“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”
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That’s the last line of a favorite quote of mine. When I was younger, I framed it and hung it on my bedroom wall to remind me that attitude matters. You’ll never gain control of life—your health,
your diet, your whatever—if you dwell on “what happens to you.” And that’s why I believe one of the best mind tricks that can help you lose weight is to have a positive attitude. Let me explain why and how that can make a drastic difference in your weight loss journey.
In my new audiobook,
, I share a lot of stories of my own struggles with doubt and negative thinking, and also how I changed my pessimistic attitude. Lose Weight Like Crazy Even If You Have a Crazy Life
When I was growing up, anytime something went wrong, my dad would say “I’m cursed. It’s the Calabrese curse.” So for a long time, I believed it, too, that we Calabreses were destined for bad luck. Lesson: Be careful of the people around you. If you’re constantly around people with a negative attitude, chances are you’re going to develop one, too.
Once I was in college on my own, surrounded by like-minded people having fun and embracing life’s ups and downs, I started to realize that the manner in which I reacted to situations mattered. I could choose to see the bad or I could choose to see the good. I could get pissed off or down on myself, or I could learn from my challenges and look at life through a more positive lens. Before I knew it, I didn’t feel like life was happening to me. Instead, I felt in control. And I realized that attitude is the secret to making good things happen.
See, whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!
If you approach weight loss, for example, with a positive attitude, asking yourself, what can I learn? How can it work for me? chances are you will experience a better understanding of yourself and your nutrition, and you’ll get great results.
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Here are some practical ways to flip your attitude switch:
Start your day with an attitude check. Check it before going into a challenging situation. If you go out to dinner with friends and you forget to save a yellow serving (part of my portion control plan in the book) for your glass of wine, well, you have 2 ways to look at it: This plan sucks; I’m not doing this, OR you can think ah, this is what Autumn means about planning ahead and being prepared. I’ll have water tonight and a cocktail next time we go out. It will still be fun to be with friends. Choosing the right attitude will keep you on the path to success. (Related: This Simple Morning Workout Melts Fat All Day Long, Say Experts.)
Act like a child. Success doesn’t always happen on the first try, and that’s OK. Take a baby who is just learning how to walk, for example. If the baby falls taking those first wobbly steps, she doesn’t think, “Well, I’m done; this walking stuff isn’t for me.” She gets up and tries again and again. We can all learn a lesson from the child inside us who didn’t know the meaning of defeat, wasn’t weighed down by society’s opinions and all the self-doubt. Keep getting back up.
Don’t reach for perfection. Perfection is an unrealistic goal. It’s super hard to achieve and more often than not will leave you feeling unworthy if you don’t nail it. So, don’t even go there. I say, “shoot for progress, not perfection.” Some people quit due to slow progress, never grasping the fact that slow progress IS PROGRESS! Celebrate the small wins with these 25 Genius Ways to Reward Yourself for Weight Loss.
Practice consistency. The secret to success in almost anything is consistency. Practice it. In anything you do, practice it every day. Nobody gets to the Olympic Games, the NFL, or the NBA without practicing consistently to improve. The same goes for improving your health and fitness or building a bulletproof positive attitude. These 15 Underrated Weight Loss Tips That Actually Work
Have a reason. In my book, I call step number one for big weight loss “identifying your ‘why.'” What’s your reason for wanting to lose weight and get fit? It has to be meaningful to you in order to push you forward on those hard days when you feel like packing it in. You’ll need to lean into your deeper “why” to stay on track. To find it, ask yourself:
“What will happen when I lose the weight?”
“How will I feel when I lose the weight I want to lose?”
“What would happen if I didn’t lose this weight?”
“How will I feel if I don’t lose this weight?”
Go deep. Then ask yourself, “What’s holding me back from getting what I want?”
Have a plan. The most practical tool for changing attitudes and behaviors is having a well-defined plan. If you have a clear map to follow it’s almost impossible to get lost. This is the essential idea behind my Portion Fix Plan. In the book, you’ll learn how to determine the exact portion of vegetables, fruits, proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, seeds, salad dressings, and nut butters to eat for your specific calorie bracket to reach your weight loss goals. And my color-coded container system makes preparing meals according to that plan incredibly easy.
All of these tips will help you change your attitude about yourself and about food, seeing food as the fuel that it’s intended to be.
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50 Foods to Lose Your Gut
More proof to stop fearing the fat! Creamy avocados are full of monounsaturated fats that dim your appetite and prevent the accumulation of belly fat. In fact, a study published in
tracked 90,257 people for several years and discovered that participants who tried to eat a low-fat diet had the same risk of being overweight as those who ate whatever they wished! Consider this fast fact another reason to bite into avo toast. And FYI, The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology Here’s What Happens to Your Body When You Eat an Avocado.
2. Black Beans
The good gut bugs that thrive in your stomach require food to live, and one of their go-to picks are black beans! Gut bacteria munch on these beans’ soluble fiber and then transform it into butyrate, a chemical that’s been
shown to increase calorie burning in mice. Every half a cup of black beans has over eight grams of satiating fiber, which is nearly twice as much as an apple boasts! Get to burning some extra fat fast with our 40 Best-Ever Fat-Burning Foods.
4. Miso Paste
Looking to blast belly fat? Well first, you must make sure you’re eating foods that support a balanced gut microbiome—like miso paste (yup, the stuff miso soup is made with). Made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji, miso paste teeming with gut-healthy bacteria that can help stimulate the digestive system, strengthen your immune system, and torch belly fat. Here’s proof: in a study published in the
, researchers compared overweight women who followed a low-calorie diet and were given either a placebo or a probiotic supplement for twelve weeks. At the end of the study, women who supplemented their calorie-restrictive meal plan with a probiotic lost more weight than those who took the placebo. British Journal of Nutrition
Forget counting calories on your quest to fight fat, and shift your focus onto protein instead. Since muscle steals the fat cells around your abdominals to burn for energy, maintaining those gains is a great way to score washboard abs. Just one large egg contains about 78 calories and a solid six grams of protein. If you’ve exhausted all your favorite scramble combos, whip up some of these
Best Healthy Egg Recipes for Weight Loss for a change.
Oats contain a type of hard-to-find soluble fiber called beta-glucans, which forms a gel in your small intestine, lowering blood cholesterol levels,
boosting the immune system, increasing satiety, and regulating blood glucose levels. When you feel fuller for longer, there’s less of an opportunity to gorge on unhealthy snacks or extra calories that could make you put on belly fat. Wake up to a belly-flattening meal by whipping up any of these 50 Overnight Oats Recipes for Weight Loss the evening before.
These reddish fruits can give your fat genes the red light. How so? Plums contain phenolic compounds called flavonoids, which lend the fruit its deep color as well as its ability to fight fat. Plums also are a great source of pectin, a gelatin-like type of fiber which animal studies have found to
reduce liver fat (belly fat) and block the amount of fat cells can absorb.
There’s a reason why Popeye always chose spinach. The dark green leaves contain a long-chain sugar molecule called sulfoquinovose (SQ), which can help your midsection stay trim. According to a study in the journal
, SQ promotes the growth your good gut bacteria, which prevent bad bacteria from colonizing your gut and causing inflammation and belly fat. Toss the leafy greens with a handful of walnuts, sliced strawberries, and goat cheese for a satisfying lunch. If you really want to learn more about leafy greens, here are Nature Chemical Biology The Healthiest Types of Lettuce and Leafy Greens — Ranked by Nutrition.
This succulent root veggie is a unique source of betaine, an amino acid that increases metabolism, positively influences the mechanism for insulin resistance, boosts your mood, switches fat genes off, and attacks inflammatory markers that are released by belly fat, according to a review in the journal
11. Coconut Oil
According to a study published in the journal
, participants who supplemented their diet with this tropical oil reduced abdominal obesity significantly more than participants who consumed inflammatory soybean oil. To what can we chalk up the flatter belly? Experts believe it’s the coconut oil’s medium-chain triglycerides (which are burned as energy instead of being stored as fat) and lauric acid (which has been shown to pinpoint belly fat and torch it). Eating healthy fats is also one of the Lipids 30 Easy Tricks That Will Make You Feel Fuller at Every Meal.
12. Nut and Seed Trail Mix
According to a
2016 Danish study, people who ate a meal rich in plant protein rather than animal protein reported feeling significantly more satiated. Pack a baggie full of flab-frying peanuts, walnuts, and sunflower seeds to munch on if the hunger pangs begin to distract you in between meals. Just make sure to portion your trail mix, as the fix-ins are some of the Healthy Foods To Eat in Moderation.
13. Greek Yogurt
Besides for being one of our favorite portable proteins for on-the-go satiety, Greek yogurt is also a great belly fat fighter. According to a
recent study presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference, researchers found that when protein is digested and broken down, one of the resulting amino acids, phenylalanine, triggers hormones that help reduce appetite, which can lead to weight loss. If you’re looking for the best options, be sure to check out The 9 Best Low-Sugar Yogurts, Approved by Nutritionists.
According to a study in the journal
, curcumin (turmeric’s main antioxidant) is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods in existence. Since belly fat encourages inflammation as well as makes it more difficult to lose the bulge, sprinkling anti-inflammatory turmeric onto your eggs or stirring up a Oncogene golden milk latte will help you tighten that tummy.
Light tuna is a dietary triple threat in a can: it’s affordable, packed with protein, and blasts belly fat. In fact, a study in the
found that adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet could help turn off fat genes. While fish contain two types of omega-3s—DHA and EPA—the researchers discovered that DHA can be 40 to 70 percent more effective than EPA at suppressing fat genes and preventing fat cells from enlarging. Crack open a can of tuna because it’s the fish with the highest DHA content. Journal of Lipid Research
When you skip out on sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, the hunger hormone, encouraging you to eat more the next day. Stay on track with your weight loss goals by eating plenty of bananas. Not only do their muscle-relaxing minerals, like potassium and magnesium, lullaby your body into a sleep mode, these fruits can also help you look and feel thinner. One
study found that women who ate a banana twice daily before meals for two months reduced their bloat by 50 percent, thanks to the fruit’s debloating potassium. Feeling a bloated belly coming on? Don’t miss these Anaerobe 24 Ways to Get Rid of Bloating in Less Than 24 Hours.
Who knew that zapping fat is as easy as shaking some cinnamon onto your oats? A study in the
that this blood sugar-regulating spice helps reduce insulin secretion, preventing sugar from being stored as fat. Not into oatmeal? Try sprinkling the stuff into your latte or smoothies. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found
18. Whole Grain Bread
Forget the flour tortillas and Frosted Flakes, and don’t even think about grabbing that loaf of ciabatta! “Whole grains provide a good source of fiber, B vitamins, and may even help regulate blood-sugar levels and promote a loss of belly fat,” explains
Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN. “For every grain you choose, make it 100 percent whole grain.” And to help you navigate the grocery store aisles, here are the 9 Breads to Always Leave on Grocery Store Shelves.
19. Grass-Fed Meats
Leucine can help you build the lean muscle mass that’s needed to trim excess fat from your frame, according to
Jennifer McDaniel, MS, RDN, CSSD, LD. Red meats just happen to be some of the best sources of this potent amino acid. Always pick grass-fed meats to get the added benefits of omega-3s and conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), as these two fats can decrease inflammation and fat storage.
20. Cayenne Pepper
At the same time cayenne pepper torches your tongue, it also incinerates the fat cells in your tummy. A study in the
found that eating capsaicin, the main compound in the fiery pepper that lends it its heat, speeds up abdominal fat loss by boosting the body’s ability to convert food into energy. Add some heat and color to your cooking with these American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 20 Spicy Recipes That Fire Up Your Metabolism.
Consider these bumpy red berries your new natural weight loss pill. Raspberries are jam-packed with fiber and water, which help you feel full. And just like other berries, raspberries are brimming with polyphenols, powerful plant chemicals that have been shown to whittle your middle. Throw them onto your morning oatmeal or pop them as a snack to reap their benefits.
One of the juiciest joys of fall is the plethora of apple species we can find at the local grocery store. Whether you go for the Granny Smith or always pick the Pink Lady apples, this crunchy fruit has been proven to trim excess fat. Just don’t forget to bite into one with the skin on! Apple peels contain a compound called
ursolic acid, which can increase muscle mass and brown fat, the good kind of fat that helps melt your midsection.
While grapes contain more sugar than most of our favorite
low-carb fruits, they also pack in some unexpected flab-fighting benefits. A Washington State University study discovered that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in grapes, converted the excess white fat into calorie-burning beige fat, decreasing obesity by 40 percent! And all you need is just three servings of resveratrol a day. Luckily, grapes aren’t the only source: apples and berries contain the fat-fighter too!
Go ahead and pour yourself another glass of red. Just make sure you’re sipping on Malbec, Petite Sirah, St. Laurent or Pinot Noir, as these vinos have the
highest content of waist-whittling resveratrol. Although a five-ounce glass of merlot packs in just 122 calories, imbibing too much can rack up the calories and leave you hungover and craving a greasy egg sandwich (which we all know wouldn’t work wonders on your weight loss goals).
25. Dinosaur Kale
Let’s face it, kale is completely overrated. But dinosaur kale, a.k.a. black or lacinato kale, on the other hand, is its lesser-known cousin that’s equally as deserving of acclamation. Dinosaur kale’s blue-green leaves are less bitter and more tender than the regular kind, but boast the same flat belly properties, like filling fiber, protein, and B vitamins that can help you get rid of the gut.
26. White Tea
It seems like green tea has a bit of competition when it comes to shedding the beer belly. According to a study published in the journal
, white tea both blocks the formation of new fat cells and boosts lipolysis, the breakdown of fat. What’s more, white tea contains catechins, natural antioxidants that protect your body from harming free radicals and confidence-dampening belly fat. Sipping on tea can also help you get that restoritive sleep that’s necessary for weight loss. Sip on it instead of indulging in these Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 17 Foods That Sabotage Your Sleep.
27. Pumpkin Seeds
Sneaking pepitas into some of your favorite foods is one of the
best ways to increase protein intake. Not only do roasted pumpkin seeds contain eight grams of protein per ounce, they’re also packed with fiber, zinc, and potassium—key nutrients needed for muscle building and recovery. Remember, the more muscle you have, the less fat your body will hold on to.
28. Pu-erh Tea
If you’ve never heard of this fermented Chinese tea, it’s time to add it to your a.m. routine. A
study in the journal Phytotherapy Research found that feeding obese mice a high-fat diet coupled with pu-erh tea extract decreased their total body weight and cholesterol levels.
These bite-sized berries are as mighty as they are tiny. In a study in the
, blueberries were shown to reduce abdominal fat, triglycerides, and total body weight. A review in the journal Journal of Medicinal Food also noted blueberry consumption is inversely related to obesity. Next time you’re making a yogurt parfait, don’t forget to toss in some blueberries! Nutrients
30. Oat Bran
If you like to start your day with oatmeal, we’re definitely commending you. But you’re better off getting introduced to oat bran, oatmeal’s overachieving cousin. Oat bran boasts even more protein and fiber—6 grams of protein and fiber each per 120 calories—which means you’ll feel
fuller for longer, and avoid the soft, tempting whispers of office donuts lurking around.
Pickles are filled with water, vinegar, and fiber, and barely any calories! In fact, just one cup of the pickled cucumbers pack in two grams of fiber for only 16 calories. Not to mention, studies show that acidic foods like vinegar help increase the body’s carb-burning rate by up to 40 percent. Once your body burns off carbs, it moves onto torching fat, which can help you finally rock your skinny jeans muffin top-free.
To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, freshly grind your flaxseeds right before using them. Just one tablespoon has about 2.3 grams of fat-blasting ALA, making it a wholesome oatmeal topper. Flaxseeds are also rich in fiber, which can help you lose your gut. An
study found that by increasing the amount of fiber you eat each day to 30 grams while keeping calories the same, you can lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve your body’s insulin response. Annals of Internal Medicine
33. Sunflower Seeds
Whether you’re adding them to your breakfast bowl or noshing on them to beat the 2 p.m. slump, sunflower seeds are a great way to get in your daily dose of magnesium—a nutrient that helps the body release fat from its stores. “Sunflower seeds and sunbutter are two great belly-busters,” says registered dietitian
Lauren Slayton, MS, RD of Foodtrainers. “The type of fat in the seeds have been shown to reduce abdominal fat in women with no other change in diet.”
34. Black Pepper
Piperine, a fat-frying compound found in black pepper, has been
shown to trigger adipogenesis in human cells and increase fat metabolism in mice, resulting in a decrease in waist size, body fat, and cholesterol levels. Fortunately for those who’ve set a goal to ditch the gut, you can sprinkle black pepper on practically anything! Start with these 35 Slow Cooker Recipes for Weight Loss.
35. Dark Chocolate
Good news chocoholics: you can now bite into another square sans guilt.
Louisiana State University researchers found that eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate can reduce overall body fat and shrink your waistline, thanks to the dessert’s heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory flavonoids. Before you go on a cocoa spree, make sure you buy a bar with at least 70 percent cacao and avoid bars that list “alkalized” chocolate in their ingredients, as those have a significantly reduced flavonoid content. And to see what chocolate really does to you, here are 14 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Chocolate.
Just half a cup of quinoa has 12 grams of hunger-quelling protein and fiber, as well as all nine amino acids—making it a complete protein. It’s also a potent source of gut-busting nutrients like zinc and magnesium. Additionally, quinoa has the highest level of betaine, according to a
study. Why is that important? Well, a Food Chemistry study linked betaine supplementation to a revved metabolism and inhibition of fat production, which can get you to lose your gut for good. Nutrients
37. Green Tea
Just like white tea, green tea contains powerful catechins that can rev your metabolism significantly. In fact, a
study by Japanese researchers found that participants who consumed 690 milligrams (about one bottle) of catechins via green tea daily had significantly lower BMIs and smaller waist measurements than those who didn’t sip. An report found that the average daily intake of catechins in Japanese men and women were 110 and 157 milligrams, respectively, so you’ll have to up your tea game if you’re interested in reaping the benefits. While green tea is a healthy beverage, the same can’t be said for these Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention 50 Unhealthiest Drinks on the Planet.
Asparagus can help you score the body you’ve been dreaming of thanks to its plethora of benefits like vitamins A, C, E, K, and B6, as well as folate, iron, copper, calcium, protein, and fiber. The best part? Just a
cup of these skinny spears have nearly three grams of hunger-quelling protein and fiber each for just 27 calories!
Eating an entire eggplant may seem intimidating at first (have you noticed how huge they are?), but it’s totally doable—and recommended! Just
one unpeeled eggplant contains 5.3 grams of muscle-maintaining protein and a walloping 16 grams of fiber for just 137 calories! Not sure how to give this nutritional superstar a go? Grill an eggplant with a drizzle of olive oil and munch on it as a snack or toss it atop your favorite healthy pizza.
Greek yogurt because of its ultra-rich creaminess and protein punch, but kefir just takes the tang to the next level. Beyond the satiety-inducing protein, the probiotics in kefir can help rev your weight loss efforts. A study found that these good bacteria species (like Food & Nutrition Research L. casei) boosted the breakdown of fat molecules in mice and prevented them from packing on the pounds. Although the study was conducted on rats, there’s no reason for us not to add some creamy kefir to our diets.
Each slice of grapefruit you add to your salad acts like a match to spark your body’s fat-burning ability. A study published in the journal
found that those who ate grapefruit for six weeks lost a full inch off their waistlines. What’s behind the gut-busting effect? The fruit is rich in phytochemicals, bioactive compounds that recent research shows stimulate the production of a hormone called adiponectin, which is involved in the breakdown of body fat. Metabolism
Kamut, a lesser known grain native to the Middle East, is bursting with slimming omega-3 fatty acids while boasting a high protein count and remaining low in calories. Not only can kamut help you say good riddance to the gut, it also reduces cholesterol, blood sugar, and cytokines, which cause inflammation throughout the body, a study published in the
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found. Psst! Don’t tell quinoa, but kamut makes a delicious addition to any salad bowl! Just as long as that salad isn’t one of the The #1 Worst Menu Option at 76 Popular Restaurants. (And, yes, there are salads on the list.)
43. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Surprised? Although olive oil contains fat, it actually contains a type of
healthy fat that has been found to decrease levels of fat-storing inflammation. According to a review published in the , a polyphenol only found in unrefined extra virgin olive oil—oleocanthal—reduces inflammation in a similar way that ibuprofen does: it prevents the production of two pro-inflammatory enzymes, COX-1 and COX-2. Lower levels of inflammation on the inside of your body means less belly fat on the outside. International Journal of Molecular Sciences
44. Russet Potatoes
Unless you’re going low carb for a few days (we don’t recommend it for longer periods of time), there’s no reason not to pop a potato into the oven. In an Australian study that measured the satiating index of 38 popular foods, researchers discovered that potatoes were not only more filling and satisfying than diet no-nos like doughnuts and cake, they also ranked higher than healthy picks like brown rice and oatmeal. In fact, participants reported eating less food throughout the day when they consumed these potassium and fiber-rich spuds. If you’re looking for more potato dishes, check out these
13 Creative Ways to Use Potatoes.
Lentils are one of the most affordable plant protein sources out there that also work to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, promote fat metabolism, and quell that ravenous appetite. Because lentils are a resistant starch, their slow-digesting fiber triggers the release of acetate, a molecule in the gut that signals the brain to put the fork down. Don’t believe us? An
systematic review of clinical trials on dietary pulses found that people who ate a daily serving of lentils, just about 3/4 cup, felt an average 31 percent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition fuller for longer, compared to those who didn’t munch on them. They were also linked to weight loss and reduced body fat percentage.
If kimchi’s only on your menu at your favorite Korean BBQ spot, consider adding this fermented food to your diet ASAP. Why’s that? Researchers at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea found that the probiotics found in kimchi can suppress weight gain significantly. To come to this finding, researchers fed rats a high-fat diet, then fed one group probiotics found in kimchi (Lactobacillus brevis) and reported that the organism suppressed the diet-induced weight gain by 28 percent! Reap these waist-whittling benefits by shopping for sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, too.
If you thought salmon was king of the sea when it comes to omega-3s, you haven’t met sardines. Studies show that these heart-healthy fatty acids can improve everything from your cholesterol profile to your mood to your ability to ward off Alzheimer’s and even weight gain. Not to mention, you can likely find a can of this skinny fish for under $2 at your local grocery store!
48. Cottage Cheese
Tired of plain old chicken breast? Low-cal cottage cheese is a dietary superstar when it comes to adding a hefty dose of protein to your diet. It’s also considered a complete protein, since it contains all nine essential amino acids your body needs to function properly—so you can totally spoon the cheesy goodness on its own.
49. Bell Pepper
Forget losing weight if your stress hormones are out of whack. When we’re stuck in a hair-pulling situation, the body starts producing the hormone cortisol, which encourages the belly to store fat. Good thing red peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C, a micronutrient that your body uses to decrease levels of the fat-storing hormone cortisol and boost the fat-burning effects of exercise, according to
Arizona State University researchers.
50. Peanut Butter
Here’s another reason to stack a hearty PB&J sandwich: According to a
recent study presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference, researchers found that when protein is digested and broken down into amino acids in your body, one of those amino acids—phenylalanine—triggers hormones that help reduce appetite and ultimately leads to fat burn and weight loss. Just remember, stick to the two-tablespoon serving size (yup, that means refraining from gobbling down the entire jar in one sitting!) to reap its belly-shrinking benefits. For a quick and delicious snack that’ll keep you full for hours, dip apples into peanut butter and munch the hunger away. Look to our guide of the best and worst peanut butter to pick your new favorite jar. And while you’re grocery shopping, be sure you don’t add any of the 108 Most Popular Sodas We Ranked By How Toxic They Are to your cart.
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