Monthly Archives: January 2017

How Our Beliefs Form and What Causes us to Question Them

Have you ever started to question what you believe? What was going on in your life at the time?

Have you ever started to question what you believe? What was going on in your life at the time?

It’s just a few days after the inauguration of a new US President, and just a few days after over 3.7 million people gathered for Women’s Marches all over the US, just a few months after the end of an incredibly exhausting election season and something I have noticed is that no matter how loudly or frequently you are sharing your opinion about it all, the only person whose mind you’re having a real impact on is your own. Which, when you think about it is kind of funny – because I think most of us are hoping to convince someone of our way of thinking when we talk about this stuff!

Don’t worry, I’m not going to make this a political post (though I may use a few political examples because it’s topical) – I promise! I want to talk about how beliefs work and what needs to happen in order for us to start questioning them.

We all have beliefs – beliefs about the new President, the outgoing President, beliefs about how the country should be run, what should be legal or illegal etc.

We have beliefs about other things too, lots of things. We have beliefs about whether we believe in God or not (and also what we believe about God).

On the smaller scale, we have beliefs about what kind of day we’re going to have when we wake up. We have beliefs about whether it’s best to have breakfast as soon as we get up or that skipping meals prolongs our lives.

We have beliefs about the people in our lives – you may believe that someone has a good heart, someone else is a meddling gossip, another person is reliable, and another is selfish and manipulative.

We have beliefs about the way the world works, about what we deserve, what we’re entitled to, we have beliefs that ours are the right ones, that other beliefs are wrong.

We have beliefs about the best type of music, the best way to raise our kids, the best food to cure a hangover and the best way to spend a vacation (lazy beach? busy sightseeing?). If you live in New England, you probably have really strong beliefs about who the best football and baseball teams are.

We have beliefs about what clothing style looks best on us, what hair color and length is most flattering. We have beliefs about what’s pretty, what’s a desirable body size or shape.

We have beliefs about how an adult should carry themselves, beliefs about the kind of people we want to surround ourselves with.

We even have beliefs, lots of beliefs, about who we are at our core:  do you believe you are valuable and worthy? Or do you believe that your value and worth is conditional? Do you believe that you are creative and talented? Or do you believe that there is something wrong with you? Do you believe you are deserving and capable of love? Or do you believe that no one could ever love you?

If you really take a minute to think about it, we have beliefs about everything in our lives. I bet you could jot down 20 things you believe deeply, right now.

All beliefs really are, are a thought that we have thought over and over and over again. And the more you think about that thought, the more firm that belief gets. Beliefs are just thoughts that we have chosen to think. That’s it. We can always choose to think something different.

We have the beliefs we do because of frequent exposure, whether that exposure is because of someone else sharing with you, teaching you etc (like parents teaching their children their own beliefs about God) or because of your own focus on that belief (like thinking over and over about what is wrong with your body). When you’re exposed to an idea, regardless of what it is, we either discount it as not important or false (because it doesn’t jive with our already existing beliefs) and it doesn’t become a belief or we go out and collect evidence that reaffirms our belief by giving us more “proof” to support it.

So when we broadcast our political beliefs at family dinners and sharing news articles that agree with them on social media is reaffirming our own beliefs and cementing the beliefs of others who already agree with us, and firming the beliefs of others who already disagree with us. The same goes for when we stare in the mirror, pinch our belly fat and tell ourselves how fat we are. You’re just making sure that you’re going to feel fat that day. The same goes for when we keep telling ourselves over and over that we can’t do something, that we’ll never make money doing what we love or that we’ll never find a romantic partner who appreciates us. Beliefs are strengthened by repetition.

The only way we change our opinions or beliefs is if we feel called to question them.

Questioning your beliefs only happens under very specific circumstances (and no amount of broadcasting our opinions will get someone else to do that if they aren’t already open to it).

People have to be ready to question stuff. They have to be in a place where change is absolutely necessary for them to move forward.

To use myself as an example – me, “broadcasting” my “beliefs” about emotional eating and body image here on my blog and on facebook, week after week – I’m really only going to reach the people who agree with me and are ready to hear that message because they’ve  been questioned their beliefs about food, about their body image, about dieting etc. If you don’t give a crap about those topics or this stuff doesn’t affect you in any significant way, you’re not going to understand why I write about it week after week. Your belief is that it’s not an important issue and that I’m wasting my time, while for me and other women who struggle with it, it’s one of the biggest issues in our day to day life and an important source of information.

Do you see where I’m going here?

Why and when do we question beliefs?

Again, I’ll say that it doesn’t matter what the belief is – we could talk about your political, religious, social beliefs (but I said this wasn’t going to be a political post) or we could be talking about what you believe about yourself, your world, your calling, your occupation etc.

We’re usually only willing to question our beliefs when we find that the belief is preventing us from achieving something, causing major pain (even potential loss of our lives) or reducing our quality of life to a point that is unacceptable to us. When our beliefs act as a roadblock and when we’re are faced with facts that we can’t ignore any more, that is when questioning happens and change can take place. Beliefs and questioning them are a very personal thing.

I’ll use an example of this that my regular readers will understand.

If you have been walking around your entire adult life believing that your weight is preventing you from having the life you want, you will believe that until you have sufficient personal reasons to see otherwise. Everything in your life – your job, your love life, social experiences, and even your inner thoughts will be reflected back at you because of this belief. If you don’t get a job that you were hoping for, you may believe that you would have gotten the job if you were thinner. If you get dumped by a new romantic partner, you’ll tell yourself it’s because you are overweight. If you have a crappy week, you might believe that if you were thin you’d never have a bad week.

In some cases, you may take this belief and use it to encourage yourself to lose weight (in fact, a lot of people start using these thoughts in the hopes that it will do that – I promise you that is not a good long term tactic). Let’s say you finally decide to lose weight so that you can have the life you’ve been dreaming about. You’re successful at it – you lose all the weight you were hoping to.

What happens now? Well if you truly believed that it was your weight that was holding you back from living the life you’ve always wanted, you may find that you’re incredibly disappointed.

All the things that were “wrong” with your life are still “wrong”, other than the weight thing. Job interviews are still rough as hell and the job you want doesn’t materialize out of thin air. Jeffrey Dean Morgan (or any other hottie on your list) doesn’t knock on your door and profess his undying love to you. And you don’t suddenly have nothing but good days. You still wake up feeling grumpy sometimes, in fact, just as often as you used to.

Confronted with reality – with facts about your “new” life, you may finally begin to question that long term belief you’ve always held, that your weight was preventing you from having the life you wanted. With time and with some thoughtful analysis, you may come to recognize that it wasn’t really the weight that was holding you back, it was you using the weight to prevent yourself from taking real risks at work, in love and elsewhere (that’s not a criticism, just an observation love!). You realize that the belief that your weight was the issue, wasn’t really the issue and that if you’re going to have the life you want, you’re going to have to start looking at things differently. Cracks in our beliefs form when we can no longer argue with reality. Shit just got real.

A shorter example, and one that relates to my political themed opening – we have seen politicians who have built long careers being vehemently opposed to gay marriage, abortion or the legalization of marijuana turn around and reveal that they are changing their stance after their son or daughter came out to them as being gay, or after their wife had to undergo an abortion due to a major medical issue or because they have a loved one whose seizure disorder has only been helped by medical marijuana.

In these cases, that person’s beliefs are confronted with something in their personal life that calls the belief into question. To an outsider it may seem that the person is flip flopping for “no reason” but in their life, it’s a big reason, something they had no choice but to rethink their position on. It’s a lot easier to ignore when it doesn’t affect you personally – but when it’s going to affect your world in a huge way, we can’t just keep repeating the stuff we’ve been repeating for decades. We are forced to think about another side of things.

If you want to change your life, if you want to lose weight, repair your relationship with food, if you you want to have a more well rounded social life, you want more free time, more money, better health etc. If there is anything in your life that you want that you don’t have right now, if there is something you think you’ve been working at for a long time but really haven’t made progress with – the first step to changing any of it is to take a look at your current beliefs in those areas and question them.

Let’s say you struggle with money – you feel like you don’t have “enough”, you’re always scrambling to pay your bills and you can’t resist a sale. Is it possible that you have beliefs around money that are holding you back from earning/living the way you’d like to?  Do you believe you don’t deserve it? Do you believe you’re not capable? Examine your thoughts and beliefs around whatever subject/area that you feel you are held back in.

In all honesty, you’re probably reading this because you already have a belief that you are questioning in some way (and I will repeat myself one more time and say it doesn’t matter if it’s a big picture belief or something smaller on scale . . .these things ALL affect how our lives go!). You’re questioning because you’ve been confronted with something you couldn’t ignore anymore. My guess is that if you’re one of my readers, you’re here because you’re struggling with a life or body image / eating issues.  🙂

So where do you go from here?

You keep questioning. You question deeper. You ask yourself why you believe what you do, how you got to where you are and where you want to be. And then you think about the steps you will have to take to get there. And you start taking them. And when you take steps to where you want to be, you’ll find that believing something new about yourself, about your world, about the possibilities out there, becomes easier. You’ll find yourself thinking about where you want to be more often than where you were. Over and over. And that is how your new beliefs will form.

If you’re just beginning to dabble in wanting to change your life – especially your life with food, I encourage you to get out a pen (or pencil) and your favorite notebook and spend some time jotting down the answers to the questions below.

  • What situations in your life are not going the way you’d like? What role are you playing in that situation? Are you being passive or active in changing it? What actions are you taking? What actions could you take that you aren’t taking?
  • What beliefs do you have about the situation?
  • What beliefs do you have about your ability to change it?
  • What beliefs are hurting you or preventing you from achieving what you want?
  • What beliefs do you have that are knowingly holding you back in life? In love? In your social relationships? At work? Creatively? Emotionally?
  • Where do you think these particular beliefs came from?
  • If you could snap your fingers today and feel differently, what would you rather believe?
  • What beliefs do you have that have helped you accomplish or receive positive things in your life?

Now that you’ve spent some time exploring your beliefs in an area that is troubling you, keep an eye out for when your original or long held belief pops up in your life. It’s one of those things, where once you notice it, you’ll notice it everywhere!

For example, people who believe they are a victim in an area of their life usually find once they take a deeper look, they have that kind of thinking in many areas of their life. People who believe that they have a right to keep eating what they want despite health issues, will start to see that they have a belief about wanting to do what they want at work, in their relationships etc. People who believe that there is only one right way to do the dishes, probably have singular beliefs about how to do everything else in life too! Sometimes we aren’t aware of how our beliefs color our whole life. They really do – and that can be a great thing or a really bad thing, it really goes back to how you think about it (and how often you do)!

Lastly, if you are questioning a long held belief, know that is totally ok. It’s expected. It’s part of the human experience and a sign that you are growing, evolving and changing as you learn in life. It can feel awful, scary and confusing, but it won’t always feel that way. Hang in there love!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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You are not supposed to be perfect

You're doing enough. You are enough.

You’re doing enough. You are enough.

You’re not supposed to be perfect.

You’re not supposed to be “doing” or “achieving” all of the time.

You are not a machine.

You’re not a robot.

You’re not going to do everything well, all of the time.

You’re going to miss workouts.

You’re going to eat junky food for 10 days straight sometimes. Maybe 14 or 20 days. Maybe 3 months non-stop.

You’re going to say the wrong thing.

You’re going to stumble and fall down.

You’re going to not have a clue what you are doing and fear that someone will realize that.

You’re going to wish you reacted differently with your kids, your significant other, with your coworkers or friends.

You’re going to want to give up, change course, try something else or quit!

You’re going to think you look stupid, foolish, awkward or rude.

You’ll wish that you made different decisions at times.

You’re going to get wrinkles, find gray hairs and wonder if your knees always looked like that.

You’re going to eat more than you “should” have.

You’re going to fail at some things, sometimes a lot of things.

You’re going to feel like everyone has it all figured out but you.

You’ll probably also have some regrets and gaffes.

None of this means something has gone wrong in your life.

You’re human. Your job is to live the life of a human. These mistakes, awkward parts and frustrations are part of the job description. Yes, there will also be amazing periods of time where everything feels great and everything is working out well – but life is all of these parts together, not just the ones we would choose for ourselves.

Things are not always going to go the way we want them to and we’re not always going to be able to perform the way we think we should. That doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with us.

In our idealized world we’d always eat right, take great care of ourselves, speak eloquently, do things right the first time, always know the answer and never waver in our convictions or our purpose. But there’s no such thing as perfect. There will never be such a thing as “having done enough”, feeling like you’ve accomplished all you’ve been here to do.

Expecting ourselves to always perform better, to always produce more and to do so with a smile on our face is to constantly feel disappointed in ourselves or feel like we are lacking something.

The stumbles, the falls, the mistakes, the good decisions, the bad, the love, the laughter, the tears, the high points and the low. All of it makes you the person you are going to become.

All of it is a part of your journey, even if there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for it right now.

You’re enough as you are.

You are doing ok.

You are doing the best you can.

Cut yourself some slack.

Wherever you are right now, doing awesome things or hanging on by a thread, it’s the right place, for right now, for you and you alone.

Hang in there lady.

Give yourself a hug.

Pat yourself on the back.

Tell yourself it’s going to be ok and that you’re doing the best you can.

Because it’s true.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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Your Weight will Always Be an Issue Until You Fall in Love with Yourself

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Choosing to love yourself is a worthy adventure!

Until you fall in love with yourself, you will battle the same weight issues you’ve always battled.

Until you accept your body and yourself as you are, you will never lose weight and keep it off. You might be successful for a little while in losing it, but you’ll gain it back, sometimes even more weight than you lost to begin with, if you refuse to accept and love yourself.

The same behaviors that made you gain weight will come back.

The same thoughts and judgements that led to eating more will come back.

The same “comfort” eating that actually brings discomfort.

The same hiding and denial that makes you want to shrink from living your life the way you want to.

The same feelings of disgust, shame, anger, frustration and anxiety will resurface again and again.

If you think, I’ll love myself when I’m skinny, when I’m fit, when I don’t have this tire around my middle, you will always be looking for that love somewhere else, and in your particular case you’ll look for that love in food.

You need to love yourself NOW – as you are right now.

When you do love yourself, wholly, completely, fully, and without judgement about what your body looks like, the eating stuff will fall into place. It won’t feel like such a big struggle.

I know it feels like a big struggle now. And you wonder how you can just let go of the hate for your body, the hate for your size or shape, the hate for yourself for what or how much food you put in your mouth. The hate you feel for yourself sometimes.

It’s not as complicated as we make it out to be.

You have to let go of this idea you have about yourself – that you are unloveable and broken.

It’s not any different than when we want to move on from unhappiness in our relationships.

Let’s imagine that you’ve had a huge argument with a friend or family member who you love. I’m sure you’ve experienced this before! For awhile, you are more mad or angry at the other person than you are sad that the relationship is strained. You want to feel “right” or feel your anger more than you want to admit any wrong doing or to give them forgiveness. You hold on to the anger, the pain, the stress of the fight for a while because it is serving you in some way. But there comes a point where it hurts more to still be angry. It takes more effort to maintain the distance between you and this person than it would to just forgive them or let go of the discord. We usually can’t forgive them immediately after a fight – emotions are too high and we need time and space before we have the clarity to allow us to take that step. But eventually, if we want to move on in our lives or move forward with this relationship we have to forgive, we have to LET GO. Not really for them – but for ourselves. If we don’t, it will continue to weigh us down. The anger and negativity will fill other parts of our lives. We usually come to a place where we see more value in letting go than holding on to the old grudge and when we do finally do decide to forgive, it’s actually without a lot of fan fare.

It’s actually really easy to do.  It’s not easy when we’re not ready . . .but when you get to a place where the pain of not forgiving is greater than letting go and forgiving – it’s actually quite easy. The repairing of the relationship may take additional work and time (just like repairing our relationship with food) but giving forgiveness, letting go and choosing love is more straightforward.

Letting go of the hate you have for your body is just like the above example.

If it feels too hard, you may be going through a time when you aren’t ready to give that up. The feelings of hate you have for yourself appear to be bringing you more value right now but eventually you will get to a place where holding onto that hate and allowing it to color your life will feel more painful and take more effort than it does to just let it go.

Let it go.

There are two exercises I recommend you try to begin the process of letting go of the hate you feel for your body and beginning to view it with more love.

  1. Write a letter to yourself.

Write an apology letter to your body. Start by laying out what words or actions you are sorry to have used towards her (you), what you are grateful for and how you will start acting differently in the future. Exercises like this help us to “soften” towards ourselves – even if it feels a bit silly when we are writing it out!

Use some of these prompts to get started:

“I am sorry because . . .”.

“I have dishonored you by . . . ”

“I appreciate you for . . . .”

“I am grateful for you because . . .”

“You have taught me . . .”

“In the future, I will no longer  . . . ”

“I look forward to . . . ”

“You (I) deserve . . . ”

2. Visualize putting the hate away in a box and shipping it away.

It’s easy to knock visualization exercises – they seem so abstract and “woo woo” that it’s hard to believe that they can be powerful tools of change! But if you have a good imagination (and if you’re a lover of books like I am or any creative arts then you do!) they can be an easy way to spark change and help you to be more conscious of your actions. To help stop some of the hateful thoughts you have about your body and increase feelings of love, try visualizing your hate or thoughts of hate as something physical. You might see a big grey cloud or something more concrete like animated physical words. Whatever it is that you picture when you have these thoughts, imaging that you have 2 boxes in front of you. One is sealed up and the other is empty and needs to be filled and sealed. First, take the empty box and fill it with whatever physical image you visualized your hateful thoughts as (grey blob? words? etc). Stuff them in there. All of them. Then, close the flaps and seal the box with some heavy duty packing tape. Visualize picking up the box and walking to a post office box and then drop the box in. Once it’s in the post office box you can’t reach it anymore – it’s literally out of your reach! Those thoughts are going to be shipped away and are no longer your concern. Now, go back home to the other sealed box waiting for you. Open it up. Inside there are “wearable” words, thoughts and feelings of love and acceptance. Pick each one up and put it on. “Dress” yourself in these loving words and feelings. What do they look like to you? How do you feel when you try them on?

Try these two exercises and see if they help you open up and feel more accepting, tolerant and loving towards yourself.

Eating is not a character flaw. It’s not a moral shortcoming. You do not deserve poor treatment because of your eating choices.

Practice choosing love, more often, until it becomes your only choice – that’s when food becomes less of an issue and your weight struggles will not be a struggle any more.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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I like my body. How I went from hating it to being ok with it. (Part 5 of a 5 Week Series)

dance-unsplashThis is the 5th and last post in my 5 week series on Body Image. See part 4part 3part 2 and part 1.

Last week, I talked about how picturing myself as a child helped to turn around my urge to tear my body down. It’s a lot easier to feel sympathetic towards myself when I think of the innocent kid I am deep down inside.

It’s just one of many things I’ve been doing on a regular basis to transform the way I feel about my body. Loving or liking your body is a “practice”. We practice yoga, we practice sports, we practice before giving a presentation or dance recital. And yes, changing how we feel about our bodies or how we feel around food requires creating a practice of sorts. Today I’m sharing the 5th  “practice” in my body image toolbox.

The fifth thing I’ve done is that I’ve changed my workout focus from one where calories burned was all that mattered instead to how it makes me feel. Same with my food choices, I don’t choose them based on how few calories or fat grams are in them, I choose stuff that satisfies me and give me energy.

In my workouts and in my food choices, I put my focus on how it’s going to affect how I feel.

This kind of goes back to the second post in this series, about appreciating what my body can do. I used to only exercise to burn as many calories as possible so that I could eat more. This meant lots of cardio or lots of long walks. Miles covered and minutes accrued mattered. This left me feeling drained and like I was always trying to make up for something. Every bite of food meant another minute I’d have to workout. I could never rest and just enjoy a meal. Choosing what to eat and how much to eat became very complicated.

If I wanted to enjoy pizza and some wine on a Friday night, I’d have to either not eat most of the day in order to have “room” for those things or I’d have to spend two hours in the gym to “earn” it. It was exhausting.

My workouts left me feeling drained. They were compulsory. They were punishment. Sure, there were aspects of exercise I enjoyed, but it was so often done as a component of weight loss that I began to dread it and I would go through periods where I rebelled and wouldn’t work out for weeks out of retaliation. With food, I couldn’t eat a meal without automatically calculating the calories in it. Even today, I have calorie counts memorized and though I don’t “count” them intentionally today, that knowledge is in my head and I can still give a tally to a meal lightening fast, and pretty accurately. It’s not a skill I’m proud of. I hate that so much of my mental energy in my life was dedicated to how good I could be at restricting food.

Today I do things differently, and I’ll admit, it has taken me years of trial and error to get here.

I now only do exercise that makes me feel good. I now only eat food that makes me feel good or what I truly want (sometimes that’s raw vegetables and sometimes it’s potato chips).

Sometimes I want to feel powerful and strong (weight lifting), sometimes I want to feel graceful and controlled (barre), sometimes my body aches and I need a rest (yoga or walking), sometimes I’m angry or stressed and want some relief (HIIT or kickboxing).

Choosing exercise on any given day that will make me feel the way I want to feel, instead of as a punishment helps me appreciate and care for my body and it also makes choosing what to eat much easier. If I want to get through an intense workout, I need to have the right balance of nutrition in my body. A donut or cookies is not going to give me the energy I want to have (not saying you can’t ever eat these foods – just that this helps us to make more conscious choices).

Alternatively, if I have a yoga class or barre class to go to, I have to be careful not to eat too heavily beforehand, or I’ll be burping or uncomfortable all throughout class. Over time, making choices this way reduces my desire to eat foods that won’t help me tackle these physical goals. This doesn’t happen overnight and certainly I still sometimes eat things just because it tastes amazing and I really want it (but I move on and don’t beat myself up about it).

Listening to what our bodies need is really important too. Lately, I’m thinking I may have to take a break from barre. I don’t want to because I do love it (despite zero grace or dance ability it makes me feel like a ballerina and I secretly want to be a ballerina, at least when I’m alone in my kitchen!) but my hamstrings and glutes are so tight from 3 years of repetition that class is starting to feel less like a good thing for my body and more like the potential for injury. I need to listen to my body. I may take some time off from those classes (I’ve already cut way back) or I need to make massage and foam rolling a priority to keep my body feeling good. I’ve been doing more yoga in the meantime until I make a decision. It’s helping but it may not be enough.

I trust that my body knows what it needs. It knows when it needs to move (I feel that urge as my focus wanes when I’ve been in front of the computer for three hours without a break). It knows when it needs to rest (as I write this, I’ve decided I’m not going to workout tonight – I am tired and I’m respecting that). It knows when it can handle (or even crave) high intensity cardio, a long bike ride or extra weight on the barbell. My body is incredibly intelligent and if I listen to it, I don’t have to worry about if I did enough If I burned enough calories etc.

Making the switch from exercising or eating as a form of punishment or solely as calorie burner to exercising and eating to feel good won’t happen overnight and it’s not a simple thing you can do once or twice and have it stick. It’s something we need to work on on a deep level and before we can really start making strides with these concepts we need to practice more self love, learn to choose foods that nourish, and learn to tune in to our body. But even though you may not be able to jump into these ideas right away . . .I wanted to share this idea as something that has made a big difference in how I feel about my body because it makes it easier for me to exercise regularly and eat well more often and I think we all can get there one step at a time.

I hope this 5 part series on body image and how I stopped hating my body has given you some ideas to try in changing your own body image. Please let me know if you try any of these!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the book and enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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