sounds like you are dealing with things rather just moving them from place to place. Congrats!

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MSLZZY 10/27/2012 9:19PM

    Excellent attitude-one bite at a time. I need to
remember that.

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/27/2012 8:10PM

    Excellent progress.

Speaking of gym memberships, I need to start using mine again for the purpose for which I purchased it to begin with: the pool. It's been a while.

Funny how focus on one activity can take it off another. Three weeks to HM. When I'm past that... gotta come up with an "over the Winter" plan! Sounds like you are ahead of me on that.

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My Body Mumbles

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, I was a telephone operator for five years. This was back before cell phones existed, and I got to ask lots of people if they'd accept a collect call from someone with a name like John Mrmlrgh. John mumbled his last name, I'd mumble it the same way to the best of my ability, and 95% of the time the charges would be accepted. The other 5% of the time, I'd have to ask John to repeat, and I'd be embarassed to find he had some perfectly common last name like Morgan that I shouldn't have any trouble understanding. (Of course, I couldn't just *tell* a customer to enunciate. That would be rude.)

I'm reminded of that experience this week. The common wisdom for exercising and rehabbing from injury is, "Listen to your body." Well, my body mumbles about as bad as John Mrmlrgh did. It's talking, but I have a lot of trouble making out what it's saying.

I have this bad foot that keeps mumbling at me. I've been listening to those mumbles for long enough that I've pretty much figured out what most of them mean. Today, the foot was mumbling very quietly in a pattern that told me I'd have no trouble doing my Thursday walk/run intervals.

Unfortunately, I've recently developed a sore upper leg/groin. That sore leg mumbles differently than the foot does. Today its mumbles sounded a lot like they did last Saturday, when I did walk 1, run 3 intervals and all was good . . . except that the leg got worse the next day, and the better part of valor was resting the leg instead of doing my normal intervals on Tuesday.

So I chickened out and skipped the walk/run intervals this noon. Took a brisk walk instead, that mapped out to about a 14 minute mile. Here's the weird thing: That sore leg was silent for two brisk walks totalling 57 minutes today. No complaints whatsoever. But there was the mumbled complaint for the light jogging up and down my hallway this morning, and a somewhat louder complaint for a few test running paces early in each walk.

I *think* the right thing to do today was to walk instead of run. Tomorrow is another normal non-running day, and I'll see how the Mrmlrgh leg mumbles on Saturday.

I haven't tried that distance, but I think the rehab is to the point where I could walk a 10K briskly. It remains to be seen whether I'll be up to doing walk/run intervals for a 10K distance by Thanksgiving. And after that planned race, it's no more organized races until I have no doubt about my ability to run continually.

But the planned race is probably a Good Thing. It got me to think about, and more importantly to start, a rehab process to get back into running. While that hasn't gone as quickly as I'd like, there is progress. And it almost certainly has enabled me to walk more briskly than I would be doing if I hadn't done some running intervals.

That's maintenance for right now. Listen to the body. Hear the mumbles. Work on figuring out what the mumbling means. Act on what I think the meaning is, and make adjustments when it turns out I didn't hear clearly.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJOHNSON3 10/27/2012 10:25AM

    Good morning, MOBY, I enjoyed reading your Spark Blog this Saturday morning and I can relate to so much of it. I am about 20 years older but have long had an overweight problem. Six or seven years ago I was up to about 290 and started to finlly lose some weight. A little over three years ago and had a total left knee replacement and got good therapy from that and I was able to just continue with the exercise and was told about SPARKPEOPLE by my dietician and the process continued. I got down to 205 and I slide up and down from there. I exercise every day and log my food and water and exercise. This works but I still have to be careful about the intake of food. Congratultions to you for your committment and your showing of the good results of that committment. Keep up the good work.

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JIBBIE49 10/27/2012 9:50AM

    I've been listening to the series on YouTube by Robert Lustig M.D. "THE SKINNY ON OBESITY" and recommend it highly.

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WILSON1926 10/27/2012 9:23AM

emoticon emoticon

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MEXGAL1 10/26/2012 10:53AM

    I really enjoyed reading this blog! Great analogy. Thanks so much for sharing.

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MSLZZY 10/26/2012 10:46AM

    Good luck with the mumbling. Thge body is trying
to tell you something but until the message gets
clearer, you may have to listen a little closer. I
do hope it is mubling in English and not Cantonese.

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GREENGENES 10/25/2012 10:23PM

    Good info as always. Sometimes I think that not only is my body mumbling but I am also hard of hearing.

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/25/2012 10:00PM

    Yep. My body mumbles sometimes, too. Guess all we can do is our best to interpret... try something out and make adjustments, depending on the outcome.

Oh, by the way, did you know On2Victory is going to be doing the Turkey Trot in Webster this Thanksgiving? He's one of my Spark buds in the triathlon teams, and he blogged today that he would be vacationing in Rochester, begin from around there (not where he lives today). So... you will not be the ONLY Spark person I know trotting after those turkeys.

Spark on, and take care of that mumbling body!

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Miscellaneous Diet and Fitness Notes

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Nothing of major interest today, but I'm blogging it to fix a point in my mind and for potential future reference.

Yesterday was a big church fund-raising dinner. It was not well attended this year, and there was leftover pie for sale today after church. I stared at that pie several times, for quite a while, and walked out without any. This probably wouldn't have happened a year ago if there had been that crumb top apple pie left over last year; but this year, I wanted an apple more than a slice of apple pie.

Minor observations on changed food habits: I finished the last of the leftover Mexican bean dip from last week's church lunch. A year ago, it wouldn't have lasted this long. This year, I portioned it out into burritos, which could be worked into the nutrition plan. The remainder of the corn chips went into the trash; they will just go stale if I let them sit around, because the bag has been opened. Throwing food out is psychologically hard, but I got that done. My impulse purchase of the shopping trip today was fresh pears. I don't know how to pick or deal with fresh pears, but I'll learn. It can't be that much different from dealing with apples.

This morning's light jog up and down the hallway confirmed that this would be a non-running day even if it weren't planned that way. The bad foot is okay, but the sore thigh/groin is worse than yesterday. Tomorrow will be another planned non-running day, and we'll see how it is on Tuesday. Sometimes, less is more.

So for cardio and to get my steps in, I took a walk this afternoon. Tested the MapMyRun app. I think I like the interval prompts better than the RunKeeper interval prompts (not that I was changing paces, but I was testing how the app worked). The GPS mapping was nicer than RunKeeper, but there was less fine control over the shape of the intervals. And it interfaces with a different only web site. I'll think about that, and maybe spring for the paid version of Kinetic to test out next. Kinetic Lite (the free version) claims to share with either Daily Mile or RunKeeper (maybe both on the same run?), but doesn't have the coaching prompts.

Considering the fact that what I wanted to do for entertainment was pretty sedentary (read, watch NFL, play with the new iPhone), it's been a pretty good weekend on the fitness front. It just hasn't been a big event or newsworthy weekend.

And maybe that's a piece of the maintenance puzzle; I don't have to do something newsworthy every day or even every week. I do have to keep my body moving, at least if I want to keep my very generous calorie range for eating.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WILSON1926 10/27/2012 9:23AM

    emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 10/25/2012 8:08PM

    Not overeating: I remember how sick I used to feel every evening after eating way too much dinner.

Congrats on buying the fresh pears. Trick is to buy them when they're still kinda hard and green and let them ripen at home (if you buy really ripe ones they'll be bruised by the time you get them home).

I don't eat apple pie, but I do, every once in awhile, prepare apple crisp which is pretty healthy: oats/brown sugar/butter topping and lots of cinnamon with the apples (which I slice without peeling . . .something I learned here at SP).

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KANOE10 10/25/2012 4:33PM

    I throw out food also. I feel the same. I have to keep my body moving everyday if I want to stay in maitenance.

Great blog. emoticon

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MEXGAL1 10/25/2012 9:56AM

    I know that whole throwing food out thing is hard but so important that we realize we are worth "trashing it"! The other day I volunteered some time to help some ladies down here with marketing a book they have written. They met me at a coffee shop and wanted to buy me a coffee drink or something. I ordered a Chai Tea cold drink. When it came I could tell it was full of sugar and cream and stuff. This place in new to us here in Mexico and it's kind of like a Starbucks. Anyway I decided I would simply have a sip or two and then take it with me when finished our meeting and throw it out when the ladies couldn't see me do it. I would rather throw it out then waste those calories.
Good for you.
Keep up the good work.

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PLMITCH 10/22/2012 4:38PM

    I do the same with refried beans as you did with the bean dip -- portion it out. 3 servings per can, and I ONLY eat one burrito per meal (unlike the old days!). Amazing how much better I feel now since I don't overeat!!

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MAGGIE101857 10/22/2012 6:32AM

    Love reading your blogs! Like you, I hate throwing out food, so I appreciate what an achievement that is! emoticon

Good to hear that the injuries are only changing the path you take, and that you continue to stay focused! emoticon

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    It seems to me you are on top of your game!
I get so happy when I turn down the cooked food for raw fruit. Hopefully I'll do it more often.
Pears are tricky, they turn mushy very quickly after a brief "perfect" period.

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/22/2012 3:02AM

    You may find you like them as they are (the pears). They were one of Dad's favorites, if you recall. One of these days I'll have to get back on the fresh pear bandwagon, myself. But I haven't yet got the knack of them. Guess I'm in a rut, nutritionally... although I did buy a spaghetti squash, I have yet to actually cook and try it.

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RG_DFW 10/21/2012 10:36PM


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BLUE42DOWN 10/21/2012 10:02PM


I don't know much about pears myself, but I have learned I like them diced with a dab of vanilla and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Such a treat. Enjoy them however you decide to approach them!

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Saturday Catch Up Blog

Saturday, October 20, 2012

I haven't blogged since Tuesday. It's not that there wasn't anything to write about; I just kept getting busy and going to bed instead of blogging late. On Tuesday, rehab was going as planned and I was optimistic.

On Thursday, the bad foot was a bit iffy. It was a close call, but I decided to try walk/run intervals anyway. The foot could have made it through the walk 1, run 3 intervals; but I had a sore inner thigh that couldn't. Bearing in mind that running on stuff that was sore anyway is how I got into this shape, I turned my intervals into mostly walking after I started.

Of course, I was dressed for running, and had the app in my ear beeping for intervals. I couldn't resist running some. But my running intervals were short. The early ones were under a minute, and I think the longest was about a minute and a half. At the 21 minute mark I settled on run 1, walk 3 for the rest of the way. Covered 3.72 miles in 40 minutes, for a pace of 10:45 per mile. That looked closer to walking than running to me, but the fitness tracker insisted on calling that speed jogging.

Thursday afternoon I got my eyes dilated, and between that and conversations with my daughter, the long version of the above two paragraphs didn't make it into a blog. Then Friday I worked from home, but didn't get a run in because I was waiting for FedEx to deliver my new iPhone. That was a frustrating comedy of errors, but I eventually (about 6:45 PM) got the iPhone.

Today I had normal weekend chores plus a couple extra, but I managed to get my intervals in. Went out to walk 1, run 3 prepared to modify things if the thigh was still acting up. It was still a little sore, but not painful like Thursday. I followed my sister's sage advice from the first round of 5K training: run slower. I shortened my stride and backed off the cadence a little. But I wanted to get the intervals in, if for no other reason that to see how good the iPhone's GPS is.

I ended up very close to home at the 32 minute mark, and tacked on a bit extra to get my 8th running cycle in. The exercise turned into 8 cycles of walk 1, run 3, followed by 13 seconds of walking to get to my driveway. It mapped out to 4.07 miles; the same app that lied about mileage on the iPod told me it was 4.09 miles on the iPhone. Close enough. I can use the GPS for a pace, if I find an app that reports pace well.

The time and distance works out to an average pace of 7:54 per mile. That's still a shade faster than I did walk 1, run 4 intervals the first time through 5K training; but I'm 15 or 20 pounds lighter now than I was then, so I ought to be a bit faster.

The bad foot is fine with today's exercise. The sore thigh warmed to the exercise, and does not complain at all for brisk walking; but I could tell it's still a bit sore while stretching. Looks like another week of walk 1, run 3 is indicated. I'd rather have slow progress than negative progress.

Then I almost didn't get the catchup blog in, because life happened again: My electric knife died. The switch has been flaky for some time, and this evening when I went to dice chicken breasts it wouldn't start at all. Bummer. So I mangled dicing the chicken with a ginsu knife, and hopped on to order a new electric knife. Reviews are mixed for all of them, so I went low end and just hope the good reviews are more indicative of what I'll get than the bad reviews are.

A year ago, I was barely aware that I had an electric knife. Now, I regard it as a necessity.

If I'd found more time to sit on my butt and type, I think I could have turned this into three or four blogs. But, life being what it is, one blog will just have to do.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RG_DFW 10/21/2012 1:18PM


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ONEKIDSMOM 10/21/2012 5:52AM

    Good job! Thumb typing. New skillset in development. Makes comments shorter. emoticon

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KRISZTA11 10/21/2012 4:53AM

    Yep, anything faster than 12 min/mile is running per exercise tracker.
Last year when I started running it took me a few weeks to cross that threshold...

I'm glad your foot is improving, and you are able to run regularly.

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BLITZEN40 10/21/2012 12:47AM

    Sounds like you've got a great exercise program going! Running and walking is awesome b/c you don't need a gym and can do it any time, anywhere, but if you have injuries it's brutal, especially running, since it's so high impact. Swimming is a great alternative while you heal. You can still get good cardio and a full body workout with virtually no impact on those sore muscles and joints. So, if you have access to a lap pool nearby you might want to give it a try. Best of luck to you! Also, I totally agree about amazon product reviews... hard to know what to believe. Hope you get a good new knife. emoticon

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MERRYMARY42 10/20/2012 9:57PM

    and I 3njoyed it all, sounds like you are improving daily emoticon

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Tuesday intervals

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday, work at home day. Must be a day for walk/run intervals.

Noon saw clouds and 50F (10C) temperature, with light southerly wind. This is good running weather, and decent walk/run weather. The plan was 8 cycles of walk 1 minute, run 2 minutes.

My cardiovascular system was happier with the 3 minute runs today than it was Saturday. The bad foot isn't 100%, but isn't complaining unduly, either. I ran my 8 cycles, with a slight variation from Saturday's route near the end because I was going a little faster. It mapped out to 4.30 miles in 33 minutes even, ending just when the 9th running cycle would have started. That works out to an average pace of 7:40 per mile. I've had slower runs when I was running all the way.

In the inflated stats department, the RunKeeper app thinks I traveled 5.00 miles for an average pace of 6:36 per mile. I know better; that's inflated mileage from a low quality GPS on the iPod. But I do like having the app beep in my ear to tell me when to switch between walking and running. That's been my discipline for keeping up the intervals, and so far I'm pleased with how my foot is responding to the intervals.

Assuming the bad foot doesn't complain any more loudly than it did today, I'll do another round of walk 1, run 3 on Thursday. If all goes as planned, I may be ready for walk 1, run 4 on Saturday.

I love it when all goes as planned.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WILSON1926 10/27/2012 9:24AM


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KRISZTA11 10/17/2012 7:34AM

I hope your foot will feel good.
Walk 1 / run 4 is what I always do, at my own slower pace, and it feels like running all the way : )

Comment edited on: 10/17/2012 7:35:50 AM

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BLITZEN40 10/16/2012 9:38PM

    Great time on the 4.3 mile run! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 10/16/2012 7:51PM

    Great planning, great patience; great progress!!

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NWFL59 10/16/2012 7:36PM

    emoticon Glad you're paying attention to your foot and not overtaxing it. emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 10/16/2012 6:43PM

    emoticon Patience is paying off.

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