Hi Ashley! Lol! I love that we could be soul sisters! Both my sister and my brother-in-law are nurses and those nursing hours are just insane…and adding a toddler to the mix makes for a crazy schedule, I’m sure! So for stupid easy but healthy recipes, I highly recommend Once A Month Meals (https://onceamonthmeals.com/?ref=soveryblessed). They have Instant Pot plans and so many of them are just dump and go recipes (and lots of other easy, healthy non-IP meals, too). And honestly? For me, frozen vegetables are a lifesaver. If I’m putting energy into cooking a main dish, I don’t want to put much time into prepping sides too, so my freezer always has a ton of steamer bags of various veggies. Also, one pot/one pan/one skillet meals are awesome. I love throwing potatoes, baby carrots (no chopping necessary), and smoked turkey sausage onto a sheet pan with a little bit of oil and garlic & herb seasoning and roasting it all. The less I have to think, the better! I’m so glad my story could give you a little inspiration. If I can do it, you absolutely can too. Thanks so much for your comment!

‘Do it for a couple of minutes in bed and you’ll actually be able to wind down and fall asleep more easily. But it’s a skill, so it requires a commitment to practice it, as with anything. Think of it a bit like dating – the first time you do it it’s terrible, it’s uncomfortable, nobody knows what they’re doing, but the more dates you go on the better it gets.


This is a very simple method that you can use even when you're in the midst of doing something else. Whenever you notice you’re feeling tense and uptight check and see how you’re breathing. Most people under stress either alternate holding their breath with short breaths, or take rapid shallow breaths. After you become aware of your own breathing, consciously relax your belly and slow down the breathing. This works best if you focus on slowing down the exhalation rather than your inhalation. With each exhalation you can say to yourself "slow down". That is all there is to it- Simple but surprisingly effective!!!

When your cortisol levels are through the roof, it triggers the release of insulin, and this is where things go awry. Initially, the ‘fight-or-flight’ response shuts down your digestive system so you can deal with the “threat”, like a very hungry lion or, more realistically, heavy traffic on your way to work. Once the danger has passed, your body seeks to replenish the hundreds of calories you burned fighting to the death/swearing at rush hour traffic and makes you ravenously hungry.
You know the drill: Replace refined, overly processed foods with more natural, whole foods. Sure, all foods fit, but they don’t all fit equally. Here’s why: Every time you eat, your metabolism increases as your body works to process your meal. Studies that compare the metabolic boost of calorie-matched whole foods to processed ones find that your body can burn up to 50 percent more calories after a meal made with more real food ingredients compared to a similar meal made with more processed fare. The fact is, your body has to work harder to break down whole foods in order to grab the raw materials it needs so if you exist on a lot of packaged foods and fast foods (think: chips, donuts and drive-thru fare), it’s going to be tougher to lose weight and keep those pounds from coming back.

Not a jock? Find other ways to fit activity into your day: walk to school, jog up and down the stairs a couple of times before your morning shower, turn off the tube and help your parents in the garden, or take a stroll past your crush's house — anything that gets you moving. Your goal should be to work up to 60 minutes of exercise every day. But everyone has to begin somewhere. It's fine to start out by simply taking a few turns around the block after school and building up your levels of fitness gradually.
About: Brand new to the blogging world, Ayla’s story is a familiar one. She started out her journey at about 200 pounds and tried tons of different things to lose weight — pills, dieting, the gym, you name it — none of which seemed to work. Finally, Ayla gave it one last go using Insanity workouts and overhauling her diet, and, what do you know, it worked. Ayla lost 63 pounds, and now dedicates her time and energy to sharing tips and tricks that worked for her with others. Her blog has easy-to-follow, quick-hit guides and ideas for losing weight quickly and effectively.
Product reviews show up in google search results and make a decent income. Most people do a quick search before purchasing a product. The key is to make your review extremely helpful. Give full details, answer questions, and even talk about who wouldn’t like that product. I find that my best affiliate reviews are ones where I tell them why they should or shouldn’t purchase it. People want real honest reviews and that’s what I provide.
To find your spirit blog, think about what you want to get out of it, recommends Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., a certified weight management specialist and the blogger behind Jessica Cording Nutrition. If you want someone who is going through the same struggles you are, look for a blogger who's in the same stage of their weight-loss journey, suggests Cording. Need new healthy recipes? A nutritionist who posts her favorites might be your best bet.

If you are looking for a satisfying and delicious meat-free Bolognese sauce, you must add this Hearty Vegetable Bolognese sauce to your dinner menu this week! 🍝 This recipe gets its meaty texture from walnuts (inspired by @livingkitchen — a local #CLT-area fav!) and is a healthy and filling vegetarian dish we LOVE in our house!⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ INGREDIENTS ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ 2 cups peeled, chopped carrots ⠀⠀ ½ cup chopped bell peppers⠀⠀ 8 ounces fresh mushrooms⠀⠀ 2 small yellow onions⠀⠀ ¼ cup kalamata olives⠀⠀ ¼ cup Cabernet Sauvignon ⠀⠀ 3 garlic cloves, peeled⠀⠀ 1 cup walnuts ⠀⠀ 1½ teaspoons Italian seasoning ⠀⠀ 1 teaspoon sea salt ⠀⠀ 1 25-ounce jar marinara sauce⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ DIRECTIONS ⠀⠀ ⠀⠀ In a food processor, shred the carrots, bell peppers, olives, mushrooms, onions and garlic until they are shredded into very fine pieces.⠀⠀ Drizzle a large, deep nonstick skillet with olive oil and heat to a medium-high heat. Add the shredded vegetables and allow them to cook down, as the water sweats out and they reduce in volume for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, reduce the heat and allow to simmer longer (approximately 7-10 minutes), until almost all of the liquid is gone.⠀⠀ While the vegetables are cooking, place the walnuts, Italian seasonings and sea salt into the food processor and grind into a course meal, taking care not to over grind, as a paste will form.⠀⠀ Add the walnuts to the skillet and stir.⠀⠀ Add the marinara sauce and stir to combine. Simmer on medium-low heat for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.⠀⠀ Serve on top of whole wheat spaghetti, zucchini noodles, spaghetti squash or your favorite pasta and enjoy!⠀⠀
Michelle Vicari’s weight loss journey began the day she made the decision to do gastric bypass surgery. Michelle struggled with obesity her entire life—and with BMI of 54, several health issues, severe GERD, and obstructive sleep apnea, the surgery saved her life. Not only is she down 158 pounds, but she no longer needs any of the 8 medications she was on prior to surgery and only needs to visit the doctor on her annual checkups. On her blog, you can find recipes and menus for post-surgery lifestyle, health tips, product reviews, and ramblings about her life post weight loss surgery.
This magical thinking is colored by the fact that many people are suffering around the state, country and world.  It is colored by the fact that earlier today, I felt anxious –crappy - sad. My practice of feeling my emotions invites me to look to my body and ask what is it exactly I am feeling and where. It feels like a vague sensation that takes root in the center of my chest and upper stomach. It is a moving, undulating sensation.  My eyes feel pressure and teary.  
To find your spirit blog, think about what you want to get out of it, recommends Jessica Cording, M.S., R.D., a certified weight management specialist and the blogger behind Jessica Cording Nutrition. If you want someone who is going through the same struggles you are, look for a blogger who's in the same stage of their weight-loss journey, suggests Cording. Need new healthy recipes? A nutritionist who posts her favorites might be your best bet.
Learning to feel happier in her own skin is really why Shauna started blogging in the first place. Now, the Scotland-dwelling Australian blogger combines her passion to write with exercise, mindful eating and food journaling. She stays healthy and shares her journey with others. She even wrote a book on it, The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, a funny and heartwarming memoir of life, love and lard. Her website, “Up & Running,” is a place where women can take e-courses to help them learn how to run.
This is what's known as insulin resistance. Basically, when your body doesn't respond well to insulin, it actually makes more of the stuff, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. And that can lead to fat storage, especially around the middle of your body. That's where protein comes into play: A diet high in protein may protect you against insulin resistance, says Aronne.
“For some people, it’s knowing, ‘Typically I eat a whole sandwich,’” says Gagliardi. “‘Now, I’m going to make the decision to eat half a sandwich at lunch and save the other half for my dinner and essentially cut my calories in half. And they feel good about that. They’re not having to do math.” To get started, check out these 25 simple ways to cut 500 calories a day.
We’re almost up to speed, but still rewind a little bit back to the early years of college. In the fall of 2012 I started school at Truman State University in good old Kirksville, Missouri. If you’re in college or have been to college, you know that it’s the time to form independence and truly make decisions, on your own, for how you wish to live your life. For a lot of people this means starting over, turning over a new leaf, making new habits, developing a new lifestyle, etc. Honestly college is crazy and weird and I don’t want to ramble on it too much because this post is focused more on the fitness/nutrition journey I’ve experienced (though I now realize its all connected.)
And that’s not just the junk food sabotaging your diet, or the time suckers keeping you from working out. We’re also talking about the fad diets, fitness trends and questionable studies that have made reaching and maintaining a healthy weight more confusing than ever by promising this superfood or that super intense workout is the quick fix to tip the scale in your favor. (They’ve also spawned a $66 billion weight loss market.)

Two years ago, Krista lost over 100 pounds by eating right and exercising regularly - embodying what nutritionists have been saying all along about combining the two to get the results you want. Now, her passion for writing and helping others get on-track comes through every single day in her blog as she dishes about food and recipes, fun races and 5Ks, her family and her life as a pharmacist.
A Better Strategy-- Research shows drinking an alcoholic beverage before or during a meal reduces you inhibitions and willpower. Wait to order that drink until you're done with your meal! To avoid over-drinking, sip on a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage and, if you're planning on drinking later, eat a healthy meal first. You'll feel fuller, which will stop you from over-drinking. If you are worried about a looming night out with friends, include an extra 30 minutes of exercise to balance your calories—instead of skipping a meal.
It’s time to get real about the dangers of belly fat, because it’s affecting more of us than ever before. According to the latest government stats, 26 per cent of British adults are classified as obese. That’s just over one in four people, meaning that Britain is on-track to become the fattest country in Europe by 2025. If current trends continue, forecasters have warned that half of us will be obese by 2045.

Most people who want to lose weight have more than 12 pounds to lose. That’s why even the best weight loss drug in the world can only be an optional complement to other treatment. That’s why this piece of advice is number 18 out of 18. It may be a helpful addition for some people, but the advice higher on the list is what can make the biggest difference, by far.
 “Mindfulness is like a microscope; it is neither an offensive nor a defensive weapon in relation to the germ we observe through it.  The function of the microscope is just to clearly present what is there.”   Whereas…”Awareness is seeing the discovery of mindfulness.” Chogyam Trungpa’s, The Myth of Freedom on Mindfulness and Awareness, page 49 provides a deeper understanding of the relationship between Mindfulness and Awareness.
At that point I moved to Synthesis which is managed wordpress hosting by StudioPress. This was one of the best decisions I ever made for my blog. There customer service is impeccable. They get back to me right away whenever I have questions or there’s an issue (which is rare). But most importantly, I have peace of mind. I can focus on my blog instead of worrying about hackers and problems.
Eating slowly will also help cinch your waist, too. Inhaling croissants while run-walking to work will do little to satiate you – not that you’ll do much digesting anyway, with all that cortisol flooding your system. Instead, by making time to eat and focusing on your food (that also means not scrolling through Instagram), you’ll wind up eating less and you’ll feel fuller for longer.

About: Kristina is a plus-size model with a mission: help women learn to love their bodies while working to exercise, eat right and live healthfully. But most importantly, Kristina’s blog is about exploring body confidence and “healthy curves.” Her blog is the perfect balance of encouraging healthy living and loving yourself at the same time. Plus, Kristina’s great about taking it outside herself. Every month, she features the “Curvy Girl of the Month” where she profiles other successful women.
I hate the word diet! To me, a diet gives the impression of a short term fix, possibly before a holiday or other occasion when people want to feel good before going away. While a quick-fix diet may provide you with a quick weight loss in a short amount of time, it’s likely that all the weight lost will be gained very easily and very quickly. A diet also has a negative stigma attached to it, for example I often hear people say ‘I can’t have that I’m on a diet’, or ‘I have to eat salad because I’m on a diet’ restriction or banning of your favourite foods can lead to a relapse and binge eating. My advice is eat healthy, get active, drink water and enjoy your favourite treats in moderation – again going back to the 80/20 view – so eat your veggies and protein but if you want a cookie, have it!
"With all the different tips out there, it can be tricky to understand exactly which exercises work the best. HIIT is great for fat burning and will get your heart rate up, but I’d also recommend including strength (resistance) exercises too. Try lifting weights, using resistance bands or using the weight machines at the gym as these will increase your metabolism to help with weight loss, and increase your muscle strength. It’s important to mix-up your whole-body workouts so you don’t get bored."
That’s because it theoretically causes a mild ketosis (yep, the basis of the keto diet), which is a fat-burning state that should make you feel less hungry. The key in being successful with a low-carb diet (especially if you’re used to a more high-carb lifestyle) is to compensate for those lost carbs with protein-rich foods, says Dr. Cheskin. That way, your volume of food stays the same, but you’re doing it healthfully rather than in a way that exacerbates your weight gain.

3. Be realistic about which habits need to go. "When I was heavy, I'd eat French fries every single day, plus carbs at almost every meal—like a sandwich for lunch or bread with pasta for dinner. A diet so heavy in fried food and carbs just isn't conducive to weight loss. To lose the weight, I went from three large meals a day to six small meals, mostly made of fresh vegetable salads with lean meats and nuts. And no more bread!"
Spending more time in the kitchen can help you shed belly fat, as long as you’re cooking with the right foods, according to one 2017 study. After analyzing data from more than 11,000 men and women, UK researchers found that people who ate more than five homemade meals per week were 28 percent less likely to have a high body mass index, and 24 percent less likely to carry too much body fat than those whole only downed three meals at home.
In terms of exercise, I kept working hard. Exercising was one of my priorities and so I fit it into my schedule every day, usually on my lunch break. I exercised 6 days of week, and the bulk of my exercise was focused on running with the occasional lifting or circuit (my amazing sister, Lindsay, a certified personal trainer, created lifting plans for me). It was important to me at this point in my journey to have a cardio-based plan and running seemed the most practical. I started running over the summer (it was a SLOW journey of gradually increasing the time and speed on the treadmill every day) so by the time it came around to fall I could actually go run on the roads and continue to improve my endurance. (Note: I am planning on writing a whole post about my relationship with running because it has grown into such an important part of my life. Running used to be extremely hard and I hated it but stuck with it because I knew it would be good for me, but now I love it and the way it makes me feel). 

So I am not going to lie. This is absolutely a post that I never in one million and one years thought I would share on my blog. What started as an interior design blog quickly became a “follow our journey” blog and now I just chat about anything and everything that I love or am going through or just feel like sharing. I’ll blame it on the fact that I get bored easily or maybe that there are only so many room reveals one can do each month. Whatever the case may be, I still never ever planned on sharing THIS. I mean who searches through bins and bins of old photo albums to hunt down the worst images taken of themselves in their entire life? Well that would be me. And then on my blogger girl’s trip several weeks ago, someone spotted the image on my driver’s license (yes it is forever old but who wants to wait in the DMV line to simply change their photo?!?) and so the weight loss conversation ensued. The story of how I once weighed about 100lbs more than I do today…
Walking puts all of the abdominal muscles to work. Make sure you swing your arms and contract your midsection while you walk, and maintain a brisk pace. Once you get your body accustomed to a daily walk, you'll hate to go a day without it. Walk for at least thirty minutes each time to achieve the aerobic effect, and be sure to drink plenty of water.
My body went through a slow weight gain throughout the years and because it was so slow, I didn’t really notice too much, or really, I noticed once it had already happened and the weight was there. I remember the times getting frustrated in dressing rooms, when older clothes didn’t fit, feeling terrible in my body, and the comparison of feeling like there were so many people around me that ate more unhealthy foods than me and exercised less that were somehow still so much smaller than I was. I thought that my body would stay the way it looked forever, no matter how hard I tried to change it. I wondered if I would ever accept how my body looked or be comfortable in it. For all of the years building up to this one, I was not quite hopeless, but always a little let-down in myself, specifically the choices I made, the way I felt, and the way I looked. I didn’t feel the best in my body and wanted peace.
About: The Failed Dieter is a newly-launched website from Jessica, who formerly was the owner of Jessica’s World, a personal blog she used to chronicle her weight loss journey. Now, her blog has morphed into so much more — a place where Jessica gives tips and recipes for stopping yo-yo dieting, and choosing to live healthy. Jessica lost 50 pounds making small lifestyle changes and giving up bad habits. Now her mission is to help you do the same.

It’s very common for people to feel intimidated and uncomfortable when being seen in a fitness center. Are you feeling so out of shape and have the thought that you won’t be able to keep up with the already in-shape people in the gym?  Maybe you feel everyone will be staring at you and wondering why an overweight, out-of-shape person is at the gym anyway.

You can even enjoy raw foods blended into juices and smoothies, or in dehydrated form as dried fruits or vegetables, such as sun-dried tomatoes. With proper cooking techniques, however, you can also include raw vegetables (as opposed to canned or frozen) in soups, so you can consume the nutrient-enriched water or low-sodium vegetable broth in the soup along with the vegetables. Eating raw foods in these various forms provides numerous benefits. Yummy Raw Foods Recipes

I am not one to read blogs, but I stumbled upon yours and just read your entire story (and many of your other posts). I am nearly in tears at how inspiring you are! You have such an amazing outlook at the entire weight loss journey. I have struggled my entire life with my weight and I am so glad that you gave me a different way to look at it. It isn’t about a true end goal, but a complete lifestyle change. So from the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you! You have impacted me and my mindset in a positive way! I pray that your fitness lifestyle continues to inspire those that cross paths with you!

About: Yes, it’s true Julie is not exactly a “new” blogger (she’s been doing it since 2011). But when you look at her blog, it’s easy to see why we added her here — she’s got the same caliber as the big guns, and deserves even more recognition than she’s already had. Julie decided some time back that she was going to make better decisions when it came to her health, but progress with weight loss, as she puts it, has been “S-L-O-W.” Determined and just happier with the way she feels, Julie carried on until she reached her goal weight. Today, she hovers between 150 and 170 pounds, blogging about what she eats, what inspires her and how she hopes to inspire others, too.
Or skip your favorite early-morning show—whatever it takes to grab a few more minutes of sleep each day. When researchers at the University of Chicago studied men who were sleep-deprived, they found that after just a few days, their bodies had a much harder time processing glucose in the blood—a problem common in overweight diabetics. When the individuals returned to a more normal seven to eight hours of sleep a night, however, their metabolisms returned to normal.

The most difficult part of being obese is that no matter how hard you are willing to try, your body will not allow you to do all the physical tasks that are on your mind. In these situations, what you have to do first is put yourself on a very strict and healthy diet, in order to help your body remove all the fat that is excess, and second (and this is the more difficult one) be patient. With yourself, with the people around you, and most importantly, with your body. This is what Alan is trying to do. He has truly embarked on a mission to improve his overall looks and health and regain his happiness. What he basically decided after being overweight for the most part of his life is that he has had enough and that something must be done in order for this to change. So he started working on himself. He is not holding anything back, to the contrary, he shares every struggle and thought an overweight person can have during the battle of losing weight, so this is why it may be an interesting blog for you to check out. It really shows the true side of the weight loss process.


When you have the option to choose between dried fruit and fresh fruit, always opt for the fresh variety. “Dried fruits have a lot of calories and added sugar for very little volume,” says Summer Yule, MS, RDN. “For instance, one cup of raisins (not packed) contains 434 calories and 86 grams of added sugar. By comparison, a cup of grapes contains only 62 calories and 15 grams of sugar. This means that you could eat 7 cups of grapes for the same amount of calories as 1 cup of unpacked raisins.”
"Avoid splashing 'light' olive oils over your salads," says Elena Paravantes, registered dietitian for the Hellenic Dietetic Association in Greece—light varieties have fewer cancer-fighting antioxidants than the extra-virgin kind, plus they have a less intense flavor. Not sure if your oil's up to snuff? "Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil should have a fruity, peppery, slightly bitter taste and leave a faint burning sensation on the throat," she says

1 Reference for 5%: Blackburn G. (1995). Effect of degree of weight loss on health benefits. Obesity Research 3: 211S-216S. Reference for 10%: NIH, NHLBI Obesity Education Initiative. Clinical Guidelines on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. Available online: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/ob_gdlns.pdf Cdc-pdf[PDF-1.25MB]External

Avoid sweetened drinks. Drinks that are sweetened, whether artificially or naturally, will have little nutritional value and add lots of empty calories to your diet. Do not drink fruit juice or other sweetened drinks. Even natural sugars will increase your daily calorie intake and prevent weight loss. If you chose to drink juice, do not exceed 4 oz per day (1/2 cup). Instead of drinking sweetened beverages throughout your day, drink unsweetened, calorie-free beverages. Some beverages to avoid include:


“Under normal conditions, humans absorb only about 80% of the nutrients from the food they eat,” says A. Roberto Frisancho, Ph.D., a weight-loss researcher at the University of Michigan. But, he says, when the body is deprived of nourishment, it becomes a super-efficient machine, pulling what nutrients it can from whatever food is consumed. Start eating again normally and your body may not catch up; instead it will continue to store food as fat.
Tanee’s transformation is remarkable. As if her staggering 200-pound weight loss isn’t impressive enough, Tanee also overcame severe depression and managed to get her life on the right track. Now, she uses her journey to inspire others every single day. Her website and blog are a catalyst for an online support-system and community that others can use to stay on-track themselves. Bravo Tanee.
In December 2011, Lori started her blog to document her weight loss journey. Within a few days, her blog had seen hundreds of views. That encouraged Lori to keep going, and years later she still continues to give readers daily doses of recipes, thoughts on being healthy, exercises and more. Her post on “Emotional Eating” is a definite must-read; it takes you deep into the inner thought processes of a person who uses food to not only celebrate, but to overcome sadness, loneliness and any other emotion in life - as well as tips on how to overcome it.
Nathalia is extremely consistent in what she shares - you can count on her to divulge all of the best workouts, what she does (and doesn’t) eat, why diets don’t work, even personal posts like how she overcame compulsive eating. Her transformation photos are truly remarkable, and she does it all by eating clean (but allowing herself two realistic “cheat meals” each week”) and exercising as often as possible. You can also check out the fashion section of her blog to view fun accessories, leggings and tops (also for purchase).
It was (and still is) important for me to have a game plan for the day. Usually I prepared the night before for all my meals for the next day. I would pack my lunch, think about my breakfast, or talk to Alan about what we would make for dinner the next day. If I was going out for a meal, I would think about healthy choices I could make. If I was going to have to work late, I would pack a healthy snack to hold me over. I found that it was really helpful for me to set myself up for success ahead of time. 
Drinks: I started drinking so much water! I found a water bottle I love and brought it everywhere with me. If you don't have a water bottle you like, find one and have it on you 24/7. Along with water, I'm a huge coffee drinker so that is regularly apart of my diet. I also drink Diet sodas (specifically Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Coke). Other than that, I don't drink much else. I know a lot of people tend to consume extra calories through drinks but I don't have as much issues there.
I do want to tell you that I think it is great that you are on a weight loss journey and that you joined Sparks People. I have been with them for 5 years and I love it! It keeps me motivated! Your doing a great job and it is wonderful that you are eating clean and healthy, just remember that in life there are some not so great for you foods, but you should never deprive yourself. Everything in moderation, just be conscience of what your putting in your body!
For many people who have struggled with weight, issues surrounding food addiction and low self-esteem can be traced back to childhood. They certainly were in Taralynn’s case. Like many others, Taralynn was bullied in school, teased for the way she looked and treated badly for a changing body she couldn’t control (check out her “my story” section - you’ll be moved to tears). But when she decided to make a change, it spread like wildfire. She lost the weight and gained a whole lot of perspective and happiness in life. As a photographer, healthy eating cook, blogger, anti-bullying advocate and more, Taralynn’s blog is one you don’t want to miss.
In what is perhaps the biggest buzzkill of all time, sex doesn’t quite count as cardio or burn a significant amount of calories: Women burn about 3.6 per minute. "It’s still a good idea," Dr. Seltzer says, citing the activity’s other benefits, like increasing the output of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which naturally reduce food cravings.
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