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Jyl-London-Bikini-Competition
My competition

For those that know me, they will know that I have always enjoyed the gym. It is a stress reliever and I have a sense of Zen when I am working out. I grew up an athlete and have been active my entire life. So naturally, a goal of mine would be to show off my hard work. I wanted to check an ALL-NATURAL bikini body-building competition off of the list before I turned 50 years old…. well I am 48 years old now and I did it, March 25, 2023.

Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition

Several have asked me what I learned, so here goes… My learnings:

  • Have a ton of muscle before you start your leaning progress. Most individuals gain one to two pounds of lean muscle per month with the right strength training and nutrition plan. You will lose fat and a little muscle in the leaning process and watch your bubble butt become an all muscle and hamstring tie in butt. Progress is slow – BE PATIENT.
Jyl London back pose
Back Pose
  • Sodium is your friend. On average, you need to replenish 230 to 920mg of sodium per pound of sweat lost during your workout, and aim to get between 500mg to 2300mg of sodium per day. Now if you are keto I would say you need to be on the higher end. The human body requires a small amount of sodium to conduct nerve impulses, contract and relax muscles, and maintain the proper balance of water and minerals.
  • Did I say SODIUM? Yes, I’m still on this one. Sodium is needed for muscles. Increasing sodium intake, therefore, can increase muscle size by adding more fluid volume. A higher volume of intracellular fluid also increases protein turnover, further spurring growth. LOW SODIUM = LESS MUSCLE, MORE FAT.
  • Water Water Water. I can’t stress hydration enough and the need to drink more water. I drink a ton because my body tells me it is thirsty probably more than most people’s.
  • Lifting heavy will NOT make you bulking or manly. Muscle is lean. It takes years to bulk and sometimes enhancements. Trust me there.
  • That DAMN SCALE. It went up and then down and then up and then down. Example, I gained 9 lbs this weekend eating rice cakes, because my body doesn’t know what to do with carbs. Ignore the scale. Measurements and photos, which I’ll be honest I still weighed and was horrible at photos. My trainer made me send photos or I probably wouldn’t take any of them. LOL
  • If you’re aren’t willing to do the work then this is not a sport for you. It is not an easy sport of people just dieting for a few weeks – it is a lifestyle and these people work their booty’s off – literally.
  • Natural is going to be harder, but the reward is better. Sure you will be next to cute 20 year olds and those taking enhancements (steroids, gear or whatever you want to call it) and you need to be okay with the fact that you will need to take more time to build and lean out. You are your own competition and that’s what you need to focus on. Each person will have things that work for them and in this blog is what worked for me. These choices and learnings are MINE ALONE. You do you, Boo.
  • Celebrate your goals. I would buy gym gear, yoga pants, slippers, led light, etc.. Anything to celebrate that I did 3 weeks in a row, 6 weeks in a row, etc… Finally, I did a final celebration with my best friend’s.
Jyl London, Tali Bruce
Tali Bruce and Jyl London
  • Work – It is so much work and another job. For me it took 5 months to lean and it will take more time to reverse diet and reset my metabolism to eat like regular people again. I didn’t go crazy after the show. I had a glass of champagne with Pedialyte in it (Pedialyte Mimosa) and my best friend, Heather Flinders, made me chocolate covered strawberries – the thing I have craved my entire prep.
Jyl London - Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Nutrition

You, ABSOLUTELY, cannot out train a bad nutrition.

Calories In, Calories Out, isn’t that simple. There’s a big divide between fads of low-fat vs. low-carb diets but some things are crystal clear between all of them:

  • Less Sugar
  • Clean Eating
  • More Vegetables

I, personally, have had my thyroid removed and all lady parts. So, me keeping my hormones in check and slowly leaning out was a MUST for me. My body does better with low-carb (keto type). Yes, Keto and Low-carb is not a favorite among bodybuilders; however, CLEAN KETO (not dirty keto) makes me feel energized and is the nutrition that I prefer. Notice I didn’t say “DIET” – that was by design.

Water – I was anywhere from 2 gallon to 3 gallons in the day. I know extreme, but I was super thirsty, so I would drink. Most of the time when I was hours of cardio and weights I had propel in most drinks. Propel, because it is zero carbs.

My macros were 70% fats, 25% protein and 5% carbs for those that track macros. My protein would be higher some days and fats lower, etc… but that was the range I aimed for each day.

Nutrition for me was high fats – avocados, krill oil, flax seed, hemp seeds, limited butter, ghee butter, coconut, MCT oil, etc… Remember, clean keto – no bacon and burgers for meals. Fat becomes your fuel – keep it clean.

Protein was the hardest for me, because no matter what kind of protein for a shake I feel sick. I struggle with chicken and don’t love or really eat red meat. I tried it all and the one protein shake type that made me less sick is Clean Simple Eats – Strawberry cheesecake. I still took digestive enzymes and Lactaid with it though. I found other good treats with protein and low-carb (and low sugar alcohols)

Carbs – I stuck under 25 carbs and then dropped to 20 carbs and finally peak week I went to 10 carbs in a day. YES, I kept my carbs that low for 5 months. I started November 1, 2022 until March 24, 2023 (you can almost tell when I started my prep by the images). And no I never even cheated with carbs being higher. I was strict to stay in ketosis. You’ll notice the spike of carbs the day before and on Competition Day. This app is LoseIt and it links to My Health and can track net carbs, fats, water, blood pressure, weight, protein, etc…

Prep is hard during the holidays. Like… really really hard.

At least to me, it was. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, my birthday, St. Patrick’s Day and all of the times in between it all. My days looked something like this:

Wake-up early, workout with fasted cardio.

Eat Meal 1 (which was always AG1 green drink). I always added Himalayan Salt to it to keep my energy and blood pressure in check. I have low blood pressure naturally, so I make sure I keep my sodium high. Himalayan Salt for low blood pressure and Celtic Salt for high blood pressure is what I read.

Logon to work and eat Meal 2 – I would mix it up between an egg white omelette or keto waffles (only a certain brand that has net carbs of 6 grams). I would top both with Walden Farms Maple Syrup. Seriously, the most delicious syrup.

Do ab-workout during lunch – if I had time for a lunch and Meal 3. This would be a shake or avocado toast on Keto Bread (Franz). I would add real cream butter to the toast. Avocado do have carbs, so keep that fat in check, if you are Keto.

Meal 4 and 5, were the second I could get a chance to eat at work. These would be fish and vegetables, protein puffs, almonds with a fat bomb (legit try a mint fat bomb bite with a couple almonds – yum). Usually, these meals and the second I am hungry type. I would just split them 1-2 hours.

Once work ended I would go to the gym for more cardio and weights. All depends on which muscles were listed as recovered in my Fitbod app. I would put in workouts, so I would selected a saved workout based on body part and do that.

Then I come back home and work a little more and while doing it I eat my last meal with high protein and high fat. I, usually, used up most of my carbs by then. So I would do salmon or other fish and salad with oil dressing or they have some amazing dressings that are no carbs, Towards the end of prep if I was too tired to eat and not hungry I would skip this meal and go to bed. I didn’t want to eat and then not sleep, well, the last month by having my digestive system keep working.


Let me emphasize that outside of prep time, my nutrition was still 59 grams daily on average and higher protein. I wanted to bring that up, because I didn’t want it to sound like I changed a ton for the competition. I just took it up (or rather down – haha) a notch. Here is a year recap:

Supplements

I had some of my favorites, listed below:

  • AG1 Green Drink
  • Vitamin K and Vitamin D
  • Amino Acids / BCAAs
  • CLA and ALA
  • Lean Out / 7-Keto Lean (this was the last 1 1/2 months)
  • Digestive Enzymes (every meal)
  • Magnesium and Potassium
  • Prebiotics and Probiotics
  • Fish Oil / Krill Oil / Omegas if I didn’t put it in protein shakes

If your trainer or coach suggests a supplement – natural or synthetic. Research and know the why – how it affects your body. If it is not natural and modifies your hormone and you have to cycle on and off of it – decide is that right for you. REMEMBER IT IS YOUR BODY AND YOUR FUTURE. Educate yourself and your number #1 focus should be your health. If not, in my opinion – it is not worth it.

Work Plan

Did I have rest days? No, I worked out every SINGLE day. I know extreme, but not in prep I am about 6 days a week anyways. I love the gym and it is my zen. Some days, I do hit it harder than others, but during prep I knew I had to work harder as an older natural bodybuilder.

  • Core and obliques done everyday. I used My GirlHustle 28-day Ab Accelerator. I have done this program for over 2 years now. I swear by it and keep it on repeat daily.
  • Cardio everyday  – Cardio 30 mins a day before workout on treadmill at 12-15 incline at minimum speed of 3.3 ( higher the incline more it works glutes). This went up every few weeks until I was at 2 hours and 15 minutes each day during the final weeks before the competition.
  • 5:55 glutes – yes, I am obsessed with this workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJsi5grZWAk&t=117s
  • Practice stomach vacuums once a day for 5 minutes
  • Posing for 5-15 minutes a day – record yourself and take photos to see what works best for you. I wanted to upload a video of my posing, but somehow it wants it on YouTube and well – that’s not happening. This was a week before the show and what I sent my coaches. I am critiquing it as we speak.

Here is an average report of my workout during the months upcoming. Yes, you are reading correctly I was at the gym 3-4 hours each day.

Monday back 
Tuesday glutes
Wednesday biceps/triceps/chest
Thursday Quads
Friday shoulders and higher abs
Saturday glutes 
Sunday cardio / glutes

Back: 30-60s rest in between sets

Wide grip lat pull-down cable ( or machine )
4 sets x 10-12
Smith Machine overhand Grip Bent Over Row
4 sets x 10-12
Cable Seated Single Arm Row
4 sets x 10-12
Bent over reverse dumbbell flys
4x sets x 10-12
Bent over dumbbell rows laying on incline bench 
4 sets x 10-12
Seated underhand cable rows
4 sets x 10-12 hold for 2 seconds 
Machine back extensions 
4 sets x 10-12
Hammer strength lat pull downs ( constant tension )
4 sets x 10-12 hold for 2 seconds 

Burn sets: 

Cable Seated Close Grip Row
4x sets of 20,15,12,10
Cable Pullovers
4x sets of 20,15,12,10

Failure
Machine Assisted Wide Grip Pull Up
4 sets x failure

Biceps/triceps: 30-60s rest in between sets

Dumbbell Alternating Hammer Curl
4 sets x 10-12
Dumbbell Single Arm Preacher Curl
4 sets x 10-12
Cable Reverse Grip Tricep Pulldown ( with handle )
4 sets × 10-12
Cable Straight Bar Tricep Pushdown
4 sets x 10-12
Single Arm Tricep Pushdown ( without handle )
4 sets × 10-12 cross body
Dumbbell Alternating Bicep Curl
4 sets × 10-12
Tricep rope pull-downs cable
4 sets × 10-12
Overhead cable Tricep ext w/ rope 
4 sets × 10-12 
Bent over bicep curls ( cross body cable or dumbbell ) 
4 sets × 10-12 

Failure 
Concentration seated cable curls 
3 sets of failure 

Glutes: 30-60s rest in between sets

Adductor machine 
4 sets x 15-20 reps ( hold 2 secs ) 
Smith Machine Glute Bridge
4 sets x 10-12 reps
Smith machine sumo squats ( constant tension )
4 sets x 10-12 reps
Barbell Good Mornings 
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Barbell Straight Leg Romanian Deadlift
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Angled Machine Sumo Leg Press
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Machine Seated Leg Curl
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Machine Lying Leg Curl
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Alt single leg Romanian deadlifts 
4 sets x 10-12 reps
Single leg glute kickback machine
4 sets x 10-12 reps 
Cable side kick glutes 
4 sets x 10-12 reps

Failure
Kettlebell sumo deadlifts ( elevated ). I have a bad back, so my weight was super light (20 lbs or so)
4 sets x failure

Quads: 30-60s rest between sets 

Machine Single Leg Extension
4 sets x 10-12 reps
Smith Machine Back Squat
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Angled Machine Leg Press
4 sets x 10-12 reps
Angled Machine Single Leg Press
4 sets × 10-12 reps
Bulgarian Split squats ( with dumbbells or smith machine )
4 sets x 10-12 reps 
Reverse hack squats 
4 sets x 10-12 reps 
Machine Seated Leg Extension
4 sets x 12-15 ( 2 sconce squeeze at top ) 
Rest for 60 sec in between sets
Goblet squats elevated heels ( kettlebell or dumbbell )
4 sets × 10-12 reps

Failure
Body Weight Lunges
4 x sets burnout 
Rest for 60 sec in between sets

Body Weight or Weighted Ball Curtsy Lunges
4 x sets burnout 
Rest for 60 sec in between sets

Shoulders: 30-60s rest between sets 

Supersets: do first workout and go straight into second workout no rest

Seated angled dumbbell raised
4 sets x 10-12
Seated side lateral raises 
4 sets x 10-12
Rest for 60 seconds 

Incline bench Reverse Fly
4 sets x 10-12
Cable or ez bar upright rows ( control form ! )
4 sets x 10-12
Incline bench dumbbell Front Raise
4 sets x 10-12
Machine Seated Shoulder Press
4 sets x 10-12
Machine Lateral Raise
4 sets x 10-12 hold for 2 seconds
Cable rear delt rows with rope 
4 sets x 10-12 hold for 2 seconds
Meadow rows ( focus on delt activation not lats )
4 sets × 10-12 
Smith machine shrugs ( or dumbbells if needed )
4 sets × 10-12 hold for 2 seconds 

Failure
Rear cable crossover flys 
3 sets x failure
Rest for 60s between sets
Cable front raises
3 sets x failure
Rest for 60s between sets

The Competition

Is it expensive? Hell yes, it is…

Coaching/ Trainer.

Most are up towards $350 a month. Mine has his fees listed below.
My coach, Matt Bishop, was awesome and a huge cheerleader to me. I was already doing workouts and nutrition, but he made sure everything was ramping up at gym and holding me accountable. My nutrition was not like others and so he let me listen to my body. What I appreciated the very most was that he wanted me healthy. He understood that I didn’t want to modify my hormones or do gear or anything that would jeopardize my health. I can’t stress this one enough – don’t do anything that your older self will regret. Sure, you will need to work at it more, but doesn’t that make the prize even greater?

This is the first and crucial thing to have if you are considering competing. A competition coach will guide you through the processes of nutrition, signing up, the ins and outs, training, posing, and all the essentials that come with competing (and there is a LOT more to it than training and nutrition.)

Matthew Bishop – Personal Trainer and Contest Prep Coach. Utah based. Retired USMC Veteran with a passion for the gym and promoting health and fitness.

(801)-979-4415 / https://www.instagram.com/me_bishopx3/

Fees:
Lifestyle Training $100 a month
Contest Prep $150 a month 

Ask About individual and group discounts. 

Gym Membership

Cost: $10-60/month
Keep in mind you do need some essentials like squat rack, cable machine, various dumbbell and barbell weights. Otherwise, a basic gym will do the trick for training. Just make sure they have the equipment you need for workouts from your coach.

Posing Coach

Cost: Group seminars =$30-50, private lessons =$50-60/hr
You could technically attempt to teach yourself with YouTube, which is free. The issue here lies that it’s not as easy as it sounds, and different federations/categories have different requirements. Not to mention you will want to pose for your body. Not all transitions and poses look the same. Take at least a few sessions with a posing coach to really nail it.

Jyl London
Jyl London

I was lucky enough to have Carrie Hennessy, she is amazing and anyone is lucky to have her. She tells you what looks best with your body, how to arch your back, have your hair, arm placement, feet placement, etc..

Carrie watching us perform

Without a doubt – if you can book her. DO IT. https://instagram.com/carrielawlerhennessy

Carrie Hennessy

Food
Cost: Varies
The food you eat on a competition prep adds up quickly. Even if you eat clean before you start a prep, you will start eating a lot more whole foods and protein, plus eating more frequently. The cost of your grocery list goes up. You also need to buy separate foods on show day and factor in post show meals/treats. Remember that you get what you pay for and good food will always cost more than junk food.

My meals during the competition were rice cakes, peanut butter, honey and packets of salt.

Supplements
Cost: Varies
You could go overboard and spend hundreds of dollars each month. It’s best to stick to the basics and ones that have evidence it works (ie. protein powder, omega-3, BCAA, vitamins).

Jyl London

Competition Suit

Cost: $200+
Suits can range from $200-$1000+. The fit of your suit can make or break how your physique looks on stage, so borrowing a suit may not be the best option. I went to Chiseled in Stone – https://www.instagram.com/chiseledinstonesuits/

Jyl London
Competition Heels

Cost: $50-200
A simple, clear heel will do, but you will need to check your federation guidelines on height of the heel as that will vary. I went to Shoe Fairy for the Olympian 2.0 shoes, because my feet are wider and the others on the market KILLED MY FEET. At the end of the day, your feet are done. This is a photo of me sitting on a disgusting floor to rip them off immediately following the show. Haha

OUCHIE!!! My feet are raw.
Federation Membership

Cost: $75-150
Different federations will have different membership fees. All shows require you to be a member of their federation before you can compete or register for a contest. I did NPC, so my fee was $150 for the year.

Competition Entry Fees

Cost: $50-150
Costs are typically per class entered. On occasion, there may be discounts for early bird registration, but don’t count on it.

Competition Tan

Cost: $100-150+
This is something I HIGHLY recommend you do. Show day there is usually an onsite tanner that will give you that perfect stage glow. Let the professionals take care of that to avoid that disastrous at home tanning attempts, looking blotchy. I used the on-site tanner at Martini Spray Tan and did 3 coats, which most competitors did the same.

Don’t forget to follow the instructions with exfoliation, etc.. The bronzer will come off with the first shower and a lighter tan will be underneath – your shower will look like you were in a mud fight.

Hair

Cost: $50-100+
Can definitely be done on your own, however, your energy is low and you have enough to worry about, so enjoy the pampering and the experts doing it. I used Denise Christensen and Karlee Migliori.

Stage Make-up

Cost: $100-150+
Your makeup must be very dark to match the tan. Having a professional do it is nice for a perfect match. If you buy your own, this make up will last all of your shows. Often there are official makeup artists for the shows to help you out with this. I used Denise Christensen and Karlee Migliori.

Jewelry

Cost: $20-80
Jewelry is to your desired taste. You can choose to wear rings, bracelets and earrings, however, you don’t need to purchase expensive bling.

Mani/Pedi/Fullset

Cost: $15-$90
Not mandatory, but gives a nice final touch to your look leaving your nails in good shape. I did an ombre white and pink nail in stiletto shape and white toe nails with silver glitter on them. Similar to the below design without the jewels on them and more pointy.

Hotel

Cost: $100-175
Usually there is a host hotel where the athletes meeting, registration, tanning and makeup are done right at the venue. Staying there gives you ease when you get your final look together. Mine was at Crystal Inns, which ironically is owned by the same company that I work for now. Flying J Management.

Event Tickets

Cost: $40-80
Fitness competitions are not cheap to watch, but it’s important to have a team of cheerleaders there who have seen you through the process. I was lucky enough that I had my whole tribe there with posters, flowers and all to cheer me on. I have so many photos that were taken backstage that I will update when I get them all.

Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
Photography

Cost: $50-150
Many venues now have regulations on not permitting cameras in beside the official photographer. The event photographer will usually offer packages with all of the pictures they take of you during the show. Those stage shots may be worth it! I was lucky the backstage photographers were sweet and amazing. They let me bring my entire tribe in the photo. It was a group effort after all.

Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition

What you don’t want to forget (Like shoes, hair, makeup, and packing list)?

Prepare a list early so you don’t leave any item behind:

  • Toiletries – disposable sheets, towels, etc.. Remember the tan stains everything
  • Suit, shoes, jewelry, and hair clips.  These items travel with you..  
  • Food Trick:  Freeze your meals and pack them in your checked suitcase.  Just make sure beforehand the hotel provides a microwave to reheat your meals. Rice cakes, honey, salt and peanut butter (don’t forget a knife)
  • Baby wipes for your fingers and nails after the spray tan
  • Cover-ups for tanning (it opens in the front so you are not destroying your groomed hair as you take it off). I wore a cute – BLACK ROBE. Black so it wasn’t turned into a mud color.
  • Slippers or sandals (quick & easy) 
  • Lip gloss container for lipstick
  • Dyna Bands for pumping up
  • Extra suit, shoes, and jewelry
  • Pee cups or a she-wee, toilet seat covers
  • 1 pair of extra clothes
  • Plain and white soap, razor
  • Extra hand towels
  • Scissors, mirror, glue
  • Gym bag to hold it all – my best friend, Heather, bought me one for my birthday
Heather Flinders and Jyl London

Reverse Dieting

It took you months to get to the level of leanness. Don’t forget to take a while to ramp back up eating and exercising. Most people it takes 6-8 weeks. I still plan on 1/2 the gym time and slowly reintroducing food for the next 8 weeks or so. I have reversed dieted for my photoshoots and it went well.

Your Done – Now what?

Will I ever do another one? I have been asked this question a dozen times and the answer is – Likely, NO. While it was an amazing learning and experience, I need to love the gym again and not have it feel like a chore and another job. Sadly, this prep was too much to say it is maintainable or something I could balance.

Jyl London
Jyl London

Now if I decide I do want to do it again there are somethings I would experiment with:

  • Incorporate HIIT in my leaning and less steady state cardio. I work a lot and my quality of time and commitment was in the hours at the gym and I would like a little more balance there. I already have a very full-time job and the prep was another one. I plan on seeing how my body leans with 2 days of HIIT and 3 days steady state cardio. I was at the gym for 3-4 hours a day in the end and then add the food, posing practice, etc… I have a demanding day job and career, so there was nothing else but working day and night.
  • Cave in for a meal service make the meals for me. The endless cooking and preparing was hours 2x a week. And well I am not a huge fan of cooking.
  • Figure out my back. I have five bulging discs and my back was in so much pain daily. I did the chiropractor, cryotherapy and massage, but I really need nerves killed or something. I was miserable with back pain the entire time.
  • Resting up – would take a rest day and see how my body reacts. I missed 3 days of working out my entire prep and I feel like my burnout was getting real towards the end.
  • Buy a treadmill for my house again (I gave one away a few years ago when I was moving). The reason I want one in my home is because headphones after a while hurt your ears and I chose my prep during the heaviest snow times in Utah. I had to drive in horrible conditions to get my workout in and I couldn’t break my long workouts as well.
  • Eat carbs strategically before my heavy lifting days with sodium and water. I would still stay under 20 carbs, but the bulk of them would be before lifting.
  • I would skip a few of the supplements that I swore didn’t do anything at all for me. Example, drinking collagen (even the uber expensive ones) did nothing for me that I could tell. Plus it is a protein that doesn’t build muscle, so it was 1 more thing I was trying to drink that didn’t add to my protein count.

gymlife #girlsinthegym #lifestyle #dedication #lift #gymmotivation #strength #proud #womenwholift #hardwork #nutrition #cardio #muscles #fitmom #fitnessmotivation #bosslady #Igaveupwine #competition

  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition
  • Jyl London - Bodybuilding - Bikini Competition

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