Aging Gracefully Looks Different For Everyone

I came across this image the other day and found it to be incredibly inspiring (I have head of these ladies before but I am always impressed.)

As we age, it takes longer to recover, and we may not be able to handle the intense training of our youth.  (I sure as shit can’t!!) Our bodies change beyond that too – we may not look the same as we did when we were younger. We may also not be as able to achieve those results without more work than it once took.

One of my biggest pet peeves, though, is when people say it’s impossible to stay fit, healthy and strong as we age – they dismiss it with an apathetic resignation that doesn’t resonate for some of us. . . Just because we are getting older doesn’t mean we can’t stay active, continue to be an athlete, or stay in good shape.

I am a strong proponent of setting ourselves up for success, and believe that unreasonable goals are a fast track to disappointment. I also believe we can achieve anything we put our hearts to provided we are smart about it. If we want to achieve a healthy body, we CAN…and without having to work until we are horribly run down – that is a more than realistic scenario.

Staying fit isn’t about the OUTSIDE appearance – for many of us it is a lifestyle because it permeates every aspect of our lives…not just the exterior. It means having more energy, and feeling proud of little accomplishments along the way.  It means being able to participate in activities we enjoy without feeling horrendous doing them, as well as having a clearer mind, and more self confidence. It may also mean staving off some unnecessary (and unkind) illnesses as well.

We don’t have to force ourselves into the box of looking the way we did at 20 – we’d not only be disheartened, but it also isn’t going to happen (unless, of course, you find a genie in a bottle.) I struggle with this sometimes too – it’s hard to see those changes and know there isn’t a ton we can do about them.  I don’t think it’s necessary to beat ourselves up for feeling that way either, ps – it isn’t about vanity all the time.  For those of us who have been active our whole lives, and fueled our bodies with healthy foods, we might identify with certain conditions (internal as much as external.)

In this way, it might feel all the more overwhelming to lose the control we might have *thought* (wrongly!) we had.  In order to stay on a track to success we need only allow that “fit” may look a little different in our older age, and continue working towards incorporating healthy choices in our lives. That includes eating healthy, whole foods, staying hydrated, staying active, and at least *trying* to get a solid amount of sleep.

Remember that deviations once in a while are okay – living life behind bars isn’t exactly the point! It’s the overall attitude, approach, and consistency that will get you where you want to go…and keep you in that vicinity.

I was definitely more “fit” when I was younger – who wasn’t!?  I’ve backed off a lot of activities, as well as the duration an intensity of the ones I’m doing. I need more time to recover, and there are days when rest is more in line with keeping me healthy than going to lift or to class. I may also have days where I need to eat more…or less…depending on what my body is telling me. But the short of it is…I’m thankful beyond words to be healthy, to have the ability to be active, and to better recognize my body’s cues. There is such a thing as aging gracefully…and staying badass while you’re at it (however you choose to define it.) Never let anyone tell you what is…or isn’t…possible – that, my dear, is up to YOU.

 

 

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Dinner…For Three?!

It goes without saying that cats are particular…pretty much in every regard.  They are incredibly discerning when it comes to food, for one thing.  

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(C) Andertoons Mark Anderson

Oh yes, as babies they ate their broccoli and snap peas – but nowadays its “no, no thank you.  Call me when you have shrimp!”  

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Excuse me?!

We don’t even have to unwrap the seafood – the mere hint of fishy fragrance and I’m suddenly swarmed by furry black beasts.  God forbid they grab a hold, it’s growl central… (Not that I can blame them – my husband makes a mean stirfry!)

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I guess I can’t really complain, though – my boys’ nutrition is top-notch!  They care about portions (that’s by default – Keku would gladly wolf down a blue whale, provided it smelled remotely edible.)  

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They also eat clean (also a function of mum, but a girl has to make sure her boys are fit and healthy so they can frolic to their hearts’ content without issue!)  They love protein – egg whites, chicken, and shrimp are favorites – just like, you guessed it… Mum. ❤  Way to go, boys!

The only real trouble with it is that I go to sit down in my chair and there’s a cat in it, thinking it’s his seat for dinner…

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Humor – The Non-Girly Girl

When I saw this photo (the little girl below), I essentially went into hysterics (laughing, that is.)  I didn’t watch a ton of television as a child but you can be sure that when I did, the shows were of the ilk of:

  • Thundercats (cat-like aliens, because why would extraterrestrials want human reflexes?!)
  • He-Man (muscles and [magical!] swords?!  HELL YES!)
  • Voltron (your goddamn right I was jealous of their lion robots!)
  • Transformers (ginormous robots who can morph into an incredibly rad getaway vehicle? Anyone want to race?!) 
My favorite two colors AND animal? I was a happy little girl when this came on!)

My favorite two colors AND animal? I was a happy little girl when this came on!)

I couldn’t possibly be bothered with the likes of She-Ra.  Initially, I admit, I kind of liked her.  I liked that a woman was in the badass role, but that’s basically because I wanted to be her.  I kind of dug the nod to Ancient Rome / Greece with that ensemble too – how very Pagan of her!  Plus. . .sorceress, hello!?  My older brother was fonder of the guys so…whatever…I took one for the team and decided I could be Conan or some other ass-kicking character, nevermind they were male.  Goals.

I let the figure-skating-judge-boots and furry speedo slide - he had a magical sword and the man could lift. Aspirations!

I let the figure-skating-judge-boots and furry speedo slide – he had a magical sword and the man could lift. Aspirations!

My lean towards general badassery, gothiness, vampishness, and Martial Arts was there from brith – I wore colors, but that’s because I wasn’t old enough to know better…OR to purchase my own.  I went to girly birthday parties, but that’s because A.) it was important to socialize (I’d rather have been Wednesday Addams but the school moms didn’t seem to acquiesce) and B.) No one I knew was having a Halloween bash regardless of timing.  Sad, if you ask me.  

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My, what big teeth you have…

My inspiration came from the people / creatures / robots who could handle their own, even when the world was being besieged by evil, plotting mummies or mechanical demons from space – who cared that they were fictional, this once five-year old saw a fearlessly laying down of the law!  (Let’s not forget their were witches too – bestill my heart.) 

If I could have worn this suit to class, I’m sure I would have – Middle School rules be damned, I think an exception could have been made.  “Excuse me, Mr. Principle guy..??”

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I wonder if the suit comes with functional weapons…  Sparkles?  Yeah, absolutely.  But had I donned this hefty getup back in the day?  I’d have backed that glitz up!

For more of my shenanigans

Holy Whole Foods!

I remember when getting healthier options wasn’t “a thing.”  It wasn’t trendy to seek out specialty grains, certain types of algae for energy, probiotics, less-ingredient-foods…(though in figure skating and dancing, many top athletes were promoting them, so I learned early!)  But somewhere along the line (within the last decade), the notion hit the mainstream.

I don’t much care for being trendy and honestly, I’m not about to go pick up some herbal cleanse concoction or extreme take on a protein shake just because the larger population (at least the larger, health-conscious population) says it’s the “it” item of the moment.  But what I am incredibly thankful for is that the level of trendiness has prompted countless retail establishments to open their doors and cater to those of us looking for healthy options

The other day I happened upon a MASSIVE Whole Foods – one that, quite possibly – dwarfed two or three normal ones.  I was in heaven!  The prepared section is one I don’t tend to purchase a lot from, however, as I find many things are overcooked (no doubt over concern regarding internal temperatures, the feeding of the general public, and the potential for suits!)  BUT…everything else?  I was thrilled!

I don’t use cow’s milk for one – milk and I don’t much care for one another.  The sheer number of choices of almond, coconut, hemp, cashew, and other nut milks was (albeit overwhelming) astounding!  I was also able to find my crunchy seaweed snacks in spades…IN the flavor I prefer. 😀

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Oils…another wonderful example.  The “personal care” area was enormous – I had a pick of countless essential oils, herbal supplements, body lotions, whatever…  The seafood looked amazing… The pick of nut butters, produce, soups…even olives! (healthy fats)…was phenomenal.

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Oh, and then there was the coffee.  I personally use Maple Syrup in my coffee – why?  It’s one of the healthiest sweetener options out there.  Agave actually IS more like sugar BUT…I’d SO much rather use a drop of honey than use sucralose, aspartame, nutrasweet etc.!  And of course, they had almond AND soy milk over on the fixing station – at Starbucks, you have to ask for (and sometimes PAY for) that option.

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So for me…the trendiness is something I embrace, because then I have the wonderful luxury of finding stores with monstrous footprints, filled to the brim with healthy meal choices.  Definitely not complaining about that!  (More like stuffing my face! 😉 ) 

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Workouts SHOULD Be Fun

Make no mistake about it…when I lift, I lift heavy…and I go hard.  I will always smile and laugh, and say hello to friends, but I don’t go to the gym to socialize.  I don’t go to make a point, or make a scene, or waste my time.  

I go to work.

For most of us (much to the sometimes incomprehension of others), working out isn’t just about the physical – we aim to achieve a level of physical fitness, absolutely.  But a huge part of it is done for our minds, our spirit, and our emotional wellbeing.  Working out is an incredibly effective “release” of stresses that we all carry with us each day.  

I am waiting on hearing about the date for a promotion in Taekwondo, and it’s been weighing on me somewhat.  The date has fluctuated a few times, leaving many of us in limbo.  We (many of us, at least) train with the expectation of achieving and being better with each day – so technically, you could throw a test at us and we should be prepared, 2nd degree black belt or otherwise.

But I moved and am having to train solo right now…so the not knowing, and needing to plan around it has me a wee bit frazzled.  In this case, one of the best things to do is continue with my regular workouts – it keeps me fit and flexible…and I don’t just mean in my body!

While I am eager to start a new discipline (for various reasons, including injuries, Taekwondo is no longer as ideal for me), I want to stay focused on what I need to know to ensure it is done properly, and to the best of my ability.  As a result, I am deliberately holding off on a new Martial Art until my goal has been achieved.

That said…I NEED something.  I need to have something beyond hauling iron (which I love, of course!)  I like to do activities that are different and challenging – run of the mill has never been my thing.  And so I snooped around and, rather to my delight, found an Aerial Yoga studio not too far away (some call it Anti-Gravity Yoga.)

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I’ve tried a few varieties of Yoga and never found my “click.”  Is it good for me?  1,000%.  But none were the right fit…  Knowing the benefits in flexibility, for one thing, I was always a little bit sad I didn’t take to it.  Then again, where I’m from, it tends to be a “trendy” thing, and perhaps that turned me off too.  It was more about the leggings you had on, and the place you had in the room (as if it was claimed as your own in stone.)  Not for me, and totally defeating the purpose of the practice.

Well…I went into Aerial Yoga (done with a fabric hammock) with an open mind, and fell in love immediately.  I signed up for another class already and I can’t wait to go back.  The ladies – literally ranging from tween to 50’s – were LOVELY , and it was just the hour and a half of peace and inner reflection I needed (plus some physical challenges and PHENOMENAL stretches!)

I had the most wonderful time and it is a happy reminder that we NEED activity, and we should do it for US.  

For that second reason only, we should also have a ball doing it!  It doesn’t have to be treacherous or miserable.  

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If the fit isn’t there, that’s OKAY!  There are so many disciplines – in Yoga, in Martial Arts, in dance, in lifting… SO many options, surely there is something that will give you a lift (no pun intended!) each day.  That’s what it is about at the end of the day!

Eating At Home

I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…I’m very blessed.  My hunnie is amazing in so many ways.  One of those, while seemingly minor to him, is a big deal to me – he doesn’t make me feel badly that I don’t “cook.”  I’ve sadly met a good number of people who DO see that as a huge problem, and I’m vastly more thankful for his “what’s the big deal if you don’t?” than he may imagine.  

I’m not a terribly “domesticated” type with hundreds of recipes up my sleeve.  In a way, I have felt badly about it…but only in so far as other people are concerned.  I pretty much subsist on easy-to-make foods (or I’ll just wing it.  Winging it, however, only applies to me – messing up my food isn’t a big deal, but I’d never want to mess up someone else’s food.)

He’s also incredibly supportive of my clean and (relatively) healthy nutritional habits – he actually cares that I am comfortable, happy…and FULL!   If you are in the fitness industry, or follow this lifestyle, you may know how UNsupportive people can be about our personal choices.  (You did read that “personal” part, right?  😉 ) 

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He has a long and exhausting day…and he will still make dinner.  And dinner is always perfect.  It’s most perfect because he is with me, but whatever he does make is always delicious…and right up my alley.  He thinks I’m biased about it, or just being polite but…I’m not.  When you are as particular about food as I am…and I say “I love it”…I LOVE it. ❤

I’m so grateful I probably get annoying saying “thank you!” all the time…but it is something I appreciate enormously. We have a snazzy Breville Smart Oven Pro that we call the “Magic Machine.”  It’s amazingly efficient and has a ton of functions!

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I never really eat a meal withOUT my veggies…so he will often roast some in the oven, while preparing chicken or something else in…the “Magic Machine.”  It could be shrimp or scallops, broiled salmon…or wok-tossed asparagus…  It’s all wonderful, and has NOTHING on it but some salt, pepper and spices.   

That’s the thing…you don’t need much!  You can always add a touch of salsa or something more if you need it.  But it doesn’t need to be doused in oil or butter to taste good or stay moist.  A spray of olive oil is enough…. REALLY.

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It’s also often more cost-effective to eat IN.  I don’t really eat a ton when I’m out, and I would be fine with something simple.  But the point is, it doesn’t HAVE to be.  AND…if you have someone in your Life who prepares the meals…don’t forget to say THANK YOU.  It really is a treat, and a blessing…and something I am thankful for EACH TIME he does it.

Amy Schumer and Dieting

I wouldn’t have known who this was because I am TOTALLY out of the movie and television loop – I wouldn’t recognize most celebs if they mowed me down in the sidewalk!

But I saw this video of Trainwreck’s star, Amy Schumer and I thought “now there’s a celebrity who isn’t only real…but absolutely adorable.”

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I had several hearty laughs while watching this – in my personal opinion, she’s positively lovely, and beautiful to boot.  She isn’t even “fuller figured,” so no need for anyone to go there.  She’s REAL.  

Now don’t get me wrong, Kelly is also real – she has a petite frame (and I’m talking flat-out bone structure.)  Period.  

But what I loved about this was the “getting into shape” part. HILARIOUS.

Amy shares how she was asked to do a fitness program to “get into shape” for the movie, and about the first time meeting her well-known fitness guru.  You can totally picture the assessment with the trainer… *LOL*

I have been through eating disorders, albeit not by choice, so I know the devastating effects of NOT eating enough.  There is no doubt about it, media (of ALL kinds) puts tremendous pressures on men and women alike – to be more fit, and more slender.

I don’t proselytize and I’m not going to start.  What I would like to say is that we are all different – our BONE structures are different!  My waist will NEVER be like Kelly’s…  I will never have her petite shoulder frame either.  But there isn’t anything wrong with that!  And stressing about it isn’t going to alter my skeleton, so it’s wasted energy! 

Comparisons are just bad news…  It is ALL about perspective.  Amy would be DWARFED by other men and women, so what is the big deal?  We are all small next to someone, and big next to someone else. 

Her point about the suggested “not eating” is a true one, sadly – a lot of folks, particularly in prominent roles, feel that they HAVE to not eat to look good – as if their bodies aren’t beautiful?!!  WHAT!?!  

There is a WORLD of research regarding how one slows one’s metabolism by going that route (among other dangerous ramifications of malnutrition!) – I have been in that boat so I can safely attest that it is no party.

The other day I was wearing my dobok – the traditional Taekwondo uniform.  I started laughing and said to a friend “you know, elastic just ISN’T helpful for ANYONE!!”  (It was at the waistband.)  He asked what I meant….

“Elastic will make anyone feel like a balloon, basically!”  It can pull in too tightly, making you look like you don’t fit properly…when really it’s just the elastic!  I’m not even kidding!  The slimmest girl in my class (and she’s really slender) has folds of skin-and-body just like the rest of us…because it isn’t flattering on anyone!  The proper fit and cut works wonders so all the stressing is silliness!

I could literally write novels on these topics but...I loved Amy’s humorous and playful take – because the pressure is real, and she isn’t going to bend her rules and be unhealthy to go in that direction.  

Way to go, Ms. Schumer…and then some!

Sundays

I’m often asked if I “cheat” with my nutrition…and the answer is that I don’t really.  But…I’m also not on a stringent meal plan like a competitor or a bodybuilder.  Eating clean is just part of my lifestyle – I love it.  I love the way I feel, I love the results I get, I love knowing I’m rarely at the doctor!   

And…healthy foods don’t HAVE to be boring.  I know a lot of folks say they’d be bored with what I eat, simply because I love my vegetables and protein.  That doesn’t mean it’s all the same. I personally don’t mind sticking to the predictable when I go out somewhere, but that’s me.  Remember, there are many ways to prepare things!  There are SO many great blogs (some of you!) who share awesome recipes and reviews. ❤  (THANK YOU!)

I love my eggs, for example.  And the man I adore can order for me.  On Sunday mornings, we’ll go out for breakfast, and I will get the same thing…because I love it! “Three medium boiled eggs, and a side of fruit salad. Coffee with almond milk, soy if you don’t have it,” he’ll say.  

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We went to a French restaurant this weekend for breakfast and somehow “medium boiled eggs” was a tough one.  No, the waiter wasn’t french.  And if he had been, I might have been able to struggle through to explain.  They got the “medium” part but…butter and / or oil.  Nope.  I just want the fat from the egg itself, thanks!

The second time I got poached.  I wasn’t about to send that back (I’m not a food-sender-backer, I just am clear up front! 😉 ) so I had them. DELICIOUS.  While I prefer a medium yolk – not runny, not dry – these hit the spot (they cooked them a bit extra so they weren’t all liquid.)  I don’t do toast but if you were adding in the carb, you basically could have spread these on there and it would have been perfect.

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Fresh fruit salad (fresh-cut fruits, no sugar or liquid) is a refreshing favorite to pair with them, particularly as I air on the side of veggies mostly.  Important to get the colors in!  Certainly there is the sugar component, but I don’t drink juice, so fresh fruits and berries are an important addition to round out a nutritional plan (much-needed vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, fiber and H2O! 😀 ) 

I pretty much devoured everything like a voracious beast…so the deviation in preparation was actually a nice change. And I still had exactly what I wanted as far as nutrients and taste went.

= Happy girl!

Scuba and Splits

I try to make stretching a twice daily habit.  I fall short sometimes but it’s very much a use-it-or-lose-it deal.  As we get older and rack up the injuries, well, it’ gets harder!  BUT…it’s not impossible by any (er…no pun intended!) stretch.  Each person has a different full ROM (range of motion) so it’s important not to compare oneself to other people – believe it or not, super flexible people have their problems too (snapping hip sounds like it involves a rubber band and an eight year-old torturing his little sister.  NOPE!)

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So baby steps are fine – work with what you have, and be mindful of what your body is telling you.  Most of us athletes like to push to the extreme – I went several weeks with a collapsed lung and pneumonia because it just “felt weird” but I could still skate.  DON’T do it.  The “hurt” is the message – if we don’t pay attention, we end up out longer.  

The weather has some effect too – this morning it was a wee bit chillier than it has been, so I layered in my thermal shirt and my Lululemon Scuba hoodie.  I know, I know…they’re trendy.  As I’ve made clear in other posts, “trendy” isn’t really my scene – my former Life was deciphering and decoding the of-the-moment items but…I dance to my own drum beat.  And heavy guitar rifts.

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Anyway…the Lulu Scuba hoodie is AWESOME.  Their fits are akin to a good pair of gloves – and as a skater and dancer, I L ❤ VE close-to-the-body.  This particular hoodie is thick – the material is heavier so it would be more for Autumn and Winter (or, as today, a transitional temp.  I live in the Northeast of the USA, by the way, so it was mind to upper 30’s F this morning.)

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The seams are always perfect with Lulu, often also managing to mimic the logo design (that’s kind of a chicken-vs-egg coming first thing – not sure in which order it all panned out.)  The photos are from the Lululemon site, and of a color where you can actually see what’s going on (instead of my black out, as usual!)

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They do offer a version with stretch, which I WOULD suggest – mine stretches, but it doesn’t have the same “give” that a stretch material would.  I like to feel like I’m not constricted in any way, and this cut isn’t loose…but I love that it feels “tailored.”  Most of the Lulu stuff does, and frankly, it’s uber flattering.

Stronger Than You Think!

I posted a clip the other day on Facebook with some kicks… I was super touched by the kind words of friends, but noticed that so many people doubt their abilities!  NOOoOoo!  I have friends who well exceed my endurance ability, my Martial Arts ability, my speed, my strength…but that doesn’t mean I can’t hold my own…or, at least, make it look graceful! (Thank you, ballroom, skating and ballet!) 😉  

I made a point to say to each person suggesting he or she COULDN’T do it...that they could do A LOT better than they think!  They weren’t giving themselves enough credit!

The lil’ bag in this clip is way lighter than some of the others we train with.  So in fact it could be a matter of perception…could it not? It might be “too light” for one person, and far “too heavy” for someone else…

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The key to ME is to focus on the GOOD…to HIGHLIGHT THE STRENGTH!  That might mean, for someone struggling, that they try with a less heavy bag.  Later ON, one can try with something more substantial…but when you START, get a bag you can work with.  And Kick it’s butt!!!!  When you knock something down, that confidence shoots UP…and that means you will feel better about that ability you ACTUALLY DO HAVE ALREADY!

I feel upset when I see people being set up for a less-than-successful go at something.  Start SMALLER if you have to – you can accomplish more that way.  You can see your gains far better…and seeing is believing for many people!  It will give the confidence to move up to something heavier…because then there is no question that you can do it.

Building confidence is huge to me.  Seeing results is HUGE.  People need those things – we need that encouragement because it gives us something tangible that says “HOLY #$%@!  I CAN DO IT!!!!”

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You don’t have to change your goals!  Maybe tweak the training…or tweak your client’s training.  Make the goals MANAGEABLE so they can really SEE and FEEL the difference.  

I’d rather see the smiling face of a kid who can move the bag with a kick…than one who, disheartened, tries with all his might to barely dent a bigger one.  It’s all about the perspective.  It isn’t cookie cutter.  I may kick one down but I know guys that would kick it across the room…including my 75 year old Grandmaster!  

Make it manageable.  

Make the goals ACHIEVABLE.  

You CAN do it…and when you can actually SEE and FEEL it, you will be a lot more likely to keep at it…getting better all the time!

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