Fitness


After two months of doing a lot of lounging and no exercising, I decided to get some prenatal DVDs to help get me back into shape. I know I couldn’t go back to “Insanity!” and could do a little bit of Jazzercise, but it’s best to get something specifically for expectant mothers.

Here are three prenatal DVDs I got through Amazon. I looked for reviews that said they got a good workout, had fun, and felt the exercises were safe. I also wanted something good for beginners,  and (though this may not come to mind when selecting an exercise DVD,) choosing DVDs that had good quality camera work can make a BIG difference in how you enjoy your workout. You want to clearly see and hear the instructor as well as music in the background. I also wanted something affordable, so weeded out the ones that were too pricey. (Like a good wine, you CAN find something good for under twenty bucks! ;))

What to Expect When You're Expecting - Workout

What to Expect When You’re Expecting
$12.46 on Amazon.com

Why I got it: cardio

The Good: easy cardio for 2nd trimester that gives you a good workout without leaving you exhausted. Strength portion is easy to follow for beginners and intermediate levels (you’ll need a pair of 2lb-3lb weights.) Stretching is easy and relaxing. Instructors remind you to watch your form, breathe, and don’t overdo anything.

The Bad: Cardio portion: some of the cues are not early enough, a couple times the instructor starts off on the left rather than right or misses a step. Strength portion:  Switching between moves too quick, and I think she could hold the poses for a few seconds longer. There are three ladies exercising, one instructor and two mommies, and they all have headset mikes. During the cardio section the mommies get kinda giggly, and it gets distracting after a while. But, I guess it’s good that they’re having fun. :)

The Awesome: customizable workout! You can select which segment you want to do in any order. The first day I chose all 3 cardio workouts and the cool-down. There’s a brief 30-second narration in-between by the author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” a good time to get a drink of water or get out your yoga mat for the cool-down segment.

Amira's Belly Dance & Yoga For Pregnancy Prenatal Exercise

Amira’s Prenatal Belly Dancing and Yoga
$15.89 on Amazon.com

Why I got it: for fun (belly dancing moves)

The Good: Workout consists of: 5 segments: yoga stretching, strengthening, belly dancing, labor exercises, yoga cool-down stretch. In addition, there is also some narration and brief cutaways on belly dancing and yoga before and during the segments, which I found helpful in learning more about the importance of what yoga and belly dancing is all about, as well as the important role it plays in easing your pregnancy.I love her gentle demeanor! She does a voice-over during the routines, so it’s easier to  follow along with her movements. She shows you alternative moves and cautions against certain moves if you are 30 weeks or more into pregnancy (I forgot how far along she is, but she also looks about 30 weeks pregnant, maybe even more.)

The Bad: The only bad thing I have to say is that skipping to the next section takes a few seconds too long…I think I was just too anxious to get to the routines!

The Awesome: I really like the music she uses in the background. Bonus features include an intro to yoga and belly dancing by Amira, so you get to learn a little about what you’re doing and why. There’s also a short clip with her “spoofs”, kinda cute! She also changes clothes for each segment, and during the belly dancing routine she wears some nice jewelry and a sash that makes it more like a belly dancing outfit (wish I had one!)

Results: after 2 workouts focusing on just warm-up, strengthening and cool-down, I had NO problems with having tight hip flexors at night! Sometimes I’d wake up and massage my hips or back until the muscles relaxed and I could fall asleep again. Her stretches were so incredibly helpful, I wish I knew about this years ago.

Jane Austin Prenatal Yoga DVD

Jane Austin’s Prenatal Yoga
$17.95 on amazon.com

Why I got it: focus on yoga

The Good: Jane is not pregnant in this video but has 4 mamas working out with her. She has a very pleasant and calming voice, is friendly and does a good job of explaining the moves both in technical terms and in fun terms (in reference to doing hip circles she says, “Babies don’t like ‘Buns of Steel’, they like juicy hips!”)

The Bad: It’s a 63-minute yoga session, and it would be great if there were a 30-minute option.

The Awesome: Results, of course! It really helps with back aches and improving flexibility.

 

Any expectant mamas out there with a favorite workout? How about a pre- or post-workout snack?

Since starting Insanity on August 23rd, I reached my goal of losing 5 pounds…then passed it by losing two more, woo hoo! My weight is back to what it was when I moved from Hawaii last November. I didn’t have to toss my favorite jeans, I don’t feel as tired, I don’t take naps during the day, and I am so glad that I don’t wake up with a distended belly because of what I ate the night before. Insanity + healthy diet = GREAT results!

What I Learned During These Two Months:

1. I can do a lot of push-ups! Practice may not always make perfect, but it can make you better.

2. But for those times when I felt like I couldn’t do any better, I did as Shaun T said: “Dig deeper!” Sure you’ll get tired, you’re working hard! Like Shaun T often reminds you in the DVD, take a break when you need it. That little break REALLY helps.

3. Blogging about my exercise helped me know my body a little better. Ladies, if you’ve never logged your workouts before, try doing it for a month, and see how your body performs according to your menstrual cycle (I noticed a serious nose dive during my first 2-3 days).

4. Diet is important! Fresh veggies, lean meats, low sugar, low refined carbs, healthy fats (sparingly). Your calorie count will naturally drop down if you eat like this.

5. Having someone to support you is helpful. I am not going through a drastic change like dropping 50 pounds, or trying to quit smoking, or recovering from surgery and getting back into shape. But I do appreciate support and encouragement. (If you feel like you’re trying to reach a goal on your own, read “7 Things to Remember When People Don’t Support You“.)

Okay, now, for the Fit Test Results:

WHAT HAPPENED??!!!

After all that, I did WORSE?? maaaannn….

Well, I’m thinking it’s because 1) I worked out way earlier than usual (8:30am instead of lunch time), 2) I worked out on an empty stomach, 3) it was the second day of my period, so in addition to water weight gain, cramps, muscle aches and bloating, I had a big change in energy levels. (Ladies–you feel me, right?)

Yes, I sucked. And sometimes that’s how life is. But you know what else is great about life?

You get a second chance!

Fit Test Results, Take TWO!

I rested for 2 days, mostly because of cramps and fatigue. Worked out on Wednesday & Thursday, then did the Fit Test again on Friday (results are on the very far right):

Power Jumps: I started with 24…today, I did 44!

Globe Jumps: I started with seven, today I did ELEVEN! That’s 16 jumps MORE!

I was more concerned with beating my previous record, but if I look from what I started with to where I am today, that’s a huge improvement! This 60-day workout plan was a GREAT way to not only chart my progress, but to set a goal and stick with it. I think this was a really great experience, and I am happy with the results thus far. I plan to continue doing Insanity workouts and do another fit test in a week or so…just to see if I can beat my Fit Test 4 results.

Now to take some “after” photos so I can get my free T-shirt!

“If you have a goal, write it down. If you do not write it down, you do not have a goal – you have a wish.” ― Steve MaraboliLife, the Truth, and Being Free.

Somehow what I saw on the calendar for this week didn’t register in my brain. On Monday, I did the workout for Wednesday. On Friday, I did the workout for Saturday. Everything was all kapakahi, and come Friday, I thought the fit test was on Saturday…but no, I had one more workout day!

Maybe I was too excited for this last week, or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention. Either way, come Saturday I was happy, tired, felt accomplished, and my muscles were more fatigued than it has ever been in the past two months of Insanity!

Tired Monday: Max Interval Circuit (should have been Max Interval Plyo)
I was pretty tired this morning and slept in until 8:30 instead of 6:30, but the extra rest did me good. The workout was still a challenge and I felt like I had no energy, it was hard to keep up.

The scale surprised me today: I lost weight over the past four days!

Chilly Tuesday: Max Cardio & Cardio Abs
It’s been cold in the house, around 65-67 degrees. Even with two layers plus a wool hoodie and scarf, I was still chilled to the butt. It may not seem that cold but during the Max Cardio warm up, I didn’t break a sweat. Yes, I was THAT cold!

Today’s workout was tiring, just as tiring as yesterday’s. Where did my energy go? Is it sapped away along with the sunshine?

I slow down when I’m tired, I stop when the DVD is over. :)

Hump Day: Max Interval Plyo (should have been Max Interval Circuit)
I felt better, not as cold, not as tired! Power jumps are still tough, I have a hard time determining if I’m getting better because I don’t keep count.

Tender Shoulder Thursday: Core Cardio & Balance
Slower paced, but definitely not a slow-paced workout. My shoulder is a little more achy than usual, but not painful. Two more days! Go, Jenny, go!

Better-late-than-never Friday: Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs (should have been Max Interval Plyo)
I think I finally got the hang of Cardio Abs and felt like I was really squeezing and tightening my abs on those leg lifts. They’re still tough, I can’t keep both legs straight and off the ground like Tanya on the DVD, but I definitely did better than last week. :)

Sweaty Saturday: Max Interval Plyo (should have been Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs)
My last workout before the Fit Test! Like every day, I pushed hard. I sweat up a storm. My muscles were incredibly tired. And, I did better today than I did yesterday.

Next post: Fit Test Results…wish me luck!

I am really surprised at how fast the two weeks (plus extra rest days) have flown by in month 2 of Insanity. It hasn’t been easy and it certainly hasn’t been boring, but I can honestly say that every day is challenging and I’m noticing some physical improvements:

– I can button my pants without sucking my gut in
– the seams aren’t straining on my pants when I sit down
– I got muscle definition in my upper arms
– digestion has improved and I’m not as bloated in the morning

As I mentioned earlier, I did lose 3 pounds after the first month of Insanity (hooray!) and I’ve gotten more muscular and definitely feel stronger, too! When I ask my husband for a massage, I don’t whimper anymore when he squeezes my aching shoulders (do note that the amount of force he used to use on me was barely enough to pop bubble wrap.) Now, my knotted shoulders can handle the massages and I don’t feel like such a weenie.

My workout days don’t correspond to the scheduled Insanity calendar because of all the days I took off here and there. I don’t feel like I slacked but at least I don’t feel like I’m forcing myself to do it “just because.” It’s gotta be fun, right? :)

Thursday: Fit Test and Max Interval Circuit — Improvement!
When I did this same routine two weeks ago it was INCREDIBLY tiring, and today felt the same. After doing the Fit Test, even the warm-ups for the Max Interval Circuit was a challenge! My legs were tired, my arms were tired, and I moved nearly half as fast as the people on the DVD. But after a few minutes my blood was pumping again, and I was able to pick up the pace just a bit.

Oh yeah, Fit Test Results! Let me just say that I was actually cheering myself when I wrote down my results, and you can see why:

a LOT of improvement this week!

Some moves were still tough to improve upon, but overall I am a happy camper!

I feel so incredibly happy and accomplished, I’m not even going to talk about the rest of the butt-whipping workout. :)

Friday: Max Interval Plyo

I started my workout late in the afternoon, around 5:15 (I try to do it around lunchtime) and I normally like to do it before my husband gets home because I’m self-conscious about how I look when I exercise (tired, struggling, maybe grunting/whining too much.) but after I was done I told my husband, “Did you see me do push-ups??” He said no, because he knows how much I hate an audience. ;)

Monday: Max Cardio Conditioning & Cardio Abs

I don’t like Football Sprints.You’re running in place with a wide stance, palms facing outward. All that quick-stepping makes my body jiggle. Note to self: next time, tighter clothes!

image source: fitbomb.com

Tuesday: Core Cardio & Balance (supposed to be Max Recovery)

My shoulder felt tender so instead of doing Max Recovery I did Core Cardio & Balance today. My body felt like jello. I had very little energy, my muscles were fatigued even before I was done with the warm-up, and I blame it on poor food choices.

So pretty, but NOT the breakfast of champions. :(

Breakfast: rice krispies treats and coffee.
Lunch: corn chips, salsa and refried beans.

Lesson of the day: a good diet is just as important as good exercise!

Wednesday: Max Interval Circuit

I had more energy today than yesterday, and I made sure to eat a healthy breakfast (yogurt bowl) instead of eating just corn chips and rice krispies treats. My muscles didn’t feel as fatigued, but the workout was still challenging. Transitioning from the high-low jabs to high knees was tough. I couldn’t get enough air in my lungs so had to give my torso a good stretch and take a few deep breaths.

Friday: Max Recovery (supposed to be Core Cardio & Balance) PLUS Pure Cardio!

Yesterday I was busy with work and cleaning up around the house and didn’t have time for Insanity. Yes, it sounds like a poor excuse, but that’s the only excuse I have.

Max Recovery is all about stretching and strengthening. It’s difficult for me because I need a good warm up to get my blood pumping and my muscles flexible, so today I decided to get a really good warm up with Month 1’s Pure Cardio (about 37 minutes.) It paid off, because I felt better doing Max Recovery. Stretches in the beginning were still difficult, probably because I rested too long between DVDs, but overall I felt better doing the workout.

I started using Sunwarrior Protein Powder because so many people were raving about it. The first time I tried it I thought it was the grossest thing I ever tasted! Think of ginseng and licorice mixed together, and that’s what I thought the vanilla protein powder tasted like. Blech.

Solution? Add cinnamon and a ton of ice to make a slushie! I even added pumpkin pie spice, but it tastes nothing like the holiday treat:

84 calories per serving, but the taste may not be for everyone. Modify to your liking!

I think I’ll try the chocolate flavor next…in a smaller bag.

I’ve got one more week left for Insanity and I’m feeling excited, hopeful, anxious, and just want to DO BETTER! Can I be stronger? Faster? Can i jump higher and do more push-ups? We’ll see at the end of week 8!

Monday: Fit Test, Max Interval Plyo – Whipped, Tired

I forgot what it felt like on the first day of Insanity. Today was a very, VERY good reminder. But before I talk about the first workout…Fit Test Results!!!

Good…good…ooh, really good!…what the heck?!

Power Jumps seem to be my kryptonite, I just get weaker and weaker.

A gradual improvement, but low plank obliques were the same.

I was hoping I’d kick butt with the Fit Test, but it seemed more like a friendly pat of encouragement you give to someone who did less than ‘wow’. And look how I got progressively worse with Power Jumps…what gives??

The Fit Text is exhausting enough, adding the one hour Max Interval Plyo on top of it will kick, whip, and hand your butt right back to you! I definitely felt like it was the first day of Insanity. I couldn’t keep up with a LOT of the routines, my quads were super tired from the Fit Text and I felt like I couldn’t get a deep enough breath after doing switch kicks so had to rest, stretch and massage my midsection.

Tuesday: Max Interval Circuit – Body Aches & Watching Your Form

My body is aching like crazy today. My lats, my hips, my obliques…I couldn’t believe how tired I was after yesterday’s workout. And how hungry! Even after dinner I snacked on some chocolate candy my in-laws brought, corn chips, half a Snickers bar, and more chips (sweet-salty-sweet-salty.)

The warm-ups for Max Interval Circuit is what some of the regular exercises in Month 1. Shaun T is right when he says:

Shaun T and his gang are incredible, and since this month’s workout is even more intense they are using the “buddy system” to motivate each other by keeping pace with each other and offering more encouragement, which is super helpful even though I’m alone in my living room.

There are a lot more push-up exercises in this DVD and it’s just like starting all over. And just like the first few days of month 1, I need to be careful of maintaining proper form because it’s so easy to get an injury if you’re not careful. What Shaun T says about keeping your abs contracted goes far in preventing injuries. And in addition to more push-ups and squats, Shaun T also introduces more balancing exercises.

I know I’m doing better. I  And I could even put on a pair of pants I couldn’t fit into since last November. Now that’s the REAL test of progressing toward your goal!

Wednesday: Max Cardio
This isn’t like the nonstop cardio from Month 1 because there’s breaks in between each set.

Thursday: Max Recovery – more like max strength training!
I don’t know why this is called Max Recovery. There’s no cardio, you start off doing some deep stretching, then do some serious strength training. It hurts like hell because I don’t have a good warm-up to get the blood flowing. Next time I’ll do this towards the afternoon so my body won’t have to do a cold start.

Friday: Max Interval Circuit
I could hardly sleep. My hip flexors were incredibly sore from yesterday’s workout. I took aspirin before sleeping, but that didn’t help. I stretched my quads & massage the hip area, but I was so uncomfortable. This morning I woke up with a back ache and hip aches, but after a while they went away.

Today’s workout went much better than Monday’s because I didn’t have to do the fit test first! But this whole week my appetite has increased and I am craving savory stuff like meats and lot of carbs, like chocolate, crackers, and chips. It’s about that time of the month, and I’m glad the workouts are longer to at least offset some of the extra calories I’m scarfing.

Saturday: Max Interval Plyo – Second Attempt
I forgot to write about this the day I did it and am actually writing my comment a week later! All I can say is that it feels much better doing this exercise when you don’t have to do the Fit Test first. :)

Recovery Week is all about doing the exercises at a slightly slower pace. “Core Cardio and Balance” allows you to focus on your abs on routines that are more about strength than cardio. You still get a good sweat and your heart rate gets going, but as Shaun T points out, you’re not supposed to be burnt out by the end of the workout.

With my in-laws visiting, my Recovery Week actually lasted ten days because I took more breaks than usual. I did 2 consecutive days of workouts, followed by workouts every other day. I also snuck in one day of Cardio Power and Resistance in the middle of my recovery week because I felt like I had to get some excess energy out of my system!

There is not much variation from one day to the next for me, but it was a wonderful change from the challenge of the past four weeks…with the slowed-down pace, I almost felt like I could match my pace with everyone on the DVD. There are still some challenging exercises depending on your level of strength and flexibility (like the one below was for me):

Your leg stays up and you bend at the knee…less cardio but just as tough! Image source: http://www.fitbomb.com.

My favorite move was the last one, because for me it was the “easiest” to do. With Hip Flexor Burners you are in a low pliet, arms extended straight out, and you move your arms up and down slowly (like slo mo flapping,) but keep your shoulders still. You then move your arms forward so they’re straight out in front of you, then straight out to the side, maintaining a low pliet. There are more arm movements, and this really work your shoulders AND your quads, but Leah Sarago’s Ballet Body workouts as well as Jazzercise’s Ballet Body helped with these moves:

For two minutes you maintain this pliet position while doing various straight arm movements. Great for the shoulders, quads, abs, and lower back. Image source: http://www.buildahardbody.com.

Anticipating Month 2 of Insanity…pretty nervous & excited! And the next Fit Test is coming up, wish me luck! :)

a good thing to keep in mind!

image source: fitfoodieshealthylife.com

This is the final week before “Recovery Week,” which divides Month 1 from the even more intense Month 2 training. So far I’ve noticed I’ve gotten stronger, my cardio has definitely improved, and with my changed eating habits I no longer wake up with a bloated belly–what a great feeling!

Day 19: Pure Cardio/Cardio Abs – Weight loss concerns

Though my weight loss is taking its time, I’ve been really happy with my increase in strength and endurance. I came across this video clip at teambeachbody.com talking about seeing results. Though it’s aimed at P90X, I figure it can also apply to Insanity workouts: http://www.teambeachbody.com/connect/message-boards/-/message_boards/message/205114284. According to the discussion, day 19 would still be early on in the game to see results (but I do love that I can feel the results!) He mentions to cut out refined carbs and sugars to help lose weight, but I still love having some Orange Date Cake or Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins with coffee,  and peanut butter jelly toast for breakfast is my favorite!

Pure Cardio is a nonstop heart-bursting set, so again, very important to take breaks when you need to, and if you’re exercising on hardwood floors like me–mop up your sweat or move around to a dry spot, I still have a tendency to slip in my sweat, especially when doing the Level 2 drills (plank, 8 push-ups, knees in, jump up w/ arms up, back down to plank, etc.) At one point I had to stop to receive a package from the Fed Ex guy, and this gave me a nice break so I did better on the hooks w/ jump ropes (below) but it also strained my back a little! Long periods of rest feel good at first, but they’re not good if you’re doing Insanity!

Day 20: Cardio Power & Resistance – exercise, diet, and spankin’ new shoes!

I am getting better. I know this because:

1) I don’t hate Globe Jumps so much
2) Power Jacks (jumping jacks with a squat) are still tough, but I can do more
3) I can do more consecutive Power Jumps
4) I can do moving push-ups almost at the same speed at the people on the DVD!

Last week I was complaining that I wasn’t losing weight, and it’s because my calorie intake was too high. Doing Insanity may feel like you’re burning 500 calories in one workout, but for someone with a small frame like me, I only burn about 220, maybe as much as 300 if I’m doing Pure Cardio and Cardio Abs back to back. I decided to monitor my calories, not by writing down everything I eat, but sticking with low-calorie, nutrient dense foods as much as possible. I’ve been taking in 1200 – 1500 calories a day, avoiding post-dinner snacks and eating lean meats like chicken breast and fish. I know meat has protein and it’s good for your muscles, but eating more meat doesn’t always work for me (my stomach increases by 4 inches after eating red meats…it’s very uncomfortable and I get extremely tired.) So, I’m looking for alternatives. Not replacements, but just easy alternatives.

Veggie sources of protein are often high in fat and carbs (legumes, nuts) so that was not much help, either. Since protein is made up of amino acids, and amino acids can be found in lots of low-calorie and nutrient dense foods, I realized I could just eat a good variety of fruits, veggies & some grains to get the same building blocks that will eventually help my muscles grow. I don’t know if this will work for me, but it seems to make sense!

I am still learning about this stuff, and I think it’s great that I don’t have to worry if I don’t get enough protein per day…there’s always aminos! Here’s an article that I found very helpful, I hope you find it helpful, too:
http://www.rawfoodia.com/raw-food-protein.html
http://www.globalhempstore.com/hemp-food/raw-protein-lean-body.html

My new shoes came in! This is what I got:

Ryka Transition Women’s Cross-Training Shoe (image source: shopping.yahoo.com)

This is my second pair of Ryka shoes. The fit was really snug at first and I was worried that I had to return it. But the mesh stretches out, so it’s snug in a comfortable way. It fits well (I’m 8 1/2) but my toes tend to get scrunched up during the warm-ups. It’s super light and I really like the style. Here’s another look at my old pair of Ryka running shoes and my broken-in pair:

The gray parts are actually black, they look much nicer in real life!

Day 21/22: Plyometric Cardio Circuit/Cardio Recovery – chilly workout!

I took Saturday off and picked up with my workout Sunday morning, including the next day’s Cardio Recovery workout. The weather’s been cooling off, and at 7 a.m. it was 45 degrees! It’s 60 degrees inside, and I didn’t sweat as much as I normally do but it did feel like I was getting a little light headed. I’m not used to working out in cooler weather, but that’s no reason for me to wimp out…especially if I’m going to stay in shape during the winter!

I’m starting to feel like I’m better at keeping up with Shaun T and the gang, though I still am not nearly as fit as they are. I still need to take breaks during ski abs and in-and-outs because my quads just get incredibly fatigued. And guess what? I lost another pound! My eating plan is working with less calories and more nutrient-dense foods. I have to keep in mind that a calorie is a calorie, so if I give myself a daily allowance I gotta make the most of it, just like the allowances we got as a kid.  Spend it all on candy? Buy some comics? Save some for later? I definitely won’t use my calorie allowance all on candy, but I know I want to invest it in something that will give me future returns, like a stronger body, better concentration, less fatigue, improved health, and a better feeling about myself. And if I have some extra calories…I’ll probably spend them on a little indulgence. :)

Day 23: Pure Cardio & Cardio Abs – tired in the morning, restless at night

I didn’t want to get up this morning. Instead of getting up at 6:30, I slept until 9:30! I was glad that I did, because I was more focused on my work and saved my Insanity workout until the afternoon.

Pure Cardio continues to kick butt, and I still take frequent breaks. Aside from doing better with push-ups (my forearms, shoulders and upper back were aching this morning!) I think I’m getting better with mountain climbers (guava pickers) but still struggling with anything that makes you jump from a squat position.

I had a hard time sleeping, though. I had peanut butter jelly toast & coffee around 10:30am, no lunch (just drinking hot tea,) then had a small bite of something before my workout at 4 pm. I ate a lot for dinner (carrot sticks, cucumbers, chicken tikka & biriyani) and am wondering if it was the food or the late workout that made it difficult to sleep?

One of my favorite dinners: chicken tikka. Chicken marinated in yogurt mixed with tomato paste, coconut milk, Indian spices and other good stuff.

Day 24: Plyometric Cardio Circuit

I did a morning workout, 60 degrees inside and I didn’t start sweating until 7 minutes into the warm up…yes, I was THAT cold! The rest of the workout went well, challenging as always and I had a nice Vanilla Cucumber Smoothie right after. It’s the last day of Month 1, tomorrow begins “Recovery Week” and I’m sure it won’t be a vacation from Insanity. :)

Do it for YOURSELF!  image source: http://pinterest.com/vitacost/fit-spiration/

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