Our Weight: When Is It ‘Happy’?

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Welcome back everyone!

I hope you had a lovely weekend, whether it was celebrating the 4th of July or just a couple days off work! :)

Two quick things before I get into today’s hot topic:

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Jillian Michaels in Self Magazine:

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While I was on the treadmill the other day, I was reading Jillian Michael’s interview in the latest issue of Self Magazine.

Jillian Michael’s on her weight:

“I try to start the season [of The Biggest Loser] in the best shape as possible…Then, during the season, I’m so exhausted that it’s hard for me to workout, so my body will change on the show. I get 8 to 10 pounds heavier. I’ll go from 115 pounds to 125 pounds…At 115 pounds, I look ripped, but I also look old. And my hunger is raging, my body doesn’t want to be there. At 125 pounds, I’m working [on the show] like crazy, stressed out of my mind, having a glass of wine every night. 120 pounds is actually good, I can hold it there.”

I think this quote is so interesting because it reminds me that our weight is typically not a static, unchanging thing. I used to have the mindset that I wanted to be ‘x’ number of pounds and once I got there I was going to stay there for good. Ummm….sorry, Ange…never going to happen! Not even celebrity personal trainers are immune from weight fluctuations from time to time.

I can relate to Jillian’s words so much because it took me a while to figure out my happy weight.

What is a happy weight? A happy weight is a weight that your body can maintain with relative ease where you feel healthy, energetic, and sane. For Jillian, her happy weight would be 120 pounds, the weight that she can feel good and ‘hold’ or maintain.

What is an unhappy weight? Our ‘unhappy weight’ is a weight that we do not feel our best at energy wise, health wise, and hunger wise. For Jillian, an unhappy weight was 115 pounds. She said she ‘looked old’ and her ‘hunger was raging’. In my opinion, it is almost impossible to achieve a healthy balance in our life when our mind is constantly on food and we are always starving! This is a signal that our body is trying desperately to put on a few pounds.

Another unhappy weight for Jillian is 125 pounds. She says when she weighs 125 pounds, she is typically highly stressed out, drinking alcohol, and probably eating poorly. She recognizes that life happens, and her weight can fluctuate depending on what is going on in her life. I think we can all relate to that! I know I put on some weight when I was injured despite my best efforts and I also tend to gain a bit of weight over the winter months.

Since I have come to the realization that my weight is not a static thing, my mind has been more at ease and I have been able to see the bigger picture of my overall, long term health. If I go up a few pounds in the winter, does it really matter? Probably not. If we have a stressful month and gain a bit of weight, is it the end of the world? Hardly. Life happens and whether we like it or not, our weight is going to fluctuate a bit over the course of our weeks, months, years, etc!

I have had unhappy weights. I have been at lower weights in the past and I was miserable. Much like Jillian, I was starving all the time. I couldn’t get my mind off food. I was obsessed and barely thought of anything but my weight and negative thoughts about myself and my body. I never felt like I was good enough. Actually, at my lowest weights, I felt the worst about myself. Depriving oneself can really mess up the mind, that is for sure.

When you aren’t treating your body properly, you will never feel good, no matter how small the image is looking you in the mirror.

When it came down to it, when I was at my lowest weight, I couldn’t even appreciate it because all my body wanted to do was desperately gain a bit of weight! I had no time to think of anything but food and weight. I couldn’t study and I couldn’t go out with friends. That was NOT a happy weight!

I think it is really important that we learn that being super thin or ‘x’ amount of pounds will not bring happiness. Happiness comes from the inside, feeling good about yourself, and making healthy choices in your life.

I have also been at higher weights, that I would call unhappy weights too. Even though I was heavier than I am now, my mind was always on food. I was like a rollercoaster ride…barely eating one day and bingeing the next. It was not healthy for me because my body never had a healthy balance. It never knew what to expect from one day to the next, and when I did eat, you can bet your bottom dollar that it held onto every single calorie that it got.

I definitely think that the place I am at now, and have been for a while, is my happy weight. I don’t know what I weigh (since I ditched the scale), but I know I am at a happy weight because I can eat when I am hungry, enjoy an active lifestyle, and my clothes generally fit about the same. Of course, some days my pants may feel a bit tight or something may not fit right, but I have come to realize that that is pretty normal, especially being a woman and all! ;)

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My questions to you today:

1) Do you know what your happy weight is? Without getting specific with numbers, try to talk generally about what a happy weight is to you. Do you know when you are there? Have you ever been at your happy weight? How did/do you feel?

2) What about unhappy weights? Have you ever been there too? What was going on that made this an unhappy weight?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts as always! :)

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

emma k. July 6, 2009

I don’t know what my happy weight is, because until recently I didn’t work on taking care of my mind, heart, and health… I was just focused on the outside and the numbers.

I have experienced unhappy weights though. Last summer I got very thin, and although I thought I looked great in clothes I was also secretly fearing food, obsessively working out, and always on edge because I felt like everyone was talking about my weight loss behind my back.

Then during the school year I fell into a deep depression and suffered from chronic bingeing and emotional eating and gained weight fast. This was also an unhappy weight because I wasn’t treating my body with any respect, I was just stuffing my emotions. I felt completely uncomfortable with my own body and out of touch with my mind. It was horrible.

Right now I am on track to getting to my happy weight and I’m really excited about it. :)

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Mandy A July 6, 2009

My happy weight is around 130… I was there and able to maintain it with no problems up until about two months ago. I haven’t been eating as well as I normally do… one too many sweets/drinks/bread/etc lately along with not keeping up with work outs! But 130ish is where I feel most comfortable with myself… although, I’d never admit it to myself. I’m always, ALWAYS trying to look better… or thinking where I am isn’t “enough”.

I’ve lost over 100 pounds and have kept it off for about ten years… it’s pretty sad that I don’t give myself enough credit that I’ve come that far, ya know? I am WAY easier on myself than I used to be… but I definitely need some “operation beautiful” in my life!!!

My husband and I were talking about me buying some new clothes… since I’ve gained some weight and can’t fit in my normal stuff… he said (very cautiously, too!) – “shouldn’t you wait until you’re the size you want to be?” as to which my reply was “am i EVER the size I want to be?”… he said – “good point”…. so this topic is very real to me!!!

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Stephanie July 6, 2009

I used to aim for a specific weight but in the past year I incorporated a ton of strength training into my routine and instead of losing weight, I gained 10 pounds of solid muscle and look better than before. So now, I could care less about the number =)

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Beth @ CrossBorderCravings July 6, 2009

This is a really great discussion! I know that I’m at my happy weight when I’m eating exactly what I want when I want it, I feel healthy and happy and I look my best. When I’m at an unhappy weight – too high or too low – I obsess about food too much and stop enjoying life the way it should be enjoyed! I love certain foods and feel my best when I incorporate indulgences with healthy habits to achieve a nice balance :O).

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Danielle C. July 6, 2009

I’ve come to realize over the last few years that I am at my happy weight (right around 135, this can fluctuate during the course of the day obviously). I used to think (like you) that I would be happy to get down to 125 but after a few years I know this is unrealistic and like Jillian explains I would be hungry all of the time and that I just wouldn’t be happy!

Now I know that at around this weight I am so happy, I can eat well, and have energy for my workouts. The caveat is that I hope to continue converting to lean muscle, I now care way more about what I see in the mirror and that I am SMILING when I look in the mirror.

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Ashley July 6, 2009

Great topic!

I think weight is like an outfit – you need to try it on and get a sense of what it feels like in your body before you know if it’s right for you. This is a reason I often suggest to my members that we choose a “goal weight” once they are closer to it.

My happy weight has a range of about 3 lbs and it’s something I’ve figured out in the last year or so. When I first got to my goal weight, I found it incredibly challenging to see the change in my body. Because we see ourselves every day, I think we can often have a distorted view of what’s actually appearing back at us in the mirror. My happy weight is a place where I can eat well, but not have to feel like I’m constantly *working* to stay there. I feel great where I’m at right now and have been recently working on toning and changing my fat/muscle composition.

As for my unhappy weight, I guess I have the two extremes. I was definitely unhappy when I was at my biggest recorded weight of 161. I felt big. My clothes looked and felt terrible. I didn’t feel healthy or happy. I was also at an unhappy weight in 2007 when I got really sick after a Crohn’s flare up. I had JUST gotten to my goal weight, and then lost another 15 or so lbs. I was too thin. I saw bones. I felt weak and I recognized that I didn’t wanna go back there.

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AGS July 6, 2009

Ashley — I love your analogy! I have written it down on a sticky-note to show my husband (no — I’m not kidding). I think that’s a great way to approach life — not just weight.

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Jen July 6, 2009

Oh Angela this really spoke to me today. Just what I needed to read/think about. Im struggling right now through a relapse with my eating disorder and numbers are driving me crazy. You have been an inspiration to me for the past year. Thank you for this! Unfortunatly I cant say what a happy weight is for me. I know what an unhappy weight is..

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Susan July 6, 2009

Awesome post Angela, happy weights are one thing I love to talk about! I think finding your own happy weight is SO important. To me, my “happy weight” is feeling good in my jeans, but still being able to go out with friends sometimes and having a beer.

I’m naturally thick around the middle, it’s where I carry the majority of my body fat. In an ideal world, I would have a flat tummy. I bet if I really limited the foods I ate, it could happen. And I’ve tried. I once cut my carbs (and my wonderful fruit!) waaay down and OD-ed on protein to cut back on belly fat. It kind of worked, but I hated life. So I fell back to my natural eating habits, and got a little squishy around the middle again. I still fit into everything, I just don’t have the body shape I’ve always dreamed of. But in the end, being able to eat normally is way better than having flat abs ever will be. So THAT’s my happy weight :)

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Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now July 6, 2009

I’m definitely at an unhappy weight. I’ve pretty much been there my whole adult life. Right now, I’m working on just eating better and exercising more, and hoping my happy weight will find me.

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SarahF July 6, 2009

Great topic Angela!

I definately think I’m at my happy weight right now. I’ve never really been bigger than I am now, but for a long time I had such a fear of getting fat that I was constantly working towards being thinner. About a year and a half ago I started working out and became obsessed with going to the gym and making sure I was eating healthy AT ALL TIMES. But then I would have my Thursday binges (I’m not sure why Thursday but it always was) where I would eat everything in the house. I was constantly tallying calories in my head and trying to compensate for a bad night (For example: “Friday I ate 3000 calories so today and tomorrow I’ll only have 1200 and that’ll average out to 1800 each day”).

I’ve also had to let go of weighing myself because before I started working out I weighed 137 pounds and I now weigh 147 (I’m 5’11). I really freaked out when I saw that I was putting on weight but I later realized that I actually went down a size in clothes and I was putting on muscle.

Now I try to exercise whenever I have a chance (works out to 2-4 times a week) and eat well but I also have indulgences (such as this past weekend at Stampede) and I no longer sweat about it. Goodbye calorie counting…hello happiness

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Courtney July 6, 2009

My happy weight, I was right on the cusp of getting there, is in between 110-115. I sit a BIT heavier than that now, I’m learning how to moderate food with exercise to keep me at my goal weight. :) The reason I liked being at this weight, I felt like I could run faster — may seem silly, but I P.R.ed the most during this time. I was also the thinnest becasue I was training. And I am happiest when I’m training! :D

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Mrs. Myers @ Eat Move Write July 6, 2009

I can honestly say I’ve never in life been at a truly healthy weight (according to the charts) unless I was maybe age 2. I’m still technically overweight today. But, I’m happy, despite the fact that I want to continue losing. (Is that possible? :)…) I have a feeling my body’s happy weight will be higher than the 105ish pounds my doctor has told me I should weigh. I don’t like looking small and frail. At 5’1, I’m super petite as it is. I don’t want to look like a child. I agree too that its important to accept a fluctuating weight. I need to get that through to my brain!!!

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Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope July 6, 2009

Awesome topic Angela. To me, a happy weight is where I am treating my body with respect, listening to it, and finding a healthy balance with food and exercise. Life is inevitable… there will be trips, busy times, stresses, etc that make our weight fluctuate, but as long as we have an overall healthy and happy lifestyle, our “happy weight” should come naturally.

xxoo
Heather

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RunToFinish July 6, 2009

i do think it takes a maturity and time to understand a happy weight. realistically where I am right now is probably my happy weight. I feel good and can eat! So why is it that I still want those six pack abs so badly?

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Chloe July 6, 2009

I definitely know my “unhappy” weight and it doesn’t necessarily mean that I’ve gained more than 5 pounds. It could be that I’m not treating my body well, not eating right or exercising enough, and it makes me feel bloated and crappy. Not to mention down on myself for treating my body that way.
My happy weight is about 7 pounds less than I weigh right now, but I definitely gain in the winter too. A recent post you made about accepting the fact that you’ll gain weight in the winter and lose in the summer really changed my point of view about my weight fluctuations.
Great post, this really helps me to realize that our weight isn’t static but will change – even from day to day. This is why I LOVE your blog!

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Marcia July 6, 2009

What a great blog post today! It was nice to hear about Jillian’s happy weights, etc., because you just need to add 10 lbs, and that’s me.

Happy weight, 125, but I’m starving and look every one of my 39 years, if not more.

Unhappy weight, 135…drinking too much, eating too much chocolate, pants too tight.

Pretty happy-and-easy-to-maintain-weight is 130.

We’re probably the same height, but I’ve got a stockier build than our fair Jillian. Heck, my calves are bigger than most men I know. The joys of coming from good old German farmer stock.

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Emily July 6, 2009

My genetics have given me a naturally slight, boy-ish (read: no curves!) body. Gaining weight won’t make me curvy; it will only make me feel like a slug. I can accept that.

“Happy” weight is the perfect term for it. I’ve been at my happy weight, as well as on the wrong side of it (on either side). I’m not EXACTLY where I want to be right now, and I am sure it is a function of stress. A year ago, I was the happiest I have ever been in my life, and my body reflected that. Now, my eating and exercise habits are by no means drastically different, but I’ve been under some stress and it does wear my body down. Thankfully, though, things are on the upswing, and I feel right on the verge of being really “happy” once again. :)

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Jen July 6, 2009

Great topic and post! I just recently discovered your blog and I really love it.

I’ve never been at my happy weight, so I have no idea what it is. I started gaining weight right after I hit puberty, so I don’t even know what my body looks like at my adult height without these extra pounds. It’s frustrating sometimes to not have anything to look back on as motivation, but it’s also inspiring to beat out my own path and know that once I reach that happy weight, I’ll know, and I won’t want to push myself to lose more weight just because I weighed less at some point in my life.

The encouraging thing is, while I’m not at my happy weight, I’m at a much happier weight than I was 3 months ago. I’ve lost 28lbs and it’s amazing how much anxiety and sadness has gone away with the weight. I know my happy weight will come, and when it does I will be active, outgoing and content, which I’m really excited about.

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Ally July 6, 2009

Love this topic–and your outlook–so refreshing! I read that article in Self magazine too. So nice to hear that even “professionals” like Jillian battle this too!

I’m currently trying to get to my happy weight–I was there back in May and because of a rash of stress and illness, I’ve gained a few and it’s frusterating because I have to “re-learn” healthy habits, etc. But, I’m not totally “unhappy” right now either, but, know that I would feel better down just a few because I know the the reason I’m not at the point is because I’ve let myself get lax with my eating and have been eating a lot of junk! Weight or no weight, my body feels ick when I do that!

But, I’ve also pushed it to the other extreme. In college I did fitness competitions (not smart for a gal with low self esteem and poor body image!) and was freakishly thin (and ripped!), but I was always hungry. I thought about food–I let it rule my life. This was also the height of the low carb craze, so, I literally went 4 months without bread, tortilla, pita, pasta–anything like that. I actually broke down in tears on Easter Sunday because my family and I were at this gorgeous hotel on a river with a gorgeous Easter brunch spread and I was upset because “there’s nothing I can eat!”–seriously. Insane. I might have been thin, but, I was miserably unhappy (as was everyone around me, I’m sure!) and it go so bad that my sister had to force feed me a cookie at one point. Literally, force me to eat it. YIKES.

I think it’s also a process of growing up–I was young and silly and didn’t respect by body. Sure, I’m not in love with the way I look right now, and am working on eliminating the junk that I’ve been eating, but, my body can propel me through 16 mile runs, intense yoga classes and the like. Now, that’s a package worth taking care of, right?

OK, sorry for the ramble!!

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Jocelyn July 6, 2009

Hi Angela! So glad you did this post. I enjoyed reading, and it made alot of sense..

To answer your questions..

My questions to you today:

1) Do you know what your happy weight is? Without getting specific with numbers, try to talk generally about what a happy weight is to you. Do you know when you are there? Have you ever been at your happy weight? How did/do you feel?

To be honest, I haven’t been at my happy weight since I was a kid. A weight where I am so comfortable that I don’t think about it on a day to day basis. I would be able to enjoy ALL food I eat (bad and good) without worrying about getting excersise in after..or daily. My skin would be healthy…I would be energised daily…I would feel comfortable in my own skin..and not to mention smaller sizes of clothing ;) I would ENJOY shopping! And wearing a bathing suit. lol.

2) What about unhappy weights? Have you ever been there too? What was going on that made this an unhappy weight?

I was at an unhappy weight this time last year..I was over 215 pounds. Not only the number made me unhappy..but I felt like poop to be honest. My body felt slow and weak and sore all the time, my skin was very uneven and definitely not glowing…I craved food that just made me feel down..I binged and I starved. I’m glad to say that I am on the road to recovery and feeling much better these days… I’m losing weight, not in an obsessive way..but healthy way :)

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Holly July 6, 2009

I’m not sure that I do know what my happy weight is.

Sometimes it seems that my current weight is my happy weight. At this weight I can basically eat how I want to eat. I’m active. I’m fit. I feel good.

But at the same time, sometimes I am dissatisfied with this weight. However, my only real issue is that I would like to have less weight around my waist. (Hence my goal to have a smaller waist measurement.) To be honest, I know that only a few pounds one way or the other makes a big difference on my midsection, so… I would say that if I’m not at my happy weight, I am close to it. I would at least say I am in my happy weight range. Would I be happy 3-5 pounds lighter? I’m sure I would. Would I be happy 1-2 pounds heavier? Yes.

Another reason I would say this is my happy weight range (I think having a happy weight range is better than having a specific happy weight – less stressful to maintain and who needs more stress?.) is that I can do the things that make me happy and still maintain this weight. I can run. I can strength train. I can push my levels of stamina and endurance. I can enjoy a pretzel at the farmer’s market. I can go out with friends. I can have a few drinks at a party. I can have pizza and cupcakes and cookies and ice cream when I want them. And I can do it without feeling guilty, without feeling like I am failing at something, without obsessing over every bite and feeling constantly under scrutiny. And THAT makes me happy. I am happy to be free of that. If the cost of being able to actually live life, not hide from it, is a couple of extra pounds – that is a price I will pay. Happily.

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Kathy July 7, 2009

I love this Angela :) I have ditched the scale too but I think my body is finally at its happy weight. It’s been about the same more or less for a while now, in terms of fitting clothes and just me feeling good, and that is all that matters.Who cares about a stupid number anyway~! :)

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Maria July 7, 2009

I was at a happy weight most of my life, at least in retrospect. Of course at the time I thought I needed to lose a pound…I am 5’7″ and never weighed more than 128 naturally. No exercise required. At age 26 I got depressed to the tune of thirty plus pounds lost….and it then turned into an eating disorder right before my very eyes until I was only 88lbs. One day I woke up and realized I could die any minute. While I never sought professional help as I should have. I started to eat( but I would also chew and spit) but still not like I should. In turn my body turned against me and in effort to save us both hung on to evbery last morsel I ingested. Not sure how much I weigh right now but it has been almost a year since I started gaining weight and last weigh in I was 151. Which is uncomfortably high for me. Naturally I have beaten myself up for messing up my body. I have developed ovary cysts from a lack of periods for more than 2 years. My thyroid was out of wack, no muscle mass left…the list goes on. I can honestly say it is the hardest thing to take control of I have had to encounter thus far. Every day is a battle with myself to not beat myself up. It took me a ahwile to get down so low, it will take a lot of TLC to rebuild my body. I am finally taking care of myself in a proper way and including exercise to rebuild my muscles. I am also happy to report I have had two periods in a row which is a big accomplishment. Will I ever look at food the same as I did before? I am not sure. I do know that when I beat myself up I start to envision myself as I want to see my reflection in the mirror. I dont want to be just like I was before. I want to be better. I will be better. Our minds are the most powerful tool we have. Thank you for your blog, it inspires me daily. I actually just started my own yesterday. Like my life it is a work in progress.

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Jess July 7, 2009

I think I’m getting close to my happy weight. I was there about 5 years ago, but then I was young enough that I didn’t really have to ‘try’ to keep it there. Now, it’s work! But I’m really loving the work :)

Unhappy weight – ohhh, yeah, been there. In the past year I hit my highest weight and I was just … well, unhappy. I slept all the time, I was depressed, I didn’t feel good about myself, none of my clothes fit, I didn’t feel pretty, let alone sexy, I just hated myself. I hope I never feel that way again.

I must say, this morning, I was still in my pajamas when my hubby said to me ‘wow, you really have lost a lot of weight – it really shows.’ That made me smile. I looked at my legs and have really noticed a lot of definition in them that I didn’t have before. I’m really proud of myself.

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Jess July 7, 2009

I think I’m getting close to my happy weight. I was there about 5 years ago, but then I was young enough that I didn’t really have to ‘try’ to keep it there. Now, it’s work! But I’m really loving the work :)

Unhappy weight – ohhh, yeah, been there. In the past year I hit my highest weight and I was just … well, unhappy. I slept all the time, I was depressed, I didn’t feel good about myself, none of my clothes fit, I didn’t feel pretty, let alone sexy, I just hated myself. I hope I never feel that way again.

I must say, this morning, I was still in my pajamas when my hubby said to me ‘wow, you really have lost a lot of weight – it really shows.’ That made me smile. I looked at my legs and have really noticed a lot of definition in them that I didn’t have before. I’m really proud of myself.

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