Weighty Matters

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Weight Loss Weariness

Jumping on to blog before work because I woke up this morning in a strange emotional place.  For some undefinable reason, this morning I am tired of being on a weight loss food plan.  I’m drinking my freshly made protein drink (fresh, organic strawberries, almond milk and protein powder) which tastes good, but in between sips I’m glaring at it like it’s some noxious medicine.

Considering my options for lunch, I stood in front of the open refrigerator regarding all of the options with disdain.  Just for today, hell, just for right now at this moment, I feel like I don’t want to be on a “diet” any more.  My motivation switch is in the Off position.  I’ve been on this effort now for well over a year and most of that time have ridden an incredible high.  Even at the end of the cruise when I tasted pretty  much whatever I wanted, I still had the motivation to be physically active and get back on track when I got home.  Today I feel like I’ve tumbled down from that high big time.  I know that I still have more than 70 pounds to go.  I’ve lost more than twice that amount, for pity’s sake.  It’s not an unsurmountable target.  It just feels that way today.

I guess this is normal.  Ebb and flow, high and low.  It happens.  That doesn’t mean I have to like it.  This is not a comfortable state of being.  It’s also unacceptable.

I’m not done yet.  I don’t want to be finished, content with my current weight when I’m still carrying 70 more pounds than I should.  The weight loss and fitness have triggered so much wonderfulness and I want to to continue enjoying every bit of it.

I don’t even particularly want to take a break.  The more that I stick to the program, day by day by day, the sooner that weight will be off and I can truly transition to maintenance.  Plus I’m going to a convention in two months where I will spend most of a week hanging out with friends — many of whom I haven’t seen since last April.  I’d love to be even 20 pounds closer to goal by the time that I leave.

My motivation hasn’t died.  It’s just hibernating this morning.  I need to wake it back up, focus on the long range goal but remember that I can only get there in the future if I take care of business today.  The good news is that I chose to come here and blog about it instead of making inappropriate food choices.  I could have taken a bagel out of the freezer and fixed that for breakfast.  Instead, as I have morning after morning after morning, I made a protein drink.  I have healthy choices packed for lunch and snacks at work.  I know what’s on the menu for dinner.  I’ll be fine.

Even if today I don’t like following the food plan, I’m going to follow it anyway.  In the end, even though I’m weary of the effort, I still want to meet my goal more than I want to stop.  That’s all that matters.

Thanks for listening.

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The Supermarket Obstacle Course

I had to stop at the supermarket on my way home from work to pick up a few things.  I’ve gotten much better about making lists and following them when I shop.  Before I would wander around the store picking up anything that caught my eye or sparked a “yummm” response.

I’ve heard it suggested that we should shop the perimeter of a grocery store first because that’s where the freshest, healthiest products are displayed.  The inner aisles are where the processed foods are stocked, apparently.  I think there’s a lot to this theory, but it isn’t 100% true.  For example, when I enter the better of the two local supermarkets, I instinctively turn right.  This leads me right into tables of baked goods.  One needs to navigate around cookies, cupcakes, cakes, danish rings and other sugary, buttery things.

I’ve gotten pretty good at looking beyond this section and heading into the appetizer/deli area.  That’s where I can find some good hummus and the treat of good quality cheeses.  (Okay, it also brings me by the shelves of wine.  I like to keep a sauvignon blanc chilling in the house for when friends come over.)

After that, I’m in the healthy zone of produce.  I gravitate to the organic selections first for whatever vegetables and fruit I might need.  I didn’t have to get anything today because my co-workers and I belong to an organics buying club that delivers our orders every two weeks.  So yesterday I got a delivery of strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, bananas, kale and sweet potatoes.

Still following the perimeter, produce is followed by dairy.  This section is a mix of the good and the bad, don’t you think?  Sure there’s yogurt,  milk and healthier substitutes for butter.  (Confession time:  On this food plan, I use very little butter so I refuse to switch to a substitute.  The little bit that I eat is not going to harm me and I justify it by thinking of the better flavor.)

However, mixed in with that essential dairy stuff is the entire refrigerated dough products display.  Cookie dough, the makings of breakfast buns, tubes of chocolate brownies and so on.  I can remember a time when I’d buy them to bake at home and end up only baking half because I’d eaten a bunch of the dough raw. I like my sweets as much as the next person, but I think from now on, if I’m going to eat this stuff and give myself treat on rare occasions, I want it to be really delicious and not made out of overprocessed goo.  In my store, I need to dodge this display in order to get to the Greek yogurt.  That doesn’t seem to jive with the “the perimeter is the realm of the healthy theory”, does it?

Milk, eggs, cheese, and “fresh” pasta come next.  Then, all of sudden, you’re in seafood land and heading for the meat department.  Not too bad.  Everybody needs their protein and I’m definitely a carnivore.  After adding some selections to my cart, I took a left at the end and found myself in the second aisle of frozen foods — the one that has shelf after shelf of ice cream, frozen pies, cakes, and so on and so on and so on.

When all is said and done, there might be healthy nutritious food stocked on the perimeter, but there’s a helluva lot of temptation in the form of the things that I shouldn’t be eating.   In years past, my cart would fill with those things because, well, I had little resistance in the face of that temptation, not to mention the thousands of other things shelved in the interior aisles.

Nowadays I think of the supermarket as an obstacle course.  It’s a challenge that I need to get through without shoving food that I don’t want and shouldn’t eat into my cart. Absolutely, keeping that list is the most helpful tool.  Not shopping when I’m really hungry is another.  When all is said and done, the food doesn’t leap into my cart by itself.  As with all other choices, these are also up to me.

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If You Couldn’t Fail

I’m not caught up yet with the rest of my Hawaii photos so today’s post comes without picture illustration and metaphor.  My thoughts are all over the place, so I’m freewheeling a little here tonight.

There’s a saying that I run across in various places at random times.  It asks the question, “What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

I tend to be hard on myself, which I’ve discussed here before.  I hate the mere thought of falling short of expectations – my own or anyone elses.   To compensate, there was a time in my life when I didn’t push or expect much of myself.  If you don’t set high-reaching goals, you don’t set yourself up for disappointment when you don’t succeed.  I see now where I spent a number of years living to a level of diminished capacity.  It’s ironic because one thing I hated to hear from my father was that I was not living up to my potential and abilities.   On further thought, maybe it wasn’t irony so much as rebellion.  I’m no longer sure.  I just know that this way of life was neither affirming nor rewarding.  If anything, it reinforced my poor self-esteem.

In more recent times, I realize that I’ve developed a new strategy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I still hate falling short of expectations, but I don’t shy away from setting a high bar.  I think it’s okay to demand strong performance from myself, to push my reach beyond my grasp, and to strive for excellence.  Taking on challenges invigorates the mind and spirit.   It’s just not okay to beat myself up if I don’t always make it to the nth degree.

If I give my best effort, that counts.  I also have a lot of faith in my best effort being pretty darned good.  Results will ensue.

I’ve also gotten to the point where I don’t let fear of failure stop me from making the attempt, from embracing the venture.   What a difference a few decades can make.  Fear of failing can be so strong that it locks you in place, renders you inert.  The only thing that I can imagine is worse is when you are also afraid of success and end up self-sabotaging.

My takeaway for today is to remember that I don’t need to know I won’t fail in order to fling myself into the effort.  I’ll launch myself regardless and go for the gusto.

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Moving in the Right Direction

I’m losing weight again after a week post-vacation where I gained a few pounds and then my system shut down.  I blame “empty” carbs.  I don’t actually know if they’re the reason, but that’s what I have to work with and I’m going with it.  I remember my surgeon telling me that even a few empty carbs would slow my weight loss, so this seems to make sense.  By empty I mean bread, crackers, white potatoes, rice, etc.  I don’t count beans or bean products (like hummus) or lentils.  I also don’t count fruits as empty carbs.  As long as I don’t pig out on them, they seem to do more good than harm.

So for the last few days I’ve been careful and not eaten empty carbs.  I’ve found ways to work in more veggies and fruit along with my protein.  I haven’t indulged in chocolates and the like.   Today the scale showed that I’ve already lost a couple of the pounds that I gained.  I’m definitely back moving in the right direction.

**************Potential TMI alert***************

I also discovered the power of prunes.  Those yummy dried plums are helping my system move better too.

************TMI alert over**********************

Overall, I just feel so much better.  I’m over the jet lag.  I’m done with the nagging cough and congestion-that-didn’t-feel-like-a-cold-but-wasn’t-any-fun.  I’ve gotten more rest.  Emotionally I feel better too.  Physical-emotional-mental recovery.  It’s a total package.

I’m really pleased, psyched even, that I’ve been able to pull my act together and get back on track.  Anybody who has a compulsive disease or an addiction can probably relate to how hard it is to climb back onto the wagon after you fall off.  I have a history of screwed up diets where I’d gain all of the weight back, so this illustrates for me that I have come a long way in my recovery and ability to re-motivate.

When I prepared to post my ziplining pictures, a bunch of metaphors and comparisons ran through my head.  I feel that way again tonight as I’m ready to share more photos from the crater hike.  The unbelievably difficult, strenuous, challenging crater hike.

I might have said this before, but when we booked this particular excursion, we expected a three mile hike out to see a crater.  The description noted that we should be reasonably fit.  Given my work with Zumba, Tai Chi, water aerobics and simple walking, I knew that a three mile hike wouldn’t be too much, so I was gung ho to go on the excursion.

What we discovered was that it was going to be more like 4.5 miles with real hiking down into the crater on sometimes difficult, even treacherous ground and lava rock, across the lava bed and then back up and out of the crater.  Honestly, had we had a really clear idea of what the trip entailed, we probably wouldn’t have done it.

There were times during the three or so hours that I was near-miserable.  However, I knew that I would make it and complete the hike.  I might be slower than others in the group.  I might not be as sure-footed.  There were times when I had to stop and catch my breath, but I kept going.  I know with a rock solid certainty, I would not have been able to do this hike a year ago.  Hell, I don’t know if I could have done it last summer before I began doing Zumba every week.

Yes, I didn’t actually have a choice.  It’s not like I could stay in the crater or on the trail and nobody was going to come and carry me up the rest of the way.  I had to do it.  Step by step by step.

That’s my take away lesson.  One, that my success is up to me, choice by choice and step by step by step.  Others can support, encourage, cheer and congratulate me.  I can take hold of a helping hand now and then to steady myself, but I’m the one that has to supply the energy and determination.  I’m also the only one who can keep myself from giving up and force myself to continue moving in the right direction.

Here are some pictures from the hike that turned out to be so much more than a walk in the woods.

Looking down from the elevation more than 3874 feet.

Looking down from the elevation more than 3874 feet.

Beautiful, rocky ground.

Beautiful, rocky ground.

We made it down, then we had to hike across the crater.

We made it down, then we had to hike across the crater.

Made it!

Made it!

After we finished at the crater and Volcanoes National Park, we went to see Akaka Falls. (Another short hike.)

After we finished at the crater and Volcanoes National Park, we went to see Akaka Falls. (Another short hike.)

On the road, we stopped to admire a pretty bay.

On the road, we stopped to admire a pretty bay.

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Embracing the Adventure

After our ziplining experience in Kauai, I shopped in their little store and bought a t-shirt.  It says Embrace the Adventure and has a graphic of someone ziplining.  Nothing could more perfectly describe how I felt about the whole day, unless there had been a sub-line that said, “And Be Grateful that You Can!”

I went through all of my photos from the day to resize them into manageable files for uploading and was telling a friend about the day.  Once I knew that I’d made the weight limit, I wasn’t scared or even particularly nervous, but I was incredibly excited.  We climbed the suspension bridge to the first ramp and, one-by-one, we were hooked onto the first zipline and sent on our way.  I knew that I was completely secure with my harness, the straps, the heavy-duty carbiniers and the actual cable that is airplane rated to sustain 12,000 pounds.  I stood on the edge of the platform, looked down, down, down, and took a deep breath.

This was the moment of truth when I would trust the equipment and take a step off of the platform into air.

“Here you go, Mary, this is what you’ve been waiting for!” I said to myself and stepped off to zoom across the line  high above the ground.  I yelled, “WOOOOHOOOOO!” and grinned from ear to ear.  I couldn’t wait for the next zipline.  The suspension bridges might have been a little wobbly but, again, they were strong, so I wasn’t afraid.  I was happy that I had the strength and balance to make steady progress.

Every time I look at the photos, I smile again and my heart glows.  It was so much fun and, even more, I am proud of myself and my friend for embracing the adventure.  I know what effort it has taken for me to get myself to the weight and fitness level so that I could physically engage and I’m proud of that too.  My friend is a bit leery of heights, but she also faced down her fears to zipline.

This morning I think that this is all a big metaphor for approaching life.  Here’s what ziplining reminds me to do.  Seek out adventure.  Challenge yourself to go outside your own norm, your own box.  Set your goals.  Identify your allies/guides/mentors/coaches.  Surround yourself with supportive people and be supportive to them as well.  Trust your preparation.   You have to launch yourself into space before you can fly.  Your early landings might not be graceful, but as long as you arrive safely, you win.

Don’t be held hostage by your nerves or fear.  Feel them and do it anyway.

Those are my lessons from ziplining.  I’m taking them with me into the future while I seek out new adventures.  You can bet I’ll also zipline again, any chance I get!

What adventure or goal would you like to experience, physically challenging or otherwise?

Getting oriented about the equipment.

Getting oriented about the equipment.

Kauai-Beautiful Tree Top View

View from the platform.

Looking down.

Looking down.

I'm ready!

I’m ready!

Almost my turn.

Almost my turn.

Wheeeee!

Wheeeee!

Straight down the line.

Straight down the line.

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No Food Obligation

I’m still working through photos and will get some more up online sometime this weekend.

It’s been a rough week.  Not only did the jet lag completely kick my ass, but I also had some weird illness going on.  I didn’t feel sick like with a cold, but starting from when I was on the cruise ship, I had an intermittent “productive” cough and lots of congestion.  When I slept at night, it wasn’t a good sleep and my butt definitely dragged all week at work.

Work itself was stressful.  I knew when I got back that I had to make deadline on a few projects and, of course, other things came up.  While I was away we also lost one of our co-workers suddenly and unexpectedly to a heart attack.  They’d contacted me in Hawaii to let me know but it didn’t quite feel real until I got back.

So, anyway, my emotions have been a mix of sadness, stress, and the residual high of a great time on vacation.  My body was a bit of a mess.  I ended up gaining some weight when I thought that I hadn’t, but I think this could have been water bloat.  Even though I got in two Zumba classes and Tai Chi, I still felt sluggish and yucky.

I’ve been trying to clear up my system.  Earlier this week I talked about wishing I could do a three day detox and cleanse, but I had committed to going out to dinner last night and tonight with friends.  I love these friends and want to spend time with them so I was an odd mix of happy anticipation and internal whining about the whole food thing.

This morning it hit me.  There is no rule that says I have to eat a full meal when I go out to dinner tonight.  I’m under no obligation to even order an entree.  Maybe they’ll have a soup that I like, or I can pick on of their salads and then pick at it.

The important thing is that I should enjoy the social aspects and the company of these friends and not worry about the meal itself.  This is a very freeing realization.  I now feel much better about the whole thing.  I’ve had a good day so far with food.  Protein shake for breakfast and some homemade, healthy soup for lunch.  I’ll assess my protein intake for the day before I go to dinner.  If I need more but don’t want to ingest meat or something heavy, I can always have another protein drink and then, like I said, nibble on veggies and salad.

Whew.  I really do feel a lot better emotionally now that I’ve worked this out.

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One Day Down & Pictures

It’s 9:20 p.m. as I write this.  I’ve made it through the day with perfect adherence to the food plan as I designed it first thing this morning.  Booyah!  Now I just need to do it for a day tomorrow!  I wish I could do a three day detox-cleanse this weekend but I have two different sets of friends in town and agreed weeks ago to have dinner out two nights.  Oh well.  I can do restaurants and still stick to the plan, which is just what I will do.I’m not quite as tired today.  I guess my brain just has to make up one time zone.  Yay!  It’s been truly rough at work because I needed to concentrate.  Catching up on work when one has been away is a challenge on the best of days. Doing it with a brain that refuses to fire on all cylinders is a pain in the ass.  I managed, but will be happy to have the weekend again after tomorrow.

I’ve been going through photos for a couple of hours tonight and I’m still not done!  I’m not even resizing every single shot of the almost 400 that I took, but this still takes time.  I’m enjoying the process, however, because I so loved everything that I saw.

I promised to post a few photos tonight.  Sad to say that I do not have one of me ziplining.  My friend has it on her camera.  Eventually we’re sending each other all of our photos on flash drives.  In the meantime, I asked her to please email me just one of my ziplining in action so perhaps I’ll have that tomorrow.

Meanwhile here are a couple of whale shots, some scenery, and a couple pictures of the view from the platforms 65-80 feet in the trees.  I don’t quite have the hang of positioning photos in my blog posts, but I don’t think you’ll care.  Enjoy!

On the way to Waimea Canyon.

On the way to Waimea Canyon.

View from amid the trees.

View from amid the trees.

This whale breached about 60 yards off the stern of the snorkeling boat.

This whale breached about 60 yards off the stern of the snorkeling boat.

Yes, we climbed those bridges high up in the trees.

See the two different sizes of pectoral flippers?  That's a mom and her calf.

See the two different sizes of pectoral flippers? That’s a mom and her calf.

Overlooking a pretty bay after the crater hike.

Overlooking a pretty bay after the crater hike.

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Tired Eating

Jet lag sucks.  I’ve been home since Sunday night but I think my brain is still a time zone or two behind.  I read somewhere that it takes a day for each time zone.  By that reckoning, I have another couple of days.  Maybe three.  I can’t count.  The part of my brain that computes numbers is one of the areas still lagging.

I’ve been able to be productive at work but in the middle of the afternoon I want a nap more than I want to win the lottery.  (Disclaimer:  I don’t really care about winning the lottery at all.  If I did I might buy a ticket more than once a year.)  I came home at 5 and it would have been oh so easy to sack out in the recliner for a nap.  My sense of duty to Nat and Pyxi propelled me to take them for a walk instead.  I ate a light dinner, sat down and actually dozed for about 10 minutes, but I rallied in time to go to an evening Zumba class.

This all sounds reasonable and good, right?  Do not be deceived by the seeming reasonableness and logic.  My eating has actually been awful since I got home.  I start out okay but for some reason my body appears to think that I should feed it compulsively when I’m tired.  I’ve eaten food just because it was in my vicinity, even though the first bite revealed that it was tasteless with the texture of sticky cotton.  (Cheap store bought angel food cake someone left out at work.)  I’ve eaten when not hungry and without honestly savoring what I shoved into my mouth.  Then I wonder why I did it.  It’s like my mind can’t click on fast enough to block me from picking up food and eating it.

This is very, very weird.  I didn’t eat like this on the cruise when loads of actually delicious food was as close as an elevator ride away to the always-open buffet!

Hey, in all my cruise posts, I never mentioned that we actually took the stairs up and down more than half of the time!

But I digress.  Remember when I once talked about the concept of H.A.L.T. and not letting ourselves get too hungry, angry, lonely, or tired?  It seems that I’m fighting the last letter of that acronym.  The sleepiness is overcoming my guard and common sense.

This has to stop.  I’m carrying around about five pounds of water weight that I blame on eating too many carbs.  That messes with my head.

So, tonight I’m going to bed when I finish this post.  I’m hoping that this will help straighten out my sleep cycle.  Tomorrow, whether my energy and balance are restored or not, I’m sticking to my plan.  The choice is easy at the bottom line.  I will wake up and write down my food choices for the entire day — breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks.  Then, throughout the day, even if the red, green and yellow M&Ms personally wander into my office followed by an entire conga line of dancing raisins, and cavorting cupcakes, I will not eat anything that is not on that written down list.  Tough love and determination time, baby.  I got it.

If I can turn away from buffets of rich, calorie-laden food on a cruise because I wanted to zip line, I can stick to my plan for one day when on my home turf because I still have weight to lose and want to lose it.

I will not be defeated by my own tiredness.

One day tomorrow.  One day Friday.  One day at a time.

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Getting Back to Routine

I’m home in the Florida Keys but my head feels like it’s somewhere in outer space.  Jet lag is horrible when you fly east across five time zones.  Thank goodness that I’d also taken today off from work.  I could not have focused.  That said, I rolled out of bed and went to a 9 a.m. Zumba class.  I’ve also worked today to gather my thoughts.

Honestly, after the successful zip lining adventure of last Thursday, I pretty much ate whatever the heck I wanted for a few days.  I didn’t overeat because, of course, quantity is limited, but I wasn’t careful with my carbs or sugar.   That stops now.   My goals for the cruise were to have fun, experience my adventures, and maintain my weight loss.  Check, check and check on those goals.

Now that I’m back in home port, my overall goal goes back to the top slot in my priority list.   This means careful adherence to my food plan – focused on protein, then veggies and fruit with minimal “empty” carbs.  I’m not worried about keeping up with my activity and exercise.  Even when I ate off plan I still stuck to strong activity effort.

My mindset is really positive right now.  I’m in a great place.  This is so far from my old patterns of successfully dieting for awhile and then falling off track and being unable to get my motivation and my ass back in gear.  I am absolutely confident that I will be back on the plan, steaming steadily toward my goal.

Maintaining motivation is a challenge for anyone.  For me, it used to click off like a switch and I experienced numerous, frustrating, often heartbreaking, times when I just couldn’t find a way to switch it back on.  I refuse to focus on those past failures now.  Instead, I’m revving myself with confidence, energy and determination.  I’m also holding onto the memories of all that I can do now, adventures I can experience because I’ve lost weight and built myself into a more fit person.

I can remember that I’ve dropped enough weight and increased my upper body and leg strength enough to hike a volcanic crater, transverse suspension bridges and pull myself up ladders onto Zodiac boats and tree platforms.   I’ve already had great times and more are beckoning me in my future.  These are powerful thoughts to hold in my mind and heart.

I haven’t forgotten that I owe you pictures.  I got as far as downloading them from the camera to my computer but I need to play with the images and resize several so that I can upload them to the blog more easily.  For tonight, however, I’ll leave with you a couple from the crater and the zipline.  Enjoy!

We've hiked down and are now walking a mile or so across the lava bed to hike out!

We’ve hiked down and are now walking a mile or so across the lava bed to hike out!

Knowing I'm secured to the cables, I hung back over the platform's edge for the photo.

Knowing I’m secured to the cables, I hung back over the platform’s edge for the photo.

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Vacation Lessons

I’m typing this on the plane to Miami. It’s hard to believe my wonderful vacation is over!

I just scanned through the more than 300 photos I have on my camera. Once I sort through them, I’ll upload more, particularly from adventures I couldn’t share here because I didn’t get shots with my phone.

We toured the historic site at Pearl Harbor yesterday. It was too windy to go to the USS Arizona memorial but we walked through all of the other exhibits, following the excellent audio tour. This site is extremely well done. I understand the events of December 7, 1941 and the aftermath with far greater insight than before.

In one spot is a quote from Eleanor Roosevelt that talks about the fact that every day there are men who give their lives for us. (In present day that would be men and women.). Mrs Roosevelt reflects on how important it is to be sure that we are worth dying for.

Everything that I did on this vacation brought home to me in grand, celebratory style, that I have made my life over. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t worthy before, but I know that I was not appreciating life to its fullest potential.

I had chained and restrained myself with food and my weight. This past week, I experienced a joyous freedom and new spirit. I stepped off a platform and soared through a forest. I zoomed over waves and swam in warm seas, at water level with ocean creatures. I hiked down into and out of a volcanic crater and felt its hot breath.

I couldn’t have done these things before. Now I can. I am stronger and more capable than I have ever been and each day I become more so.

Opportunity is everywhere. I will no longer squander it.

Beyond checking things off of my promise list, these are powerful lessons to integrate. They are strong platforms on which to grow.

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