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Curses … My Cunning Little Plan … Foiled! Click Here To Comment!

So, here I am up at this cottage. For about 10 days in a row, eight of them on my own entirely. Well, except for the sweet, elderly/ailing and lonely neighbour who wanted me to come to “the hall” with her tonight and play euchre. And the bears. And the fish.

I had this idea that I wanted to bring everything with me in one go so I wouldn’t have to make any trips into Lakefield, this nearest town of any size. This includes food, of course.

In the back of my mind, I thought – this is it. My diet is going to veer entirely and utterly off the rails now. I stocked up with everything I shouldn’t have. Mostly carbs. Potatoes. Pasta. Rice. English muffins from St. John’s Bakery. Kraft dinner. Popcorn. Chips. Pancake mix.

And bacon.ƂĀ  And cheese.

AND – the cottage owner’s parents dropped by yesterday with freshly baked cookies and apple cake. (Free cottage AND freshly baked goods … how the universe does look after me when I ask … but I digress …)

I remember how I used to eat. Three substantial meals a day, mostly carbs. Grazing/snacking in between. Minimal fruits and vegetables.ƂĀ  Minimal physical movement. Here I am, in the perfect environment to return to my old self. There sure isn’t a lot to do up here, physically, and I’m virtually surrounded by carbs.

The thing is … I can’t do it. Not like I used to, anyway. I needed some exercise today and tried to get some by walking from this cottage to the main road, about a three kilometre round trip, I’d guess. I really enjoyed the walk to the main road and the tour of the general store but was thwarted on the return leg by the presence of one or more bears. I was scooped up by some cottagers who didn’t want it on their conscience that they saw bears and didn’t escort me safely back to my doorstep. My attempt at at least SOME activity … foiled …

But, in terms of eating … I just can’t do it like I did before. Sure, I’m having more carbs. But, somehow, a lot of vegetables snuck in and I’m eating those, too. So, the balance is different. But, the big thing is quantity and paying attention. I cooked for the cottage owner before she left – lamb chops on the bbq – and I made some yummy new potatoes. In my old frame of mind, there would be no leftover potatoes from the first meal. Now, there were enough to sautee for the following night’s dinner.

Also, my meal times are all off, so I’m just asking myself if I’m actually hungry. If the answer is no, I busy myself with something else for a while. Yesterday, I did something I’d been planning to do – made a big tray of nachos – yum! This was mid-afternoon and I enjoyed them while watching a movie. Filled me up entirely. I didn’t eat dinner and I had a few crackers and a bit of kohlbassa before bed. No more with the three huge meals, etc.

Today, I skipped breakfast (wasn’t hungry), tried to walk (see above) and then deeply and thoroughly enjoyed my extremely rare Kraft Dinner treat for lunch. (Did you know they have a three cheese version now? I’m not sure what that means since it looks like powder to me, but I digress yet again …) I mean, I really enjoyed it. Maybe my pseudo-bear encounter made me appreciate the pseudo-cheese more fully. Then … almost eight hours later … dinner, which was a salad. Spinach/arugula base, a layer of alfalfa sprouts, chopped peppers, a peach, tomato, thin sliced sweet onion and a dollop of cottage cheese. I topped it with sauteed ham and mushrooms, drizzled with light balsamic dressing. Mmmmmm … I’m totally full now.

I’m sure not going to lose weight out here. But maybe I won’t gain quite as much as I thought I would when I arrived.

How To Poach An Egg (a.k.a. How To Get UnSettled In Your Ways) 2 comments

I have always been a good poacher of eggs. A properly poached egg is a thing of beauty. Fully set white, very runny yolk on buttered toast with salt and pepper. A perfect breakfast that seems decadent in its rich flavours and textures but is actually fairly healthy. (The butter won’t hurt ya, really …)

My former egg-poaching methodology involved any old pot with boiling water that has a dash of salt and a splash of white vinegar. (The vinegar helps the whites set without as many stringy bits.) I’d crack the eggs directly out of the shell into the water and then stand over them until the exact right moment, usually about two or three minutes. I also had an method of using a frying pan to boil the water, and now I see that is just WRONG. I remember my brother also enjoying poached eggs and using the heel of a loaf of bread to drain them first before transferring them to his toast. The heel would get tossed.

My ex says I make the best poached eggs. I have them most mornings for breakfast.

My friend Miriam and I talk about poached eggs a lot. She shares my love of the perfectly poached egg. Ever helpful, Miriam sent me a video a while back on how to poach an egg. This arose out of her disdain for the idea of putting a splash of vinegar into the water, which I do understand.

For weeks after I watched this video, my poached egg mojo was totally messed up. I couldn’t get it right as I was trying some combination of my old method and this new method and just getting it all wrong. After years of getting it mostly right, new information totally threw a monkey wrench into the works. The guy in the video leaves out some important pieces. How hot is the water when you start? Do you leave it covered or not? What do you mean, leave the egg in for TEN MINUTES???

Experimenting with this new method of doing something I know so well has taught me a lot. For example, the pot matters. If you are going to leave the eggs sitting in water, they have to be completely covered in water, and the pot needs to be heavy and able to hold heat for some time. My thin-walled small saucepan is a bust. My larger thick-walled saucepan rocks, but only if it has enough water in it to cover the eggs.

I have finally got it right.

How To Poach An Egg Perfectly Without Vinegar and Without Standing There And Staring At It and Fussing Over It

1. Select a heavy pot and put enough water in it to cover the eggs. Add a few pinches of salt and bring to a boil.

2. Crack the eggs into a cup, carefully.

3. Put some bread in the toaster.

4. When the water is boiling, stir the water in a circle in any direction you care to.

5. Carefully drop the eggs in one motion into the centre of the vortex and immediately cover the pot. Turn the heat off. Set your timer for three minutes.

6. Whistle a happy tune. Maybe pour a cup of coffee.

7. When the timer goes off, butter the toast. The eggs need the last 30 seconds or so.

8. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon onto toast. Decorate with salt and pepper. Enjoy!!

One Perfectly Poached Egg

One Perfectly Poached Egg

Progress 1 comment

After weeks of being stable at the same weight, as of yesterday I’ve lost two more pounds, bringing the total weight loss now to 68 pounds. Only two pounds away from a hugely significant milestone.

I was both thrilled and shocked to see the number that showed up on the scale yesterday. Sure, I’ve been particularly careful with my food these past few weeks. I’ve also upped the intensity of my workouts, thanks to the advice and inspiration of my new “personal trainer” – I too wish for beautiful arms someday! šŸ™‚ I’ve added a third set and more intensity on the lower body which, I’m told, will burn more calories.

However, after weeks of being, literally, within 1.5 lbs up/down of where I was last time I weighed in, I was bracing myself to learn that this is it. This is where my body naturally wants to be. The extra exercise and even stricter attention to diet has paid off.

For weeks, people have been telling me that they see a difference, even from the beginning of the autumn. Yet, the weight number stayed stable. I think the strength training is adding muscle mass and changing the shape of my body. It is true that the inches have gone down. In one ten day period, I lost 1.25 inches in the mid-section, which is huge.

But, somehow, it never seems to register with me until the weight number goes down. It is like I’m programmed only to respond to that, and not to any other feedback. To measure my “success” in terms of that one number – not the comments from others, the inches going down, my clothes fitting more loosely – seems a pretty narrow piece of programming. I’m going to work on changing that. Part of the problem, though, is that I started this whole weight loss adventure with a particular target weight in mind and I get very excited with every step that pulls me closer.

BI #2 – Burger Click Here To Comment!

I'm swapping out the Big Mac for the burger pictured below. This is a Wimpy's Jr. ( 6 oz.) burger, w/onion rings. And all the fixin's, as they say.

Something is going awry. The first few bites were heavenly, then I was pretty much done. I coulda, shoulda, stopped there but I didn't. I ate half the onion rings. That is a diet coke in the background which I left most of behind.

At one time, I would have jumped in and downed this whole plate in less than 10 minutes.

I think the trick, in the future, to "indulge", is to order the burger, skip the onion rings, and just eat half the burger. I'm not "trained" to throw food out – it feels wasteful. But maybe, once in a while, I need to learn.

As for the onion rings, they were "ok", but not worth the caloric investment. I did get a big hit of "whoa – CNE midway!" when they set the plate down in front of me, and that was fun. The best onion rings I ever had were in a restaurant that no longer exists in St. Catharines and featured a crispy corn meal coating, and almost no grease. Those, I would not be able to leave behind.

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What to Eat / Not Eat 4 comments

Haven't posted much about food lately. I'm such a foodie. This diet is killing me. Sigh. So I've been both bad and good this weekend.

Bad: Pizza from Magic Oven. OK so not "bad", actually so very very good. This one is the Gourmet Meaty Pizza (proscuitto and some other stuff, artichoke hearts, garlic spinach, two kind of cheese) and I had them add roasted red peppers. Mmmm …


Between the beer, pizza and GlenLivet … I was up three pounds the next day. Damn. šŸ™‚

Good: Sunday a.m. Breakfast.

Two eggs scrambled with cottage and mozzarella cheese, spinach, red peppers, mushrooms and onions. Sliced fresh tomato with fresh basil, kosher salt and drizzled with aged Italian balsamic. Guatamalan fair trade organic coffee with stevia (the other white powder from Columbia) and hazelnut "real" cream.

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No-Carb Tuesday 1 comment

If this diet adventure has taught me anything, it is that I sure do like my carbs. As I review my food diary over the months, it is clear that I have the hardest time sticking to the extremely low carb amounts that are recommended.

I should be more specific as "carbs" are found, of course, in fruits and vegetables too – but that isn't what I'm talking about. If I were as addicted to fruits and veggies as I am to Ace Bakery Baguettes, then I wouldn't be so overweight, now, would I? No – what I'm talking about is the fabulous four of bread, rice, pasta and potatoes. BRPP for those of us who are fond of acronyms. Turns straight into sugar and gets applied directly to the thighs.

Carbs also mean alcohol and sugary baked goods, but I don't have so much of an issue avoiding these, except for the carrot cake at the downtown Y. I indulge here about once every two weeks. It calls to me after my workout, as it sits there in its little hand-wrapped portions with the yummy cream cheese icing. I picture that it is made by some little old lady who uses only organic ingredients and donates her baked goods to the Y. It is probably made by some multi-national conglomerate and I'm just trying to rationalize my diet deviance.

The occasional glass of wine hasn't been an issue. Neither, surprisingly, was the over-consumption of rum and tequila a few weeks ago. I have studiously avoided beer, much to the amusement of my hockey buds, since June 2007. Again, not so much of an issue as I've found beer to be an acquired taste anyway. Popcorn, which forms an entire food group for me, also hasn't held me back and I still make popcorn, with oil, and butter, two or three times a week. Admittedly, I'm making half as much as I used to, so maybe that has something to do with it.

Nope – for me, it is BRPP. Potatoes have been the easiest to take off this list. I don't make them much at home, and the double issue of fats + carbs presented by french fries really does take them right off the list of possibilities when I'm eating out. Although, when a basket of fries presents itself after hockey, I have been known to indulge.

Rice is a mystery to me. How is it that a staple eaten by so many cultures in such quantities can give a white chick like me such trouble? I'm told it has something to do with genetics and metabolism. I do believe this, but I wonder why it doesn't work out that, given my British/German DNA, I can't drink all the beer I can handle without packing on the poundage. In any case, I love rice. The thing is, I love rice because it does such a good job at soaking up things like, oh, butter chicken sauce. Fried rice cake is the foundation of sushi pizza and soaks up gallons of soya sauce, which is SO good and SO out of bounds for me. Bad rice. The rice of temptation. Wicked.

Pasta is something I would eat daily if I could get away with it. I make the BEST meat sauce and there is nothing like pasta (usually spaghettini or linguine) and my sauce with a dollop of cottage cheese and a sprinkle of romano. Oh, and a drizzle of olive oil. I have managed to work this in occasionally, through the magic of portion control, and I'm not doing too badly here. I go through phases with pasta. We are arm's length friends at the moment.

Bread is the biggie.  Where I'd eat pasta daily and happily, I'd have bread every meal if I could. WITH pasta. Some people do this … cereal or english muffin or toast for breakfast … sandwich for lunch … bread at dinner. Assorted muffins and croissants for snacks. I simply can't eat like that anymore, ever again. The treat I miss the most, and I whine about this to my friends so regularly, is the Ace Bakery Baguette and crumbly old cheese. A few (high fat) olives perhaps. And, of course, a glass of wine. Civilized, yes. Supportive of weight loss, no.

Bread sneaks in where it shouldn't. An English muffin here, an 10" wrap there … and suddenly I look at my food diary and I've tripled my daily bread allotment without even thinking.

So here is my experiment for the day. I'm going to try "No Carb Tuesday". I had my breakfast without bread or cereal of any kind and I survived, and I've now managed lunch without carbs of any description. I can't do this every day, but I wonder if I could do it, say, twice a week?

Could you?

Addendum: According to my weigh-in last week, and again Monday, I maintained the 52 lbs lost (yay)!  Not only that, I'm the first client of the location that I go to who has lost 50+ lbs. They want to put my picture on the wall. I've said I'll think about it. I'd refer that my picture go on the wall when I hit my target loss of 90 lbs. So … we'll see. šŸ™‚

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It is possible … 1 comment

for me to eat at my all-time favourite Indian restaurant, Trimurti, and not veer terribly radically off my diet. Which, for me, means entering the restaurant and not ordering anything deep-fried or resembling butter chicken in any way. My friend Angela is visiting from Ottawa for a few days and we ventured out late-ish. We had Tandoori Cauliflower which was dramatic, a whole head of cauliflower done in the tandoor, then served sizzling on a platter. Note to Self: ALWAYS take camera to restaurant. Also had Murgh Saag (Chicken / Spinach) and Lamb Dansak, rice, naan, riata. Awesome. First time I've been back since I started my new food plan. Basically, the carbs and sauces were no-nos for me, but I indulged. After all, I had just done my second circuit training workout.

I love the Gravitron machine. Very cool. I like how the fly machine makes my muscles feel, and the squats/lunges are vigorously challenging at the moment. The back extension is the thing I felt least able to do, but apparently am much more able to do than I thought. The worst for me, at the moment, are the leg raises. I can do 15 reps of everything but that. My abs are killing me. I play hockey this afternoon while Angela has lunch with her brother. That sound you hear on the ice will be my abs screaming.

Got an e-mail from M in Chicago that she is coming to stay on my couch in early May. Yay! My couch is getting quite booked this spring.

Work possibilities picking up … I'm in hurry up and wait mode on several things, which gives me time to work through more stuff on the BSP (Big Secret Project). Stay tuned …

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How To Lose Weight Click Here To Comment!

[Cross-posted from Vox.]

So, I’ve lost 31 lbs since June 29, which any normal person would be happy with. Yes, I am happy with that. I am also happy with having lost 30 inches, in total. 2.5 feet. Wow. Yes, I need to go shopping. Aside
from a bit of stress at the moment, I feel terrific physically.

Unfortunately, I’m 10 lbs behind in terms of meeting my overall target of 90 lbs by next May. When Fundy Boy is done, I’m going to get to the gym 3x a week. That should help get the metabolism up there where it needs to be.

People ask me two things:

a) Has it been difficult?
Yes and no. The program I’m on – which I won’t name as I don’t really want to get into promoting it – offers excellent support and suggestions, in addition to herbal supplements.

Some days are easier than others. There is, of course, a connection between stress and eating. I don’t crave sugary foods – I find those easiest to avoid. I do crave fried or greasy carbs (pizza, fries) and bread. Some days, I’d give anything for a fresh Ace bakery baguette and some lovely crumbly old English cheese. The other night, I really craved this particular treat. I had some really lovely mozzarella on slices of apple instead, which kept me from doing anything more drastic and damaging.

I miss Gryfe’s bagels.

It is very motivating to see results. To need new clothes and to fit into old clothes I never thought I’d fit into again. I love it when people notice, of course.

Some days, believe it or not, I just don’t think about it. Bad food is just not an option anymore.

b) How are you doing it?

Here are my new rules for eating, probably for the rest of my life …

1. Drink lots of water.

2. Eat a breakfast with protein every day.

3. Reduce carbs. If you are going to eat carbs, eat a small amount before noon.

4. Reduce or eliminate sodium. Of course, this is impossible – but give it the ol’ college try. When you’ve indulged in a sodium-rich meal, move immediately, with all haste, to point 5 …

5. Drink LOTS more water.

6. Monitor portions. Learn what a real portion is.

7. Make a deal with yourself that you can eat a “restricted” food in a limited amount (i.e. pizza) only after you eat either a bowl of vegetable-based soup OR aƂĀ  lot of veggies/salad.

8. Eat something like this every single day, either for lunch or dinner:

Yummy Salad

9. Speaking of which, make your own foods. Eat 100% homemade foods. Reduce the amount of restaurant and processed foods. This will help with both portion control and sodium/fat reduction. Unless you are into

deep-frying at home … which I do not recommend.

10. What are you doing reading this? You should be drinking more water!!!

11. Ignore people who say “oh, but you have to treat yourself … here try this cookie, I made them myself last night.” Tough tittie – keep your damn cookie. These people are not trying to help, they are trying to
help you stay status quo. Seeing others change can be very threatening. One week I found myself confronted by one of these people almost twice a day and I had to get really tough.

12. Plan for meals and snacks. For example, I eat an apple every day around 10:30. It keeps
cravings down and holds me over to lunch. Of course, this means I have to think ahead to have the apple actually WITH me. I cook a big healthy something (i.e. lasagna or soup/stew) each weekend and divide it up for lunches and dinners the rest of the week.

13. To achieve 9 and 12, one needs to get organized and make food a priority. I think this part will get less onerous as time passes. The weeks when I have not been able to really focus on this have been my least successful weeks.

14. Keep a food diary. Write all food and liquid intake, even if you aren’t sticking to plan. Keep a weight chart in the same book. Shortly, I’m going to add an activity/exercise section to mine. That way, when you have a good week, you can figure out what works for you. When you have a bad week, you can figure out exactly what went wrong. (You can also start to figure out how to “cheat” and get away with it! How much activity do you require to get the metabolism up to burn off those french fries?)

There you have it 14 ways (sort of …) to lose weight. Come on … your body will thank you for putting less strain on it. Taxpayers will thank you for putting less strain on the healthcare system. I’m taking it on as a
personal challenge … oh, and if you are not going to join me, please help me out by keeping your damn cookies to yourself!

A Certain Discipline 1 comment

There is a certain discipline to blogging, once one has committed to it. If one waivers, or appears to, one is "poked", to coin another Internet-inspired phrase.  I direct my loyal readers to the land of wizzy, where great things are due to happen. Any minute now.

Speaking of discipline, as I take these herbal supplements and continue on this new eating regime, I am noticing some things. Of course, everyone wants to know the magic number. It is 15 lbs since June 29. I'm good with that. Not too slow, not too fast … but the big initial weight drop has happened and now it is hard slogging the rest of the way, I think. I have 25 years of sedentary, eat-all-I-want life to shed. It won't come easy, methinks.

Besides the magic number, there are other things I'm noticing:

More energy. I can't say whether this is something to do with the herbs, or with carrying around less weight. I don't get tired like I used to and I feel ready to go most of the time. T has noticed my energy levels WAY up, which I think she finds a bit daunting! šŸ™‚ Part of the "more energy" thing is that I now seem to desire increased activity … I definitely think this is a good thing. I also feel more consistently focused and on-task. 

Cravings, lite. It would be wrong to say that I'm just tripping along this diet without a care, tra-la. Not so. I'm missing pizza, in particular, as it contains much of what is restricted for me at the moment – crust and cheese. I miss cheese – this is probably the hardest. I'm allowed one ounce of cheese a day as my "dairy" portion – but that means no yogurt or other dairy. So, day-by-day, I have to choose how I "spend" my dairy allotment. I'm missing bread and pasta. But,  I'm not missing these things nearly as much as I thought I would. I don't obsess about them as I thought I would. I can still eat really satisfying foods like burgers (wrapped in lettuce rather than a bun) and eggs.

And, yes, I miss sushi pizza. I will need to break down and cheat on this part soon. What is sushi pizza, you ask? Here is a photo someone else has taken of the delicacy. Just for the record, I've checked and I don't think this is available on the Wet Coast as it is a true bastardization of traditional sushi. But it sure is yummy.

Coffee. I used to drink one cup of coffee a day, first thing in the morning, but now I notice that I want more than that. Not sure this is such a great trade-off. Coffee hits that same bittersweet place on my taste buds as dark chocolate, and it is sweet and rich, even with Splenda. So it feels like an allowable treat.

OK – time to finish writing a marketing plan, shower, cycle / errands, pack for a quick cottage trip and then head to the Hot and Spicy Food Fest!

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Change 5 comments

I'm interested in bodies these days. Not exactly in the way that sentence implies, though. Although … (pause) never mind … moving on

So, as I drop a few pounds, slowly, my body is changing. People are noticing, which is nice. Other people look at me more than I look at myself given that I rarely look in the mirror other than to check to see if my hair is standing up on end.

I caught a glimpse of myself putting the ironing board away tonight, as it is stored in a cupboard in my downstairs bathroom and one must stand in front of a mirror to access the cupboard. It was a mirror action shot, I suppose. There are parts of

my body that are just not going to get that much smaller for a while, like my arms, possibly my calves. These are pretty muscular and are likely to remain so.

Today, I wore a shirt that I haven't worn much since I bought it … this one, in fact … I really like this shirt but it has never fit quite properly, until today. So the wardrobe re-claiming begins, which is a lovely side benefit of all this. 

It needs to be noted that the fact I was putting the ironing board away indicates change also, since one of the things I do both poorly and rarely is iron. I have, however, run out of summer-weight work pants and this situation needed to be addressed pronto.

On my drive home today, I thought about change and how people respond to it differently.  I've left the most stable job I've ever had, albeit temporarily and with a wide and welcoming safety net, to pursue a more entrepreneurial life. The change feels refreshing and invigorating. After several years of work stability, I chose change. Similarly, I've been the "leaver" in all but one of my relationships, long or short – choosing change repeatedly there. Some time ago, I was having lunch with my sister and my niece (sister's daughter) and we were listing out the significant relationships we'd had and how they ended. We then went back in the family tree and concluded that the women in our family don't put up with much crap, as we all seem able to pull the plug on relationships that aren't working and just walk away. The pattern is that we do the ending, rather than have endings forced upon us.

In my own history, this has caused me to attract no shortage of criticism from folks who have claimed that I haven't done enough to resolve differences in relationships, to "make it work". I consider these opinions ill-informed and offered from the cheap seats. It is easy to look in from the outside and render such a verdict. In particular, I remember leaving my partner of nine years and hearing no end of criticism for this. No one but the two of us knew how much pain had been caused in the last two of those nine years, and few people know how hard we had both worked to figure things out for the last eight months. One does not discuss such things as a matter of course over coffee. The leaver often gets tagged as being cowardly and emotionally lazy, at least I certainly felt that at the time. In truth, I felt like I'd achieved something brave and gargantuan – I made a strong choice to support my own mental and emotional health. It was absolutely the right one, I can say with clarity six years later. This situation taught me never, ever, to judge someone else's relationship choices and to offer input on such things only when asked directly for advice or guidance.

Did this relationship ending work out entirely as I expected? No. In some ways, it worked out better as I retained the friendship of my ex with the added bonus of not having to negotiate nearly impossible relationship issues with her. Other than the actual decision to leave, did I feel "in control" of this process? Absolutely not – it remains one of the most chaotic and frightening periods of time in my life.

Do I know how this entrepreneurial gig is going to work out? No idea … I feel very excited and optimistic. Each day, I see progress and new horizons, new possibilities. Will we be fast enough and smart enough to capture enough of what we need, quickly, to survive and thrive? I have absolutely no idea. All I can do is my best, and support others as they do their best.

Do I feel "in control" of this diet shift? To some degree, yes … but bodies are what they are. The end results are, frankly, unpredictable. All I can do is give it my best shot.

The only things one can be sure about are death and taxes, or so it is said. And change as a feature of life. No matter how hard one struggles to control the nature and direction of change, I think it is seldom that we are ever fully in control of how things unfold. The opposite of change is stagnation which, to me, would be like death if one succumbed to it. The silver lining of change is possibility and growth. I must remember this the next time that life proves to me that I'm not entirely in charge.

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