Tag Archives: Fat loss

3 Factors that Affect Your Fat Loss Goals Timeline

3 Factors that Affect Your Fat Loss Goals Timeline

Posted on 21. Feb, 2010 by .


You’ve heard many fitness experts say that you have to set goals if you want to lose fat and become successful in doing so. But, people who have not worked out consistently and really dialed in their nutrition may either overestimate or underestimate their goals. This was definitely the case for me when I just started out the fat loss process. I wanted to be at a certain body fat percentage that was just way too low for the amount of time that I gave myself to reach it. Also, I had an unrealistic view of how I was going to look like when I reach my deadline.

You’ve probably read my post that talks about finding a model, like Jessica Biel, to look up to. Maybe you want the “fitness model look” and that’s what inspires you. It’s a great strategy and one that I still use today. Is it a realistic goal? Maybe, maybe not. We have to keep in mind that there are a lot of factors that affect how we look and how quickly we can achieve our goals. I will discuss some of these factors but take note that there are many other ones that may affect your results.

One such factor is body type. Our body types will dictate where we lose our weight first. Using myself as an example, I have an apple shaped body which means that when I gain weight, I see it immediately in my midsection. On the other hand, when I lose weight, I lose inches on my hips, thighs, and my arms first. For people who are pear shaped, they are most likely to lose inches from their midsections first then on their hips and thighs.

The next factor is training experience. This pertains to how long you’ve been training and it’s quality. This will also include tinkering with your nutrition. Many people can see amazing results in 3 months if they consistently follow a workout program that is designed for their goals and they find a nutrition plan that works for their body type. Some people may be fortunate to find these on their first try but most people tend to be in an eternal roller coaster of trying new things. The good news is, if you give something a good try, consistently for a month, you would have a good idea of whether it works for you or not. No matter what, your results will depend on the quality of your effort. If you didn’t follow the programs with at least 90% compliance, don’t expect to see amazing results.

The last factor that I’m going to talk about are your genes. There’s no doubt that your genes can impact many areas of your fat loss. Whether it’s your metabolism, your body type, your muscle building potential, hormone interaction etc., your genetic make up has something to do with it. People who are naturally skinny will obviously not have the problem of gaining weight and there are quite a few people out there who are like this. My point is, it’s unrealistic to compare ourselves to people who have the advantage of “good” genes on their side. Does this mean that we just give up and decide that it’s going to be too difficult? Of course not. This just means that we have to work harder and stick to the workout and nutrition plans more consistently. We may take a longer time to achieve our goals but with the right attitude and tools, it is definitely possible.

I wrote this article because I see people who have unrealistic expectations once they have been doing something for a few months. This is where our culture of immediate gratification can hurt us. It takes a lot of time and effort to achieve an amazing physique. Just ask any fitness model you know and he/she will tell you how many hours of exercise they put in and how much less food they eat. Even the Biggest Loser contestants will tell you that they work out all day and probably starve themselves sometimes in order to see a mind-blowing transformation.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t aspire to have an amazing body if that is what we want. I’m just saying that our actions would have to match our goals. If you want remarkable results, put in remarkable effort.

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The One Muscle You Should Exercise Everyday

The One Muscle You Should Exercise Everyday

Posted on 31. Jan, 2010 by .


Let’s face it – many people fall off and on the healthy lifestyle wagon all the time. There are many so called “yo-yo dieters” who lose the weight only to go back to their old habits and gain double the weight they lost before they started a diet in the first place. I, myself, have experienced this “diet” roller coaster and lately, I have been thinking why this is.

I have come to the conclusion that fat loss or living a healthy lifestyle has a lot to do with your mind/brain and/or how you think. I may have realized this awhile ago but I just never thought about it as deeply as I have at this very moment.

I can train my mind to always come to this place whenever I get stressed. It's a nice place to go to.

I can train my mind to always come to this place whenever I get stressed. It's a nice place to go to.

Ok, so the brain is not a muscle (I just thought it would be a cool title) but it is worth exercising everyday because your success, in fat loss or anything in your life, depends A LOT upon it. If you were to look at people who are successful in anything, you would find that they are usually optimistic, motivated, and disciplined (among other things) people. The important thing to note here is that these successful people did not get like this overnight. Everyone sucks in the beginnning – at anything. What you and I need to know is: perfect practice makes perfect.

How do you do this? Recently, a client of mine brought to my attention a book called The Beck Diet Solution. It is a book created by Dr. Judith Beck who is a psychiatrist that specializes in Cognitive Therapy. The book teaches you many ways to deal with “dieting” and the many pitfalls associated with it. [Note: if you’re a regular reader of my blog, you would know that I like diets because they help you practice the skills you need to succceed but I don’t recommend having the diet mentality in the long run.]

Here are some tips that would help you stay on track and help “train your brain” in terms of “dieting.”

#1 Practice Your Resistance Muscles

If you are starting a new diet plan, it may be difficult for you to resist food temptations in the beginning or maybe even towards the end. The key to being successful during this time is to practice resisting these temptations. Just like in working out, you need to exercise your resistance consistently so that it will get easier later. This could be something simple as saying, “No, thank you,” over and over again to the foods that are offered to you at a party.

Dr. Beck says that it takes at least 20 times for people to practice resistance before it gets easier or becomes a habit. So, the next time you feel that you need to have a midnight snack or buy that candy bar at the cashier counter, resist the urge and keep doing so until you don’t want to do it anymore.

#2 Prepare for Bumps Along the Road

We all have it, we get stressed, we get emotional, we get busy, etc. That’s life. Life will always throw things at you and catch you off guard. This reminds me of my recent experience of starting my own business while my husband was deployed in Kuwait. I didn’t realize the emotional and physical toll that it will have on my body. These events have caught me off guard which caused me to lose sight of some of my fitness goals and some weight gain. At the time, I didn’t realize what was happening until I was able to pin point the things that are causing the change in my behavior and decided to deal with it.

You may get stressed by a new job, a looming deadline for a big project, adapting to a new place after moving, getting married, etc. Name it and I’m sure it will affect your behavior in terms of your fitness goals. The key to staying strong during these times is to recognize that they will pass and you don’t need food to make you feel better or that you need to keep doing your workouts to de-stress. Really pay attention to how your behavior is changed by an event and stick to your plan even when you don’t feel like it.

#3 Fight Cravings with an Alternative Habit

Dr. Beck describes cravings as a physiological and emotionally intense urge to eat. Usually cravings can occur even when you’re not hungry and they usually occur during emotional depressions or arousals. She suggests dealing with cravings by having an alternative habit when you have them such as walking your dog, drinking hot tea, listening to your favorite music, going for a swim, reading a good book, etc. This strategy will greatly help you if you find something that you enjoy doing. At the same time, it also requires practice on your part and some trial and error to find and form these new habits.

#4 Tell a friend

Our friends/family can be a source of strength during times of weakness. Recruit the help of your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, or best friend to help you accountable for your actions. You would want to either e-mail, text, or call this person whenever you have a craving or desire to eat something that’s not on your plan. Sometimes, the simple act of just telling someone about your craving (or any diet difficulty) and having them talk you out of it or having them remind you of why you’re doing this in the first place will help you get out of that mindset that you have to give in. This is a great tool and one that everyone should practice whenever the situation occurs.

#5 Understand that Hunger is not an emergency

Many people tend to get moody or easily angered when they are hungry. One thing that I learned from practicing Eat Stop Eat (ESE) is that my hunger usually only lasts about 5-10 minutes. I have been through more worse physical discomfort in the past such as a tooth ache, strong headache, back pain, etc. The discomfort from hunger is nothing compared to the discomfort I’ve felt with these. Thankfully, I haven’t been injured as I can imagine that a broken leg or arm would be even worse.

The one thing to realize here is that most people tend to confuse hunger with a desire to eat. If you just ate a meal or a snack and you feel “hungry” again, chances are you just want to eat. If you want to distinguish between feeling hungry and just having a desire to eat, try fasting for 24 hours. Then, you would really know what real hunger feels like.

#6 The Advantages List

One tool that Dr. Beck has you do on the The Beck Diet Solution is to create an “Advantages List” on day 1. Basically, you would create a list of at least 20 things that you will have once you have reached your goal and read them first thing in the morning and during times of weaknesses. Here is a sample list:

  • I want to have more self-confidence.
  • I want to look better.
  • I want to be healthier.
  • I want to have more energy.
  • I want to be less self-conscious.
  • I want to wear more fashionable clothes.
  • I want to wear size 5 jeans and feel great about it.
  • I want to look great in a bikini.
  • I want to feel strong.
  • I want to be able to keep up with my kids.
  • I want to look younger than my real age.
  • I want to have a strong immune system.
  • I want to look HOT!

Take note that each advantage should be written in a positive light instead of a negative tone such as “I don’t want to get sick.”

Having been able to maintain a healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle, I realize that simply having a nutrition and workout plan is not enough. You also have to have a plan for dealing with the way you think and undoing your old, mostly destructible habits. Also, finding a balanced, healthy lifestyle, knowing that you can make mistakes, and eat the not-so-healthy foods every now and then is what would really help you maintain your success in the long run.

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Your Fat Loss Plan for the New Year

Your Fat Loss Plan for the New Year

Posted on 29. Dec, 2009 by .


Well, Christmas is over and no doubt you’ve probably gained a few happy pounds. I’m going to be honest with you…I did let my hair down during the holidays because it is a time of relaxing, having fun with the family, and eating good food. The only workout that I did was trying out my sister’s Wii Fit balance board which was a lof of fun. My mom even commented that I must be “off the diet” (no matter how many times I tell her that I’m not on any kind of diet – just a healthy lifestyle) because I’ve been requesting a lot of her great dishes. So, yes, I enjoyed a lot of feel good foods and then some more. This is also the reason why I didn’t write a “holiday fitness plan” article because I knew that no matter how many healthy eating articles you read over the holidays, you are bound to enjoy the holiday foods anyway – which you should because it does come around only once a year.

Alas, there’s no such thing as eating under a calorie deficit during the holidays. But, since the new year is just around the corner, I thought it would be great to write about how you can get back on track.

There’s no doubt that you will be plagued with many advertisements for diet pills, weight loss supplements, and useless fitness equipments. So, you should be very critical of what you see, read or hear on t.v., newspapers/magazines, radio, and other forms of media. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you’re probably a lot of steps ahead of the crowd anyway.

So, what’s your best fitness plan for the new year? My best advice to stick to the basics – the tried and true – the only way to lose the fat and win the battle of the bulge => eat less and exercise more.

Are you disappointed that I don’t have some crazy new idea for your fitness plan? Well, I’m not so much and this is why:

The Calorie Deficit

Having a calorie deficit is probably the most important factor when you’re trying to lose weight. You can workout as much as you want and eat the healthiest foods but if you are still eating way more than you’re supposed to eat, you will not lose weight. Violate this rule and your results will come to a screeching halt.

This should be good news to you because with all the ads for weight loss nowadays, this simplifies things a lot. When in doubt, go back to basics. Having a calorie deficit is the most basic rule out there but it works! The only way to accomplish this is to eat less and move your body more often. No weight loss supplement or “special” fitness equipment can give you the results that you’re looking for. Once you realize that you have to put in the hard work and not rely on magic pills, you will see results!

I am also not saying that having a calorie deficit is the be all and and all of fat loss. There are definitely other factors that come into play when you’re trying to lose weight but, most of the time, people then to lose sight of this rule because they’re always looking for a better pill or the next great fitness equipment. *Warning: rant coming…we can blame our age, our metabolism, our family, our stressful jobs, etc. but in the end, we usually don’t get results because we eat too much or not workout hard enough. *end of rant

Having said that, you still have to have a plan. So, here are a few steps to help you get started on the new year if you’re a complete newbie or just need a reminder of the basics:

  • Calculate your calorie deficit. If you don’t know it, you can read this article and get the Calorie Deficit Calculator
  • Write down short-term and long-term goals insted of new year’s resolutions. For example, lose 24 lbs by March 31 instead of just saying “lose 30 lbs.” Be specific!
  • Make strength training a priority and get a workout program that you can do at least 3 times a week. Make sure that you will enjoy your workout but choose a challenging one that will take you out of your comfort zone.
  • If you must perform some type of cardiovascular activity, make sure that it’s interval training or bodyweight cardio. I’m not saying that the elliptical or other cardio equipments are bad or inferior but if your body is used to them, you will not get much benefit from your workout. Same goes if you’ve been doing the same old workout for a long time. It’s time to change things up!
  • Find your motivation. For me, my motivation is knowing that I won’t need a crutch when I get old and I will still look like I’m 30 years old even though I am 80 (ok, maybe not that young but you’d never know).

Here’s a double kettlebell workout that will surely challenge you:

The leanest people I know have these rules down as habits. Make this the year that you are going to be a part of the lean people statistics and never look back. I heard this one good saying while listening to an interview earlier, “If it’s important, do it everyday.” The calorie deficit is important so if you’re goal is to lose weight this year, make sure to have it at least 6 days a week until you reach your goal.

I hope you have a great and healty new year ahead of you. Let’s look forward to 2010!

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Video Series 1: Thoughts are Things

Posted on 22. Apr, 2009 by .


My fat loss motivation has been through the roof and it’s all because of this book that I’m reading entitled, “Think and Grow Rich,” by Napoleon Hill. The book was written in the 1930s and yet a lot of the principles he talked about in this book is still valid until today. It was brought to my attention while I was reading Dax Moy’s Blog last week and I have been hooked ever since. If you don’t know who Dax Moy is, he is the guy who wrote, “The Magic Hundred,” which is a book about goal achievement.

This is my very first time making a video and I was surprised that I sound totally different (or maybe I just don’t pay attention to my voice that much). Without further ado, here is my take on the first chapter of “Think and Grow Rich”:

In summary:

Thoughts + Emotions = BURNING DESIRE

which leads into


and eventually

Physical/Material Object

In conclusion, our thoughts largely affect our life and it’s amazing how powerful they can be. I’ve always said that “you can do whatever you set your mind into doing” but, I never fully realized the meaning of this phrase until I read this first chapter. If you haven’t read the book yet, grab yourself a copy of it. It just might change your life.

For something totally irrelevant to the post:

There’s a lot of exciting things going on in Anna’s world right now and I am still trying to decide if I should share it here. This is also part of the reason why I haven’t posted in awhile. Maybe the weekend will clear my head and then I can decide if I should share it or not 🙂

When I get the chance, I’ll talk about Chapter 2 next time. See you then!

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Reminiscing About My Fat Loss Journey

Posted on 22. Feb, 2009 by .


This past weekend, I really got into thinking about how far I have come in terms of my fitness journey. I am definitely way stronger, more disciplined, and more knowledgeable about health and fitness compared to when I first started.

There was one fact that really struck me today and which I still remember vividly. I remember that when I decided to finally get my butt back in the gym, I slowly shed my first 10 lbs without even changing my diet. So, just the added strength training and cardio activities helped jump start my fat loss in the right direction.

Why am I telling you this?

A lot of people who decide to lose weight for the first time get overwhelmed by the many diet supplements in addition to the many contradicting diet and exercise research data from the media (i.e. television, internet, newspapers, magazines, etc.) today. But, one thing that many people overlook is the power of action. “Just DO it” – the Nike ad says.

The worst thing that a person can do when a person is overwhelmed is inaction. So even if you don’t have an exercise and nutrition plan in hand, the little actions that you start today can help get you started in your weight loss journey. Then, once you’re done with your first step, take each day or each week as an opportunity to try and learn new things such as cooking healthy meals, finding free fitness routines, joining a fitness class, etc. The key is to take baby steps. Things don’t happen overnight – you didn’t gain the weight overnight, you won’t lose it overnight, and you can definitely not learn everything overnight.

Now, do I wish that I knew a lot of the things that I know today when I first started? Yes, I really wish I did. But, because I learned things in little pieces, I was also able to find which strategies worked for me and which ones didn’t. By learning things on a day to day basis, I was able to more effectively incorporate little changes into my life. The result? I eventually developed healthier habits instead of jumping on and off the latest diet fad that came up. In the end, I am glad at where I am now even though it was, and still is, a slow, trial and error process.

So, if you’re a beginner and don’t know where to start – just DO something even if you’re not sure it’s going to work or not. In terms of nutrition, here’s an article that can get you started in the right direction:

Best Foods for Fat Burning
By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Turbulence Training for Fat Loss

I couldn’t be any simpler with my nutrition recommendations for fat burning. You will get have the most energy and the best body and fitness level possible if you eat whole, natural foods. I always ask Dr. Chris Mohr, author of the Turbulence Training for Fat Loss Nutrition Guidelines if I ever need help with nutrition information.

You must avoid processed foods, which is pretty much anything in a bag or a box. So cut out muffins, donuts, pre-packaged cereals, white bread, pasta, chips, crackers, cookies, etc.

We need to return to a time of simpler eating, focusing on fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It will take some “bad habit breaking” to rid yourself of your addiction to processed foods, but in your journey you will learn to appreciate the taste of REAL food again.

You don’t have to eat meat to lose fat and build muscle, but it’s not unhealthy to eat beef, chicken, and fish. In fact, fish contains essential fatty acids we can’t do without.

You might have heard about the importance of healthy fats, which is a big turn-around from the low-fat mentality of the 80’s and 90’s. We now know eating fish and nuts won’t make us fat, but will in fact make us healthy and help control our appetite.

So just focus on foods that haven’t been processed, and you’ll start to see changes in your body and energy levels in a matter of days. Get rid of the processed foods and you won’t be tired anymore!

I strongly believe nutrition is the MOST important factor in fat loss and in health. If you’re eating processed foods, trans-fats, and too many calories, you won’t get maximum benefits from your exercise program, no matter what you are doing. Nutrition can either heal you or kill you, so choose wisely. Fortunately, the right choices are the simple choices.

I’ve had clients that switched to whole, natural foods and almost overnight they’ve reported changes in their bodies and huge increases in mental energy. So stick with the simple nutrition approach for fat burning.

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training Fat Loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit Turbulence Training for Fat Loss.

Still stumped? Check out this comprehensive article by Chris over at Zen to Fitness – Zen to Fitness for the Busy Person. He really does a great job of summarizing a lot of important and effective health and fitness information in this article.

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How to Break Bad Habits

Posted on 29. Jan, 2009 by .


If you saw my very first blog post regarding my goals for the next 12 weeks, you are about to hear from the person who really got me started in writing them. I am also coming to the end of my 4th week with my goals which means that I need to review them soon. I plan to write more about that next week. For now, I leave you with some words from my favorite trainer…

By: Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS

We all have bad habits. Mine are checking email too frequently,
being unorganized, and not always eating enough to fuel full
recovery from my workouts.

Your bad habits might include too much snacking and cheating on
your nutrition plan, coming up with excuses to skip exercise, or
watching too much TV.

Bad habits are the reason we need coaches. One of my coaches is Lee
Milteer, who gave me the exercises below, that I want you to go
through to help you break your bad habits.

If you’ve been trying to lose fat and get lean by yourself, but
with no luck, isn’t it time to get professional help & social

It’s hard to change. I know it. I battle against my bad habits all
the time, just like you do everyday. But each day I also make an
effort to overcome the bad habits, just as you should have a plan
in place to overcome your bad weight loss habits.

Don’t let insecurity, fear of failure, or the fear of the unknown
hold you back from making changes. Don’t be a victim. “Give yourself
PERMISSION to change,” Lee says.

So let’s take action. Print this page out. Now write down 3 excuses
you are using to avoid making the changes you need to succeed.


How have these excuses affected your life? What have the excuses
stopped you from achieving? Write down 3 very important things that
you have missed out on because you’ve allowed yourself to make


Now how do you feel when you fall victim to one of your self-
sabotaging excuses?

What benefits do you get from the excuse? Is it simply that you get
to remain in your comfort zone? That’s a big one for me. If I can
convince myself that I need to check my email, then I get to remain
in my comfort zone and avoid the hard work and fear of failure that
comes with writing an article. Or is it the fear of the unknown
that is holding you back? Write down 3 ways you benefit from making


So now we both know why we’ve created our excuses – to avoid
something. All we need to do now is find a way to overcome these
bad habits. I want you to write down 3 behaviors you want to stop.


Now write down why you end up doing it…were you bored, fearful,
lazy, etc.


Now give yourself the permission to change. “Envision the rewards
you will get when you make the change to your life and habits,” Lee
tells us. Give yourself a powerful list of reasons for fixing the


Working on bad habits everyday will give you an incredible boost
in self-esteem and confidence. With each small successful
improvement you’ll build confidence to take on the bigger, badder
habits that are holding you back.

Remember, everyday we are a work in progress. You might have bad
days, but as long as you make overall improvement each week and
month – that is all that matters.

Lee also recommends charting your progress. I have said many times
before that you need to keep records of your workouts and
nutrition. Only then will you know what works and how much
improvement you have made.

And finally, get social support. Don’t expect to do this alone.

One research study from Stanford University concluded social
support was the #1 factor for success in an exercise program.

Get in shape for summer fast with Turbulence Training,

Craig Ballantyne, CSCS, MS
Author, Turbulence Training

About the Author

Craig Ballantyne is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and writes for Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, Maximum Fitness, Muscle and Fitness Hers, and Oxygen magazines. His trademarked Turbulence Training fat loss workouts have been featured multiple times in Men’s Fitness and Maximum Fitness magazines, and have helped thousands of men and women around the world lose fat, gain muscle, and get lean in less than 45 minutes three times per week. For more information on the Turbulence Training workouts that will help you burn fat without long, slow cardio sessions or fancy equipment, visit www.TurbulenceTraining.com

You can also follow Craig’s blog at www.TurbulenceTraining.blogspot.com

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My Hardcore Turbulence Training Workout

Posted on 15. Jan, 2009 by .


Today is the end of my second week in a new Turbulence Training workout program designed by Craig Ballantyne. This new workout is really tough and has some exercises that I haven’t even heard of. It is called Fusion for Fat Loss (FFL). It consists of 3 different workouts, A, B, and C, which I’m supposed to do every other day, three times a week. For my schedule, I do workout A on Sunday, workout B on Tuesday, and workout C on Thursday.

The word “Fusion” in the title pertains to the principle behind the workout which makes use of non-competing supersets. Non-competing refers to two exercises, one for the upper body and one for the lower body, that are both performed in one set (superset) without rest. This will all become clear to you later. Workout C, which I am doing today, is by far the toughest Turbulence Training workout I have done even though it does not have a lot of weights involved.

How is it possible? Instead of doing cardio or interval training at the end of the strength training workout, Craig created what he calls, “body weight (BW) cardio.” It’s basically a set of exercises that uses your body weight and gets your heart rate up because the rest is minimal in between exercises, if any.

Ok, if I’ve confused you enough, here is workout C of Fusion for Fat Loss (FFL):

Superset 1:
Dumbbell (DB) Split Squats (back foot elevated) 8 reps by 30 lbs (total weight) or 3x8x30
Pull-ups 3×5
Rest 1 minute and repeat 3 more times then, move on to superset 2.

Superset 2:
Close-grip DB Press 3x8x20
Siff Squat 3×20
Rest 1 minute and repeat 3 more times then, move on to superset 3.

Superset 3 (BW cardio):
DB Diagonal Lunge 2x8x30 (total weight)
Off-set Push ups 2×20
I-leg Deadlift 2×8
Spiderman Climb 2×20
Bicycle Crunch 2×40
Plank 2x60seconds
Rest 1 minute and repeat 1-2 times more.

This workout is going to have you sweating buckets. When I did this one last Friday, my abs and biceps were sore like crazy!

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