Joy in the Final Leg

It suddenly occurred to me that this is it. I’m in my final leg. I’m doing it. Like, by the time May rolls around, I plan to be in the 180’s and there’s really nothing standing in my way. I’m enthusiastic about exercise, I’ve got my calories totally under control… I’ve lost 14 pounds this month. 14 pounds! Seriously! I looked at Bradley and told him that warrior week is just around the corner. If I can stay solid in my workouts and nutrition, there’s no reason that I won’t see solid numbers in February too. Then I got so excited. It occurred to me that this is it. I’m greeting my future, finally, free of most of the tethers of all the extra weight and girth, body and mind! I believe in myself so strongly right now! I’m doing it! Like, for real! And I know it’s going to happen; I believe it. 185ish by May 6th. This is happening. This is real. This is a dream come true.

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It is hard to say things like what I said above. My heart is all pitter-pat that I’ll fall on my face and embarrass myself with failure, but this is how I do things. I say it out loud then try my hardest to will it into being. I really don’t mean to sound arrogant, I hope you understand. Confident, sure. I appreciate your kindness in reading my words. ;)
The crown was a gift given to me from a darling little second grader in my class. Go to my Instagram to see the full story.

Running Nerd

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This Christmas I loaded my Amazon wishlist with a bunch gear to accompany my running hobby- a headlamp, fancy ponytail hat, muscle rollers and safety gear out the wazoo. My dear mom bought me this hot little fashion piece I’m modeling in the picture above.
I created a chart to show the cause:effect relationship between running, cars and safety gear:

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I feel like a total running nerd when I’m decked out like this, but I like living. Weird like that.
The other day we were laying around our house feeling that apathetic, frumpy, blah-ness that comes with a winter day without much movement. I never worry about being lazy anymore. When I am on- point for exercise I usually hit about four to five workouts per week. It’s rare for me to hit more than five workouts per week or less than two. I’m a good kid, which is a totally unique experience for me regarding my fitness. I’m proud of my activity level, but didn’t know how proud!
So I was kind of grousing about feeling lazy and the bruisy feeling from lazing around with an iPad for far too long when Bradley went and said it was because we were ‘out of shape’ with all the sitting around we’d been doing over the past several weeks. Ooh, SNAP! Well, that ruffled my feathers right up and I came back, finger waving and head bobbing, defending myself and my working out, that I only stopped when I was sick, I ran all through my Christmas break- every single day of it except once- and I am in shape, how dare he…
Lol. He was talking about why he was feeling cruddy. Not me.
Defensive much, Tamara?
My poor husband.
Even though that was a misunderstanding, it did get me to thinking. As we tucked into our final mile for the 5k yesterday I felt good. Bradley remarked at how amazing we were doing, how much endurance we had and how we really were in better shape than he thought. Of course I ran my jaw at this, how awesome we’re doing, how consistent we are, how athletic and in shape we really are, but I think we say these things because of our unique perspectives. He uses negatives to motivate himself. He tells himself he’s out of shape and guilt gets him moving. If you lay guilt on me, I get hurt feelings and give up quite quickly, lay down and call it a day, so it ticks me off to have to defend against that, I think. For me, I constantly tell myself that I’m amazing, a badass. I am strong, fierce, powerful and an athlete. But it will all go away if I stop, so I have to keep moving forward. I suppose that’s the use it or lose it model.
Today we ran again, and while I can say I’m in decent shape, I can definitely feel those two big runs two days in a row on my thighs. They feel huge and swollen and painful, just like a couple of well worked out muscles should.
Can you tell I’m feeling it? That I’m determined, motivated and moving forward? Life is good, these days, and I’m trucking forward on my 2015 goals. Here’s to keeping going, safety geared up running nerd and all!

Happy 2nd Blogiversary!

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{my chart topping heaviest and today}
This weekend, two years ago, I made a commitment to myself. I decided to become a weightloss warrior, to become a healthier version of myself. I decided that this weightloss thing wasn’t going to just happen, I was going to have to will it into being. At that time, I wanted to weigh 230. I figured I would be about a size 16 and could make it through life much happier and with greater longevity than I was at my then-weight of 320-340 and size 28-30. Since then, it’s been quite an adventure. I thought I was going to lose weight and kind of made my tag line of ‘I’m growing super powers and losing other things’ kind of with a flip attitude, unsure of what to say there but needed to say something… I had no idea that losing weight would be such a deep head trip too. There’s been a complete rewiring and remodeling of me. It’s been so difficult but the best thing I’ve ever done in my life besides Bradley and my babies.
Today I was pondering my progress and process, and I have to say I am pretty amazed that I’m two years into this project. I’ve been living this lifestyle for some time, now. When I sent out that letter to all of my friends and family two years ago, it was such a leap of faith. It was so scary. So unbelievably scary to admit to everyone that I had a food addiction problem, but even more, to publicly say that I was going to fix it. To be held accountable in front of everyone. I knew that every time I saw those people for the next several months they would be looking for signs of success or failure, and I needed it to be success. Not for them, but for me. There was no option to fail; I couldn’t have borne it. Sending out that letter was one of the greatest and most terrifying, courageous things I could have ever done, and today it reminded me of a wedding. I invited people to witness this commitment I made to myself.
And from that, I thought of AA and how people who are addicts find a community, own their transgressions and continue to shout their battles out to their people. I needed that too. I’m an addict, just the kind of addict who has to use her drug every day without ever giving it up cold turkey. I need you all. I need this. More and more, I’m also realizing how much I needed that commitment. My rebirth. My come-to-Jesus moment. My rock bottom.
In a way, today is absolutely my new birthday. I’m a born- again life-liver.
It’s been two earnest years with about 140 pounds of fat lost, lots of muscle gained and a brand new lens to look at life through. I’m active, happy, secure and a more complete version of myself than I ever imagined I could be. Life is so good. Perfect? Never. But pretty damn good.
Happy birthday to me, and a happy blogiversary to us all, indeed!

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Today I celebrated my birthday/blogiversary with the Runs For Cookies Virtual 5k. Bradley and I ran it today in about 37 minutes. It was a lovely run in the beautiful January sunshine. In 2013 I started following runs For Cookies the Monday after Katie’s birthday, which is also when she sponsors her 5K. I decided that if this whole weightloss/exercise thing stuck that I would celebrate my anniversary every year with this fun, free 5K, and now I’m 2:2!

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Winter Hike to the Ice Caves

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At the end of August I generally declare, to no one except myself, that the hiking season is over. I have good intentions, so my backpack remains accessible, but we don’t usually get back on the trail again until late spring, when the weather turns warm and the mud is dried up.
Enter my friend Michelle. I follow her Instagram and have enjoyed pictures of her family over the past few years, but all of the sudden over the past few weeks, she’s been posting all of these amazing pictures of her friend and her all over Western Washington, climbing hills, playing on ice and seeing beautiful things. I watched her go up to the mountains, repeatedly, waiting for her to hit an icy patch or a scary situation, but she kept heading up and never had a problem. I wrote to her and asked if she was in training for something and she said that she was just trying to break up the monotony of the gym. I though of my garage… My running loop that I’ve run a bajillion times… Then it suddenly occurred to me: I can hike in winter, too! I got inspired and planned a hike for this weekend, rain or shine!
(If you’re wondering, it was steady rain.)

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I knew that Bradley and I would be fine climbing pretty much any trail we’ve been on before, but I wasn’t sure how the kids would fare on a longer trek in winter, so I opted for the easiest hike I know with guaranteed ice and snow: Big Four Ice Caves! Michelle headed up there last week, so I knew that the hike was accessible and I knew what to expect.
We donned all of our gear for the trek: backpacks, trekking poles, water bottles- the whole nine yards. The last time we did this hike it was somewhat difficult for me. It was a testament to how different I am physically that I kind of kept waiting for the hike to start and all of the sudden we were at the glacier. The hike was easy this time! I looked around at the top and all of the other hikers were dressed for a walk in the city with their dress boots, umbrellas, cigarettes and pleather jackets. We looked like we were in training or something, decked out as much as we were! There was little snow, lots of water and in the long run, we were really glad to have our trekking poles. They really helped when we had to traverse through muddy puddles via balance beam type logs. The kids played their harmonicas as we made our way up and down the mountain. At one point, I overheard a man comment, “That was certainly a merry family!” The comment made me smile.
At the end, our souls were refreshed. It was rainy, wet and wonderful.

Body Chemistry is Not Fair

If there is one place in life where I get irritated about fairness more than any other, it’s in my inability to lose weight while other people don’t seem to have that issue at all. I can’t eat like Bradley, if I do, I gain. A candy bar is a commitment that my future self will have to lose two pounds, basically. My body is my own, I have to be careful. He loses weight faster than I do, too. Bodies aren’t fair, they’re unique and special and have different requirements.

One of the biggest reasons why I got heavy so quickly was because my husband can eat anything. He has a fabulous metabolism. (It must be all his fault- so easy to blame others, right??) I, on the other hand, take calories and am one of the best, most efficient fat-making and storing machines that walks the earth. Like, seriously. I have PCOS, which is notorious for helping the ladies pack the pounds on and it even does the favor of helping us hang onto the pounds like no one’s business as well. When we were first married I would create our plates so they were totally even. If Bradley had seconds on something, so would I because I assumed that we were eating appropriate portion sizes since he was capable of maintaining a reasonable weight while also eating as much as we were. The result was a gain of over 100 pounds for me, but Bradley only gained about 40. Neither of us were eating appropriate portion sizes or making good food choices, but my body showed a greater ability to transform those calories into body mass instead of using it as an available energy source (it must be said, too, that he has always been more active and maintained a greater muscle mass, so there’s that, too.)

One of the hardest things I’ve had to shift in my head as I have been working through my body project is this very issue. Bradley can eat a lot more than I can eat. He loses weight better with a different diet that I do – he prefers to eat cheese, nuts, yogurt and fruit all day while I lose well by eating fruits, veggies and clean protein but skipping cheeses and nuts altogether. When it came down to it, I just had to realize that our body chemistry is not the same, thus we don’t lose or gain weight at the same rate given the same input.

Not so long ago I was talking with a friend of mine who is in the process of losing a lot of weight. Her husband just went through a pretty big weight-loss cycle and is now at a maintenance point. She told me how he was sitting on the couch all night eating snacks that looked yummy, so eventually, for fairness sake, she headed to the store and found some things for her to eat too. Unfortunately she’s a lot like me. Her husband can eat a lot of stuff that she can’t! She immediately plateaued her weight and stop losing for a little over a month but her husband continue to stay the same and didn’t see any problems at all. It was incredibly frustrating for her to realize that she can’t eat the same as her husband can.

As she was sharing her story with me and I was sharing my similar story with her, we both just cried, whined came to the conclusion that we’re going to have to put our big girl panties on and realize that there are differences between us and our spouses. In this case, we both need to realize that our diet needs to be significantly different than our husbands’. She and I cannot eat big portions and we really cannot eat candy, junk or sweets without paying for it BIG TIME in workout minutes or weight gain!

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The text that accompanied this photo to my husband during lunch today: Who has two thumbs, silly math ideas and is a big dork? This girl!
Except have you ever tried to take a thumb selfie? Yeah. Kinda need the thumbs to hold the phone. It was complicated to say the least.
My silly math idea was that we ‘married’ our favorite addition strategy. If you’re interested, go to the jump and you can ooh and ahh at the verbiage that will accompany the work on the board. ;)
[Read more…]

An Act of Defiance

I am sick of being sick. I think today I can finally say I’m pretty much over it… Because I ran today! I find that at the end of a cold I wrestle with that whole I’m-too-sick-reality versus I’m-too-sick-excuses conundrum. I’ve hit the streets too soon, before, and ended up with nasty bronchitis- unrelated or not to the running. But it happened and I’m gunshy. And there are times when laziness took over and the illness excuse to not run is so terribly inviting that I succumb. I did it last night. I was ‘too tired after recovering from this nasty cold… Just one more night and I’ll get back to it…’ Last night, so tonight when I came home and saw my bestest jammers in the whole wide world beckoning from my closet, I’ll totally cop to having them up around my knees before I realized what I was doing. I was letting myself ‘have one more night to recover’. But I had a good day with my students today, I was in a good mood, wasn’t hungry, thirsty, grumpy or… Sick.
So I shucked my jams, threw on my running shoes (and clothes), hopped on my treadmill and promised myself 20 minutes until I could get off. After 20 minutes, though, I was still feeling good so I kept on going for another 15, just to show myself I could.
I read an article recently, the title and author escape me now, where a woman was speaking to a friend about treating his aggressive cancer. She told him that when the cancer gets worse, that is the time to take another treatment, to try something new, to take a stand, an act of defiance against the cancer! It spoke to me so loud. My stubbornness is power. Whether or not it works, the act of defiance is good for the soul. It’s me standing up against the aggressive tide of poor food and exercise choices and choosing my health and my life. It’s hard, daily. I fail, daily. But I am defiant that I will win. I am defiant, stubborn and am willing myself into the healthier and, hopefully, longer lasting version of myself.
Getting on the treadmill today was an act of defiance against my blerch, against myself. That extra 15 minutes was me deflating it. It was a beautiful act of defiance, however small, and I am proud. Proud of my whole day, too. It was a day lived well. Absolutely worth one of my jelly beans.
Here’s to getting back to it in every way!

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Oh, and this. 207.8! Woot woot!
So, something serious, though. I found out NKOTB is coming way sooner than I expected. I’m going to try for it, 185, by May 6th. That’s 24 pounds in two months. I told myself that I as long as I work hard and make reasonable progress I will see about the big unknown thing that I get to do. I’m at stupid level of excitement, though. It’s kind of ridiculous.
(But I love it!)

My Chinny-Chin-Chin

Do you have those places on your body that when you hit a certain weight is your tell? Like, OMGosh! I have a fat roll behind my knee now or something like that? That one thing you HATE when it appears? For me it is my chin. I’m paranoid about the double and triple chin. No matter how heavy I got, I always kept track of my chin, watching with despair as my neck disappeared and seemed to join with my chest in that whole neck-chin-wattle thing that leaves one’s neck undefined and collars or scarves homeless and awkward… I did not want that.

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I was so pleased that as I lost weight my neck and chin seemed pretty responsive and shed the weight pretty quick, and then I stopped paying attention and focused elsewhere. All along, however, as I work through my body project I’ve assumed that I was very much still sporting my double chin. Like, until about three weeks ago. It was definitely smaller, but I was too distracted by other ‘trouble’ zones to pay proper attention to it.
The other day, on my way home from work, I nestled my phone into my new car phone-charger/wanna-be-a-cop-holder and accidentally hit the buttons just right so I didn’t know the camera was on and pointed at me. It caught the corner of my eye and I saw someone was calling but couldn’t quite figure out who she was, even though she looked really familiar.
I’m such a dork. Obviously it was me.
I have a chin now, apparently. A sharp, pointy chin with a solid, strong jawline like a pit bull. Naturally this prompted a furious digging up of comparison shots and the like. Man oh man. It is so weird to see myself! It’s like i just sunk into my head and lost definition on my cheeks, eyes, chin- everywhere!
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Bradley and I are going through a renaissance of looking at who we used to be. We used to be really big. I was so big that I kind of just accepted my bigness as normal. I was big enough that I thought getting down to 280 was probably a pretty healthy weight to sustain. I was bigger than most people in any given situation.
I was really big but I didn’t know it at all. I was and am still happy. My life was and is still full. We go in circles trying to honor the versions of ourselves we used to be, but we’ve finally come to the conclusion that, while those were good, well-intended people, it’s okay for us to let them go and grow out of them at last. She was unhealthy and steadfast in her willingness to live a shorter life full of things that continued to make her sicker. He loved her so much he would have done anything for her. He picked her, the fat girl in every way, and it was hard for him to let her go. I held onto her for a long time and so did he, but I’m a shadow of that girl now, not just because of my size, but also because of all the inner-reflection, the mental work, the letting go of fear I’ve been doing. He finally let that full, big, round girl go and he let me know that the newer version of me is the best, healthiest and hottest he’s ever seen, so I can finally let her go, too. At last.
I’m a better person now. Not only because I weigh less- I’m happier. Life is fuller and better. I have the energy to be so. I’m never going back, and we’ve finally linked hands and realized that we have to love these versions of ourselves best now. Those other selves belong in scrapbooks, they are people to learn from, but not so much to be anymore.*
***
You may have noticed a flurry of postings lately. Every once in a while I feel like it’s important to bring up my Tamara Shazam purpose and mission statement. My purpose for starting this site was as an accountability tool for myself when I started my Body Project. I needed a place to bray my accomplishments out where I wouldn’t be bothering other people who didn’t want to hear about it. I needed a place where I could obsess and be as self-centered and reflective as I needed to be to meet my goals. This place is a tool for me. Reading other blogs made me realize that I became inspired, motivated and smarter from them, so I decided that if others’ words and deeds could do that for me, my experiences might do that for you. As my favorite bloggers get closer to their goals I get inspired to do the same.
I’m posting a lot right now because I’m weak. I’m looking around me all the time for things that inspire me, move me forward and force me to reflect. Writing here this week is keeping me on target and moving me forward. Thank you for being my audience, keeping me accountable and cheering me on. I appreciate every page view and comment I get more than you could ever know.
<3

*in general terms- we are, at our cores, who we have always been, we are just leaving the cruft behind.

Brown Bagging It

I’ve had a cold for well over a week now. At first I was pretty okay with it- it was all in my nose and didn’t seem to be traveling anywhere else… As the week progressed, instead of getting better it just kept getting worse, and seems to be heading to my chest, so today I took another day off. I really hate taking days off. It’s so stressful with the mystery substitute and his or her chemistry with ‘my’ kids. I hate it. But I hate being all sneezy and grumping at my sweet little second graders more, so staying home seemed like a better option today.

I’m a better dieter when I am working. Food at home calls to me. I snag a cracker here, a few nuts there, a swig of this, a swipe of that. As I meander back and forth through my house I am constantly taking turns through my kitchen, looking in the fridge and pantry as though something particularly delicious may have appeared in the last 30 minutes.

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{I realized I can do modified pull-ups, so I did a set while we were on a walk recently, Bradley ran around snapping pictures like mad. For some reason, it’s really important for me to try to be able to do a pull-up:) }
Because this is a holiday weekend, there weren’t many substitute teachers for the Friday preceding, so finding one to take my class for the day was a little touch and go there for a bit. Even though I called in the night before, I still didn’t have a sub secured by the time I needed to leave for work. I headed into work like usual this morning, fully dressed, lunch in hand, so when I returned home after my sub arrived I decided to stick with the food I had packed for the day; I would eat the same food as if I were at work for the day. Guess what? It worked! Knowing what was in my lunch bag actually made me plan out my day’s food. After my breakfast of veggie sausage links, I ate my berries around 9:00 AM, apples with my nuggets at lunch and had a cheese stick for my later snack followed by two tacos for dinner and rice pudding for dessert. I didn’t go off plan once until I realized I was fairly below my calorie target for the day and added about 20 chocolate chips to my pudding. I think I’ll just pack a lunch again tomorrow and the rest of the weekend and rely on that as my weekend food source. Talk about making a plan to be successful!
I did finally have to head upstairs by about 9:00 to get away from my kitchen, though. I’m doing pretty well, as far as resisting the siren’s call to eat goes, but I’m still fairly weak. I stepped back into old habits that have me putting something in my mouth faster than I remember to stop it. I’m actually needing to spit things out from time to time when I realize what I’ve done mid-chew. That said, I’m feeling stronger and stronger every day. I feel like my determination and will are functioning better again and it feels so good. Like, I lay in bed at night and think about all of the good food choices I made that day and I pat myself on the back, celebrate and congratulate myself. It seems silly, but its working for me!
***
I didn’t lose anymore weight today, according to the scale. Poor me! LOL! Seriously, though, it had to stop sometime. I’ll admit, though, that I was a little disappointed. It would have been kind of cool to just keep melting away like that. I suppose that’s why I call this time of the month warrior week- if I put in the effort during the first week and a half of my cycle it really pays out in pounds lost!

This is Getting Ridiculous (but I’m not complaining!)

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I’m not complaining one bit. 208.8 is a great number to be at today- I just feel weird posting these losses day after day. 13 pounds off since Christmas! It’s unbelievable how fast it suddenly seems to be rolling off of me. I’m kind of wondering if taking time off wasn’t a good thing, if maybe I reset myself, kind-of. I had been consistently eating between 1100-1600 calories and working out often over the past year and I didn’t lose much of anything. Granted, I was lenient, but I wonder if falling off the wagon that hard reset my metabolism or something… I dunno. Whatever it is, I’ll take it! The oddest thing is that I’ve had a nasty cold all week and I haven’t even been exercising. Like, at all.
I’ve definitely broken my sugar addiction. Last night I was eating some granola and came across some dried fruit. At first I thought some candy had fallen in, but it turned out to be a dried cranberry. My litmus test for appropriate sugar intake is whether or not dried fruit tastes like candy. There was once a day back in time when milk chocolate didn’t even seem sweet enough. The fact that a craisin gets me so excited is cause for kicking the heels up!

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My new hotness of late is this new Coke in the green can. (Aside: remember New Coke from the 80’s?!). Over the holidays I was all sad about beverages. Everything you drink in December seems to have sugar, aspartame, fat or alcohol in it- things I wasn’t looking to add to my diet or have deleted from my diet altogether. I was drinking plain water. Sadly. Missing my Diet Coke. Poor me. Just clean, delicious water that magically flows from the tap… Then Bradley came home with this green Coke, and guess what?!?!? It has neither high fructose corn syrup nor aspartame, is lower calorie AND tastes good! The recipe uses cane sugar, like Mexican soda, and stevia, which I usually hate but is yummy here. I was a happy girl and remain a happy girl as long as it stays in production. They still kick a 90 calorie punch, though, so I drink them in moderation, enjoying them a couple times a week. I will never go back to drinking a lot of soda, but it’s nice to know I have an alternative for when I want one.
I never thought I’d endorse a Coke product, but this is a much more responsible choice they are offering this time around.
***
I wonder if I’ll weigh less tomorrow… I wonder when this will stop?? It’s been bizarre, not losing anything for ages and suddenly having it just shake away. I’ve promised myself some, big, embarrassing unknown NKOTB related experience if I reach 185 by the time they roll through town this summer on tour. Talk about motivating!

Wait- WHAT?!

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Today after work I went about my usual business. Drove home… Got cut off on freeway… Considered throwing milkshake at the car of crazy driver… Didn’t have milkshake… Realized I had rotten banana… Too late… Regretted not throwing rotten banana anyways… (This is all the true story, by the way, of The Crazy Driver and the Honking, Milkshake-less Teacher, as told by Mrs. Littlejohn.) Anyhow…
I got home and was doing the usual stuff – change clothes, bathroom time, hand washing and cleaning up from my morning when I spied the scale out of the corner of my eye. I didn’t want to get on it, because surely I popped back up to 215 today, right? I grudgingly got on it, prepared for bad news, and instead it showed 210.8. Wait, WHAT? That’s a full ten I’ve lost. Unbelievable.
And as the icing on the cake?

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Yup, gas prices under 2.00. Living the dream.
*
And as extra bonus? Bradley dug these sweeties up today and sent them to me. This was me at my honest to goodness highest of 340. I can hardly even see myself in these anymore. I don’t recognize her… It’s so strange.

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