She Loves Herself – This Mum’s Life

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After years at dance school resulted in an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, Lucy from This Mum’s Life is on a mission to love her post baby body again. With her newfound approach to life and loving herself I’d say she’s got this…

This Mum's Life

Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?

I like my eyelashes-they’re naturally dark and long!

I like my hands, because they’re quite delicate-I did ballet for years, and people often say that my hands look very graceful still, when I move-I love it when people say that!

Not a body part, but I’ve always liked that I’ve got an unusual combination of features. I have red hair, but I also have really dark eyes, and skin that goes very olive with a little bit of sun. Not many red heads have that, as most are pale. My mum is half Bajan, so I ended up with her skin, with the hair coming from my dad’s side!

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She Loves Herself – Beauty, Baby & Me

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Welcome back to another week of She Loves Herself, this time with Fi who blogs at Beauty, Baby & Me , a gorgeous place full of positivity and motivation (so it will come as no surprise that this is a cracker of a post!) Fi has an enviable approach to body confidence, basically, the girl’s got it sussed…

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Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?
My eyes! I think you can really read how I’m feeling in my eyes, I’m quite open and this reflects that which I’m quite proud of. Plus they are quite a striking green colour so they are a bit unique too!
My bum! It’s always been part of my body I’ve felt confident about and my husband says it’s like having his very own Kylie 🙂
My legs. Everyone on my Mother’s side of the family has lovely long legs and I’ve been very lucky to inherit that!

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She Loves Herself – Rhyming With Wine

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This week we’re joined by Dawn from Rhyming With Wine. If you’re not already familiar with her brilliantly funny poems please pay her a visit, guaranteed giggles inspired by motherhood and day to day life with kids!

Just a very quick one from me to thank everyone who has tweeted, read or contacted me about the series so far – I’ve been delighted to hear so many of you are enjoying the guest posts and finding them inspirational. It’s nice to be nice, to others and ourselves.

Take it away Dawn…

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Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?

I’m quite fond of my eyes. I mean they definitely come in handy for all of the seeing and things, but they only need a bit of mascara and they change may face completely from “Just got out of bed” to “This is me!” My hair has really started to grow having done babies and breastfeeding twice now and I have one of those long styles that I can do about 100 different things with to suit my mood (and time rations of course). I never thought I’d say this but I really quite like my boobs now too! They were never anything to notice before, but they are definitely my favourite part of my “Mum” body and I can still rock a fairly low cut top when the occasion calls for it!

Share a memory of when you felt particularly good about yourself.

About 7 months after my youngest was born, “Daddy Pig” and I were lucky enough to attend our friends’ wedding at the same place that we were married in the Lake District. I was around 4 months pregnant with my first when we got married and while I managed to fit in my dress (thank goodness for a lace up back) I was definitely carrying a fair amount of “maternal storage tissue”. With each of my pregnancies I gained around 3 ½ stone and I’m sure that at least 2 stone of that went on the second I peed on a stick! Somehow though I gradually lost my baby weight both times, and by the time of my friends’ wedding I was down to a personal best as far as weight goes. I actually wore a catsuit (not exactly Michelle Pfeiffer / Catwoman style, but still – a CATSUIT!) It was something that I would never usually wear and my Mum had more or less picked it out for me on a shopping trip. After nearly 3 years of pregnancies and breast-feeding I felt good. I felt like I was still a woman and not just a mum, and I felt proud to stand with my hubby at the place where we were married knowing how much my body had been through and achieved, and that “I” was still in there.

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She Loves Herself – Babies, Biscuits & Booze

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A massive thank you to everyone who read or commented on the first SLH post – I was so happy to see such a positive reaction and hope you all found it enjoyable and inspiring! This week we’re joined by Ellen from Babies, Biscuits & Booze who very kindly agreed to take part to show her support and sprinkle a few body positive vibes onto the interwebs…

Name 3 parts of your body that you love and tell us why they’re so fabulous?

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She Loves Herself -Meret Boxler

 

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Welcome to the first of my new series ‘She Loves Herself’! I’m so excited to start this series of regular guest posts sticking two fingers up to the world of body shaming and sharing some love when it comes to our fabulous bodies – squidgy bits and all!!

Kicking off the series is the wonderful Meret Boxler who describes herself as Former national radio DJ, freelance journalist, writer, speaker, podcaster, recovering lifetime yoyo-dieter/exercise addict/compulsive eater, self-love establisher, body image improver, body positivity promoter, Health At Every Size (HAES) advocate, size-diversity acceptance promoter, weight-stigma and fat-phobia fighter, women uniter, big hearted human,cat lover, book worm and friend.” 

I mean could she be any more perfect for a debut guest post? She also writes in TWO languages, German being her first (yep, and I struggle to blog once a week in English!) Meret lives in Zurich, Switzerland and is a relatively new ‘discovery’ for me. Having listened to her podcasts and read her blog I found her backstory and determination inspiring- in fact I have to thank her for the support which gave me the courage to stop being such a big baby and just get on with starting this series – thanks Meret!! So let’s hear what she had to say…

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**Coming Soon!** ‘She Loves Herself’

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One project I have been really keen to work on is a series relating to body positivity, something you’ll know I feel strongly about if you read my previous posts Why Body-Shamers Can Kiss My (Squidgy) Butt! and All the Carbs Please…. Both received many open and honest responses from readers who have been affected by external pressure to look a certain way, often leading to a negative body image. For some this was ‘just’ feeling unhappy in their own skin but for others it led to a warped relationship with food and even eating disorders.

Loving our family and friends comes so naturally but it seems there’s a lot of work to do when it comes to loving ourselves. As women we are often under pressure to meet unrealistically high standards in many aspects of life, but none more so than our physical appearance (and often we are our own worst critics). We poke and prod our squidgy bits, lusting after a toned tummy or leaner legs, after all we’ve had SO much practice at picking fault it comes naturally.

Whether it’s pressure from the media, society or even closer to home, there’s no sign of this quest for perfection going anywhere soon. As a mother I find this pretty depressing. The thought of my daughter growing up with so many negative messages about women’s bodies and the worry of what impact that will have makes me sad for her.

Although the recent trend for healthy rather than skinny is encouraging, even this has been taken to extremes in some cases and ultimately resulted in a ‘healthy’ eating and exercise regime which is basically another form of restrictive dieting under a different guise.

A movement towards body positivity is definitely growing but it is still FAR outweighed by the negative messages we see targeting women (and it is mainly women) in the public eye. So what can we do? Well the obvious solution would be to say “Knickers!” to the whole nonsense and get on with living life, but it’s HARD. It takes courage and self confidence that has been knocked out of some of us from an early age, year on year. BUT we are not blameless. If we are to change anything we need to take responsibility and we need to do things differently. In the same way that eventually body bashing becomes second nature we need to become better at BEING NICE TO OURSELVES! I know, crazy concept.

There is a wonderful Eleanor Roosevelt quote which I have used before but it says it perfectly:

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Next week I’ll post the first of my ‘She Loves Herself’ series, my own small step towards encouraging positivity and reinforcing the idea that we need to just stop the silliness, okay? I am so excited about my first guest and can’t wait to introduce you and share her answers – eek!

This series is all about ordinary people refusing to be made to feel inferior anymore and having the courage to say “Actually my body is pretty bloody brilliant and what I choose to do with it is my business!”. If this is a subject that you feel strongly about or have been affected by then I need your support people! If you’ve had enough of being told you need to change and would rather be part of something positive then why not take part in the series? Just leave a comment below or email me messandmerlot@outlook.com – I’d love to hear from you!

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Mr Grey

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Today I found my first grey hair, I can’t say I’m surprised.

There’s no point in denying, it was clearly galvanised.

The brazen strand in question glistened, dazzling in the sun.

Oblivious to my attempt at ‘youthful’ messy bun.

So this is it, the day has come, much to my dismay.

I need to hatch a cunning plan to camouflage this grey.

OK, calm down. DO NOT freak out. It’s not that bad, good heavens,

This brunette was ‘au naturel’ ’til just gone thirty-seven!

So weighing up my options in this tricky hair dilemma.

Davina-style Nutrisse goop or The Body Shop for henna??

It’s been so long (those ‘Sun-In’ days are well and truly gone).

The last time I bought hair dye Byker Grove was blimmin on!

Perhaps I’ll rock this silver streak just like Caitlin Moran

Ah yes, except she’s uber-cool, I’ll just look like her gran.

Apparently it’s ‘in’ you know, silver’s all the rage

But due to lack of collagen, I’ll only look my age.

I’m sorry folks, it’s just no good, I’m not that brave let’s face it.

Surrendering to nature?  Not quite ready to embrace it.

Vanity just won’t allow these glossy locks to fade

‘Ageing gracefully’ ain’t happening, not if I was paid.

The answer then seems pretty clear, it’s obvious no doubt:

I hunted down that little hair and pulled the b*gger out!

 

 

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Shove your spiralizer – I’m older and wiser

I’ve written previously about my own experience with diets over the years but when I read recently that leading members of The National Obesity Forum had resigned following a disagreement about their latest diet report I found it unnerving. I mean, if these guys, the ones with the findings of numerous scientific trials and years of medical research under their noses can’t agree on basic guidelines for healthy eating then who can we rely on?!

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As we know there are no shortage of diet options to consider, from the multinational, multi-billion pound big boys (Weight Watchers, Slim Fast et all) with their processed but convenient offerings to the current wave of self-confessed, (often unqualified) healthy eating ‘foodie’ experts. You know, the ones with the bone-broth recipes and the trust fund? Well I’m the first to hold my hands up and admit to entrusting my diet to all the above and more, certain that it would result in me rocking my bikini on the beach this time.

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Eventually I realised I was basically funding the industry that was preying on my own insecurities and reinforcing the idea that physically I wasn’t quite up to scratch. It was probably the combination of getting older and having kids that made me realise 1. life’s short, I should probably stop wasting time weighing chia seeds and 2. suddenly wobbly bits aren’t as big a deal when you’re busy keeping humans alive.

My children are 5 and 7 and both understand the basic effects of healthy or (too much) unhealthy food already. Personally I believe this is important but I am all too aware how it can quickly turn into an obsession later in life, especially with girls – not to mention the emotional issues to boot. The best I can do is stress the importance of a healthy balance and raise them to be confident, clued-up individuals (no pressure!)

I completely understand a quick ’emergency health kick’ a few weeks prior to the holidays or following a month of existing on mince pies and green triangles for example, but when half the weekly food shop requires a trip to Holland & Barrett, sorry I’m out.

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So, older and wiser (?) I have finally realised that what has been made to appear difficult, almost impossible all these years, is actually very, very simple. It’s not sexy, it doesn’t involve ground Peruvian root vegetable powder and it won’t get you a book deal. It IS common sense, moderation, a bit of self-discipline, a bit of exercise and a lot of positivity.

Below are a few sources of inspiration I enjoy using these days that don’t promote any type of extreme diets or require any form of food w*nkery. They cover a range of aspects that I consider to be important to my overall health, I hope you enjoy them too and find them useful:

**FOOD**

Food & Nonsense A registered dietitian, Helen tells it like it is and debunks the myths surrounding foods and fads. A really great site for anyone with an interest in health, nutrition and exercise.

Nic’s Nutrition Also a registered dietitian,  I have followed Nic online for a few years and although she does incorporate foods that could fit into the ‘trendy’ category, the recipes on the site are generally very doable and usually offer alternative ingredient options. Not a fan of protein powder? No problem, use hot chocolate powder instead! There are also recipes for special dietary requirements and many articles on nutrition.

**FITNESS**

Fitness Blender Free workouts for any fitness level – so many home workouts to choose from. You can tailor your programme to suit your own needs, oh did I mention,  IT’S COMPLETELY FREE?!

Food For Fitness I first discovered Scott through his podcasts when I was looking for something fitness related to listen to while I was out walking. His guests come from a wide range of health and fitness industry professions and cover topics such as motivation, eating disorders, mindfulness, food quackery and much more. Bonus points for the healthy, high protein recipes made from – wait for it – normal food!

**HEALTHY MIND**

The Moderation Movement brilliant, interesting, no BS articles with a common sense approach to health, fitness and body image. I could spend my entire day on this site!

Honest Mum Vicki’s site is jam packed full of articles on food, fashion, blogging tips, lifestyle, family (her adorable boys!) and much more. Most importantly for me, Vicki is all about encouraging women to believe in themselves and helping you to achieve success (however you define it). Her positivity is contagious, building women up and leading by example! This article actually inspired me to ‘go public’ as a blogger which was a huge step in self-belief for me, as someone with no writing experience.

Headspace “Gym membership for the mind”. A great little meditation app for when things are getting a bit much and you just need to Ctrl-Alt-Delete your mind. I used the free trial and then took out an annual subscription which gives you lots of options to choose from based on what you need. Cheaper than therapy and more socially acceptable than gin before lunchtime.

Deliciously Stella Yes I did spell it correctly, no I don’t mean the other one. If laughter is the best medicine then there is nobody better to tickle your ribs when it comes to mocking the current wave of Insta-foodies. Follow her on twitter or Pinterest for ‘alternative’ options to green juice or avocado on toast. Oh and she does podcasts too!

So there you have it. Now I’d love to hear any recommendations you have for similar no-nonsense inspiration or body positive champions. If you enjoyed this please feel free to comment below and share the love. X

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New Year’s Resolution FAIL!

This year I was pretty confident I’d sussed the New Year’s Resolution thing. Aim low. Keep it simple and achievable. Anything weightloss/diet related – doomed to fail almost immediately if my previous 25 year track record was anything to go by. Gym memberships –   might as well save the hassle and just burn a few notes. In fact anything more ambitious than wash, dress, keep everyone alive warranted a degree of doubt.

Feeling pretty confident about this year’s resolution I decided to invest (a whole £4.50!) in a sexy piece of kit bound to guarantee success.

What do you mean it’s not sexy? It’s Tupperware! Look it’s got clippy bits and twisty bits and everything! OK, so it’s no Cumberbatch but I was quite excited with my new purchase and the prospect of the great times we had ahead of us, all plump skinned and sharp minded. Yes I was simply going to DRINK. MORE. WATER.

Easy as that, fill her up in the morning and off I go, happily sipping my 2 litres throughout the day. Which I did, for a week. Then things went slightly off plan where most days I’d either pour a glass and just about manage to get through that or forget to drink any then begrudgingly gulp a couple of glasses down before bedtime leading to the 3am ‘OMG I’m desperate for a wee but I’m SO tired, maybe I can hang on for 4hrs’ thing. Last time my trusty Tupperware friend saw the light of day was for a couple of hours at Flump’s birthday party, so not a total waste of £4.50.

How ironic then, that exactly halfway through the year I was invited by Robinson’s for a kick up the bum talk on the importance of the wet stuff as part of their Enjoy Drinking More Water campagne. While the kids were entertained by staff at the beautiful WWT London Wetland Centre venue, the gorgeous Helen Bond (Registered Dietitian and living proof of the drinking water = glowy skin and sparkly eyes theory) explained just how much our bodies need water in order to function, kids even more so!

We all know we should be getting more H2O into us on a daily basis, I’ll admit I’m shockingly bad at this at the best of times but especially when it’s cold outside! My kids put me to shame really, glugging bottles of the stuff throughout the day and even taking water to bed with them every night. Naughty Mummy.

I shall be entirely grateful to Helen for debunking, once and for all, the myth that tea/coffee dehydrates the body – it doesn’t, woo and indeed hoo, I am not destined to live my life as dehydrated as Tim Peake’s next meal. Phew.

Obviously there was an array of Robinsons squash flavours to try (I didn’t even know apple squash was a thing, but I like it!) and we left laden with the good stuff to enjoy at home- yay! (N.B. as upper body workouts go, hauling litre bottles of squash around every kind of London public transport you can imagine, is hard to beat.)

Thank you to Robinson’s and the staff at London Wetland Centre who invited us to be part of this event, with the importance to ‘drink up’ fresh in my mind, some lovely (sugar-free!) squash to pimp my drink and the help of my two new mates here I’m quietly confident that Resolution Revisited:Return of the Jug will be a roaring success!
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All the carbs please…

 

A couple of weeks ago I wrote the post ‘Body Shamers can kiss my (squidgy) butt!‘ which had a huge response from readers saying they felt exactly the same way.  Thank you to those who took time to read and reply with very honest feelings of their own on such a personal subject. Low self-esteem, eating disorders, psychological effects, feelings of shame and weight loss obsession were just a few of the issues that were mentioned in response.

While I have thankfully never experienced a serious eating disorder, the rest I can very much identify with. Year after year of beating yourself up about the size of one’s arse will do that I guess! As I mentioned in the body shamers post, I never really set out to broach that subject, it just sort of happened in response to a couple of articles I had read that day.

I am so glad I did.

The response has reinforced my realisation that is it all such utter bo**ocks. Here we all are, going about our day, being made to feel a bit rubbish about ourselves for no good reason. It’s made me completely reevaluate my view on the idea of the perfect body  and consider how my attempts to attain anything near it over the years achieved nothing more than a warped relationship with food and an inability to think for myself. My own little personal Epiphany, sadly it’s taken me (almost) 37 years to reach this point but better late than never!

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It’s New Year’s Eve 1992, I’m writing my resolutions in my diary (aged 12), I wanted to be skinnier. The reason I still remember is because I even made up my own little mantra: “It’ll be a skinnier me in ’93” – catchy huh? So I know that for at least 25 years I have had a negative body image. I was never a chubby child, in fact growing up I remember my Mother getting ‘tonics’ to try to build me up such was my lack of interest in food at the time. (I once hid a bottle in the back of my Uncle’s car, who wondered what the ever increasing stench was as the Summer wore on!) It wasn’t until my ‘tweens’ (11-13) that I started to seek solace in food. Hormones I suppose played a big part in it; the horror when your body starts to transform completely without your consent. Boys who were once mere irritants suddenly become strangely appealing. Emotions! OMG the feeling that someone has crawled inside your brain and changed the default setting to ‘Tearful, Angry Mess’ is no fun for anyone! Praise-be, then for the ice-cream shop across the road.

I’m a total sugar monster so it didn’t take me long to realise that the answer to all my problems lay at the bottom of an ice-cream tub. Rocky Road, Honeycomb, Rum & Raisin made it all better. (Ironically I lived above my parents restaurant so I had a chef in my actual home, but with no interest in savoury food, never ordered anything other than chicken and gravy!!)

I wasn’t blessed with the metabolism that many of my teenage friends seemed to have, wolfing down chips with no visible effect on the size of their thighs. We moved from a small town in the country to Belfast city and to an all girls school mainly full of, how can I put it, ah yes, total bitc*es. Joy. With zero interest in sports and a whole heap of home cooked meals my weight soon crept up. The odd Mars bar for pudding may have had something to do with it but I didn’t care, well I did care, I just wanted that Mars bar reeeeeaaalllly badly.

Around this point I got wind of a sure-fire way to lose a stone in like, a week! The British Heart Foundation Diet (here we go…). I looked it up for the link so you can see how bonkers it was. Anyway, I lasted a day before I was back on the spag bol/ Mars bar diet. Hmmm…this was going to be trickier than I thought. My weight did manage to settle at around Size 10 in my late teens, obviously still a HEIFER in my eyes but I was at college, had friends, a boyfriend, a Saturday job so all pretty standard stuff at that age.

I left home for University in Wales where a diet of 50% flapjacks 50% beer did me no favours whatsoever. I was far too busy perving over the rugby team studying to even think about cooking something remotely healthy. A job in the fashion industry in London (body conscious central) followed,  where my new diet of vodka and menthols would have whipped me into supermodel shape in no time, had it not been for this thing me and pic’n’mix had going on on the side.

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It was here that I met Himself and finally left my beloved but body-bonkers London as we set off up the M1 to much less bonkers Bedfordshire. I joined a pub company where I was part of the Food & Drinks purchasing team and worked on menu development so as you can probably guess this role involved quite a lot of eating/drinking. Well, those samples weren’t going to test themselves were they??! (This is turning into a CV of dieting disasters!) During this time (since leaving home) I tried a ridiculous amount of diets, I can’t even remember them all. Slimming World (is it a red day or a green day, how many syns??), Atkins (SO.MUCH.MEAT), Low Carb (kill me), Low GI (just plain weird), high fibre (PARP!) and calorie counting, months and months of calorie counting. This was pre-MyFitnessPal where you had to go out and buy actual books with the calorie content of foods listed. I got pretty addicted to this and for years since it has been my go-to way to ‘keep in check’ if my weight started creeping up.

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More recently I found myself spending a small fortune on cacao powder, chia seeds, baobab, maca, coconut oil, coconut flour and a bag of supergreens so rancid they went in the bin at first taste! Anything other than trust myself to just use my brain and eat sensibly right? Surely I can eat as many homemade flapjacks as I like if they are made from 1kg nuts, 2 tubs of cashew nut butter and a gallon of agave syrup BECAUSE THEY ARE ALKALINE and therefore good for me – ok? Muppet.

Up until as recently as Saturday a protein smoothie (Nutribullet, natch) has been breakfast most mornings for about the past 6 months. Although this is a healthy combination of protein powder, blueberries, oats and spinach the problem is it tastes SO good and it’s probably not great to get my sweet tooth over excited that early in the day. And you know what? Sometimes I just want a great big bowl of Cornflakes, with fat milk!  I’ve been a diet/food industry’s dream my entire life, searching for a way to achieve the perfect body without actually having to take responsibility for my own food choices.

I’d say 25 years is more than enough of this carry on. I’ve counted calories, weighed meals, eliminated food groups, drank green tea (bleurgh!), fasted and drained my bank account in Wholefoods for the last time! Pinkie promise.

 

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Oh, did I mention, I’m NOT ON A DIET!

To be honest, this scares me a little. How mad is that? The idea of having no rules, no limitations, no guidelines or gurus to refer to feels makes me feel a bit anxious. This may sound completely ridunkulous but I’m going to ACTUALLY THINK FOR MYSELF, I know, radical. Apple or Kit-Kat? I know this one. Entire tub of Haagen Dazs? Possibly not in one sitting. See? I got this. Gold star please!

Today I even ordered tea instead of latte.

Baby steps…

 

FUN FACT! There are currently 77,169 results for ‘Diets & Healthy Eating’ books on Amazon, there may even be one or two in there I’ve never read!

Images:Pinterest

 

 

 

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