Fitness - Moving Crew
Tuesday, April 24, 2007; 11:30 AM
The Moving Crew is here to take your questions, comments, stories and ideas about personal fitness.
Trainer Lance Breger and trainer and writer Laura Jones joined The Post Health section's Susan Morse online Tuesday, April 24, at 11:30 a.m. ET to take your questions about health and fitness. This week, they focus on cardio vs. strength training for weight loss.
Breger is the head private trainer at
Jones is a freelance writer living in Charlottesville, Va. She is certified as a health fitness instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine.
A transcript follows
--The Moving Crew
The Moving Crew will be online to take questions every other Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Susan Morse: Welcome back, Crewsters. Liking that spring weather? All together now. Yes!!! This what we've been waiting for.
Until the novelty wears off, that's going to give jogging, biking and other outdoor cardio activities a leg up in the cardio vs. weight training debate. Let's face it: The more tempting the activity, the more you're likely to do it, and the more calories you're likely to burn in the process. But in the end, the contest is something of a wash. See today's Moving Crew column, "Cardio vs. Weights: The Battle Is Over," on page F3 of The Washington Post Health section, for details.
We have two terrific guests with us today to answer your fitness questions: Laura S. Jones, who wrote today's Moving Crew column, is certified as a fitness instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine. This will be her third year taking part in the annual Chesapeake Bay Swim -- all 4.4 choppy, current filled miles of it.
Also with us is Lance Breger, head trainer of Mint Fitness, a personal training gym in Adams Morgan. Lance has a bachelor's degree in kinesiology and is also certified as a trainer by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, with a specialization as a Performance Enhancement Specialist.
Enough wasting time. Let's get to your questions!
Washington, D.C.: I'm trying to move my running from the elliptical machine to outside with all of this beautiful weather. However, I always seem to get shin splints. I've heard that a lot of running problems can be fixed with the right shoe. Can you please recommend some running stores in D.C. or Maryland that can take the time to properly fit me?
Susan Morse: Hi Washington,
Yes, definitely, worth checking that out. A poor fitting shoe can predispose you to injury. Same thing with shoes that you've used too long.... Even shoes that still look pretty good can still have their cushioning shot. One suggestion I've heard good things about: Fleet Feet. Others, chatters?
Fairfax, Va.: I am getting back into a regular exercise routine, after having fallen off the wagon over the past year. I would like to know your opinion about the best fitness routine to lose approximately 1-2 inches from my waist (I have grown a little paunch and want to regain my flat stomach by the summer!). I'm a 5-foot-5 female, and weigh 131 pounds. I'm taking a weekly spinning class, and want to devote another day or two per week to other exercise. I have joined my local rec center, so I have access to fairly modern weight machines and fitness equipment, as well as free weights. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!
(Love you guys!! Reading your chat weekly keeps me motivated!)
Laura Jones: Hello Fairfax,
Thanks for your question. As a former personal trainer, a writer of fitness advice, an athlete, and the owner of a tummy paunch myself, let me say that the best way to deal with that is with appropriate clothes! Seriously, there is not much you can do to whittle your waist, particularly as we all get older. "Spot toning" and "fat blasting" are myths sold by women's mags and makers of diet pills. However, based on your description of your fitness routine, I would say that adding 2-3 more days of moderate to vigorous cardio is a good idea and I might add in a Pilates class or two. A good exercise to try at home is the plank - get someone at your gym to show you good form. And good luck!
Gaithersburg, Md.: I've recently had to switch my gym schedule on the weekends, so I work out in the afternoon. The gym is very empty at this time and with the weather getting nicer, there are even less people there. I feel very unmotivated and find it hard to work out when it is so dead and quiet in the gym. Do you have any tips on how I can keep up my motivation? I use other people as my motivation when I work out, even if I don't talk to them, and am finding that I just don't push myself the way I used to.
Lance Breger: Great question, it's certainly tough to stay motivated when you don't have the energy of others!
Here are a few ideas to get you moving mid-day:
-Invest in an iPod (fast paced music does wonders for me)
-Invite a family member, co-worker, or friend to join you (at least you're not the only one suffering!)
-Meet with a personal trainer (they have more motivation to share than is legal)
-Join a group class (another perfect way to get professional instruction, lively music, and group dynamics)
-Keep your workout short and sweet (keep moving and you'll be more time efficient)
-Do half indoor and half outdoor (jog to your club, do your strength routine and then jog home)
Salt Lake City: Hi! Awesome chat. I work out pretty regularly, and sweat -- A LOT! Thirty minutes of cardio has me soaking with sweat. Am I deluding myself by thinking that profuse sweating must mean I am burning calories like a furnace? Or am I just, well, sweaty? Thanks!
Lance Breger: Dear Sweaty (just kidding, you should see me!),
What you sweat is indicating is that your body internal thermostat is very efficient! As you become more fit your body regulates your core temperature through a sweating mechanism.
Two things about sweating I want you to think about:
1. Is the workout still tough? Sweating alone is not the most accurate method for estimating the amount of calories you. Make sure that you are tired at the end of your 30 minutes...if you're not think about added duration, increased speed, resistance and/or incline.
2. How much water are you drinking before, during, and after? If you have a tendency to sweat a lot make sure you are replenishing it with H20 and if the workout goes longer than one hour, add a sports drink for electrolyte balance.
Lastly, check to see how much water weight you lose at the end of your workout as there are recommendations for how much additional water to drink for every pound lost from an exercise bout.
Good luck and keep up the great work.
Increased cardio = weight gain: For the past couple years, I've been averaging 3-4 times per week at the gym with 1 or 2 days of that strength training and the rest cardio. Probably no surprise that I didn't lose any weight. But a month ago, I finally upped it -- I've been going 5-6 times per week, 3 times strength training and 5 times cardio. I also cut out most diary and sweets, and increased my intake of vegetables and whole grain foods. So after one month what do I see? Three pounds gained. I'm trying to lose 10-15 pounds (35 year old woman, 5 feet 6, 145 lbs), so what more do I have to do? A low level of cardio and strength training didn't do anything for me and increasing my exercise (while improving my diet) has only caused me to gain weight. I'm getting tired of the lack of results -- what's going on?
Laura Jones: Hello. This is a tough one. First, though, congratulations on your excellent fitness habits. Hopefully you are feeling the benefits of your healthy lifestyle even if you are not seeing them where you want to.
You don't mention how long you are at the gym doing cardio or what intensity you are using. You might want to add some intervals of higher intensity mixed in with your regular pace. Or do different cardio -- your body gets used to what it's been doing.
I will bet you that you have lost fat and gained muscle with your great routine. I'll also add that you might want to see a nutritionist. They know stuff we don't and can pinpoint any diet changes you could make.
Have fun with it -- see it as a game and try to focus on the positives you are already seeing. Oh - - almost forgot. Sleep affects weight, so make sure you are sleeping enough.
Washington, D.C.: I tried the Bosu at the gym last night for the first time, and MAN is it hard! People kept giving me funny looks because I could not stay on it for more than a few seconds before falling off and laughing. My balance isn't so bad on solid ground and I have been doing some other core exercises, so I guess my question is, am I doing something wrong if I can't stand on one leg on the Bosu for more than 5 seconds?! Thanks!
Susan Morse: Dear One Leg,
Five seconds this week. Ten seconds next. Keep going. That's the great thing about neuromuscular exercises: You'll be surprised how fast you improve.
Stuff the funny looks from folks around you. Betcha most of them couldn't do half as well -- or don't even have the courage to try it.
A tip: If the Bosu is full inflated, it's easier....If it seems really squishy, ask someone to add some air.
Silver Spring, Md.: Two questions: First, is it me, or has this chat been weekly recently? I thought it was every other, but maybe I'm just going crazy. Second, my husband thinks (due to conversations with other non-doctors) that he's developed a problem with his IT band thanks to increased running and speed work. We have a race that we've been training for this Sunday. Any suggestions on how he should treat this, both before and then after our race? Thanks!
Susan Morse: Hi Silver Spring,
Ha ha. You noticed! Yes, ordinarily it's a biweekly chat, but there have been a few switcheroos in last few weeks. Last week -- April 17 -- we weren't scheduled to chat.... but it was week of special fitness issue, and it seemed a strange week to skip.... so we didn't.
So you're not losing it.
As to the IT band, I think I'll defer to my learned colleagues...
Laura Jones: Hi Silver Spring --
Husbands like to self-diagnose, don't they?! But he may be right. First let me say he should see a doctor if the pain persists and maybe get some physical therapy.
There are some great stretches for the IT band. One is to stand up, cross the affected leg over the other leg and bend forward at the waist. Shift your hips slowly from side to side until you feel a stretch on the outside of the affected leg. Also, you can roll the ouchy leg over a tennis ball - this can smart a little - not for the weak of stomach. After the stretching and rolling, ice the area for 15 minutes. Warm up well before you race; try to avoid the banked parts of the road, and don't go crazy. Good luck and run smart.
Tummy paunch: I too have the dreaded paunch. I have found Pilates to be great, and twice a week definitely makes a difference compared to once a week. Also, the usual watching calories and aerobic exercise helps, too. I'll never have a six-pack, but at least I feel like I can wear a fitted T-shirt and not feel self-conscious!
Susan Morse: Dear Honest,
Thanks for this suggestion. Six-packs are pretty rare in people over 30. And maybe health and fitness are more important, anyway.
Kensington, Md.: Too much aerobics? Is there such a thing?
I've read a couple of articles and heard conversations at the club that too much aerobics burns muscle, and that the reason I can't lose these love handles is because I'm burning muscle when I do an hour or hard aerobics three or four times a week in addition to weight work.
I don't want to bulk up, but I want to be lean and long. Too much aerobics?
Lance Breger: I like your question, thanks for asking!
The body uses protein (muscle) as its last possible source for energy. First your body uses carbohydrates, then fat, and (only in starvation states) protein for fuel.
If you follow a well balanced nutritional plan, most likely you are not burning muscle. What you should be aware of is that aerobics do burn calories and depending on how long you perform the aerobics ... a lot of calories. If you are not getting enough calories it becomes more challenging to build muscle and rebuild tissue.
A few recommendations for your goals:
-alternating cardio/weight days to maximize both sessions and insuring enough calories to go around.
-If you are going to strength train on cardio days have some easily digestible carbs (sports drink) half way through
-Cardio before strength does influence lower body strength and performance so determine if lower body muscle or cardio is your priority and do that one first!
You are on the fast track to your goals, keep it up!
Washington, D.C.: Okay, so the cardio vs. weights argument has been decided. The new debate: which to do first on days you do both in the same session? I have friends who argue fervently that weights need to be done first (after a short warm-up) and others who insist you should do cardio first.
Laura Jones: Hi D.C.
It all depends on your goals. If you are trying to build lots of muscle, do weights first. If you are trying to improve your 5k time, do the run first. If you want to do both, switch the order every time you work out. If you want to do a semi-scientific experiment, do weights first one month, and cardio first the next. Beginners should do weights first (after a cardio warm up) so they can keep good form. Another good choice is to do what you love last so you know you won't skip it.
Washington, D.C.: I read the column this morning in The Post, and while I agree that a combination of cardio and weights helps to burn those calories to take the weight off (which I need to do), it doesn't help to have arthritic knees and a complaining lower back. I'm back at the gym now after about one year away, and am taking it very slowly. The only cardio I can do is a treadmill at 2.5 mph (about to increase that to 3) for maybe 10 minutes before I work out with the weights (which I enjoy much better). Yesterday, I could only muster 5 minutes before I headed to the weights.
Seeing as running is completely out of the question, and that the elliptical hurts my knees (really!), what on earth can I do to combine the two to get some meaningful weight loss (I would like to lose 35-40 pounds -- I'm a 60-year-old woman).
Laura Jones: Hi D.C.
Hop in the water! I love any excuse to give that advice, but this time I am convinced it could really help you. There are some great water exercise classes, including my favorite, deep water running, where you were a float belt and pretend you are heading for the finish line. You get your heart pumping with no impact. If you are attracted to swimming, get a couple of lessons to get the basics of good swim mechanics. Go to www.usms.org to get more advice.
Thanks and good luck. (The Arthritis Foundation recommends the water too - I'm not the only fish out there!)
Gaithersburg, Md.: I'll be traveling on a long plane trip in about a week (13-plus hours one way). Since I'll be sitting on a plane the whole time, do you have any suggestions on how to keep limber, and any possible exercises I can do while on the plane? Thanks!!
Susan Morse: Hi Gaithersburg,
You mean, besides getting up and moving about the cabin from time to time? (no kidding)
You know, there was a time when some airlines (Song and Jet Blue) used to give exercise kits to passengers, to help reduce the risk of developing blood clots from prolonged sitting during flights. I wonder if any airlines still do this?
Even if they don't, you can make do on your own. From time to time, hug alternate knees to your chest....Arch your back. Release. Repeat.....If you can tolerate the stares from your seatmates, step on the middle of a resistance band and pull on the ends with both hands. Not exactly a full-fledged workout, but anything helps, and you'll arrive feeling fresher. Have fun!
Bethesda, Md.: I've always been a really muscular girl, but I would like to tone my upper arms rather than further bulk them up. I try to hit the gym about three times a week for 30 minutes of cardio (on the elliptical) and then weights for 30-45 minutes. For arms, I generally bench, bicep curls, lower a weight behind my head for triceps exercise and whatever else I feel inspired to do that day. I try to do 3 sets of 10-12 reps. Can you please recommend some exercises that would add more definition that I can achieve in the weight room? I know yoga is great for tone, but it's hard to find a class I can fit into my schedule.
Lance Breger: Dear Muscles Md,
There are very few females that can "bulk-up" like males due to lower levels of muscle building hormones. Also you have to eat A LOT and train very hard to add that kind of size, I have many male clients that have a difficult time adding muscle. So don't worry too much about bulking up...
If by chance, you have a predisposition to add more muscle than you would like I recommend changing your exercise variables (sets, reps, rest, etc.)
The bodybuilding (or hypertrophy) zone for strength training is 3-6 sets with 8-12 repetitions, notice how your variables are pretty similar.
Try out the following variables:
12+ reps (up to 25)
0-30 seconds rest
I'd also recommend that you complete a total body workout by adding a upper back, shoulder, and leg exercise to your current routine for balance. Look to change your exercise every 4-6 weeks to avoid stalling.
You're right, bodyweight exercises and workouts (yoga/Pilates) do focus more on muscular endurance and would be a perfect compliment to your current routine. If you can't make a class rent a DVD from Netflix and keep it up at your home.
Thanks Muscles Md and good luck!
For "Sweaty" in SLC: I, too, am a heavy sweater. In particular, I lose a lot of salts in my sweat, so I tend to drink sports drinks after workouts longer than 40 minutes. I found that I got terrible headaches after drinking lots of water after running for 40 minutes, but when I drank Gatorade immediately after, I didn't get a headache. It usually only takes me about 12 oz. of sports drink after a 5-mile run and I'm fine with water the rest of the day. Which is good because, other than right after a hard run, I really hate the stuff.
If you're really against high fructose corn syrup, I also used to get a banana and orange smoothie with a pinch of salt at a local vegetarian cafe after I ran, along with a big glass of water.
Susan Morse: Sweat stuff,
Thanks for the support and for this suggestion!
Arlington, Va.: I travel a lot and would like to bring my yoga mat with me so I can practice. But I have a hard time figuring out the routines without an instructor prompting me through the poses. Are there any podcasts that I can download that will prompt me through a session?
Laura Jones: Hi Arlington,
I'm a little old and dusty for podcasts (I only just learned how to text message!), but enough about me. Try taking a single sheet of your favorite exercises (using images - stick figures if necessary- or titles of the poses) and get it laminated and take it with you. Have two different workouts - one on each side. Hope that helps until one of my colleagues has a more 21st century answer!
Susan Morse: Here's a story we ran in the Health section about exercising on airplanes.
I am training to run a 15k in July (in 11 weeks). I can only run a mile right now. I was an athlete in college (not so long ago, 7 years or so) so I have gone through hard training. My plan is to run three times a week with the long run steadily increasing, also to do another form of cardio (elliptical machine, biking) twice a week, one day of strength training and one day of rest. Do you think this is do-able??!
Laura Jones: Dear 15k:
It's definitely doable provided you don't get injured. On paper, your plan sounds great, although I might start with 2 days of rest for the next few weeks. Jeff Galloway has long advocated a similar plan. I also would make sure you have an easy week before the race and don't plan to tear it up on the course.
Waldorf, Md.: What will get my body more cut with more defined muscle tone, strength training or cardio?
Lance Breger: Dear Cut in Waldorf,
You already got it...BOTH! Depending on the amount of days you are looking to workout this program can take many different shapes.
Your cardio should be a mix of longer, lower intensity endurance cardio (35+ minutes) and short, high intensity intervals (20 minutes)
Keep your strength training full body focused and aim for 2-3 sets of 12-15 repetitions with minimal rest.
To be the most effective with your goals shoot for a minimum of 3x/week for both cardio and strength. Yes, they can be done on the same day!
Remember to stick with big movements and exercises that use a lot of muscles (i.e. push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc.)
Oh, the most important part! Your nutrition is the key to unlocking your fullest potential with regards to definition and lower body fat.
I'll see ya at the gym! Good luck!
RE: increased cardio = weight gain: I've found that for myself, personally, in order to lose weight, it is absolutely imperative to count calories, and I mean in the sense of weighing and measuring everything to make sure I really do know how many servings I'm eating. And, counter-intuitively, it's even more important if I'm being faithful about working out regularly and intensely. I get HUNGRY when I exercise, and even if I'm eating healthy foods, I tend to eat a LOT of them if I don't pay very, very close attention. It is soooo easy to eat more than you think you are, especially if you haven't at some point gone through the weighing, measuring, and calorie-counting to find out what 200 calories worth of beans or chicken really looks like.
Susan Morse: Dear Increased,
Sally Squires, who hosts the Lean Plate Club (tune in later today), would love your comments. Most of us fool ourselves about how much we eat and what's a serving size. That's not just my opinion -- it's the finding of study after study. And fooling ourselves is even easier to do after building up an appetite through exercise.
So congrats to you for finding and sticking to a strategy that's been shown to work. If you're trying to control calories, it's worth the effort.
Fairfax, Va.: First of all, I want to thank you for all of the information that you have made available to me...it has helped me in numerous ways.
I have just upped my exercising, particularly running. I am running 5 1/2 miles on most days and I have just met my first obstacle. I have shin splints in both shins. I looked up how to treat them and I have three questions/concerns. How long should I ice my shins daily? Also, how many days should I take off of running to ensure that they are gone? Lastly, I saw that it could potentially be a stress fracture. How do I know if I have shin splints or a stress fracture? Thanks for taking my question.
Laura Jones: Hi Fairfax-
Please do see a doctor about your shins. Untreated shin splints can lead to compartment syndrome and shin splint pain can be a stress fracture as well, as you know. If you don't know a good doctor to see, head over to Georgetown Running and they might be able to recommend one. In the meantime, try running in the water or cycling. (And ice rarely is bad - hit those shins for 10-15 minutes twice a day until you can get to a DOCTOR!)
LA: Laura: Thanks for the sexist remark, "Husbands like to self-diagnose" -- as a husband, I take offense; when I have a physical problem, I go to the doctor.
Laura Jones: Hi L.A.-
I deserve the lashing. Sorry to offend the husbands!
Washington, D.C.: Thank you for taking my question. I had foot surgery two months ago on my big toe for arthritis and am slowly getting back to an exercise regime (I am only in my 20s). However, I am being told not to go back to my dance classes and high low classes because if I come down incorrectly from a jump, I may injure the joint. Rather, Pilates, yoga, spinning, etc. are being recommended. Do you have any other suggestions as to cardio that I can do because I miss my old classes?
Lance Breger: Dear Big Toe, Little Cardio,
Sorry to hear about your slow recovery, but there are many options for you!
Check out some of my ideas for you:
-Circuit Strength Training
-Dance classes (Salsa, Bellydancing, African dance)
-long walk with varying inclines
-inline or ice skating
Keep your positive attitude about healing and returning to the classes that you love. Also, learning from a health fitness professional about proper landing from steps, jumps, etc. would be helpful.
I wish you a speedy recovery!
Washington, D.C.: Can you tell me more about a body going into starvation mode and metabolism. I am afraid I have ruined my metabolism by not living a structured life and poor diet. Now I am trying to do something but does not seem to be working. I see changes in clothes but numbers are not going down (weight and waist size are way past bad). I might not eat all day due to being busy, forgetting, or not having anything I want to eat then eat a big, wrong meal later. I want to learn how to realize my current metabolism and healthily make doable changes to activate it again. Also would walking twice a day for an hour or longer on weekends be over doing it?
Susan Morse: Hi Washington,
First, whatever your past habits, it's good that you're now tuned in to the need to pay closer attention to your body's needs. Give yourself a pat on the back for that. It's never too late to do that, and the results --healthwise, fitness-wise, outlook-wise -- can be dramatic.
If you have serious weight issues, or have been sedentary a long time -- I can't tell from your question-- it would be smart for you to consult with a doctor before adopting a new regimen. Once you have his or her blessing, the key would be to take it slow in building up exercise.
Two hours a day walking might not be too much, if you've built up to it, but that "if" is important. It might be better to regulate your diet first.
Sally Squires (you can join the Lean Plate club chat at 1 p.m. today) would tell you nutritionists recommend several small meals throughout the day instead of a few large ones to better control weight.
Lots of luck. And congrats for getting back on track.
Washington, D.C.: So, I went running yesterday in the heat and it was really tough. my question: does working out in the heat make you burn more calories? On the one hand, it certainly felt like I was working harder than normal. On the other hand, you burn calories by converting stored energy into heat, so maybe working out in the cold would burn more? I imagine the difference is probably inconsequential, but I'm still curious...
Laura Jones: Hi D.C.
Good question. The answer depends on so many factors, some of which require a PhD (which I don't have) to answer. But I do know people tend to prefer heat or cold to exercise in. If you like the heat, you'll run faster because you're happy. If you like the cold, ditto. After a hot run, people are usually less inclined to want to eat back the calories they burned. A cold run can make you more hungry. It's not a simple issue. You will certainly lose more water weight running in the heat. I know I hate running in the heat - give me 60 and misty!
No weightloss-ville: I am in the same boat as an earlier poster, I have made changes to my fitness and diet by seen NO results.
I am 5 feet 1, 160-pound, 32-year-old woman. I am ready to really get fit and have a lot of motivation. For the past three weeks I have started to go to the gym 3-4 days a week. I usually run on the treadmill for 30 minutes, alternating between bursts of running for 3-5 minutes by walking for 1-2. I also started walking to and from work 3-4 days a week (2 miles each way)
I have also reduced my calorie intake to 1300-1700 calories per day. I found a great online Web site where I can enter the nutrition information from the food labels and measuring my food to get an accurate count according to the portion size I am eating. I have also tracked to make sure I am getting healthy levels of fiber and other important nutrients.
After all this, I have seen no drop in my weight. Is this normal? I thought I would have at least lost 1-2 pounds in the past three weeks.
Susan Morse: Hi, no loss,
I'm going to suggest you take your question to Sally Squires in the Lean Plate Club chat that starts at 1 p.m. She gets variations on this question a lot. All's not lost.
New York, N.Y.: Hi!
I just took up running/jogging. I am wondering how far/how much I need to run a week to lose weight (about 10 lbs) and tone (really needed). Thanks much!
Laura Jones: Hi N.Y.C.-
No magic answer on this one -- start small (maybe run/walk 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time) and add time and distance to your runs until you see results. Get good shoes and make sure you add in some strength training - either in the form of classic weightlifting or a Pilates or other toning class. Good luck and try to run on grass occasionally. ( I know, NYC doesn't have a lot, but try for me?!)
Manassas, Va.: Re: "OH, the most important part! Your nutrition is the key to unlocking your fullest potential with regards to definition and lower body fat." What are good resources? Where to start? Dietitian vs. nutritionist? I really need help with this.
Lance Breger: Thanks for making me work for this one Manassas!
Thought I was going to get off the hook...I recommend a registered dietitian over a nutritionist if possible. They can legally analyze your diet, meal plan, recommend for medical/health conditions, etc. It's worth meeting with one in a health/fitness/sports setting to discuss your current nutritional plan as nutrition is 60-70% of your success with health/fitness goals.
Nancy Clark, is a renowned sports nutritionist with an plethora of resources for you to check out. Also, the American Dieticitic Association Web site.
Thanks! Good luck!
Susan Morse: Great chat! Terrific questions out there. I wish we could get to all of them, but life's like that. Thanks, Laura and Lance, for sharing your expertise. See you all back here soon. In the meantime, keep well and keep moving!
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