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How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You

How to Find Weight Loss Meal Plans That Work for You

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be so successful in finding a diet that works for them? Meanwhile, you find it hard to stick to any one diet — Atkins, Paleo, Keto, vegan, vegetarian, high-carb, low carb, and, my goodness the list goes on and on…

If you can relate to that, then you are in the right place! I am here to show you not only which weight-loss meal plans work better, but also how to make those diets work for you!

I am going to take you through the steps that will guarantee you long-term success in finding a diet that is effective for you!

Step 1: Know Your Body

“I don’t get they lost all that weight with that diet? I’ve tried it and it didn’t work?”

Have you ever said a phrase similar to that? If so, you’re not alone. Each person is different, which also means that every person out there will have a slightly different plan for what works for them.

If you are going to find success in this endeavor, then you need to understand YOUR specific needs. Each person is different, and there are countless obstacles that could be making it hard for you to lose weight like blood sugar imbalance, food intolerance, etc.

The great news is that no one knows your body as well as you do! So, yes, you might hear about an amazing high fruit diet, but only you know whether that would harm you or help you in the long run.

Here are some cues that can help guide you along to which diet might help you best:

Do you Get super anxious or jittery after eating high carb meals? Do you crave sugar or starches? Do you have blood sugar imbalances?

For you, eating a low amount of starchy or sugary carbs might be the best options! You could try a diet like a Paleo or a Blood Sugar Balancing Plan to see if they work for you!

Do you find your stomach constantly in knots, have a high PH, and can’t tolerate meat well?

Consider going plant-based! The high amount of vegetables could balance your body and reduce inflammation!

Do you always crave processed foods? Do you find it hard to eat a balanced diet because of your cravings?

Your body might need to reset and get used to eating whole and nutritious foods! Maybe you could give the Whole 30 a shot!

Do you struggle with food sensitivities? Does your digestion make it hard for you to lose weight?

An elimination diet or the virgin diet could be just what you need to discover what sensitivities are your pitfalls.

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Whatever your unique conditions, you likely already know what really does or doesn’t work for you. Go with a diet that fits your needs.

Step 2: Power Up!

Now that you have some idea as far as the basic diet, there are some guidelines I’ll go over with you. No matter what diet you choose, there are some rules that you can follow to ensure your success!

Even the best diet can be foiled if you don’t know the nutrition basics necessary to turn your body into a fat torching machine!

Eat Clean

Have you ever fallen for the idea that filling your pantry with “diet” foods or “low fat” foods would make the difference necessary for weight loss? Trust me! You are not alone!

Today, most people have falsely believed the marketing lies that the “missing ingredient” for weight loss comes in a package. That is sadly far from the truth.

Keeping an eye on calorie intake or sticking by the rules of a diet plan is great! But even the best of diets can be sabotaged by junk food under the guise of being “healthy”.

These foods lead to people subbing their regular cokes for diet cokes and make diet cakes. They eat low-fat yogurt laden with sugar and chemicals. They chow down on processed protein bars. And all the while they wonder why they can’t stick to their diets or lose the weight. These poor people have merely fallen victim to all the diet marketing plaguing our states.

The problem is that what we really need is pure whole foods! Even though some foods might be low-calorie, if they are not whole and natural foods, then your body likely still won’t respond very well to them. Make a point of filling your plate with lean protein and piles of veggies!

Doing this will give your body the actual nutrients that your body is craving. This attacks the problem at the root source of weight gain by helping your body work well and shed extra weight on its own. Over time, your boosted metabolism will help do most of the work for you.

Eat Lots of Green Veggies

Thought that there are diets out there that will keep me from having to eat veggies? Hey, your mom told you to finish that spinach for a reason! Your body needs the rich amount of nutrients that veggies offer no matter what diet you are on!

Most successful diets out there have on thing in common:

They always encourage filling up on greens.

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Greens are low calorie and nutrient dense. They fill you up and help you feel like you ate a lot more than you actually did. They clean you out and balance your blood sugar.

I could really go on and on about them. But there’s also one aspect that many people overlook:

Greens have a very high alkalizing effect on the body.

If you have been eating diets high in fast food and fries, then your body is likely very acidic. This leads to less energy, more sickness, and more weight gain. Eating lots of greens could help rebalance your body and stop weight gain in its tracks!

If you grew up on fast food, eating greens is probably the last thing on your plate that you want to eat. That’s where you need to retrain your palate. Your brain has been convinced that sugar and saturated fat will bring you energy. When you realize that those foods are actually the source of exhaustion, you can then begin to convince your mind that the real source of energy lies in the power of vegetables.

Start by subbing veggies for some carbs or mixing greens into your meals. Follow this link for more great ideas to retrain your palate!

Don’t Fall for Fads

If you have been tracking so far, there is one thing I’ll mention that you probably saw coming:

Be on guard for fad diets.

The best diets work by getting your metabolism humming on its own, not by cutting extreme calories!

If any diets seem to offer miracle results, then be careful. The fact of the matter is, long-term weight loss is a very steady process. Consistency is key.

What can be a fad diet?

  • If it promises instant weight loss
  • If you can’t sustain it long-term
  • If you never stop being tired on it (the right diets might make you tired at first while your body is re-balancing, but long-term you will find your energy multiply).
  • If it completely ignores vital nutrients
  • If people who go on it seem to always fall off and gain more weight after they do

Step 3: Boost Your Metabolism

Now that you have pinned down the type of diet that you believe would make your body feel the best, it’s time to show you how to get your metabolism fired up!

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No matter what diet you choose, if you don’t know the basics of how to balance blood sugar and keep your fat burning machine fueled, then you will have a difficult time losing the weight.

We are about to go over how to tune up your machine and keep those fires burning.

Manage your Protein

Protein is a power tool because it optimizes fat burning and boost your metabolism. Another important aspect of protein is the fact that it is absorbed slowly giving your body a steady boost of nutrients.

No matter what diet you choose, it will be a bust if you are not ensuring proper protein intake (vegetarians can get protein through eggs, tofu, bean and rice, and quinoa).

The daily recommended intake for protein is 10-35% of your calories. Too little will make you lose muscle and will destroy your metabolism. Too high protein could result in kidney problems.

Of course, muscle is built out of amino acids, and they are found in protein. So the amount that you workout will definitely determine how much protein you will need!

Here are the basic guidelines to help you figure out your protein needs:

If you’re Sedentary:

  • Find 36% of your body weight; That’s how much protein in grams you will need!
  • Example: If I weighed 150 then I would need 54 grams of protein a day.

If you’re an endurance trainer:

  • Find 70% of your body weight; That’s how much protein in grams you will need!
  • Example: If I weighed 150 then I would need 105 grams of protein a day.

If you are a Heavy Lifter/Body Builder

  • Find 90-100% of your body weight. That’s how much protein in grams you will need!
  • Example: If I weighed 150 then I would need 135-150 grams of protein a day.
  • Make sure you are adding protein to every meal for the best results!

Time Your Meals

Did you know that skipping meals can actually make you gain weight? That means the very thing you do to try to lose weight might actually be doing the opposite for you!

The problem with skipping meals is that it can crash your metabolism and lead to bingeing later on. Why would you want to set yourself up for that hardship? No fun!

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The right diet should not be about depriving you from food. Rather, it should be about filling your body with the right nutrient dense foods.

Diets that are extremely low calorie long-term, that encourage drinking only liquids, or make you ravenously hungry are not the best options for a sustainable life-change.

If you really want to boost your fat-burning abilities then set certain time frames for eating and focusing on eating every 3-4 hours within that time frame. This method (a form of intermittent fasting) will keep you from going hungry when you shouldn’t eat, but will keep your metabolism humming during times when you need the extra energy.[1]

Know the Basics of Blood-Sugar Balance

What if I told you that Blood sugar balance could be what is sabotaging you from achieving your dream body?!

“What?” You ask, “That’s not true. I’m the one sabotaging it. I always crave sweets. I binge on food at night. I just feel so tired and cranky a few hours after eating and I just dive straight for the cookie bin.”

What if I told you that is not your fault? It’s very likely that it could actually be your body screaming that it’s off balance.

With our modern “SAD” diet (that stands for standard american diet in case you were wondering) people are finding that keeping their blood sugar stable is become more and more difficult. Insulin, a hormone that helps regulate blood sugar, can determine the difference between success or utter failure on your weight-loss endeavors. And our modern world has our insulin all out of whack!

Luckily, there are ways to take care of this — by combining your meals properly:[2]

The Bottom Line

Are you excited to start creating the body you’ve always dreamed of?

By working with your body, eating whole fresh foods, keeping portions in control, and managing your blood sugar to boost metabolism, you will be amazed to see your body seamlessly following your efforts!

Remember, weight loss is a journey. There will be times when you fail and that is okay! Like anything in life, from your family or your career, perseverance and consistency will get you where you want to be! Stay the course and be okay with steady progression.

If you know your body and what works for you, fill up on nutrients and whole foods, ensure you are balancing your blood sugar balance, and make sure that what you are doing is sustainable long-term then you will see some amazing results!

You’ve got this! Be excited, I’m right here rooting for you and here to help!

Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Katelyn Delaney

Owner of Revifi -- Fitness Training & Life Coaching

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Why You’re Feeling Tired All the Time (And What to Do About It)

Feeling tired all the time?

Have you ever caught yourself nodding off when you’re watching TV, listening to someone drone on during a meeting or even driving a car?

I know I have, especially when I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive.

Feeling tired all the time may be more widespread than you think. In fact, two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week.[1]

If you’re tired of feeling tired, then I’ve got some great news for you. New research is helping us gain critical insights into the underlying causes of feeling tired all the time.

In this article, we’ll discuss the latest reasons why you’re feeling tired all the time and practical steps you can take to finally get to the bottom of your fatigue and feel rested.

What Happens When You’re Too Tired

If you sleep just two hours less than the normal eight hours, you could be as impaired as someone who has consumed up to three beers.[2] And you’ve probably experienced the impact yourself.

Here are some common examples of what happens when you’re feeling tired:[3]

  • You may have trouble focusing because memory and learning functions may be impaired within your brain.
  • You may experience mood swings and an inability to differentiate between what’s important and what’s not because your brain’s neurotransmitters are misfiring.
  • You may get dark circles under your eyes and/or your skin make look dull and lackluster in the short term and over time your skin may get wrinkles and show signs of aging because your body didn’t have time to remove toxins during sleep.
  • You may find it more difficult to exercise or to perform any type of athletic activity.
  • Your immune system may weaken causing you to pick up infections more easily.
  • You may overeat because not getting enough sleep activates the body’s endocannabinoids even when you’re not hungry.
  • Your metabolism slows down so what you eat is more likely to be stored as belly fat.

Are you saying that feeling tired can make me overweight?

Unfortunately, yes!

Feeling tired all the time can cause you to put on the pounds especially around your waist. But it is a classic chicken and egg situation, too.

Heavier people are more likely to feel fatigued during the day than lighter ones. And that’s even true for overweight people who don’t have sleep apnea (source: National Institutes of Health).

Speaking of sleep apnea, you may be wondering if that or something else is causing you to feel tired all the time.

Why Are you Feeling Tired All the Time?

Leading experts are starting to recognize that there are three primary reasons people feel tired on a regular basis: sleep deprivation, fatigue and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Here’s a quick overview of each root cause of feeling tired all of the time:

  1. Tiredness occurs from sleep deprivation when you don’t get high-quality sleep consistently. It typically can be solved by changing your routine and getting enough deep restorative sleep.
  2. Fatigue occurs from prolonged sleeplessness which could be triggered by numerous issues such as mental health issues, long-term illness, fibromyalgia, obesity, sleep apnea or stress. It typically can be improved by changing your lifestyle and using sleep aids or treatments, if recommended by your physician.
  3. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medical condition also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis that occurs from persistent exhaustion that doesn’t go away with sleep.

The exact cause of CFS is not known, but it may be due to problems with the immune system, a bacterial infection, a hormone imbalance or emotional trauma.

It typically involves working with a doctor to rule out other illnesses before diagnosing and treating CFS.[4]

Always consult a physician to get a personal diagnosis about why you are feeling tired, especially if it is a severe condition.

Feeling Tired vs Being Fatigued

If lack of quality sleep doesn’t seem to be the root cause for you, then it’s time to explore fatigue as the reason you are frequently feeling tired.

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Until recently, tiredness and fatigue were thought to be interchangeable. Leading experts now realize that tiredness and fatigue are different.

Tiredness is primarily about lack of sleep.

But fatigue is a perceived feeling of being tired that is much more likely to occur in people who have depression, anxiety or emotional stress and/or are overweight and physically inactive (source: Science Direct).

Symptoms of fatigue include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Low stamina
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anxiety
  • Low motivation

These symptoms may sound similar to those of tiredness but they usually last longer and are more intense.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive reason why fatigue occurs because it can be a symptom of an emotional or physical illness. But there are still a number of steps you can take to reduce difficult symptoms by making a few simple lifestyle changes.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

The number one reason you may feel tired is because of sleep deprivation which means you are not getting enough high-quality sleep.

Most adults need 7 to 9 hours of high-quality, uninterrupted sleep per night. If you’re sleep deprived, the amount of sleep you need increases.

So, quantity and quality do matter when it comes to sleep.

The key to quality sleep is being able to get long, uninterrupted sleep cycles throughout the night. It typically takes 90 minutes for you to reach a state of deep REM sleep where your body’s healing crew goes to work.

Ideally, you want to get at least 3 to 4 deep REM sleep cycles in per night. That’s why it’s so important to stay asleep for 7 or more hours.

Research also shows that people who think they can get by on less sleep don’t perform as well as people who get at least seven hours of sleep a night[5] So, you should definitely plan on getting seven hours of deep restorative sleep every night.

If you are not getting 7 hours of high-quality sleep regularly, then sleep deprivation is most likely reason you feel tired all the time.

And that is good news because sleep deprivation is much simpler and easier to address than the other root causes.

It’s also a good idea to rule out sleep deprivation as the reason why you are tired before moving on to the other possibilities such as fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which may require a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

4 Simple Changes to Reduce Fatigue

Personally, I’m a big believer in upgrading your lifestyle to uplift your life. I overcame chronic stress and exhaustion by making these four changes to my lifestyle:

  1. Eating healthy, home-cooked meals versus microwaving processed foods or eating out
  2. Exercising regularly
  3. Using stressbusters
  4. Creating a bedtime routine to sleep better

So, I know it is possible to change your lifestyle even when you’re working crazy hours and have lots of family responsibilities.

After I made the 4 simple changes in my lifestyle, I no longer felt exhausted all of the time.

In addition, I lost two inches off my waist and looked and felt better than ever.

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I was so excited that I wanted to help others replace stress and exhaustion with rest and well-being, too. That’s why I became a Certified Holistic Wellness Coach through the Dr. Sears Wellness Institute.

Interestingly enough, I discovered that Dr. Sears recommends a somewhat similar L.E.A.N. lifestyle:

  • L is for Lifestyle and means living healthy including getting enough sleep.
  • E is for Exercise and means getting at least 20 minutes of exercise a day ideally for six days a week.
  • A is for Attitude and means thinking positive and reducing stress whenever possible.
  • N is for Nutrition and means emphasizing a right-fat diet, not a low-fat diet.

The L.E.A.N. lifestyle is a scientifically-proven way to reduce fatigue, get to the optimal weight and to achieve overall wellness.[6]

And yes, there does seem to be an important correlation between being lean and feeling rested.

But overall based on my personal experience and Dr. Sear’s scientific proof, the key to not feeling tired all of the time does seem to be 4 simple changes to your lifestyle.

L — Living Healthy

Getting enough high-quality sleep every day is the surefire way to help you feel less fatigued, more rested and better overall.

So, whether you’re sleep deprived or potentially suffering from fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you probably want to find a way to sleep better.

In fact, if you aren’t getting enough sleep, your body isn’t getting the time it needs to repair itself; meaning that if you are suffering from an illness, it’s far more likely to linger.

As unlikely as it sounds, though, fatigue can sometimes make it difficult to sleep. That’s why I’d recommend taking a look at your bedtime routine before you go to bed and optimize it based on sleep best practices.

Here are 3 quick and easy tips for creating a pro-sleep bedtime routine:

1. Unplug

Many of us try to unwind by watching TV or doing something on an iPhone or tablet. But tech can affect your melatonin production due to the blue light that they emit, fooling your body into thinking it’s still daytime.

So turn off all tech one hour before bed and create a tech-free zone in your bedroom.

2. Unwind

Do something to relax.

Use the time before bed to do something you find relaxing such as reading a book, listening to soothing music, meditating or taking an Epsom salt bath.

3. Get Comfortable

Ensure your bed is comfortable and your room is set up for sleep.

Make sure you room is cool. 60-68 degrees is the ideal temperature for most people to sleep.

Also, it’s ideal if your bedroom is dark and there is no noise.

Finally, make sure everything is handled (e.g., laying out tomorrow’s clothes) before you get into your nice, comfy bed.

If your mind is still active, write a to-do list to help you fall asleep faster.[7]

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Above all, be gentle with yourself and count your blessings, some sheep or whatever helps.

This article also offers practical tips to build a bedtime routine: How to Build a Good Bedtime Routine That Makes Your Morning Easier

E — Exercise

Many people know that exercise is good for them, but just can’t figure out how to fit it into their busy schedules.

That’s what happened in my case.

But when my chronic stress and exhaustion turned into systemic inflammation (which can lead to major diseases like Alzheimer’s), I realized it was time to change my lifestyle.

As part of my lifestyle upgrade, I knew I needed to move more.

My friends who exercise all gave me the same advice: find an exercise you like to do and find a specific time in your schedule when you can consistently do it.

That made sense to me.

So, I decided to swim.

I used to love to swim when I was young, but I hadn’t done it for years. The best time for me to do it was immediately after work, since I could easily get an open swim lane at my local fitness club then.

Also, swimming became a nice reason for me to leave work on time. And I got to enjoy a nice workout before eating dinner.

Swimming is a good way to get your cardio or endurance training. But, walking, running and dancing are nice alternatives.

So find an exercise you love and stick to it. Ideally, get a combination of endurance training, strength training and flexibility training in during your daily 20-minute workout.

If you haven’t exercised in a while and have a lot of stress in your life, you may want to give yoga a try because you will increase your flexibility and lower your stress.

A — Attitude

Stress may be a major reason why you aren’t feeling well all of the time. At least that was the case with me.

When I worked 70 hours per week as a High-Tech Executive, I felt chronically stressed and exhausted. But there was one thing that always worked to help me feel calmer and less fatigued.

Do you want to know what that master stress-busting technique was?

Breathing.

But not just any old breathing. It was a special form of deep Yogic breathing called the “Long-Exhale Breathing” or “4-7-8 breathing” or “Pranayama” in Sanskrit).

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Here’s how you do “Long-Exhale Breathing”:

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your spine straight and your hand on your tummy (so you know you are breathing deeply from your diaphragm and not shallowly from your chest)
  2. Breathe in deeply and slowly from your diaphragm with your mouth closed while you count to 4 (ideally until your stomach feels full of air)
  3. Hold your breath while you count to 7 mentally and enjoy the stillness
  4. Breathe out through your mouth with a “ha” sound while you count to 8 (or until your stomach has no more air in it)
  5. Pause after you finish your exhale while you notice the sense of wholeness and relaxation from completing one conscious, deep, long exhale breath
  6. Repeat 3 times ensuring your exhale is longer than your inhale so you relax your nervous system

This type of “long-exhale breathing” is scientifically proven to reduce stress.

When your exhale is twice as long as your inhale, it soothes your parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates the relaxation response.[8]

Plus, this is a great technique for helping you get to sleep, too.

N — Nutrition

Diet is vital for beating fatigue – after all, food is your main source of energy.

If your diet is poor, then it implies you’re not getting the nutrients you need to sustain healthy energy levels.

Eating a diet for fatigue doesn’t need to be complicated, time-consuming though.

For most people, it’s just a case of swapping a few unhealthy foods for a few healthier ones, like switching from low-fiber, processed foods to whole, high-fiber foods.

Unless your current diet is solely made up of fast food and ready meals, adjusting to a fatigue-fighting diet shouldn’t be too much of a shock to the system.

Here’re 9 simple diet swaps you can make today:

  1. Replace your morning coffee with Matcha green tea and drink only herbal tea within six hours of bedtime.
  2. Add a healthy fat or protein to your any carb you eat, especially if you eat before bed. Please note that carb-only snacks lead to blood-sugar crashes that can make you eat more and they can keep you from sleeping.
  3. Fill up with fiber especially green leafy vegetables. Strive to get at least 25g per day with at least 5 servings (a serving is the size of your fist) of green vegetables.
  4. Replace refined, processed, low-fiber pastas and grains with zucchini noodles and whole grains such as buckwheat, quinoa, sorghum, oats, amaranth, millet, teff, brown rice and corn.
  5. Swap natural sweeteners for refined sugars and try to ensure you don’t get more than 25g of sugar a day if you are a woman and 30g of sugar a day if you are a man.
  6. Replace ice cream with low-sugar alternatives such as So Delicious Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Ice Cream.
  7. Swap omega-6, partially-hydrogenated oils such as corn, palm, sunflower, safflower, cotton, canola and soybean oil for omega-3 oils such as flax, olive and nut oils.
  8. Replace high-sugar yoghurts with low-sugar, dairy-free yoghurts such as Kite Hill Plain Yoghurt with 1g sugar or Lifeway Farmer Cheese with 0g sugar.
  9. Swap your sugar-laden soda for sparkling water with a splash of low-sugar juice

Also, ensure your diet is giving you enough of the daily essential vitamins and minerals. Most of us don’t get enough Vitamin D, Vitamin B-12, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium. If you are low on any of the above vitamins and minerals, you may experience fatigue and low energy.

That’s why it’s always worth having your doctor check your levels. If you find any of them are low, then try to eat foods rich in them.

Alternatively, you might consider a high-quality multi-vitamin or specific supplement.

The Bottom Line

If you are tired of feeling tired, then there is tremendous hope.

If you are tired because you are not getting enough high-quality sleep, then the best remedy is a bedtime routine based on sleep best practices.

If you are tired because you have stress and fatigue, then the best remedy are four simple lifestyle changes including:

  • Enough High-Quality Sleep with Bedtime Routine
  • Regular Exercise You Love
  • Stress Reduction with Long-Exhale Breathing
  • Fatigue-Reducing Diet

Overall, adopting a healthier lifestyle Is the ideal remedy for feeling more rested and energized.

More Tips to Help You Rest Better

Featured photo credit: Cris Saur via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] YouGov: Two-fifths of Americans are tired most of the week
[2] National Safety Council: Is Your Company Confronting Workplace Fatigue?
[3] The New York Times: Why Are We So Freaking Tired?
[4] Mayo Clinic: Chronic fatigue syndrome
[5] Mayo Clinic: Lack of sleep: Can it make you sick?
[6] Ask Dr. Sears: The L.E.A.N. Lifestyle
[7] American Psychological Association: Getting a Good Night’s Sleep
[8] Yoga International: Learning to Exhale: 2-to-1 Breathing

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