onceafatgirl

Peace is better than chocolate

Archive for the tag “personal choices”

Whatever it is, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food

I don’t have much in me today. I am emotionally exhausted, unhappy, scared and just generally anxious. And I have been crying on and off for the past 2 days. But it doesn’t have anything to do with my food. I eat 3 portion controlled meals a day, with no man made sugar or refined carbohydrates, and I don’t eat between meals.


The only “comfort food” I indulge in are my 3 meals. What most people call comfort food does not comfort me. It makes me feel numb, or crazy and out of control.


My feelings suck. I hate them. I have always hated them. But I do not eat my feelings anymore. And eventually they pass. This funk will pass. But even if it doesn’t, it doesn’t have anything to do with my food.

I’m no monk. I’m “The Drinker.”

There was a funny video on Twitter the other day about “types of people on Zoom meetings,” and one had a mug, and a cup, and a water bottle, and kept switching between them. This person was “The Drinker” and that is 100% me on Zoom meetings. But also, that is 100% me in real life. And it has been for at least as long as I have had my eating under control.


I am drinking coffee, water, herbal tea, or zero calorie soft drinks all day, every day. Because it helps. Even 14 years later it helps to have something in my hands that I get to ingest right into my body.


I feel like the way people talk about people changing their eating (*if* they are even talking about eating instead of weight loss) is as if the people changing have now become monks. Like they gave up cake for God and now they do yoga, and pray, and train for marathons in all the time that they now have that they are not eating.


I am all for all of those things if that is what gets you through. But that is sure as hell *not* what got me through.


What got me through my first two years was a pack of cigarettes a day, hours upon hours of anime, comics and books, pots and pots of coffee, bottles and cans of diet soda, and packs and packs of sugarless gum.


I quit smoking almost 8 years ago now, but for many years it helped me not eat compulsively. It was bad for me, of course. But eating compulsively was killing my soul. And I am 99.99999% sure that if I had not given up sugar and carbohydrates first, I would not have been able to quit smoking. I quit gum more than a decade ago, and to be honest, now even the thought of it makes me a little sick, and the sound of someone chewing it gives me the heebie-jeebies. But it sure did get me through in the beginning. I cut way way back on the diet soda, except when I go to a bar to hang out with my husband and/or some friends, and I may still have one as an occasional treat at home. But I don’t generally keep it in the house. And I don’t drink coffee after noon, except perhaps once in a while when we visit my mother-in-law. But there is always some drink in my hand, ready to go in my mouth.


And it’s definitely not usually water. For me, water is a thing I *force* myself to drink as an act of self care. Like my workout. It’s not a thing that helps the addict in me calm down.


I definitely believe in quitting the thing that is killing you quickest. I expect to continue that road until I’m dead. But even 14 years later, I still have my crutches to “get by.” And I am so fine with that. Better than fine. Overjoyed!


There are many things that I have learned over the years of having my eating under control, but one particularly important one is knowing that some things are “good enough.”


Did I pour 7 cups of coffee down my gullet between 7 am and noon? Maaaaaaaaybe. Did I stop at noon and switch to herbal tea? Yes! Good enough!


Knowing that I don’t have to be, or even appear, perfect is important. Because I am not. And I don’t want to worry about that. I don’t need you to look at me and think that I am a paragon of spirituality. I am just a lady who doesn’t want food to run her life anymore. And if a case of Vitamin Water Zero is gonna help with that, I’m gonna stock up.


I have done a lot of spiritual work. I had to in order to get to this place. But it has been a journey. And there are currently bacon and pork rinds on this journey. And coffee in the blender with ice and artificial sweetener. And days where all I do is eat my portion controlled meals and watch streaming TV, or read comics.


I am no monk. I am “The Drinker.” I am just a happy woman who learned to be happy with “good enough.”

Delicious and Shameless

There is a prevalent theory about eating disorders that I see a lot as someone who likes to stay abreast of what is going on in fat acceptance/body positivity communities. The idea is that food is neutral, and that food addiction, especially sugar addiction, is “false.” It does not exist. It is a made up concept created and fueled by the diet culture.


This kind of frustrates me. Only a little. Because I know very clearly sugar addiction is not only true for me, but knowing it and acting accordingly, has transformed my life for the better. I want others to get the opportunity that I got, but I don’t have to worry about it because I am completely taken care of.


Is this selfish? Sure. Do I care? Not particularly. One thing I learned early in keeping boundaries around my eating was that *if* people want what I have they can do what I do. That I am planting seeds all the time. And that what other people put in their bodies is none of my business. I keep my eyes on my own plate.


But I read a post by a dietitian and fat activist the other day. This is a person who is entirely anti-weight loss and claims quite emphatically that sugar addiction does not exist. Which is fine. But they had one post where they listed a number of questions to ask yourself if you are having trouble with guilt or upset over your eating while in quarantine, and another with the recommendation that one “sit in the yuck.”


So I have to say that I whole heartedly agree that “sitting in the yuck” is crucial! And the questions they asked were excellent!


But how can someone like me do this if we are high on the food we are feeling guilty over eating? And for me, to sit in the yuck necessarily means not eating the foods that get me high and make me numb. I can’t feel the yuck and be numb at the same time.


Perhaps if one is not addicted to certain foods this makes perfect sense. But whether this person believes it or not, I am addicted to certain foods. And this advice is missing a crucial aspect if the person using it can get high on cake and not have to actually feel the yuck.


There is a saying I always appreciated. If you want to know what you are using over, stop using. When I quit smoking, it became glaringly clear to me that smoking was how I kept from feeling, or having to acknowledge for myself, others’ judgements of me. When I went to the grocery store for the first time after I quit, I was forced to see the way that the checkout ladies rolled their eyes and sneered at me. (I insisted on packing my own grocery bags since I had to carry them a mile home on foot, and I could get everything perfectly into 3 shoulder bags and they always packed them light and then just put what was left in plastic bags I would have to carry in my hands.) I used to light up a cigarette right after I shopped. And when I couldn’t, because I didn’t do that anymore, I broke down and cried on my walk home, loaded down with a week’s worth of groceries.


But ultimately, I was taken care of because I took care of myself. And I sat through the yuck. And I learned not to care that these women didn’t like me. Really not care. Not artificially not care because I was hopped up on nicotine.


I don’t pretend that everyone is addicted to sugar. And even if they are, I don’t care about that either. I met my husband (again – we were childhood friends) after I quit smoking, and moved across the country to be with him and eventually married him when he was a two-pack-a-day smoker. I don’t care what you eat! I don’t care if you smoke! I don’t need to judge anyone.


But if food is killing you, physically, spiritually, or emotionally, and you are trying really hard to get sane and you can’t, maybe it’s not just about what is in your head and your heart. Maybe it *is* about what you are putting in your body. And maybe if you are desperate, you should try putting down the foods that you are feeling guilty over.


I will end with this. The absolute, 100 %, no-doubt best thing about putting boundaries around my eating, from day one until today (5,235 days later – a little over 14 years) is guilt-free eating. Bacon? Guilt-free! Homemade Sugar-free chocolate ice cream? Guilt-free! Deep fried onions? Guilt-free! Pork rinds? Guilt-free! I have boundaries, but that doesn’t mean I am deprived. I love my food. I love every bite. And I am so grateful that there is also always an end. Every meal concludes. And there is always another one coming. And it’s delicious and shameless!

PSA: Your Quarantine Fat Jokes Aren’t Funny

So, a little public service announcement to those of you making quarantine fat jokes:
The fat people in your life can see and hear you and it is most likely making them feel shamed, ugly, and judged.

Here’s the thing. I understand that some of us are not used to having this much time, plus this much stress, and many are stress eating and boredom eating. If that is how you are coping, I don’t have any judgment about that. Maybe you have, are, or will gain weight. It happens. Bodies change, and we change our bodies through what we put into them and what we use them for.

But if you are grossly exaggerating the amount of weight you have gained “as a joke,” please know that you are shaming someone that weight. If you went from a size 8 to a size 10 and you are taking about being 300 pounds, and talking about it like it’s an impossibility, because “who could let themselves go to that extent” please understand that I weighed 300 pounds. And not in a pandemic. That was just my life and my body. And I was just as valid and valuable a human as I am now.

Or if you are bemoaning the weight you have gained and are talking about how it has made you ugly, or shameful, or somehow unworthy, you are telling the fat people in your life that you have been seeing them that way this whole time.

Or if you are making or sharing pictures, gifs, and memes with unflattering and humiliating images of fat bodies, you are sending a clear message to the fat people in your life that you do not respect, honor, or appreciate them. You are telling them that you are willing to make jokes at their expense. And not particularly funny jokes at that.

And chances are they won’t say anything. I never would have when I was fat. I would have kept it to myself and it would have festered in me. Or it would have killed a little bit of my soul and my joy. But to bring it up would be to put a spotlight on my own fatness. A target. And I never ever wanted to do that because it had painful consequences.

I did not like being fat. It’s true. But to this day I have a hard time separating and differentiating between not liking being fat because of my own physical comfort, and not liking it because the world at large was so cruel to me for it. And the world was certainly cruel.

I will not lie to you about how grateful I am to not be eating compulsively right now. I am so grateful that my eating has had boundaries for a long time. It has made my life easier and better for the last 14 years, and it makes it better now. I have “built up that muscle” so that not stress eating or boredom eating is the norm. And that is a blessing to me. But that is about my eating, and my eating disorders. Not about my weight, or size, or fatness, or beauty.

If you are having trouble with your eating or your weight, I am sorry. And I wish you well. But please remember the people you love. They may not have the words or the willingness to tell you that you are hurting, humiliating, or shaming them. But they feel it. I promise.

Count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who has the same eating boundaries as I do, about people who find something else and do that instead. She said she just needed to call somebody who does what she does and say that she doesn’t want to know how other people do it. That she has a way of eating that keeps her well and happy and she doesn’t need to go looking for another solution. 

I was happy to hear it. I was grateful to be the person who she wanted to say it to. And she chose me because I am safe. I am safe because I agree. I want to do this thing I do for the rest of my life.


I am aware that everyone is different. When I hear that someone else has taken on a new way of eating that is not my way, I wish them well. I wish them peace and success. And then I remember that I already have peace and success. So I keep my eyes on my own plate and love my food.


I know a lot of people are stress eating right now. And I get it. Food is a powerful mood alterer. I know. I used it for the first 28 years of my life. But I am so incredibly grateful that I am not right now. Because to a lot of people, that eating is a temporary balm. A much needed soother. But food hasn’t been that for me since I was probably 9 or 10. That young I was already obsessed and craving. I was already lying, cheating, and stealing for a fix. And if I were to try to use it again, it would backfire on me hard and immediately. So I keep my boundaries and love my meals, and find something to do to take my mind off of my existential dread.


But truly, I have had some level of existential dread for much of my life. It’s part of being motionally sensitive with an exceptional imagination.


I am so deeply grateful to have a solution to my eating problem as well as a way of life that gives me tools to ease my worries and anxieties. I am not saying I am “fine.” I am nervous about the future. I am worried about what comes next, not just for me, my husband, my family, my life, but also the world.


But nothing in *my* life is wrong. My loved ones are all healthy. The people I know who have been infected and sick with coronavirus/Covid-19 are are all over the worst of it and are making a full recovery. I have money and food, and I genuinely like spending time with the guy I am stuck inside with. So really, I’m as lucky as it gets. I will remember to count my blessings, do what I can, and love my meals.

All of the nothing I have to do

Today’s post is going to be short. Because I am in the Florida Keys, and there is a beach chair calling to me.


But here is an important story about my food. When my husband and I travel, we book hotel rooms with kitchens. That way I can go to the grocery store and cook for myself, and have dishes and cooking tools there. Even when I am on vacation, I don’t take a vacation from my eating boundaries.

Well they booked it so that the smaller room for 1, my husband’s mom, got the kitchen. And we didn’t. And that was scary. But they agreed to move us to a room with a kitchen today.


But the thing is, I had a dinner with me last night. Because when I travel, I always have the whole day’s worth of meals with me. Because things like this happen. And this morning I weighed my yogurt for breakfast on a paper plate and used yesterday’s wiped-off spoon. But again, things like this happen.

Today I am getting my kitchen. And other than keeping my eating boundaries, I don’t have anything to do. And it is really nice to be able to relax and do all of the nothing I have to do with a peaceful heart, because I planned ahead and was prepared. Because the only thing I take more seriously than my relaxation time is my food.

There is no perfect configuration of hoops, so I stopped jumping.

When I am on social media, I block all diet ads. And not just the scams, like the supplements and diet shakes. I block the exercise and weight loss tracking apps as well. And the Meal delivery services. I block anything that says that if I hit on the perfect equation, I will get exactly the body I am told is the perfect, most beautiful, most desirable body.

Because for the past 42+ years, the body I have is exactly my body. Sometimes it has been fat. (300 pounds. U.S. Size 28.) Sometimes It has been skinny. (133 pounds. U.S. Size 6.) And all manner of weights and sizes in between. But certain things never change. And never will. The boxy shape of my butt, for example. The fact that my thighs touch and will never not touch. (They touched when I was my skinniest. There is just no way around it. It is about the position of my bones.) How short my very wide hips are, especially compared to my long torso. I don’t have that long graceful curve from waist to thigh. And I won’t. Because the only way to change these very specific things is with cosmetic surgery and 1) I have more important thing to spend my money on than meeting some made up ideal of feminine beauty. And 2) I really like my body. Exactly the way it is.

It took me a very long time to realize that most people who have “perfect” bodies, (bodies that fit neatly into the aesthetic of modern beauty standards) and faces, have had some form of cosmetic work done. The richer they are, the harder it is to tell, because the work is of such good quality that it looks natural. But ultimately, very few humans will ever just naturally fall into that “ideal Western beauty model.”

I once saw a post that had a side-by-side picture of a famous model (who was just recently, and with plenty of controversy, called “The Most Beautiful Woman in the World According to Science”) before and after what is obviously extensive cosmetic surgery, with the caption “No one is born ugly. Only poor.”

I am not judging people who choose cosmetic surgery. I think it is a choice, just like any lifestyle choice. And it’s none of my business.

Also, cosmetic surgery can’t keep a person skinny. That is most definitely a combination of lifestyle and genetics. I expect that people who get that kind of cosmetic surgery spend a lot of time exercising and actively not eating. (Probably actually starving, frankly.) My guess is that a lot of drugs are also involved. Or at the very least lots of cigarettes and Diet Coke.

But to be told that if I jump through some series of hoops, indeed, if I figure out the *exactly right configuration of hoops* for my body type or blood type or lifestyle type or whatever else nonsense, that I will then mold my body into exactly the “ideal beautiful body” as seen in magazines and on TV, is cruel, offensive, predatory, and blatantly false. (And that’s not even touching on Photoshopped images.)

The other reason this is so particularly offensive to me is that this myth gives society leave to judge bodies, especially women’s bodies, as a kind of character judgment. Because if [insert name of woman you would like to judge] had any willpower/self-respect/shame, she would figure out her hoops and jump through them.

I, of course, don’t believe in willpower. It has never helped me control anything to do with my weight or my eating disorders. And I have not eaten sugar for over 14 years. So as someone with the experience of abstaining, let me assure you, willpower has nothing to do with it. It has been about support, community, and the gift of desperation to stop eating constantly. I am not in possession of any moral high ground, just a deep sense of humility around my eating.

I choose a particularly specific eating lifestyle to keep my eating disorders in check. It’s no man made sugar, starches, and no grains except some wheat germ. It’s 3 meals a day with strict portion control with nothing in between but black coffee or zero calorie drinks. The boundaries I keep also help keep my weight/size within a certain range. And I am grateful for that because it means that I live mostly pain-free. I am free from the emotional and spiritual pain of addiction, free from the pain of weight on my joints, free from the pain of exertion while doing mundane things like climbing stairs or walking long distances. In other words, if you consider them hoops, I jump through them for my personal peace, not to live up to anyone else’s standards.

And I love my body the way it is. And I don’t just mean that I tolerate it. I don’t only love it for being my vehicle. I think it’s beautiful, not just useful. And I treat it like the precious thing it is.

Something I cannot recommend enough

In the past months I have been shifting the way I frame things in this blog. I am talking less about weight loss and more about food. I don’t want to play into fat phobia with this blog. I want it to be about recovery, not judgment. About emotional and spiritual wellness, not physical size, or “health” or moral “shoulds.”

Because giving up man-made sugars, and most grains and starches, and weighing my food, is without a doubt the best thing that has ever happened to me. The fact that I am not “on a diet” is so important. I eat delicious, decadent meals. I enjoy every bite. I’m a weirdo about it too. I totally talk to my food. I clap excitedly when I am about to dig in. I do little dances in my seat when we have a particularly delicious meal. Like when my husband makes carnitas or when I make bacon lamb burgers. (No. No tortillas or buns. No. I do not miss them.)
I certainly chose my eating boundaries in order to lose weight when I started this journey 14 years ago. But what is it they say about the best laid plans? 
The truth is I did lose weight. And there was a period of time when I was skinny. But life had other plans for me. Plans I didn’t get a say in. If it had been up to me, I definitely would have stayed skinny. But it was not up to me. 
In some ways I am grateful for not staying skinny. Because it let me know how much of my choice to stick with my eating boundaries was based on my emotional and spiritual life. 
If skinniness were the only goal, I would have quit when my weight fluctuated, and I gained weight while eating less. If that were the point, I would have gone and looked for something else. Or I potentially would have said “screw this” and gone back to sugar. Because if I couldn’t “control” my weight with this “extreme” eating plan, I might as well let it all go and eat cake. (Spoiler alert: I did *not* say “screw this” and go eat cake. And thank the heavens!)
The gifts of my eating boundaries are about how I feel about myself. I like and love myself inside and out. Not because I am a certain size. Not because I fit into a specific, socially acceptable category of feminine beauty. But because I am free from cravings and compulsion. Because I have a clear head. Because I spent my life lying and sneaking and hiding food, and lying sneaking and hiding all sorts of other things as a result. But being deeply honest about my food allowed me to be deeply honest in all areas of my life. And that honesty is freedom. And because honoring my body by caring about what I put into it has allowed me to honor my body is so many other ways. To quit smoking. To exercise regularly as a practice. To drink water and limit caffeine, and floss daily. And to like and love what I see in the mirror. Even with all of the flabby parts, and the parts with stretch marks, and wrinkles and spots. All of it. And that complete love started with me getting control of my eating, which was out of control for so much of my life. 
And I have to tell you that I don’t know a lot of people who have that. And I don’t think a lot of us exist in the world. Not even women who are thinner and younger and live in more socially acceptable bodies than I do. I think even most of them still don’t have the kind of deep-rooted peace around their bodies that my chubby, middle-aged self does. 
So keeping my eating boundaries may have started out being about losing weight and being thin, but it is not that anymore. Now it is about extreme self-love. Loving all of myself exactly as it is. And that is something I cannot recommend enough. 

Nothing to prove. Not even to myself.

Toward the end of last year, my husband and I found a leak in our closet from our bathroom. And because of it, I had to throw away the majority of my clothes due to a serious mold infestation. And now that we are going on a trip to Florida next month, I realized I needed a summer wardrobe. 

When I quit sugar 14 years ago, I did not lose all of the weight that I would at first. It definitely went in phases. But eventually I was quite skinny. And in those years of thin to really skinny, I bought a lot of clothes. I bought a lot of really cute, eclectic, crazy, fashionable, fun clothes. And I looked amazing all the time.

And when I quit smoking 7 and a half years ago, I gained 30+ pounds. And since then, my weight has fluctuated. Sometimes I have been thin, sometimes not so much. And in that time I bought a lot of clothes. To fill in any gaps in my “skinny” wardrobe. 

At first not being skinny anymore was devastating. Now it’s just life. 

So a lot of my clothes didn’t fit the same way they did before. Some didn’t fit at all and got given away. Some fit better the more I filled them out. Some fit less well. But there were a lot of them. And they were stylish. And I enjoyed looking in my closet for something fun and funky to wear.

And then they were moldy.

But I have to admit there is something so freeing about getting rid of all of those old clothes. Because I am different. I bought so many of them when I was single. When I was a New York City girl. When I had different hobbies and different goals. And frankly, when I was more willing to be uncomfortable for beauty.

There were very few things it hurt me to throw away when we went through that moldy closet. (Though that Black House White Market long cardigan with the granny square cuffs and collar hurt like a bitch to get rid of.) Because they were for a woman with a different shaped body, and a different shaped life. 

It was nice to be able to make new choices and choose different styles in this past month or so. I am less likely to want my skirts particularly short or my heels particularly high. I am leaning toward more classic styles with a funky twist, as opposed to really funky stuff. (Though, to my husband’s dismay, I still love all things strapless. He calls them tube tops and they are not his favorite. But I have a really spectacular neck and shoulders. And luckily, he doesn’t have to wear them.)

But I guess this is the point for me. When those clothes were in my closet, I felt in some ways like I had to live up to them. They were purchased because I could fit into whatever style I wanted. I could be wild and daring and not be given the side eye or be shamed, as happened a lot to me when I was fat. I am not saying I wore clothes I didn’t love. I loved them! They excited me. I felt beautiful and gorgeous and stylish in them. But they were also a point I had to prove and a statement I had to make. 

Now, I have a different statement I want to make. That my 42 and a half year-old body is totally perfect. It’s beautiful and healthy and I can dress it however I want. And I don’t have anything to prove to anyone. Not even myself.

Two roads diverge, and I took the one less traveled by

I have been thinking a lot lately about fat acceptance and addiction. How they intersect, and where they diverge. 

As a person who grew up fat in a fat phobic society, I have a lot of experience with the shame and humiliation that comes from not being able to control so many things, especially my eating, the size of my body, and the way I was treated. I was miserable growing up because of all of those things. 
I am addicted to sugar and carbohydrates. Certainly man-made ones. But also some natural ones. I don’t eat honey, or maple syrup, or agave nectar. Yes they are natural. But they are pure sugar, and I am an addict.  I don’t eat potatoes. I don’t even eat sweet potatoes. When people think it’s “over the top” that I don’t eat sweet potatoes, which are also natural, I remind myself that there was a time when I was binge eating sweet potatoes. Sometimes 5 or 6 at a time. Sometimes cooking 2 at once thinking surely that would satisfy me, only to put 2 more in the oven immediately because I was not satisfied. And then again. 
Perhaps once upon a time, if I had never become an addict in the first place, I would have been able to eat sweet potatoes with impunity. But that ship sailed long ago. And now I cannot eat them without diving back into food hell. Because for me, eating sugar and carbohydrates is hell. It is filled with lies, betrayals, paralysis, shame, desperation, and all manner of self-loathing. It’s not just a sweet potato to me. It is the door to my worst self.
When people talk about the moral neutrality of food, I have mixed feelings. Not for the people eating it. But for the people making it. Because corporations know what they are doing when they make addictive foods. They have hired scientists. They are doing it on purpose. They are *designing* foods to be addictive. Because a food company could not continually increase profit if we only ate food for nourishment. Money dictates that we, consumers, need to eat as a hobby, as a distraction, as time-waster.
Fat people get the shaming, but we can see the results in other ways. A 17-year-old boy is permanently blind because he only ate chips and French fries. And nobody took it particularly seriously because he “wasn’t fat.” 
I know that not everyone who is fat is a food addict. I know that not everyone who is thin is not. 
I have heard people in fat communities talk about “sugar truthers.” It’s a kind of mocking term, meant to bring to mind conspiracy theorists and tin-foil-hat-wearers. The idea that sugar is a drug is ridiculous to a lot of people. 
Or that if it is a drug, so what? I even saw one person say that even though sugar was like heroin in the brain, love was like cocaine in the brain, and nobody wanted people to give up love. 
Except we would expect them to give up cocaine. And heroin. And if you spend enough time in 12 step rooms, you know that some people need to deal with their addiction to love too. Or at least to unhealthy and obsessive relationships that occur like love. 
I sometimes hear about eating disorder programs giving people sugar and junk food, telling them not to be afraid of the cupcake. That in moderation, a cupcake is just a little treat. 
I, personally, need to be afraid of the cupcake. Not because it will jump down my throat of its own accord. But because if I choose it once, I will lose my ability to choose. Because I am physically incapable of moderation. That is what addiction is. And whether the people in those programs are skinny or fat or somewhere in between, if they are sugar addicts, then they have also lost the capacity for moderation, and that program is probably harming them, not helping them. 
So what scares me is that sometimes it looks to me like the food industry has exactly the people it is using and harming carrying its banners! 
“There is no such thing as bad food!”
But for some of us, there is. For *me* there is. There are foods that make me miserable and crazy. 
I am not against harm reduction. I wish the best for everyone, whatever that “best” looks like. But I am grateful that I got abstinence, personally. Because I am free. Because I am deeply content. Because I love my life. And I don’t believe I could have that with my addiction in my life. 

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