2013-08-07 18.03.18

At this very moment…I am not at my best.  I ate four chocolate chip cookies after a very healthy lunch, and it was four too many.  I’m feeling groggy and crabby.  Hello, crack withdrawal sugar hangover.  It’s been a very healthy summer for me, food-wise…I haven’t done this to myself in awhile…and it’s making me reflect a bit on healthy habits and making peace with oneself.


My job gives me a lot of practice of suspending emotion.  I don’t need to feel everything all at once.  I can put my emotions aside for now, and focus on the task at hand and the power that I do have over my situation.  It might be when a child is directing verbal and physical aggression toward me, or it might be when I receive a lot of seemingly impossible tasks from administration.  Or a hundred other possibilities.  I’m sure your job has situations like this as well.  I can put the feelings aside, for now, and speak truth into the moment.  I can address the emotions later, because heaven knows they will still be there.  But by then, the situation may have worked out, or I might have more information, or I might have found that things weren’t as impossible as I thought.

I am feeling the same way in this moment.  My feeling of fatigue and irritation are very real, because of course they are being caused by actual physical changes in my cells at the moment.  A flood of insulin has rushed into my bloodstream to wash away that sugar, causing some inflammation that makes my cells a bit warm and uncomfortable.  If there is any sort of infection or cancer in any of my cells, the acidic nature of the processed flour and sugar are giving the sickness a party, and my immune system is having a hard time keeping up.  Those happy chemicals that the heroine-like sugar released into my brain have run their course, and I haven’t fed my neurons any more sugar to replace them, so my brain cells are experiencing a little withdrawal period.  Just from a few cookies.  Very, very real feelings.

But…I can separate those feelings from my thoughts.  Even typing out a description of what is going on physiologically, speaking truth into the moment, helped me to separate how I feel from what I know.  I still feel groggy, I still feel crabby.  But my brain has been reengaged.  I can go on with what I think and what I know, and I can remind myself that the groggy and crabby are temporary.



I’m obviously not a perfect person, and I’m not any closer to perfect (or any farther away from it) than I was a year ago.  Or five years ago.  It is my growing belief that perfection is not meant to be the goal.  We live, we experience, we grow.  If we’re lucky, we become aware of just how blessed and wonderful we are.  I am fabulous, smart, gorgeous, loved, wonderfully and fearfully made.  There is no room in all that fabulousness for perfect.  There is nothing that is worth trading for perfect, even if it were possible.

I recently watched an old episode of Bones where Booth and Brennan investigate the murder of a woman who has had many plastic surgeries, trying to make herself more perfect.  Brennan has had enough of beautiful people who think they’re ugly, and the doctors who make money off those insecurities, and she rants:

“We’re born unique.  Our experiences mold and change us.  We become someone, all of us, and to have that taken away by murder, to be erased from existence, is unacceptable.  I feel like we should be arresting these doctors, because whether they killed her or not, they still erased her.”

It’s very easy to fall into habits of wishing we were more perfect, wishing we were someone else, wishing we were different.  But if that wish could come true, it would erase someone.  I might not always feel that I am of value, but I would not wish someone else to be erased in some way.  Even when I don’t know or see someone’s value, I trust that they are valuable.  I trust that they shouldn’t be erased.  Why is that so hard to turn on oneself?  Even when I don’t feel my value, when I don’t feel fabulous or fearfully and wonderfully made, can’t I trust?


2013-08-07 18.02.07

I’ve been rereading bits and pieces of Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr.  That girl is enthusiastic!  She makes me think about how I think about healthy habits.  Take exercise, for example.  It’s one thing to say, “If I exercise, I will be strong and healthy and have lots of energy.”  That statement is true, but it doesn’t take into account whether or not I care about such things.  I know I should care…but do I?  Do I truly believe that I am worth all that?  Do I think that I deserve to be strong and healthy and feel great?

At the core of the matter, aren’t we saying this:  “I want to be a person who exercises, because I wish I were a person who deserved to exercise.”

In the end, I am my own problem.  It is my choice to seek my value, to find, and believe, and trust the source of my worth.  I am not valuable because of my actions, or my intelligence, or my appearance.  The source of my worth is not a “why.”  It’s simply the fact that I am here.  I have been gifted with a life, a body, an existence on this planet.  I did nothing to earn them.  That is evidence of my worth, and there is no “why,” other than that it gives my Creator pleasure to have me here.  How is that for a blissful thought?

It’s not exactly that I deserve to be healthy, because that implies I earned it.  It’s more like health is my birthright, should I choose to claim it.  I do not need to do anything to earn the right to go to the gym, or to make a green smoothie, or to go to bed at a reasonable time tonight.  Those things are already mine.  I don’t need to deserve them.




As you know, my 2013 resolution was to not weigh myself on a bathroom scale for the entire year.  I posted an update in February, and my unspoken plan was to reflect monthly or so.

Now it is June.  I missed a few months.

That shows me that I didn’t need as much reflection as I thought I would.  Am I tempted to weigh myself?  Yes.  Every time I see a bathroom scale.  My friend Trisha has jokingly offered to keep my bathroom scale at her house until 2014, and I’ve seriously considered taking her up on that!  🙂  For now, my scale is hiding in the back of my closet.

I do think it’s easier, for me, to give it up entirely than to try to weigh myself in moderation.  When I see a scale in someone else’s bathroom, I think, “I don’t weigh myself.”  It’s much easier to say, I just don’t do that, than to decide whether or not doing it today would be a reasonable choice or not.

As I’ve said, my intent is to live this year like the number on the scale just doesn’t matter.  If I were the exact same weight and shape for the rest of my life, what kind of choices would I want to make?  Do I want to be a person who exercises, or not?  Do I want to be a runner and/or a yoga student, or not?  Do I want to be a person who drinks green smoothies or not?  Do I want to be a person who eats fruit and salads or not?

At first, the idea that the number on the scale doesn’t matter was freeing, but pretend.  Now, it’s true…it just doesn’t matter.  If I were a person who ate healthy foods when I was hungry, exercised five or six days a week, and indulged in a treat upon occasion, I would be as healthy as I could reasonably be, and I would be as attractive as I reasonably care to be.  Whatever the number on the scale.

A couple of months ago, I was in a doctor’s office with my pregnant sister.  The nurse asked her what her weight was, and she didn’t know for sure, because of course little She-Baby is growing quickly and my sister also doesn’t care to weigh herself regularly at home.  The nurse’s reaction was funny, I thought, as though it was unreasonable for a person not to know their exact weight on any given day. I am also now someone who would not know her exact weight when asked, and I would kind of like to be that way for the rest of my life.  Pregnant or not.  Skinny or not.  I would like to measure my health by my participation in healthy habits, not by the numbers.

The resolution stands, but the battle to build healthy habits goes on.  A part of my original 2013 plan was a goal that I was unsure of, to run a 5K, 10K, and 20K this year.  I have let that go.  It is more important, right now, to build habits of exercise that are stress-free, no-pressure.  One goal at a time.  My current goal is to be in a habit of going to the gym four to six times per week, and find it easy and pleasant.  Just part of my routine.  To be in a state where I would no sooner skip a workout than I would skip brushing my teeth.  I’m getting there.  I’ve gone to the gym MUCH more this school year, overall, than any previous school year.  But the habit still comes in starts and fits.  I workout for a few weeks, and then a busy week comes along and I skip a whole week, and then the next week.  Before I know it, I’ve taken three weeks off and I feel like I’m starting my routine all over again.  However, in years past it would be two or three MONTHS off before I start again.

To what do I owe the (small) improvements?  No question, I owe it 100% to my mindset of making it easy!  I watch Netflix on my phone while I’m on the treadmill.  I make one small promise at a time:  “I will bring my workout clothes with me today, but we’ll see what happens after work.”  “I will GO to the gym and be on the treadmill for one whole episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but I won’t promise to run hard or sweat.”  “I will run an interval of 2 minutes right now, but I won’t promise to run any more intervals today.”  “Okay, I will run one more interval right here, and then I can walk the rest of the 40 minutes if I want.”  It works for me.  Most days, I do run the workout that I planned.  On days when I just can’t bring myself to push hard, I have still gone to the gym, changed into my clothes, and spent a half hour or more on the treadmill.  My ultimate goal is to build a habit, and a half-hour walk works toward that goal as effectively as a hard run.  When this habit is strong and established, then I can think about the next goal.

(photo credit: mrjorgen via photopin cc)

Resolutions Update: The Big Question

2013-02-24 11.46.37

It’s been almost two months…time for an update on my 2013 resolution.  I have not stepped on the bathroom scale yet, and I won’t.  Not until January 1, 2014.  (If I even want to at that point.)  Not that it hasn’t been tempting.  A friend actually suggested I give my scale to her, to keep in her closet until 2014.  Not a bad idea…

It’s not about the scale, of course.  Avoiding the scale is just one, tiny, powerful catalyst toward the main idea, the purpose.

The purpose is, of course, to separate the habit of exercise from the desire for a certain weight, size, or body type.  The big question is this:  If I live in this body, exactly this size and shape, for the rest of my life, do I want to be a person who exercises, or not???

Do I want to run 5Ks and 10Ks if I look just like this?

Do I want to go to yoga classes if I look just like this?

Do I want to hike and bike and play ultimate frisbee all summer if I look just like this???

The answer is a loud, enthusiastic, resounding YES!!!


The photo you see above is a snapshot I took from the book Run Your Butt Off! by the editors of Runner’s World magazine.  I admit, I haven’t read the book.  I’ve flipped through it like a magazine, but I’m not into all the math of figuring out how many calories I should eat each day, logging every bite, logging my weight — obviously! — and all the other calculations that one could do.  The book seems to hold two purposes:  to help the reader lose weight, and to help the reader become a runner.  I’m totally on board for the second purpose.  I love the “stages” of running workouts.  They are simple, easy to remember, and attainable.  The beginning stages are mostly walking, with little intervals of running.  The teacher in me loves this part the best:  They meet you right where you are and nudge you forward a little bit.  They also are flexible:  In theory, you could get through all 12 stages in 12 weeks.  Or, you can stay in the same stage for a few weeks before moving on.  Especially if life happens, you get sick, you miss some workouts…you just hang out in your current stage for another week or two.  Or you back up a stage.  I find that if I’m in the right stage, I leave the gym feeling like I did some good hard work, but I could definitely do that again tomorrow.

The photo is my goal.  Specifically, the highlighted sentence.  “Repeat this sequence throughout your whole life.”  For me, the habit of exercise is the hard part.  I don’t know why.  I don’t think it’s some big, psycho-therapy breakthrough moment.  It’s not that I’m flawed in some way.  It’s just…I haven’t built the habit.  To go back to my ever-present metaphor:  I have built a habit of brushing my teeth.  I have done it for enough days (weeks, months, years) in a row that it is not a big deal, nothing I spend time thinking about or motivating myself to do.  I just do it because I do it.  I have built no such habit with exercise.

I have, unfortunately, spent YEARS exercising only for the purpose of controlling what I look like.  Changing the number on the scale.  Inevitably, I reach a moment when I don’t care about the number on the scale, and I feel the joyous freedom of not caring, and I stop exercising.  However, I generally don’t stop eating fruits and veggies when that happens, because when I don’t care about the number on the scale, I still care about all the things good healthy food does for me…feeling good, keeping me from getting sick, making me grow healthy cells, etc.  Eating healthy is separate from desiring to look a certain way or be a certain weight.  I want the same mindset for exercise:  I would like to not care about the number on the scale, but CARE about exercise.  The two need to be separated.


So, two months into this project…  I am going to yoga about twice a week (when snowstorms don’t screw up my plans) and I love it.  For me, right now, yoga is the best strength training I could do.  It’s 55 minutes of hard work, followed by 5 minutes of bliss.  Lovely, quiet, hard-earned bliss.  I also run on the treadmill two to four times a week, which is its own kind of joy.  I usually watch an episode of something on Netflix on my phone, so I’m on the treadmill for about 45 minutes.  A guilt-free way to spend time watching my favorite shows?  Yes, please!  🙂

The habit is not built.  I have heard that 21 days, 28 days, 30 days make a habit…but when it’s something you don’t do seven days a week, it takes longer than that.  I’m still struggling with motivation to go each time.  I am finding that focusing on one small decision at a time helps.  If I just pack my workout bag and take it with me in the morning…just thinking about that…not promising to actually go to the gym.  One decision at a time.  I’m also noticing how to give myself what I need today, whether or not that’s what I planned to do.  Most days, by the time I get to the treadmill, I want to do the workout I planned to do.  But some days, I walk and increase the incline for intervals, instead of doing the running intervals I planned.  Some days, mostly a certain two or three days of the month, I just walk slow-ish for 45 minutes with no incline.  For me, that’s not a workout that increases my heart health…but it is a step toward the main goal of building a habit.  And even if it doesn’t feel like hard work, I’m certain it’s better than sitting on the couch.

When I made this resolution of staying off the bathroom scale, I didn’t have a clear goal for what I would be actually accomplishing by the end of 2013.  My current idea is this:  By the end of 2013, I want to be solid in my ability to do the stage 12 running workout you see above.  I also want to have gone to yoga enough that I have seen progress…that I feel stronger and more able to do all the poses than I do right now.  Mostly, I just want to feel like working out isn’t that big of a deal…that it’s just something I do because it feels good and makes me healthy.  Like eating vegetables.

Will I actually still look exactly like this if I’m doing all that running, yoga, hiking, biking, and frisbee?  Likely not.  Not exactly like this.  But it doesn’t matter either way.  My responsibility lies in the choices I make and the habits I build.  What I look like is God’s business.

My Flu Shot…

I didn’t get a flu shot today.  They were free to employees, but…

I have my own secrets.  🙂

My daily green smoothie keeps my body’s alkaline balance in order so that it can renew, renew, renew!  And when my blood cells are fresh and new, they fight things off before I even know they’re in there.  Not to mention all the vitamins and minerals that are packed in there.


A daily workout moves all my lymphatic fluid around so it can catch and kill all the little buggers.  It also makes me need less sleep, although I have no idea why.  But 8 hours feels absolutely luxurious when I’ve been working out.


A good 7 to 9 hours a night…the good habit that most easily escapes me…  Evidence shows that people who get enough sleep are less likely to get sick.  But why is a bit of a mystery.  One theory that makes sense to me is that while we sleep, the body renews its cells.  And again, fresh new cells are good fighters.

All of these habits also keep stress hormones at bay.  Less stress hormones = stronger immune system.

Every time I get sick, at least one of these three habits has been neglected.  Most winters, I really do sail through with barely a sniffle.  And I intend to keep that up for the rest of my life.

(I don’t think we need to talk about hand-washing, not touching your eyes and mouth, covering your cough…  Blocking and killing germs goes without saying.)


If someone can find a magical habit that would keep my yearly two-day stomach virus away, I would love you forever.


I put on my comfy, stretchy gray yoga pants, and a comfy, stretchy sports bra.  And a comfy, stretchy turquoise t-shirt that fits me just perfectly for either exercise or sleep.  And the purple hoodie with pockets for keys and cell phone.  And the second most comfortable shoes I own, because one cannot walk briskly, the way one needs to walk for exercise without worrying about one’s feet, in flip-flops.

And I went out into the world.  And I made my way through the neighborhood to the trail that runs along a creek.  And I did some “good hard work” for about 45 minutes.

And the temperature was 53 degrees, and the sun was shining, and the breeze was crisp.  And everything was lovely.

And on days like today, I don’t know why it is so hard to do this enough days in a row that it becomes a habit.  Please, fall weather, stay as long as possible.  I need you.  I have good hard work to do.

Magical 12/12/12

I started exercising again (again) on Sunday night.  I’m riding on the delicious “third-day soreness” tonight, and I just want to talk…about what I’m doing…about why I want to do this…about why the hell I think it will work this time, because I think it will work every time.

So beware of the personal over-sharing that is surely coming.  And the over-honesty.  And the over-emotion.  Go read something else if you want.  I won’t be offended at all, and you just might still respect me tomorrow.  🙂

First, the lies…lies I always tell myself, and then you:

I don’t have a specific weight goal.  I just want to be healthy.  (Of course I have a weight goal!!!)

I don’t have a deadline in mind.  It takes as long as it takes.  (Oh, there’s a deadline, of course!)

Now for the truth:

I’m not going to tell you my weight goal.  If I did that, you would be able to infer how much I weigh now, and…I’d rather not.

I will tell you my deadline.  My magical birthday is coming this year:  12/12/12

I’m not so much intimidated by “round birthdays” or “milestone birthdays.”  But my whole life, I get to enjoy 12/12 as my birthday.  I turned 12 on 12/12.  That was pretty fun.  🙂  But this year is the only year, in my whole entire life, that I get to enjoy my birthday on 12/12/12.

I’ve had deadlines (that I lied and told myself I didn’t care about) in the past, which I failed.  My sister’s wedding…”Eh, well, it’s not like it’s my wedding…”  Vacations:  “Whatever, I’ll have just as much fun no matter what.”  The first day of school:  “Who am I trying to impress?  My coworkers and administrators care about my teaching.”  The last day of school:  “So I’ll spend one more summer avoiding a bikini.  Big deal.”

Do you see the common theme?  I feel confident and successful in many areas of my life.  I find myself to be tenacious and skilled at most things I try.  But in the area of physical fitness, I feel no confidence, no tenacity, and no skill.  I feel defeated before I even begin.  It has been this way since elementary P.E. class.  “I am not an athlete.”  I dare say I believe that statement more strongly than I believe the sun will rise tomorrow.

Well, as it turns out, I am in charge of my own life.  And I have much more control than I thought over how I think and what I believe about myself.  So it is time to change that belief.  My previous “deadlines” have been all about someone else, how I look to other people.

12/12/12 is not for anyone but me.  I really don’t care what I look like to other people on my birthday.  It’s my birthday.  But I’ve decided…and this is a BIG change from a few years ago…I care A LOT about what I believe about myself.

I no longer accept the belief that “I am not an athlete.”  I reject that statement, and I reject all of the darkness it has brought to my life.  I am, as John Bingham describes in his book The Courage to Start, an “adult-onset athlete.”  I am already an adult-onset athlete.

Christine at http://www.welcometomybrain.net is a blogger I recently started reading.  She talks occasionally about her big adventure of losing weight.  She says:

I am not telling you that you have to be thin to be beautiful or healthy.  That’s crap.  Body shapes vary and I will never, ever have a waist and I will never, ever have curvy boobs.  Ever.  Never.  And I’m hot.  I’m crazy stinking hot exactly the way I am!  I was beautiful when I was 200 lbs and I am beautiful now.

However, I cannot stand here and tell you that I was healthy when I weighed 200 lbs.  I cannot tell you that I was loving my body into the future with what I was putting into my mouth.  I was being mean to…me.”

Well, let me tell you, I’ve seen my body.  I, too, will never, ever have curvy boobs.  I will never, ever have a butt that’s in proportion to the rest of me.  I will never, ever, ever, EVER be 5’10”.  Or 5’8″.  Or, let’s face it, 5’6″, not without a nice pair of heels.  But I’m “crazy stinking hot” now, and I will still be on 12/12/12.  And I’ve been doing a pretty good job of loving my body into the future with what I put into it.  I just want to love my body into the future with how I move it, too.  I don’t want to be mean to me anymore.

Christine also shared some great advice that was given to her.  Your goal should not be to lose a certain amount of weight.  Your goal should be to keep it off for a year.  That way you will establish those habits, rather than rushing to the quick fix and then yo-yo-ing back again.  I think that sounds like a very common-sense goal, one which can create long-term success.

So, yes, I do have a deadline.  And I have a goal weight for 12/12/12.  It is…ambitious.  Not entirely healthy.  Possibly impossible.  And my little secret.

But my real goal is this:

Between now and 12/12/12, I choose to believe that I am an athlete; that I have absolute potential to be physically fit.  I choose to act like a physically fit person, regardless of the emotional roller coaster that is sure to come.  We shall see what happens on the scale, but if I act as though I believe I am an exerciser, it can only be good.  I am not setting a certain number of cardio and strength workouts per week.  I am not committing to run a 10K in 2012.  I am simply choosing to believe that I am, in fact, not a big loser when it comes to physical activity.  Actions follow beliefs.

And then, on 12/12/12, I shall see if I am ready to start the “real goal” of keeping it off for a year.  Maybe 12/12/13 will be the real celebration after all, even though it doesn’t sound quite as magical.

Human Transportation & Fresh Produce

This morning, I (slowly and carefully) drove my car to the repair shop in my neighborhood to be fixed, and then I walked home.  This afternoon, I walked back to the repair shop and picked up my car.

This evening, I left my freshly repaired and perfectly working car at my home, put $5 and my cell phone in a drawstring backpack, and walked to the farm stand a few blocks away.  I came home with red potatoes and a muskmelon.

I guess healthy choices really do breed more healthy choices.

In generations past, we didn’t need $30-per-month fitness clubs or gym amenities in apartment complexes.  Our ancestors traveled distances too long to walk by horseback or horse-drawn wagon…and I bet the aerobic activity and “weight-lifting” required to care for the horses was more activity than many of us get in the 21st century.  And that doesn’t even take into account the energy expenditure that was required to grow/raise, harvest/slaughter, and prepare food.  Or to wash the laundry.  Or to chop and carry the wood just to heat the home during the winter.

Even today, in the 21st century, even in industrialized places like ours, there are people who naturally expend a lot more activity than I do.  I wouldn’t know, having never been there, but it is my understanding the New Yorkers mostly walk and use public transportation.  The typical New Yorker’s walk to their subway stop is many times longer than my walk out to my car.

And remember college?  In college, I walked all day long.  Briskly.  No matter what the weather, I walked.  If it was hot, I left a little earlier (when I could) and walked a little more slowly.  If it was cold, I wore a hat and mittens.  If it was raining, I carried an umbrella.  I arrived to class with rain soaking the bottom five inches of my jeans, or snow collected in the grooves of my backpack, or sweat trickling down my back.  It didn’t matter what the sky was doing, we all walked.

Why do I get in my car, when it’s not very far away, I’m lucky enough to have legs that work fine, and I have enough time to walk?  Or ride my bike?  Truly “authentic exercise” is when it takes me somewhere I want to go.  Our world, at least here in this city, does not provide us with enough truly authentic exercise, so we need good exercise habits on top of that.  But why can’t I break out of the peer pressure of using my car five times a day?  It turns out, most of my routes today actually had good, safe sidewalks and crosswalks.  (I have my doubts about whether the traffic actually yields to pedestrians, but that’s another issue.)  Why can’t I try to think more like a college student?  Or a New Yorker?  Or, evidently, a French woman?

Which brings me to my second point, and the reason for the delicious picture you see above.  I’m in the middle of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, and I’m finding it delightful, anti-diet, pro-joy, and all about balance.  Despite the title, which doesn’t sound as holistic as the actual advice inside.  Apparently, the French have a habit of going to a market every couple of days, rather than doing bulk grocery shopping once or twice a month.  (And it’s described like a farmers’ market, not a supermarket.)  They buy the produce, meat, and dairy that they have immediate plans to cook, and leave the monthly shopping for things like flour and toilet paper.  The benefit is that you eat the food when it’s at its best.  You don’t eat tomatoes that have been in the fridge for a week and taste like sawdust.  You don’t eat chicken that has been frozen in boneless, skinless pieces, maybe months ago, or the frost that has been collecting on it.  And you learn what really good food tastes like, and you become a snobby French woman who won’t settle for less.  🙂

So, I was inspired to prepare myself a dinner of something that was absolutely ripe and at its best.  I went to the farm stand just to see what they had today, and planned to decide what to make later.  I ended up with a delicious omelette made with a tomato that I picked off my tomato plant, red potatoes grown not 20 miles from my home, and the most perfect, sweet, almost-mushy, sun-warmed muskmelon slices with sea salt.  (If you’ve never tried melon sprinkled with just a little bit of sea salt, proceed with caution.  You’ll never go back.  On the other hand, this is how I finally learned to like muskmelon and cantaloupe.)

Supermarket tomatoes taste like water, compared to a homegrown tomato.  Supermarket melon feels like biting into styrofoam, compared to the ripe, sun-warm melon that melts in your mouth.  I don’t know what the difference is, other than whether it ripens on the plant or off.  Supermarket produce is picked early, because it needs to travel before it reaches it’s peak of ripeness.  Farm stand or farmers’ market produce was picked this morning, or maybe yesterday.  A home-grown tomato can be picked and eaten within moments.  It ripens while still receiving nutrients from the plant, so maybe that’s the deal.

It’s all about balance.  I am grateful for the transportation that makes it possible for me to have pineapple, seafood, and coffee.  I’m grateful for the transportation that allows me to go places, daily, far outside the distance I can walk in a timely manner.  But I’m also grateful for the occasional perfectly ripe muskmelon and the fact that I can walk to find it.

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