Physical Resilience for an Uncertain Future – Part 1, by A.D.

Oftentimes, in the circles of the preparation-minded, the focus centers around guns, grub, and gear. Areas most certainly worthy of attention, but in my opinion, second place to the state of one’s health, fitness, and overall capital in the realm of physical resilience. An individual with the best-prepared resources in the realms of food, water, and security yet neglecting their fitness and health, whether consciously or not, is missing a key component of their preparation program.

My personal definition of fitness is an ability to perform any desired labor or leisure task at any time, with physical competence, and recover from that task in order to handle whatever comes next. Fitness is more than muscle bulk, six pack abdominal muscles, marathon times, and vanity: it is the currency of physical aptitude. Our levels of fitness determine the breadth of our gas tanks, the larger your tank, the more you can handle on every level. Emotional and mental stress as well as the obvious physical stress all drain on that same tank, and a well-rounded base of fitness will ensure that your most important piece of equipment, your body, is prepared just like all other essential considerations of your life.

The copious volume of information currently circulating regarding the fitness and wellness space can be mind numbing and nauseating. There is a program for every goal imaginable, as the purveyors of this information seek to spin, twist, and transform every insecurity into a marketable product. It invokes paralysis by analysis and frustration in even the savviest of consumers. How do you know where to start? How do I know if what I’m doing is working? How to I properly progress? What is the right thing for me to be doing at my level? These questions and endless more are hard to get straight answers for. There are some brilliant minds in the world of fitness out there, but many struggle to get their message to the masses if they don’t have a platform on social media or a network television show because their sound, logical, science-based approaches aren’t as sexy or catchy as the latest trending fad gracing the cover of magazines.

What I will seek to do here is layout some tested, vetted principles and tangible actions that can help those at any level optimize their individual fitness and health regimen. These are principles I have personally seen bring boundless fitness into the lives of clients, friends, family members and myself. At the heart of all this is the desire to identify the correct fit for the individual that will lead to a lifestyle modification rather than a time-restricted window in which one seeks to cram 10 pounds of fitness in a 5-pound bag, in a hugely unsustainable push. Our discussion will focus on the following areas, which together form the synergistic approach to build a fortified human.

The Essential Pillars of a Comprehensive Fitness Program:

  • Sleep Optimization
  • Nutrition
    • Quality/Quantity/Sustainability
  • Energy Systems Training (aka “Cardio” or “Conditioning”)
    • Aerobic/Anaerobic
  • Resistance Training
    • The 3 Key foundational pillars



What if I told you there was a drug that could help you lose fat, build muscle, heal injuries, reduce stress, have more energy, think more clearly, and strengthen your immune system. This drug was free, and carried with it zero side effects or risks. You’d take it right? I would too!! The good news is that “drug” is SLEEP!! You may think my above example was hyperbole but I assure you it’s not! Sleep is THE strongest driver of those items within our reach and at ZERO COST.

The current recommendation for most is somewhere between 7-9 hours of sleep per night, with perhaps a little less required for the elderly. The more research one does into the role of sleep, the more you respect its power. Forcibly reducing sleep by as little as 1 hour per night over just a couple weeks can severely dampen multiple systems in the body, increasing hunger, decreasing the ability to lose those extra pounds, and diminishing cognitive function to a significant degree. While of course there are times for all of us we will have to cut sleep and make due, as a default, establishing a sleep routine that allows you the highest quality and quantity of sleep is a massive game-changer in your quest for physical resilience. The following are some quick tips to fortify your sleep routine, and give yourself every advantage you can!

1.) Sleep in a completely blacked out, cool room.

2.) Avoid any screens 1-2 hours before bed as much as possible. If not possible, look into blue light blocking glasses that will help your body produce the melatonin it needs to wind down appropriately.

3.) Dim lights in the house and favor fireplaces/candles if possible once the sun has set.

4.) Seek to align your sleep/wake cycle as close as possible to the rising and setting of the sun.

5.) Try and get some sun on your skin as early as possible in the morning. This will help to get your circadian rhythm on track and make falling asleep easier at night.

6.) If possible, try not to eat after dark (again plays into optimizing our circadian rhythm).

7.) Establish a calming mental practice before bed be that prayer, journaling, or something of the like that allows you to bring your system into “rest and digest” mode as much as possible. If nothing else avoid intense or mentally stimulating reading.


While a full deep dive into nutrition is beyond the scope of any single article, it would be negligent to discuss fitness and health without highlighting nutrition as a pivotal factor in that quest. Like the topic of fitness, nutrition today is a hotly debated topic on par with religion and politics that has created massive amounts of division and confusion for the individual seeking some truth and clarity.   In nutrition, like most things, avoiding the extremes with an open mind tends to paint the clearest picture from which one can make an informed decision on the best path forward. The following are nutrition principles that seem to have the greatest bang for your buck, and a large amount of overlap between much of the current top nutrition data. To keep things simple, I usually recommend the following principles as a starting place, and at first place no restrictions on quantity, aside from trying to be mindful of satiety.

1.) Seek to eat 1-2+ “Fist” size servings of vegetables at every meal, and strive for as many shades as possible daily

2.) Quality animal protein should be present at most, if not all, feedings. 1-2 Palm size servings is a solid place to start.

3.) Eat as large a percentage of your diet as whole minimally processed foods as possible. Foods the “ran, swam, flew or grew” is an awesome place to start.

4.) Match your overall carbohydrate intake to your activity level. What this means is that if you are really active foods like rice, potatoes, and starches should be included in higher amounts; but as one shifts to more sedentary phases or times of lower activity likely they will need fewer of these foods.

5.) Be mindful of how certain foods make you feel; 15-20 minutes after a meal just take mental account of your energy and if certain foods don’t sit well or leave you feeling lethargic.

As you get more advanced and seek to make more and more progress your food quantity tracking may need to get a bit more rigid, but for the vast majority starting out that is not an effective gateway to lifestyle change. With any nutrition approach consistency is the largest factor, so I encourage everyone I talk with to delve into cooking and explore ways to make real food tastier and more enjoyable. There is really no shortage of high quality recipes on the internet, this site boasting many itself! I have included some resources I’ve found very helpful in shaping my nutritional philosophy, that I think can help cut through the ocean of conflicting camps out there, and provide a starting point for anyone seeking to make a change.



“Fatigue Makes Cowards of Us all.” -Vince Lombardi

The value of well-developed energy systems (a fancy way for saying, the various pathways by which our body makes “movement currency”) cannot be overstated. If you’ve ever watched a boxing match or MMA fight you’ve likely seen what fatigue can do to even the most elite practitioners, experts in their discipline; Skills fade, reaction slows, and the will to fight can be seen visibly drained from the fatigued combatant. The ability to supply your body with the energy it needs to engage in intense actions (perhaps sprinting to an area of safety in a sudden bout of severe weather while holding a child) or sustain for long durations at lower intensities (maybe walking with a 50-pound pack for a number of miles in the event a vehicle is disabled) could literally be the difference between life and death.

While I don’t assume the readers here are seeking Olympic levels of conditioning, regardless of where you are you can improve and increase your capacity across multiple domains with little to no equipment or cost involved. While the investment in dollars is low, there is no escaping the sweat equity required to gain the required capacity to become the best asset you possibly can. The following is a very elementary breakdown of the broad types of ways our body produces energy and what types of workouts and in what ratio will best allow you to expand your gas tank.

Aerobic (oxidative) conditioning

The aerobic system is the body’s means of producing energy over long durations (majority contributor for any activity > 2mins). This is the base from which all other systems are fed, and a key driver to one’s overall health. For the vast majority of us the best means of aerobic training is sustained exercise for 30-120+ minutes while maintaining a heart rate of between 120-150 beats per minute (OR in simple terms, a pace at which you could hold a full-sentence conversation). Oftentimes people will think you need to suffer in order to build conditioning, which is not true in this case. Keeping your heart rate in the correct range will allow the correct adaptation to take hold. What we are trying to do is get your heart to pump more blood per beat (your stroke volume) so it needs to beat less in general to do the same work. This brings with it a myriad of benefits, one of which is improved oxygen delivery during exercise, and thus improved aerobic conditioning. A reduced resting heart rate means your heart needs to beat less to do the same work, and massive factor in cardiovascular health and plus in the longevity column! These workouts shouldn’t leave you gasping for air, and in fact when done properly should be somewhat enjoyable once you establish an initial base of fitness!

Steady state (done at one consistent pace) exercise at the aforementioned intensity is the meat and potatoes of aerobic conditioning, but it’s not the only method. Various forms of interval training will tap into the aerobic system heavily, and can be used very effectively. The key when using intervals to bring up aerobic conditioning versus other systems we will discuss soon, is to make sure your periods of “higher” effort are not maximal. An example of this for a beginner would be as follows:

A 20-30 Min total bike/jog/swim/row where every

:60-:90 seconds you engage in a burst of higher (but not maximal) effort for :10-:30

More on intervals when we discuss higher intensity anaerobic conditioning!

When building up your aerobic conditioning it does not need to be complex. I would use a simple build up like what follows, progressing when the individual was able to successfully complete the prior step. This example mixed “rucking” (walking with a load) and running, as these are two activities I think cost the least and have the most bang for your buck.

(Side Note: jogging should always be unloaded – running with a pack risks unnecessary strain on your hips, knees, and back)

-Walking unloaded for 60 mins

-Jogging 20 mins continuous

-Walking 30-pound load 30 mins

-Jogging 30 mins continuous

-Walking 30-pound load 60 mins

-Jogging 40 mins continuous

-Walking 50-pound load 30 mins

-Jogging 45 mins continuous

-Walking 50-pound load 60 mins


…. etc. in such a fashion incrementally making improvements once you are able to successfully complete the prior task.

What is good enough? When is someone good enough…That really depends on a multitude of factors, namely what is someone’s age/background and current health? How high of a priority do they seek to make fitness? If I was forced to give some hard metrics for aerobic fitness for someone who just wants basic capacity as a capable human, I’d say the following would be solid goals that would put someone in a place where their fitness was not a liability for very general applications:


Age 20-30: 3 mile run in <25:00 3 Mile 50-pound ruck in <55:00

Age 30-40: 3 mile run in <26:00 3 Mile 50-pound ruck in <1hr

Age 40-50: 3 mile run in <27:00 3 Mile 50-pound ruck in <1hr10m

Age 50-60: 3 mile run nonstop (w/o having to walk) 3 Mile 30-pound ruck in <1hr

Age 60+ Walk/shuffle/jog 5 miles in <1hr

Obviously, it would pay dividends to exceed these standards but if you are someone to whom fitness has not been a priority, use these as solid goals to shoot for. For some these may come easy, others may spend weeks or months chipping away to get there, the important thing is that smart effort is applied consistently!

There are many more methods, of increasing complexity, when training the aerobic system, but if you stick to the above recommendations you will find not only do you make progress, you should feel good while doing so.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 2.)


  1. I’m not getting into fat shaming here but weight is a biggie. Recently I read a comment on a blog which mentioned that they were watching the Woodstock documentary and were amazed at how slim everyone was back then(1969). I watched this movie once years ago but didn’t recall noticing. Couldn’t find it whole online but was able to watch some pieces of it as well as view many pics from the festival. Amazing! Yes indeed, everyone was slim and quite buff looking. Now, look at videos of BLM/ANTIFA protests etc(all mostly teens and young adults as well) and see the difference. Seems to be mostly overweight or obese young people. I know this is true as well for the middle-aged and older folks. What happened? There is no way one can be fit and able to do the physical work needed if one is lugging around a huge gut and lots of extra pounds. Add to that the medical problems that go along with being overweight(Diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol etc) and that really leaves people at a disadvantage. So fellow preppers, we need to get fitter than the ANTIFA/BLM folks and we’ll have an advantage on them before even a single bullet is fired!

      1. Of course we have freedom of speech, but what purpose is served by using it to rudely comment on other people’s physiques? What could it possibly gain you – just to be a jerk? Whose business is a person’s weight or figure beyond themselves, their doctor and perhaps their tailor? Good grief.

        My parents taught me manners, including “If you can’t say something nice……”

        1. Bear

          I wholly disagree with your jab. I work for the government and travel to foreign countries. Even Africa. All over the world they ask me why Americans are so overweight and fat. It is disturbing to me to see Finnish people, whom are call little America in culture, be so skinny from the 18 year old to the 65 year old female having four children.

          The comment as I read it was not to say something not nice but to point out blatant anomaly between generations and countries. No where in the world do I see fat rear ends but in America. Not in China. Not Africa. Not Europe. No where.

          1. “The comment as I read it was not to say something not nice but to point out blatant anomaly between generations and countries.”

            The comment I was responding to was, “It’s okay to fat shame.” That doesn’t say anything at all about generations or countries, only about being mean.

            Ani’s comment addressed those comparisons, and I don’t disagree with her at all. Perhaps you have misunderstood the sequence of the comments posted.

          1. @ Anon

            I’ve heard they mostly smoked pot which is supposed to give you the munchies or something(don’t know, never used it). So then they’d be fatter no?

          2. I never smoked it either but druggies are druggies and one thing ALL drug users do is lie. As in “I only smoke pot”. But look around, most drug users are hyper and under nourished (as are most alcoholics). Drugs and alcohol are destroying the nation.

    1. No One of Consequence,

      I completely disagree!

      Shaming for any reason wounds the soul.

      It does not produce the desired results but increases the likelihood of said person using their chosen coping mechanism even more.

      Drugs, alchohol, food, sex, smoking and sleep are common coping methods.

      I like to isolate. If you shame me for that, I will just isolate more.

      When Jesus loved someone, He never shamed them but kindly spoke truth and encouraged them along the proper path.

      It would be wonderful if a psychiatrist or psychologist blog reader would respond with their professional opinion.

      Warmly, Krissy

  2. Being in shape , thinking logically and having common sense. These three attributes have me further ahead in life than the people on my street, the group with college degrees and most people I meet.

  3. ‘1.) Seek to eat 1-2+ “Fist” size servings of vegetables at every meal, and strive for as many shades as possible daily’. What is “shades’ in this context? Am I missing something, or is it a typo and the author meant ‘servings’ ?

      1. @ Chris

        I waited for the author to clarify but they have yet to do so. I think if by “shades” he was referring to crops that grow underground he’d have called them root crops. A big problem with the standard American diet is that for many people, eating veggies consists of white(Irish) potatoes only. I doubt he’d be urging people to eat more white potatoes but this is just my taste on it.

    1. Sorry for the Delay Tom! Author here- by “shades” I am referring to different color shades across the plant spectrum. I.e broccoli and spinach would count as 2 shades because they are two different shades of green. Thanks for the question!!

  4. For over 4 years now, I go to a gym 3 times a week. This author is right. The benefits are worth the time n effort. I have more endurance, strength, sleep better, n my memory is better.

    1. Also have more energy. As a 50-something guy, I’d feel tired in the early evening, about 7 pm & be limited to low energy activities the rest of the evening. Now, I don’t feel tired until 9:30 or 10 pm.

  5. Thank you for the article. Physical fitness is my main focus at the moment as I have slacked off for many years after being very hard on my body at a younger age. It is scary how quickly you can lose a level of fitness by not keeping up with it. I used to run half marathons no problem but these days can barely jog one mile. All these years I focused on gear and supplies but neglected my body; recent events have been a rude awakening but much needed wake up call.

  6. Thank you AD
    It all begins with a mind set. Determination to reach a goal and sustain it. Whether it’s spiritual or physical preparation, they both start as a plan and must be worked to achieve the goal.
    Still Shuffling…

  7. I was referred to a cardiologist a few years ago. As an overweight 59 year old (then), he ran some tests. The tech doing the ultrasound asked if I was ever a trained athelete because I had a huge cardiac capacity and my heart was very efficient. At the office visit to review all my test results the first words out of the doctor’s mouth as he walked in the door were “you are healthy, man!” He pronounced me “fit fat”. My point is, it is NOT all about weight. I have been a hiker, backpacker, and skier all my life. I do the activities I enjoy. I have trained with weights off and on. I used to trail run. I now bike several days a week. If I could give one suggestion to older people regarding health, it would be stretch morning and night to retain flexibility. Stretching safely takes care of the aches, pains, and stiffness that usually occur with aging. These pains and stiffness can be roadblocks to everyday activities and exercising. Stretching provides a feeling of wellness, fitness, and general well being. Stretching to some degree and in some fashion is withing the reach of every person. Start there.

    1. skeptic, I completely agree on the stretching. About 20+ years ago, several health professionals recommended that I stretch daily, & it has helped me to maintain & at times increase my flexibility & reduce my chronic pain. Studies have shown it to be helpful for some health conditions such as fibromyalgia. On most days I can still touch my toes from a standing position.

      1. Oh yes, stretching. Gently, or be injured.

        Evert day, my sweet spouse and I stretch for a good long time in the morning, sometimes quarreling over the space we use. Making up is sweet. Then, before bed, we each take turns stretching while the other reads from a mutually agreed upon book out loud. We have enjoyed The Wee Free Men, Lonesome Dove, The Yearling, The Summer-1927, and Old Yeller among others.

        Something we share before sharing the bed.

        Carry on in grace

  8. So glad the writer mentioned SLEEP!!! I have come to realize how absolutely KEY, good solid sleep, really is!
    For many years, I slept on a bed that I thought was still OK. Turns out it was not. I got a latex bed & pillow last year and the difference in my sleep is tremendous.
    Sleep is the only time your brain gets to detox – how key is that, in these days?!
    My physical condition and abilities are not Olympic level, but as a 66 yr old female, my HIIT routines are now easier and my thinking keeps getting clearer – and better!
    I can’t stress how important good sleep is!!

  9. Thank you A.D.! SUCH a vital topic. Despite all of the potential threats out there, natural disasters, infrastructure or crop failures, enemies foreign and domestic, etc etc, how many individuals and families will find that their own personal TEOTWAWKI comes in the form of a garden-variety heart attack? Being a crack shot won’t prevent it, a basement full of 30-year storage foods won’t prevent it, and nobody’s bunker has a cath lab inside.

    This article is a timely nudge for our family as well; my husband has yet again strained his back helping our eldest (who has cerebral palsy) get into the bathtub. He weighs only 75# and isn’t close to done growing yet! I can lift him easily [of course I must be careful about posture, use knees, etc; if I throw him over one shoulder or tuck him under one arm and hustle, just to interrupt a tantrum or remove him from the sibling he’s hitting, then my back does make me pay!] but he is rapidly approaching my own height, and so will get more and more unwieldy to carry. I was trying to determine where exactly in the bath routine the injury occurred, so I could either suggest a modification, or know at what point I need to take over the process tomorrow, and the subject of FUNCTIONAL fitness came up. I used your definition of fitness. Surely the ability to help a child who cannot balance themselves is a vital activity, whether day-to-day or in an emergency. I gently wondered if perhaps husband’s back was so easily injured because it is already carrying a heavy load in front…he sighed, and said for the thousandth time, yeah, I have to get rid of this gut! I agree ABSOLUTELY. Not for any aesthetic consideration, but to alleviate unnecessary cardiovascular and musculoskeletal strain, and lessen the chances of needlessly shortening our family’s years together with him.

    We gotta start taking walks again, or something. And there is an appointment set with the DME to get a shower chair.

    1. Bear-

      We’re rowing a similar canoe in regards to special needs – we have a 13yo who experienced profound ABI/ TBI about 7 years ago. We’ve had success with the Wenzelite Otter Pediatric Bathing System (Green, Large) with the optional shower stand (raises seat up ~8″, makes a huge difference – for one’s back – from just the seat base that is standard. It was important enough that we went out of pocket $$, but it was a good investment for helping minimize potential back strains and injuries. We know, one of us goes out, the other has to compensate BIG TIME. Unless you have developed a redundant support system that is reliable . Here’s link:

      1. Thanks SteveO – so thoughtful of you to find the link for me! I will ask his PTs and OTs whether they agree this would be a good fit for him.

        You’re so right about having to compensate when one parent goes down. I often shake my head in wonder at the thought of all the single parents doing this… usually followed by a prayer that the Lord grant all of them TONS of strength and support!

    2. Bear, your first paragraph is so true.

      Despite all of the potential threats out there, natural disasters, infrastructure or crop failures, enemies foreign and domestic, etc etc, how many individuals and families will find that their own personal TEOTWAWKI comes in the form of a garden-variety heart attack? Being a crack shot won’t prevent it, a basement full of 30-year storage foods won’t prevent it, and nobody’s bunker has a cath lab inside.

      Of course, as you relate, your son is an example of that.

      I send my prayers for your continued fortitude as you accept God’s help.

      Carry on in grace

  10. Better to walk 15 minutes a day consistently than blast squats and presses with big weight… once or twice a month. Automatic direct deposit in your physical body health!

  11. Get Puppies!!!!
    Sleep Optimization: Exhaustion
    Nutrition: All organic, home grown or local farmers, ranchers, made from scratch
    Energy Systems Training (aka “Cardio” or “Conditioning”): Walking them 10-12 times a day and occasionally chasing one that got away, going up and down the front steps that many times (I think that’s 150 stair steps every day).
    Resistance Training: Leash training, prying bad things out of their mouths, physically separating them, lifting them in and out of the car, bath time, etc.

    I think I’ve got it covered! LOL

        1. My grandma told me you’ll get enough rest when you’re in a box in the ground. Don’t worry about sleep. Keep Prepping. We all have about twenty more trips around the sun until we’re in that rest.

          1. Ole granny,
            I think your grandma was wise to emphasize diligence and hard work. However, there does come a point of diminishing returns. Just last night (when I had actually INTENDED to reply here), I fell asleep at the computer trying to order silica gel packets. Twice! So when I woke up disoriented, I not only had a fragmented night’s sleep, but no desiccants, and not even all the dishes were done yet either.

            Solomon said in Psalm 127 that “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Some translations have it as “…for while they sleep he provides for those he loves.”

            More recently, in response to the new PT guidelines that emphasize the importance of sleep, one of the retired high-ranking officers (sorry, I don’t remember his name and I can’t find the article again to quote) reminded everyone that combat is a thinking man’s game, and that gets difficult after prolonged sleep deprivation.

            Soooo….I guess all things in moderation (including moderation), right? 😉

  12. Being physically capable of moving your body and doing manual labor is super important. One area that we can’t overlook though is mobility / flexibility. If your body is too stiff, you can easily injure yourself doing mundane tasks…..especially after straining yourself the previous day. For this, I’ve reluctantly added Yoga to my routine. I’m not good with stretching because it’s just so boring. Yoga helps. I put on a YouTube Video and there is a person telling me what to do. It helps.

    1. Yoga’s whole philosophy is to prepare you for death. It is a very spiritual activity. One cannot assume those positions just for stretching. Every single Yoga position means something in Hindu religion. When you assume those positions whether you think you are or not, you are inviting in the Kundalini Spirit. It is the serpent spirit. It is absolutely Demonic and NO Christian should be ever doing it. It is an incredibly deceptive eastern practice that slipped into the water-downed church. It’s an absolute travesty that pastors think they can do a “Christian” version of Yoga. Deception! You are mixing religious practices. It is an abomination the the Lord God of Israel! If you are a Christian then you have been grafted into the commonwealth of Israel therefore it behooves you to obey Deuteronomy 18.

      God Said in Deuteronomy 18:9-14:

      When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
      There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
      Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
      For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
      Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.
      For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

      This includes religious practices of other nations. Please if you call yourself a Christian, stop doing Yoga, confess your sin, repent of it, stop doing it, and ask Jesus to drive out any spirit you may have unwittingly invited into your life.

      There are other types of videos out there that do not use Yoga!

      Be blessed,


  13. Looking forward to part 2 and agree on the stretching, it’s very beneficial. As a former cop, seeing out of shape cops & firefighters always irked me.

  14. AD
    Thanks so much for the article!
    About two months ago after praying for direction on how to prepare for the future (we don’t have a ton, but do have as many supplies as possible right now) I told my husband “if we are not physically fit, none of this stuff is really going to matter”. Although we are not ‘unfit’ in our 70’s, we decided to start going to a personal trainer for even more strength and conditioning.
    It’s so nice to read others have the same mindset and none of us are ever too old to start!
    Looking forward to part 2 🙂

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