Posted by: Amy | February 19, 2011

BOOK REVIEW – The Ultimate PCOS Handbook

Most PCOS books are written by members of the medical community; The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is written by journalists that actually have PCOS themselves. Authors Colette Harris and Theresa Cheung convey a great deal of empathy for the plight of women suffering from the symptoms of PCOS and empower their readers to take control of their bodies.

“We’ve both got PCOS ourselves, and have found that there’s nothing like fighting back to help you feel better about yourself, better about life, and better physically as your self-help strategies help your symptoms recede…we’ve both used the information and ideas in this book to get our health and lives back on track.” The authors are confident that if you implement their plan, you will also start feeling better within two weeks.

The book is well thought through and the information is easy to understand and digest. The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is organized into three parts. Part 1 begins with discussion of PCOS and its causes and outlines medical research and therapies. The authors explain, “But the underlying results of most research so far have one thing in common – the best thing any woman with PCOS can do for herself is to take charge of her environment – diet, lifestyle, emotional health – in order to redress the hormonal imbalances within her endocrine system and restore better health.”

Perhaps the true benefit of The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is the “Action Plan” which is described in Part 2. “Part 2 is packed with practical diet and lifestyle advice that can help you beat your symptoms, reduce the long-term health risks associated with PCOS and boost your chances of health and vitality, now and in years to come,” explain the authors. The Plan includes detailed information on nutrition, exercise, and a 9-step detox plan. “A healthy diet, regular exercise and minimizing your exposure to environmental toxins make up the first line of defense against PCOS – but because so many factors are involved in PCOS, taking nutritional supplements can also help.” What follows is a detailed discussion of how over 30 supplements can help various PCOS conditions. The authors also outline many different alternative therapies. I believe it is the most comprehensive list I have encountered, and includes, acupuncture, aromatherapy, autogenic therapy, Ayurvedic, herbal medicine, homeopathy, nutritional therapy, reflexology, and traditional Chinese medicine.

Part 3 is the most unique portion of the The Ultimate PCOS Handbook, as it deals with taking charge of PCOS by nurturing your emotions and spirit. The authors explain how to let go of stress, cope with depression and low moods, make friends with your body, and how to ultimately reclaim your femininity, your passion and your life. The authors state, “The emotional distress that accompanies PCOS symptoms should never be underestimated.”

I didn’t realize how damaging stress can be to a woman with PCOS. Author Colette Harris even admits that, “the thing I find sabotages them (her periods) – and brings back my acne and mood swings to boot- is stress. Not only because of the cortisol and insulin connection but also because it stops me making the effort to eat as well or finding time to exercise.”

Researchers have found that women with PCOS cannot process cortisol (a stress hormone) properly, which causes higher levels of testosterone to be produced and this can drive your body towards insulin resistance. So stress can actually aggravate PCOS symptoms. The authors provide many ideas that you can incorporate into your life to relieve stress such as deep breathing, relaxation exercises, visualization, meditation, walking meditation, massage, yoga, cognitive behavioral therapy, and sleep – “the healing stress buster.”

The Ultimate PCOS Handbook was released late 2008 in the U.S. market after being published in the U.K in 2006. Because The Ultimate PCOS Handbook was not updated prior to U.S. release, the most up-to-date research and medical treatments are from 2006. As we all know, PCOS research is constantly changing so the book can seem a bit out of date. Also some of the drugs, food and personalities referenced are unique to the U.K. and the average American would not be familiar with them.

Otherwise, I believe the unique, holistic plan the authors have laid out in The Ultimate PCOS Handbook will “help you to choose a positive, happier, healthier future, and create a sense of yourself, not as a woman ruled or defined by her PCOS, but as a woman living a fulfilling life who just happens to deal with PCOS along with the bills, the laundry, the kids, the job, the whole kit and caboodle.” The Ultimate PCOS Handbook is a nice addition to anyone’s PCOS library.

Posted by: Amy | February 6, 2011


Did you know that Superbowl Sunday is now the 2nd largest day for food consumption after Thanksgiving?  Many of us “huddle” around the buffet and the day becomes as much about eating football snacks as it is about watching the game itself.  Okay, I’ll admit, I am planning to eat a few ribs tonight but will also have lots of raw veggies too.  And  I will  enjoy a bit of chocolate lava cake but will stay away from alcohol.  It is easier for me to stay in control, if I plan in advance for an eating event like the Superbowl and give myself permission to indulge.  I am not going to feel guilty about it, because I know on Monday it is back to my clean eating plan.   

BTW Last week’s menu was a hit in my house.  The kids loved the Southwestern Falafel, Butternut Squash Soup and the Chicken Cashew Stir-fry. Point values are Weight Watchers Points Plus

MEATLESS MONDAY- Spanish Tortilla  (4 points) This is like a crustless quiche.  I’ll serve with Winter Fruit Salad (3 points)

TUESDAY – Chicken Cassoulet – Looking at this recipe, I will probably use chicken tenders  instead of chicken thighs and will use Al fresco chicken sausauge  instead of kielbasa.  I will also try to make my own breadcrumbs with gluten free Udi’s bread.  Serve with a mixed green salad.  I always make my own salad dressing.  It is so simple and healthy because I can use high quality olive oil which is rich in omega 3’s.  Here are some simple vinaigrette recipes.

WEDNESDAY – Sauteed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Pears  (8 points) and   Orange and Fennel Salad

THURSDAY Minestrone Soup  (7 points) I will use brown rice pasta and serve with some Mary’s Gone Crackers

FRIDAY Salmon with Lentils

Posted by: Amy | February 4, 2011


When I opened The PCOS Diet Plan by Hillary Wright M. Ed, RD, I expected the typical low-glycemic based diet book, but  what I  got instead was a whole lot more!  I wish this book was written 10 years ago when I first heard the words, “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome”.  The first half of  The PCOS Diet Plan is dedicated to educating the reader about PCOS.  The book serves as a much-needed guide to help navigate the journey back to health.  Ms. Wright empowers you to be your own advocate and gives you the tools you need to insist upon the best medical care.

I believe strongly in the benefits of a holistic approach to treating PCOS.  Clean, whole foods (vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and lean protein) exercise, supplements and self-care should be the cornerstone of a PCOS treatment plan.  Ms. Wright  shares this goal, “to help you manage your health and hormones as naturally as possible through diet and lifestyle change.”  She believes as I do that,  “medication can never compensate for a lousy diet and sedentary lifestyle – that is, you can’t take meds instead of making diet and lifestyle changes and expect to get the optimal  results from the medications.”

However, I  am surprised that Ms. Wright  titled her book “The PCOS Diet Plan”, when throughout the book she indicates that she is anti “diet”.  She states in her introduction, “One important point to keep in mind throughout this book: learning to take better care of your health is not about “dieting.” It’s about modifying your behavior to incorporate lifelong healthy habits, while occasionally enjoying things that diets often tell us are forbidden.”  Wellness isn’t about a following a restrictive diet but rather  integrating a sustainable holistic lifestyle plan.

Ms. Wright shares lots of wisdom, tips and strategies in the second half of The PCOS Diet Plan, which lays out a carbohydrate counting program.  To be honest, this diet would not be very sustainable for me because I hate the thought of daily counting carbs.  I like to take the approach of  eliminating processed carbohydrates and just eating complex whole grains with lean protein at every meal and snack and not worry about carb counting.  However, it may be just the thing for someone else to help establish a healthy eating plan.   The only  issue I take with the diet is that Ms. Wright allows sugar-free products.  I strongly feel that chemicals like asparatame have no place in a PCOS diet program. 

Ms. Wright states, “Having PCOS  may be the best excuse in the world for you to finally work on changing any unhealthy habits and routines.”  Who knows where I would be today, if I hadn’t been pushed by PCOS to hit the road to heath.   If you have been diagnosed with PCOS it is critical to become educated and take control of your health and The PCOS Diet Plan is a great place to start.

Posted by: Amy | January 30, 2011


In our busy and hectic world, it is easy to get caught up in fast food.  I’m not talking McDonald’s here, but rather eating on the fly, quickly and often mindlessly.  We lose track of how much and what we eat.  I have learned that the way we eat is as important as what we eat.  While eating whole, clean foods is critical to our health, eating mindfully with awareness is equally as important.  If we are rushed and distracted, we won’t get as much nourishment and goodness from the food, no matter how healthy it is.  This week, before you begin a meal, pause for a moment and acknowledge the food before you, bless it and appreciate the energy and vitality it is giving you.  Make this  “moment of mindfulness” a new daily ritual.

If you’ve been reading my other menu plan posts you’ll  see similar vegetables in my January and February menus because I try to plan meals around  seasonal produce.  The points are Weight Watcher Points Plus

MEATLESS MONDAY – Butternut Squash Leek Soup (4 points) –   If you are having trouble with sugar cravings, adding winter squash which is naturally sweet can really help satisfy your sweet tooth.  Since this soup has little protein, I will probably serve it for dinner with an open face tuna sandwich.  I mix my tuna with a little light mayo and a little greek yogurt, dill and lemon and a bit of pepper.

TUESDAY –  Fruited Pork Tenderloin (6 points) with Brown Butter and Dill Brussels Sprouts (4 points) if you want to add a grain wild rice would make a  nice side.

WEDNESDAY Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread (7 points) I will just eat 2-3 of these with the spread for dinner with some veggie sticks.  My family will enjoy them in the pita.

THURSDAY Chicken Cashew and Red Pepper Stir Fry ( 8 points) In honor of Chinese New Year I will make this 5-star stir fry and will add some snow peas and serve with brown rice.  Make extra rice for Friday night.

FRIDAY Cilantro Shrimp Fried Rice (7 points)  I’m extending my Chinese celebration with a little fried rice using up the cilantro from Wednesday and the rice from last night.  Make sure you use fresh ginger to make it extra special.  I’ll serve it with steamed broccoli.


Posted by: Amy | January 23, 2011


Cooking and eating fresh food nourishes us in a way that frozen packaged meals never will.  I even find shopping for fresh food lifts my spirits.  When you are at the market this week, notice the subtle way you feel when you are selecting fresh, brightly colored produce, versus walking down the canned vegetable aisle.  There is something satisfying about discovering a bunch of beautiful whole beets with greens attached and selecting a mix of  d’anjou , bosc and comice pears that doesn’t compare to picking a can of pears in light syrup off the shelf.  This week, enjoy the process of shopping for fresh produce and pick up something new – I am going to try fennel.

This week I have two soups/stews on the menu.  I often freeze these leftovers in lunch size containers so I (or my husband) can have them for lunch when there are no leftovers handy in the fridge.  If you have never tried lentils Monday’s soup is a great introduction.  I will be perfectly honest with you – I have never cooked with fennel before. This week I added a recipe on Friday for salmon and fennel. Please post what new produce  you are going to try this week

MEATLESS MONDAY – Winter Lentil Soup (5 WW points)  I will have a slice of crusty whole grain bread and some mixed greens.

TUESDAY- Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Cherry Apple Chutney (5 WW points )Pork tenderloin is the leanest cut of pork available.  It is very easy and takes little time to cook.  I will serve this with roasted cauliflower and Quinoa Salad with Dried Cherries and Pistachios (7 WW points)

WEDNESDAY- Sautéed Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Pears (9 WW points) and Winter Salad with Roasted Beets and Citrus Reduction Dressing (3 WW points) I will make this salad and serve it today and tomorrow.  Just don’t toss with the dressing so the greens stay fresh on Thursday.

THURSDAY –  Cranberry Beef Stew (11 WW points) with leftover Winter Salad

FRIDAY –  Seared Salmon with White Beans and Fennel (11 WW points) I will serve with some sautéed spinach and maybe some crudites.

I hope you are enjoying some of these recipes.  If you have a PCOS friendly recipe that you will prepare this week, please share with us!

Posted by: Amy | January 16, 2011


“Eating locally grown food in accordance with the seasons will help you live in harmony with yourself, your body and the earth”.  – Joshua Rosenthal

Eating seasonally is good for our bodies and pocketbooks too!  Our ancestors had no choice but to eat seasonally. In the winter they relied on meat, poultry, eggs, winter squash and root vegetables.  As I am writing this post, it is a chilly 9 degrees outside in New Hampshire.  During this season, I allow myself more healthy oils, nuts, seeds and protein to keep healthy and fortified through these cold winter months.    I try to plan my menus around seasonal foods – that is why you will see lots of hearty soups, stews and warming foods right now in my menu plans.  To help you get in touch with what food is freshest during the winter months here is a nice list of winter produce

This is just a dinner menu plan as  I typically “automate” what I eat for breakfast and lunch, which makes it easier for me to make good choices.  Here are links to previous posts for breakfast ideas; I’ll have Ezekial Bread with nut butter and a piece of fruit, or Ezekial Bread or Udi’s Gluten Free bread with eggs and some fruit, steel cut oats, yogurt parfait or a smoothie.  Lunch is usually leftovers from dinner or a salad with some protein.  Dinner is the meal in which I try to add a lot of seasonal variety.  As always, I have included Weight Watchers PointsPlus.

MEATLESS MONDAY – Spice Rubbed Salmon with  Lemon Garlic Spinach (8 points) &  Roasted Winter Vegetables (4 points)

TUESDAY – Chicken and Parsnip Soup  (5 points) I will also add some Swiss chard to the soup and use the leftover roasted vegetables.  I’ll serve  this with a  spinach/romaine salad topped with pomegranate seeds, pears, sunflower seeds, almonds and red onion.  I will make a simple vinaigrette with a bit of POM juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, a smidge of dijon mustard, salt and pepper. 

WEDNESDAY – Roasted Squash Salad with Bacon and Pumpkinseeds (4 points) & Pork Loin Chop as suggested in the recipe.  I’ll rub it with a store-bought spice rub (no MSG) and just cook in my grill pan. 

THURSDAY –  Sloppy Joes (5 points)  (my kids request!) I will eat mine open-faced on one piece of bread with sweet potato oven fries and serve this healthy version with steamed broccoli.

FRIDAY – Thai Coconut Shrimp with Brown Rice Pasta (9 points)

Everyone loved the Spinach Grapefruit Salad  last week.  If you had a favorite PCOS- friendly recipe that you cooked last week please share it with us!

Posted by: Amy | January 9, 2011


“Eating a warm meal nourishes the body; preparing it nourishes the soul.”  – Terri Trespicio.  If you have PCOS you need to get into the kitchen and start cooking.  The act of preparing a meal from fresh ingredients can be very satisfying and can truly soothe your soul.  This week start a cooking ritual.  Put on a pot of tea, find some relaxing music (I like George Winston), light a candle, gather all your ingredients and start chopping!  (noted Weight Watchers points)

MEATLESS MONDAY – Bean Burgers with Spicy Guacamole  (11 points with bun) The recipe calls for smoked cumin and paprika but I will just use regular.  I will serve these to my family on whole wheat buns with a salad on the side with salsa for dressing. I will eat mine sans bun. 

TUESDAY – Pan Roasted Pork Loin with Leeks  (6 points) This is a classic recipe 5-star recipe from Cooking Light and one of the easiest to follow for Roast Pork.  It is so delicious and is a family favorite.  I will serve with Roasted Brussels sprouts (cut in half, toss in olive oil , salt and pepper and roast at 400 until slightly browned) and whipped sweet potato with a sprinkle of cardamom.

WEDNESDAY –  Cod with Spicy Orange & Black Cherry Sauce & Quinoa.  (11 points)  I try to have fish once a week.  I wish I could afford to have it more often.  I  usually plan my meal around the fish special of the week – this week cod is on sale.  The recipe calls to serve this with couscous, but I try to stay away from gluten and will serve with green beans and quinoa instead.

THURSDAY – Roasted Chicken and Wild Rice Soup  (6 points) This soup is wonderful.  I don’t usually use boxed rice mixes but I do use a mix for this recipe.  Look for one with no MSG.  I will probably go by the market and buy a roasted chicken that day, but you can certainly roast your own (save some chicken for Friday’s enchiladas). 

I posted on my PCOS Diva Facebook page info benefits of grapefruit on insulin sensitivity.   Grapefruit  is in season now and tastes great in a salad.  Plan to have Spinach Grapefruit Salad  with dinner both tonight and Friday.

FRIDAY –  Chicken, Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas – (9 points for two) There is no specific recipe here .I just use Trader Joes corn tortillas because they have no preservatives and Trader Joes Enchilada Sauce.  I’ll mix the remainder of the roasted chicken, a can of black beans, some frozen corn, baby spinach, some canned diced tomatoes  with half a bottle of sauce.  Fill the corn tortillas add a little cheese and roll them up and place in a 9×13 dish. Pour the rest of the sauce over the tortillas.  Sprinkle with a bit more cheese and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 until bubbly.  I top with cilantro, tomatoes, diced peppers and green onions when it comes out of the oven.

Please share your meal ideas for this week and comment on the recipes.  What is a 5-star recipe in your opinion?  Last week the Almond Fish got 5-stars in my house!

Posted by: Amy | January 2, 2011


 If you don’t cook and you have PCOS, it is critical that you start.  I love this quote from Joshua Rosenthal, “Cook like your life depends upon it, because it does!”  Learning how to cook clean healthy meals is truly your first step in the healing process.  I bet you will find that the act of preparing a meal from fresh healthy ingredients is as good for your soul and it is for your body.

Many of my readers have asked me to post my PCOS meal plans.   Every Sunday I sit down and plan out my dinners for the weekday and my Monday grocery shopping list.  I thought that during 2011 I would start sharing my weekly menus with you as often as possible.  For more meal planning tips check out my posts about how I go about meal planning.   You will only see weekday dinner menus because weekends usually call for more flexibility in my house.  We often have steel-cut oats on Sunday for supper and I typically make a roast chicken/pork tenderloin or some other type of meat on Sunday afternoon so I can have leftovers for lunch during the week, as I usually “automate” breakfast and lunch and have the same few foods or leftovers every day.

My husband is starting the new Weight Watchers PointsPlus program this week ,so I thought I would also add the point value that I calculated for the dishes on  I get my recipes from a variety of sources but this week you can find them on and  I have linked the recipes for you.  In 2011 Monday is going to be “Meatless Monday” in my house.

MONDAY – Navy Bean Soup (9pts)  I have a leftover nitrate free organic ham from New Years and am going to use the bone to make this soup. I will serve it with a slice of Ezekial (Click for more info about this bread) or Udi’s gluten free bread and a salad with homemade vinaigrette dressing.

TUESDAY – Shrimp Fried Brown Rice – (10 pts) The recipe calls for white but use brown instead.  Also add extra veggies like broccoli, red pepper, bean sprouts, really anything you want.

WEDNESDAY – Almond and Lemon Crusted Fish with Spinach.  (6pts) I will also serve this with some roasted winter squash.

THURSDAY – Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Nuggets with Blackberry Mustard.  (4pts) My kids like Trader Joe’s Sweet Potato fries and I’ll also serve with broccoli and carrots.

FRIDAY – Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili – (8pts) I will make a light coleslaw and some gluten-free cornbread to round out the meal.

Share some of your favorite PCOS friendly recipes this week in the comment section.  Here’s to cooking and eating well in 2011!

Hi my name is Amy and I’m a hair product addict.  If you could only see my bathroom cabinet, it is filled with half empty bottles of volumizers, root boosters and anti-humidity hairsprays.  I am always on the hunt for the latest and greatest body building hair formula.  When you experience hair loss, you feel like you need to make every hair on your head count.  So, I wanted to share my favorite tried and true hair products, that give big hair challenged ladies like me, lots of volume.

KMS California Add Volume Line

Shampoo: This Shampoo  adds volume and body. Ideal for fine or lifeless hair. Gives you added volume and body.

Conditioner: A light weight gel conditioner, that doesn’t weigh down.

Root & Body Lift: A light weight spray foam, that lifts roots, builds body and texture and                                          gives targeted lift at the crown.

Mousse: A lite as air foam provides texture and body while protecting from heat. Ideal for fine or all hair types. Gives you all over volume and support.

Goldwell Unlimitor is a spray wax that creates incredible texture and volume.  I use it before I spray with hairspray.

I think the best hairspray for fine hair is Back to Basics Flexible Hold Green Tea and L’Oreal Elnett Extra Strong Hold. Both have super fine mists that don’t weigh down hair and they add texture.

If you are beyond big hair challenged and are really dealing with PCOS hair loss and thinning hair, I have found two  wonderful products from DermMatch is a hard-packed, colored powder that comes in 8 shades (they can actually be blended).  The powder coats and thickens your hair. You rub DermMatch  using a sponge applicator directly on your scalp to color areas exposed by hair loss.

Then you can sprinkle MegaTHIK Hair building fibers over the area you just covered with the DermMatch. This info is straight from the website, “Simply shake MegaTHIK Hair Building Fibers onto thinning hair and see a fuller, thicker head of hair. MegaTHIK instantly rebuilds your hair with natural Keratin Fibers. Your hair will appear thicker in seconds. The fibers are available in five natural shades to make both men and womens hair look and feel full and natural.” I can attest that it does really work.  Just sprinkle, pat it down and spray with hairspray and no one will ever know.

And if all else fails…..get a wig.  I’m not kidding.  I experienced severe post partum hair loss after my 3rd child during the spring of 2009.  The hair loss became so bad that I went from using these concealers to going to Salon 10 Newbury in Boston and getting fitted with a partial hair piece made with real hair.  It clipped in right at the crown and blended with the hair I had left. It was expensive (around $800) but was worth every penny.  It saved my sanity.  My hair has grown back and  hair loss now is minimal a result of the regime I described in my last post. But, if you are still really struggling with PCOS hair loss, you don’t need to suffer, you can still look and feel beautiful.   Don’t be afraid to look at all your options.  And if you have a favorite hair product please share!

This is me wearing my hair piece in August 2009 with my baby girl.

Posted by: Amy | November 14, 2010

PCOS AND HAIR LOSS – What Works for Me

Of the myriad of PCOS symptoms, I find hair loss to be the most difficult to cope with.  Thick, radiant hair is a symbol of beauty and femininity.  When it seems like you see more hair in your hairbrush and in the bathroom sink or tub than on your head (okay, maybe I am exaggerating a bit here) it can be really depressing. 

The medical term for PCOS hairloss is androgenic alopecia.  Androgenic alopecia in women is due to the action of androgens which most of us with PCOS have an excess of.  Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a derivative of the male hormone testosterone (an androgen) is the enemy of hair follicles on your head. DHT appears to be at least partially to blame for the miniaturization of hair follicles in women suffering with androgenic alopecia. Testosterone converts to DHT with the aid of the enzyme Type II 5-alpha reductase, which is held in a hair follicle’s oil glands. Scientists now believe that it’s not the amount of circulating testosterone that’s the problem but the level of DHT binding to receptors in scalp follicles. DHT shrinks hair follicles, making it impossible for healthy hair to survive.

I have spent countless hours researching PCOS  hair loss solutions.  After trial and error,  here is what works for me.  I just want to preface with the fact that you don’t want to use/take any of the following if you are trying to conceive.

  1. Nizoral Shampoo-  a potent anti-dandruff shampoo, also helps to block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). I use this to shampoo most days and leave on for a few minutes before I rinse. You can get this at any drugstore for around $10.


Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a potassium-sparing diuretic used to treat high blood pressure and swelling. Spironolactone slows the production of androgens in the adrenal glands and ovaries. It prevents DHT from binding to receptor sites in the hair follicles.  You will need a prescription for 100mg 2x day from your doctor.  You also periodically need to get potassium levels checked while you are taking this drug. This is the only prescription drug that I take to help my PCOS. 

5% minoxidil  My naturopath recommended that I use the men’s formula as the women’s 2% is not effective. I have been using this for  a year now with no side effects. Minoxidil stimulates hair growth. I purchase mine at Walmart – 3month supply for $19

Natural progesterone cream days 14-28 of cycle It inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which prevents excess DHT from being produced from testosterone.   By ensuring that your progesterone levels are balanced you can ensure that your body is not producing too much DHT.  I use 1/4tsp of  Emerita Pro-gest 2x days 14-28. 

Saw Palmetto  blocks the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). I take 320mg a day.

Next time I’ll share my favorite hair products that help thin hair look a ton thicker.  In the meantime, I encourage you to do your own research into remedies for androgenic alopecia and please post a comment if about what works for you.

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