Well, in case you didn’t know, I have the best husband ever. Seriously. He’s pretty awesome – in a lot of ways. But one thing that he excels at is calming me down and bringing me back to reality. (I am sure he’s just now copied that paragraph and is sending it to be framed for our den….)
Honestly, how cute is he?
Yesterday, when I was (once again) talking about my upcoming US Strongman Nationals, I started to talk about how nervous I was. About how I wanted to perform well and didn’t want to embarrass myself. Then he said something that has stuck with me. He said this:
“We are people that aren’t afraid to put ourselves out there, which separates us from most people. It’s not the outcome. It’s overcoming the fear that others cannot.”
Wow. Wise words. I feel like that should have been said by a little green guy in a bath sheet (Yes, I’m talking about Yoda….)
But, it did get me thinking. There are a lot of people that are too scared to put themselves out there. Too scared that they might fail that they never try things that put them outside of their comfort zones.
But, it’s the people that look at that risk, the possibility of failure, of disappointment of
embarrassment and say, “What the hell, I’m doing it anyway” that are the true winners either way. Because you know what’s on the flip side of that risk – success, satisfaction, fulfillment and pride. Four of my favorite words.
So, today, I encourage you to find something – anything – that makes you step outside of your comfort zone and do it. Sign up for a 5K, sing Karaoke, host a dinner party, sign up for US Strongman Nationals. Yes, it’s a gamble. Yes, sometimes you will fail. But sometimes, you’ll succeed. And regardless of the outcome, you’ll be the one truly living and experiencing life.
Well, there are 16 days until US Strongman Nationals. Yikes. That’s 16 days until over 300 competitors converge on Louisville, Kentucky to prove that they’re the strongest. I’m both totally pumped and incredibly nervous.
If I’ve run into you anytime over the last two weeks, I’m sure our conversation has made its way to Nationals. It’s kind of a skill now. Seriously. You can start the conversation about anything….say shoes or haircuts or rocket ships and I guarantee I can (and will) work that conversation back around to Nationals. (Did you know there was a city bus converted to look like a Rocket Ship in Louisville, Kentucky….which just happens to be the city that US Strongman Nationals is taking place this year.) See – it’s an obsession. J
So, today, I thought I’d do what I do best right now….which is talk about the upcoming US Strongman Nationals competition.
Training: I’ve trained. I’ve put in the time in the gym. I’ve continued with my twice a week HIIT/Strength workouts and my daily cardio. I’ve trained the Strongman implements once a week (cramming in as many events as I can into each Strongman workout.) My trainer, Robby, has also added some specific movements into my HIIT/Strength workouts that will help me at Nationals (my shoulders are still sore from Monday’s workout….) I’ve pressed logs, carried the Conan’s Wheel and deadlifted for a couple of months now. Am I ready? Who knows. I always think I should have trained more. I should have lifted longer, heavier, farther, more frequently….but I think that’s just how I operate. I never really feel ready. I do know that I’m more prepared than I was last year. But I also know the competition is going to be even stronger and fiercer this year. Speaking of my competition…
My Competition: There are a total of 10 girls in my weight class. I’ve only competed against three of them before. They were tough then and I bet they come back even tougher. The other seven I have no idea about. I haven’t Facebook stalked them. Haven’t Googled their contest results. I’m just going in as prepared as I can be and seeing where I stack up. But I tell you this – I know they’re all coming with their “A” Game.
What an Experience: How awesome is it to get to compete against some of the nation’s strongest athletes. You get to see where you stand against the best. I get goosebumps even thinking about it. However I end up placing in this crazy competition, it’s an amazing experience. I always laugh when I think about sitting on my front porch talking to my grandkids about the time that their Grandma competed at US Strongman Nationals. How awesome is that? Strongman has been such an awesome chapter in my life book and one that I’m so happy I’ve been able to write.
I’m Ready for it to be Over: Don’t get me wrong – I’m psyched about it. And I’ve enjoyed training with my friends for this (shout out to Jen and Heather!) But Nationals has become an all-encompassing thing for me right now. I’m either training, thinking about training, worrying about training or icing sore muscles and nursing bruises from training. I am looking forward to taking things a little easier once Nationals are over. And, it will be nice to stop daydreaming about the log press…
My Training Partners: I am so incredibly thankful that I’ve had Jen and Heather to train with this year. It’s been fun to have them in the gym to lift with, obsessively text about each event and compare sizes of our bruises. But, what I’m probably most psyched about is that we’ll all be at Nationals together. At Nationals last year, everyone was pretty laser-focused and not as talkative and social as normal competitions. I’m looking forward to having Jen and Heather there to talk to, laugh with and help calm me down.
Nationals Dress: There’s a banquet after Nationals. It’s a time where they give our awards and everyone drinks, dances and just has a good time. I didn’t go last year (I was anxious to get back to see Elinor) but I can’t wait to go this year. I decided that after a day of lifting, sweating and looking, well, like a hot mess, that for the banquet, I want to look fantastic and girlie. So, the hunt is on for an awesome dress. One that will actually show off a few of these muscles and curves I’ve gained during the last few months of training. And, worst case, if I finish dead last, at least I’ll look awesome.
It’s Scary: I won’t lie – I’m nervous. In training, you get chances to redo a mistake. But when it comes to competition – you get ONE SHOT. If you lose your grip, your footing slips, you misstep, there are no do overs. To win, you have to not only be the best, but you have to be the best on that one event on that one day at that one time during competition. #nopressureright? J And, putting yourself out on a National stage in front of hundreds of people is scary. Heck, even telling people that you’re competing is scary. I know that however I finish, my friends, family and training partners will be proud of me – they know the dedication and hard work and hours I’ve put in. But, man, I’d still love to perform well.
My Competition Wish: If I had one wish for my upcoming competition, it would be that I could perform at my best on every event at the competition. Seriously, that’s it. If I could go in there and do every event to the best of my ability, I would honestly walk out of there with a smile regardless of where I placed. Because if there is someone stronger than me, faster than me that can beat me at my best – then they deserve to beat me hands down. The worst thing that can happen is to walk away saying, “if only I had….” If you get beat, you want to get beat by the best. I’m just hoping to bring my best to Nationals with me.
This weekend will probably be my last hard Strongman training session before Nationals. And in 16 days, I’ll be lined up on Fourth Street in Louisville, Kentucky with some of the nation’s strongest men and women. All of us there to do our best and show what we’ve worked so hard for.
So, if you know someone training for Nationals, take a second and tell them good luck. There are over 300 Strongman competitors from across the country that have spent long hours training, lifting and getting ready for this show. They’re all scared (regardless of what they may say) they’re all nervous and they’re all 16 days away from one heck of a good competition.
When I got started in Strongman training three years ago, I was quick to say, “Yeah, but I’m never going to be that good because I’m only five foot tall and 120 pounds.” Well, that excuse went out the window when I stumbled upon Rachel Pyron.
After seeing what waves this little powerhouse has made in the Strongman World, I’ve become an official Facebook stalker and founder of the Rachel Pyron Fan Club (okay, not really, but I should probably look into that….)
Rachel Pyron is what I would call a Pocket Hercules. She stands all of 4’11’’, 120lbs and holds more Strongman records than I have Strongman bruises (and I have a lot of bruises….damn Fingal Finger….)
Not only is Rachel a badass Strongwoman, but her take on body image and Strongman is quite possibly the best I’ve ever heard. Let me explain.
See, Rachel used to compete in Bodybuilding competitions. (Yep, the competitions where extremely tanned people stand in bathing suits on the stage and flex.) Those competitions, the culture and the extreme training lead to an eating disorder. One that took a toll both mentally and physically.
But then, Rachel found Strongman. “I can honestly say when I started strongman, something switched in my head. My relationship with food took a 180. Bodybuilding, I will never regret doing it, but I will struggle with self-image for the rest of my life.”
Rachel credits Strongman for her change in philosophy. Moving from purely aesthetic reasons for working out to working out for performance. “When I started Strongman, I just wanted to get stronger. Training was exciting and fun and instead of two hours on the stair master and tricep kickbacks, I started lifting logs, deadlifting and gained a whole new respect for my body and started eating for performance and to fuel my goals.” And fuel her performance she has. Rachel has continually won Strongman competitions, taken home trophies and crushed records (I watched her video of her log pressing 180# the other day. Let that sink in a minute….)
Rachel has competed three times at the Arnold Strongman Classic. (For those of you that don’t know, The Arnold’s are an annual strongman competition featuring athletes from all over the world – it’s kind of a big deal.) And this year, she let go of the self-doubt that has stayed with her and instead, channeled it into placing fourth in the Lightweight Women class and earning her Pro Card. (Umm, wow.)
“In this year’s Arnold prep, I learned a lot about just letting go. Trusting. And most importantly, to believe in myself. I struggle with self-doubt and often have a lack in confidence. And this time, I told myself I deserved to be on that stage. We all do, we all deserve to achieve what we put our time, effort and heart into. Pay attention to the messages you send yourself. How often do we tear ourselves apart? Worry about the fat on the back of our legs, thinking every fitness model on Instagram has their shit together, trust me they don’t. And social media is far, far away from reality. Life is much different when you focus on sending yourself love. Believe and learn from each experience and little by little things come together.”
Rachel is really the poster child for Strongwomen everywhere and is a wonderful role model for women starting out in the Strongman world. She doesn’t use her height, weight or past with eating disorders as a crutch and excuse for why she can’t succeed in Strongman. She just works her butt off in the gym to be the best she can be. She’ll be the first to tell you, “When you have competed in a bodybuilding show, or have gone through a weight loss transformation of some kind, the weight gain and struggles that follow are something else. And no one talked about it.” But Rachel is right there showing that strength training (and Strongwoman) is a wonderful way to use working out for performance rather than just solely for bathing suit weather…and that’s something we should all applaud.
Rachel and I share a love for Strongman and what it has done for our bodies, health, strength and mindset. And she’s quick to tell you what it’s done for her. “That is why I love strongwoman and strength training so much. A constant challenge to get better, to get stronger, to feel more confident and to feel like everything I am working so hard for is paying off. And along the way, meeting some of the closest friends I have ever had.”
In a crazy world of photoshopping, skinny-fat models and unreal expectations, Rachel is just one of those girls that “gets it.” She understands the bigger picture. She gets that our bodies are amazing works of biology that can do incredible things. And she’s there putting up the numbers, the trophies and records to prove it.
Q&A with Rachel:
Q: What Strongman records do you hold? A: NAS LW Max Log record with 176# (I would like to compete again to beat this)
NAS LW Log Clean and Press Away for Reps in 60 seconds (15 reps with 120#)
NAS Axle Clean and Press for reps I am tied with Stefanie Tropea
Q:Are you comfortable with your body now? A: There are always things I would like to change like anyone else, but yes, I am very blessed and thankful for my health and strength.
Q: Proudest accomplishment?
Definitely placing top 4 at the Arnold 2016
Q: Favorite strongman event? A: Stones
Q: What do you listen to when you lift? A: A random mix honestly, I don’t rely on music too much. But usually Mariah Carey, Beyonce, Rob Bailey (I know, random)
Q: Where do you keep your Arnold trophy? A: At my desk at work
Q: What’s Next for You? A: Planning on the World’s Strongest Woman event in Jacksonville, Florida in August. There are so many contests all over the country I would love to take part in! Unfortunately it just isn’t always possible to do but just a few each year, but I am so excited to see so many opportunities for men and women.
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Yes, I write a fitness blog. But I do not even pretend to eat healthy all the time. That’s just laughable. There are times where I’m in an “out of my way, I must eat chocolate or die trying” mood.
I know you all have had them, too. The chocolate craving so strong that you’re digging in the pantry to find any rogue piece of Halloween candy that might have fallen behind the cereal boxes. Guilty.
Now, I’m a proponent of not giving in to food temptation. I always try to avoid it, but when you absolutely MUST splurge, if you absolutely HAVE to give in to the craving and break open that bag of Doritos, I’ve got a few things to keep in mind when you’re doing your “dirty snacking”:
Don’t Eat Out of the Bag: If you’re going to eat potato chips or cookies, measure it out and put them in a bowl (I use the littlest Tupperware bowl I have.) This will give you a measured amount to snack on and a definitive amount you can eat. If you eat out of the bag, you have no idea how much you ate and it’s a horrible feeling when your fingers hit the bottom of the just-opened bag of chips. #snackersremorse
Measure out a Serving: There are times when nothing but a cookie is going to satisfy you. By all means, if that’s the case, eat a cookie. But make it ONE cookie. If you’re going to eat an unhealthy snack, measure out one serving. That way, you know how much you’re eating, the number of calories and can track it accordingly. No one wants an “I didn’t mean to eat the whole bag of Oreos” moment.
Don’t Keep it in the House:The easiest way not to snack on crappy food is to not keep it in the house. Seriously, if there are chips in the house, that’s just going to cause you temptation. Keep healthy snacks around and easy to get to. If you really want potato chips bad enough to get in your car and drive to the grocery store, then go for it (just be sure to measure it out when you get home.)
Brush Your Teeth: Ok, this one sounds weird, but hear me out (my dentist is going to love reading this.) After you eat your serving of junk food – go brush your teeth. Getting that sweet/savory taste out of your mouth and replacing it with minty freshness of toothpaste will help you not want to reach for the bag of Cheetos again. Seriously, try it.
I’ll be the first to tell you to reach for the apple slices instead of the girl scout cookies everyday. But in reality, I know that’s not always going to happen. If you decide to give in to your junk food cravings, just be smart about it. Keep the portions small and don’t let it snowball into a bad day of eating. Make it one small treat then hop back on the healthy eating train.
I was in a fitness class the other day and at the end of class, the instructor said something that I haven’t been able to get it of my mind. She said, “Often times we workout for aesthetic reasons, but we don’t think about the good it’s also doing for the future health of our bodies.”
Well, she kinda’ said that. She actually said we workout for “anesthetic” reasons, but, I knew what she meant. 🙂
But seriously, that one little sentence has really stuck with me.
She went on to say how what we do during our workouts helps to make sure that we can do things like take our shoes off when we’re 80 and allow us to play with our children and grandchildren when we’re older.
Wow. That’s deep.
I’ll be be first to admit, I’m as vain as the next person. I like the look of my booty in my little black dress and I want to feel good in my bathing suit just as much as anyone else. It’s silly, but I sometimes overlook or even forget the bigger, more important reason for exercise – our health.
I didn’t have my daughter until I was 31. Yowza. That makes me the “old mom” in preschool. And when I had Elinor, I decided I was not going to allow myself to miss out on things because I was older when I had her. I want to make sure that I’m in great shape so that I can help coach Elinor’s soccer teams, run in a 5K with her and (hopefully) play with my grandkids one day….instead of missing out on all of that because I neglected my health.
So today, I hope that you take a minute and think of what you want to be healthy for. Take time to consider that your workouts aren’t solely for sexy legs and six pack abs – your workouts are for soccer games, underdog pushes on the swing set and tea parties on the kitchen floor. Because that, my friends, is what we all should really be exercising for.
I hope that quote sticks with you today, too. Give it some thought. Think about it in the shower (I do my best thinking in there…) And let that be something that makes you go, “hmmm.“
Okay, some nutritionists are going to cringe at the title of today’s post, but it’s true: you can lose weight without eating veggies.
Now before I go any further I want to say this – vegetables are fantastic. Vegetables are your friend. They will, undoubtedly, help you lose weight. They’re low–cal, packed with nutrients and incredibly healthy. You SHOULD be eating them. That being said, some people just don’t like them.
In the last two weeks, I have had two people come up to me telling me that they don’t like vegetables and therefore, they can’t lose weight. Well, I’m here to tell you this – you’re going to need to find a new reason, because I’m about to throw that one out the window. Let me explain…
I don’t like cauliflower. And please don’t ever try to get me to eat broccoli – even if it’s deep fried and covered in cheese and gravy. If you ever see me eating broccoli, just assume I have been kidnapped and that is my way of signalling you to call the cops. Seriously – ugh.
I wish I could blame my mother for not pushing me to eat these more when I was younger, but at age 35, I think I’ve made my own bed here. But, I’ll tell you this – I do know the veggies I like, and I incorporate them into my diet. And, I have managed to lose weight, gain muscle, perform in the gym and maintain a healthy lifestyle without just snacking on raw carrots every day. There are other options that are healthy that will still help you lose weight without eating only cucumber slices.So, for any of those non-veggie eaters, here’s a few pointers for you:
“I have managed to lose weight, gain muscle, perform in the gym and maintain a healthy lifestyle without just snacking on raw carrots every day.”
Other Healthy Snacks:Just because you don’t like veggies doesn’t mean you get to snack on junk food. Step away from the Doritos. If you’re starting your weight-loss journey and don’t like veggies, snack on apple slices, cheese, almonds, yogurt – the options of healthy, low-calorie alternatives are endless. If you don’t like carrot sticks, try a piece of fruit. Just be sure to log the calories in your fruit, too.
Side Item Options:Can’t think of any other side option beside raw veggies? Try a salad. Or find the veggies you do like, and add them to your side dish options. I know I love peas and lima beans (I credit my Aunt Julie for the lima bean love. She told me they would make my ears wiggle if I ate them. Still waiting, Aunt Julie….) So, I’ll keep frozen lima beans and peas in my freezer as an easy dinner side dish.
Experiment: Just because you didn’t like a veggie when you were in middle school doesn’t mean you stilldislike it. Your taste buds change. You grow up. Try that tomato again as an adult. Or, better yet, try experimenting with different ways to eat/cook it. I bet you’ll run across a veggie you thoughtyou hated but love. I mean, really, have you tried Brussel Sprouts as an adult?? Yummm…
Guys, whether you like veggies or not, when you’re starting your weight loss journey, the first basic rule of weight loss is to start watching your overall calories. But, for those veggie-haters, those calories don’t have to come from just veggies. There are other low-calorie, healthy foods (like fruit, yogurt, nuts…) that will help you lose weight. Use the tips above to help find a healthy diet and foods that work for you and your body.
So, next time you see me, I hope you’ll tell me that you’ve tried a new veggie,
experimented with a new veggie cooking method or that you’re just sticking to other low-calorie food choices. I would be happy to hear about all your new recipes and dishes. Just please don’t try and get me to eat your broccoli…
I’ve taken a lot of yoga classes in my day. And a lot of different kinds of yoga: restorative, paddle board, aerial, candlelight…But I’ve never taken a hot yoga class – until this weekend.
I’ve always kind of snubbed my nose at hot yoga. Because, honestly, I sweat enough in a regular yoga class. And, the thought of yoga in a hot room just seemed, well, unnecessary. Until I did it. And let me tell you this – I Am In Love With Hot Yoga.
Let me tell you all about it…
Where I Went
This weekend, I grabbed my good friend Kyla (she’s always up for something fun) and headed to Ivy League Strength in Lexington, Kentucky.
Ready for yoga!
Honestly, how cute is Kyla? And, gentlemen, she’s single. (She’s going to unfriend me for this…)
Now, this yoga studio is in a strip mall tucked out of the way. But do not let the outside of this little yoga studio fool you – this place follows the “Mom Rule” — you know, “it’s what’s on the inside that counts….” 🙂
How Hot is It?
The inside is a tiny little space, which is actually perfect for keeping the room a nice, toasty 108 degrees. Yep, you read that correctly. The room is 108 degrees. And, the floor is heated, too. I think I’m starting to sweat again just typing that…
Now, as I just finished taking off my shoes and socks inside the studio, I remembered that I left my yoga mat in the car. Ivy, the owner and today’s instructor, said not to worry that she had some new Manduka mats for people in the class to use. Now, a quick trip to Google for “Best Yoga Mats” will inevitably bring up Manduka yoga mats as one of the top yoga mats on the market. And with a price tag of $50-$150, it was hands down better than my $15 Target mat. I’m a sucker for quality. Nicely done, Ivy League Strength.
Manduka yoga mats for the class. Nice touch.
I probably should have painted my toenails before class.
While we waited for Ivy’s 11 other “usual” students to get to class, I sat and listened to Ivy chat with one of her students. While I listened to her talk, it was interesting to note that Ivy wasn’t exactly what I would expect a “normal” yoga instructor to be like. She was less “make your own deodorant” and more someone you wanted to go get a beer with. I began to think this girl had no idea about yoga and that this was going to be a waste of my time. Ahhh, boy was I wrong.
My shirt did not stay on long…
Kyla loves selfies as much as I do.
Who Was In The Class?
As you can see from the pictures, our class was pretty diverse. We had guys, girls, all ages, and all yoga abilities. This was, just like every other yoga class, a class that you could modify the moves to be as difficult or as easy as you wanted.
What I Wore
I wore a tank top and capris. But let me tell you this, my tank top did not stay on long. Once the class started, the sweat started dripping.
The first thing that was immediately apparent once class started was the attention to breath. Now, all yoga classes I have ever been to have worked on breath, but this was a whole new level. The “usual” class members were breathing, sighing and even hissing. At one point in the class, I even stopped to listen and see if there was a taped “breathing sound” being played through the speakers. Nope. Just good ‘ole breathing by my fellow classmates. This breathing, and Ivy’s prompting, kept me focused on my breath, contracting my abs and breathing into each move.
Now, I love restorative yoga. It’s great to give my muscles a nice break and some love from the heavy weightlifting it does. But, I also love power yoga. It makes my muscles move and I feel like I’ve had a great workout when I’m finished with it. The yoga flow we did was the perfect mix of both. I wore my heart rate monitor during the 90 minute class. I burned a total of 449 calories and at one point, my heart rate hit 172. Not too shabby.
I literally had a puddle of sweat on the floor in front of me.
My upside down selfie during yoga. That’s zen, right?
Water break. So hot…
Ivy lead us in two yoga flow sessions during the class. For the first flow, Ivy stayed in the front of the class and showed us how to do each move. Then, after a quick water break, we did the same flow again. Only this time, Ivy talked through the moves and did some adjusting to everyone’s poses. Now, I love adjustments in yoga. They help make sure I’m aligned correctly or help me get a deeper stretch out of the move.
At the beginning of class, I thought “I won’t wipe my sweat off my face the whole class and I’ll take a picture at the end so the readers can see how much I sweated.” Good idea in theory, but No Way that was happening. I seriously had sweat dripping off my elbow, nose, down my stomach and every crack and cranny. But, it felt awesome. That poor sweat rag got a workout today.
My feet slipped a little from time to time. My hands slid down my sweaty legs with some of the poses, but it didn’t matter. I just readjusted, wiped my sweaty hands and went back at the pose. If anything, I think it made me keep every muscle contracted and my core tighter to make sure my balance was steady and strong.
Downward facing dog pic.
It’s toasty in here.
After we finished our second yoga flow, we broke for a quick water break before shavasana. During the break, everyone picked up some cold stones (I forgot to take a picture, but they were like chilled, smooth, white hockey pucks of stone) and a frozen wash cloth. Everyone placed the stones and cloth wherever felt best for you during shavasana. I chose to hold one rock and place the other on my chest. I draped the cloth over my stomach. During shavasana, Ivy opened the doors and the room began to cool down.
It was such an interesting sensation to go from incredibly hot to cool. Like taking a cool shower after a hot, summer run. Very refreshing.
After class, my muscles felt like they had a workout, a stretch and were incredibly relaxed. However, my pants and sports bra felt like I had just taken them out of the washing machine.
Post-workout pic. Yowza.
What to Wear: The least amount you feel comfortable in. Guys, it’s hot in there. And you’re going to sweat. If I went back (or better yet, WHEN I go back) I’ll wear capris and a sports bra again.
Whatch’ Doing Afterwards: Kyla and I were planning on ducking in a store for a little shopping after yoga. Let me tell you this, after class, we were a sweaty, mess. Fair warning – your clothes are going to be drenched after a hot yoga class. If you’re planning on doing anything after class, bring an extra change of clothes. And some deodorant. And make-up. Because, in the words of Kyla, “I may have survived class, but my mascara didn’t.”
Drink Plenty of Water: Most websites say to drink a gallon of water the day before your hot yoga class. I’m sure I didn’t do a gallon of water, but I did get plenty in. Be sure to get your H2O in the day before (and after) class. You’re going to sweat a lot. I weighed myself before/after class and lost 1lb of sweat — with my sweaty, wet, heavy clothes still on.
Y’all, I think I may have found my new workout obsession. Hot yoga totally lived up to (and exceeded) the hype. I had fun, got a workout in and I’m sure sweated out a ton of nasty toxins in the process.
Go check out Ivy League Strength’s website or Facebook page for information on their hot yoga classes. And, go try one. I bet you love every sweaty minute of it.
Kyla and I both give this hot yoga two sweaty thumbs up.
And, honestly, I think I would have failed as a blogger and let all my Spring Break 2002 girls down if I did not post this today for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!
Stay Hot, Ladies! (With or Without the Yoga)
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