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Our SOS Journey

The State of Slim program as experienced by Leslie and Rob

Something To Be Proud Of

As we are on the tail end of the initial 16 weeks of the program, it is a great time to assess where we came from, where we are going and what we are proud of.  This post is going to be from Rob.  Leslie will put her thoughts to “paper” in the next post.

Being that we entered into the State of Slim program due to my health, it is easy for me to say “I feel a ton healthier.  I never realized just how bad I really felt”.  While that is true, that does not fully encompass the transformation that has happened to my mind, body and those around me.  Remember the SOS Triad (Mindset, Consumption, and Movement) that we talked about?  That is a good place to start.

First of all, my “Mindset” has certainly evolved.  I have always been a hard-headed guy that did not give up easily.  During the first few sessions with Coach Marsha, she explained that there would be hard days and mistakes might be made.  I’ve been through harder challenges, and I was determined that I would not be making any of the mistakes she was talking about.  There were absolutely hard days.  Days that I wanted to order a pizza because I was sick of meal prep.  Days where I had so much going on and was busy and had sinful thoughts of hitting a drive through for a quick convenience meal.  I always kept Coach Marsha’s words in the back of my mind on those days.  I could not give her the satisfaction of scolding me about making a mistake.  There is more to the SOS plan than stubbornness and pride.  My mindset has changed from wanting those quick and easy convenience meals that are constantly facing us in the form of McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, Sonic, Papa Johns and the list can go on (insert your old “go to” convenience meals).  My mindset has changed from avoiding Coach Marsha’s scolding (fully picturing a wagging finger) to thoughts of how that processed convenience food would make me feel.  How much would I be dragging on my next visit to Orange Theory or on my next run?  That change in mindset became an even bigger driving force in my quest for success in the clean eating SOS lifestyle.  While your mindset views maybe different, listen to that inner voice that tells you about why you even started the program and how you don’t want to give up on all that hard work that you have been putting in.

This brings us to the “Consumption” leg of the triad.  I am absolutely loving the fresh home made meals that we are making.  The fresh vegetables.  The lean meats flavored with home made seasoning mixes and sauces.  The change in palate tastes.  The indulgence meals are reeling back from the tastes of old favorites to some new favorites that are closer to plan (closer, not ON….what would be the point of that?!).  The pizza nights are healthier toppings on our homemade pizza.  Moving to the healthier Campbell’s Tomato Soup for the grilled cheese and tomato soup nights.  Choosing healthier restaurants for our date nights.  While I still make the occasional treat out of Fat Sully’s Pizza or El Jardine Mexican, I know that those indulgences will affect my performance for the next couple days.  The “Consumption” and the “Mindset” are working together closer than ever to drive my “Movement”.

Other than the weight loss success of the whole package, which is a little over 65 pounds now, the “Movement” leg of the triad is my most impressive success.  I am proud of it. I am now running farther and faster than I have in 15 years.  For an example; On November 24th, 2016 I ran 4.08 miles in 55:09 (13:31/mile average) over a relatively flat course (18 feet elevation gain).  On February 4th, 2017 I ran 4.43 miles in 54:20 (12:16/mile) on a hilly course (335 foot elevation gain). There is no doubt that this success is a driving force.  Why?  It is simple.  Other than the weight loss itself, the “Movement” portion is the only other statistical and tangible measure to look at.  Looking at those statistical improvements is more satisfying than the most decadent dessert after an indulgence meal.  It makes the tough decisions to walk by the cookie tray in the break room at work worth it.  Yes, I could justify my run today for a cookie, but that cookie will effect the scale and my run tomorrow.  “Movement” is the neon sign of cause and effect of the decisions that I have made.

The SOS program discusses “Living in the arena”.  If you are not familiar with the concept you should read an excerpt of a speech (“Citizen in a Republic”) by President Theodore Roosevelt called “The Man in the Arena“.  I have spent a fair amount of time thinking about living in the arena, even before SOS.  By embracing that concept, I have been able to set the example for the spectators around me.  Slowly and surely people have been taking note of that example.  People like Jose, Lauren and a handful of others that I work with that are now venturing out on their own SOS journey.  While I certainly suggest people who want to live healthier take a look at the SOS program, I am just proud that I have been able to encourage others to be healthier.  I am beyond proud and grateful that I can be an inspiration to others.  I am excited to be able to help others see their own journey through SOS, so they can see and feel the rewards as I have.  As you read this, think of how much you contribute to my pride.  You are why I am writing this!  I encourage you to step into the arena.  It doesn’t hurt, I promise.

Without question, the most pride I have found through the journey so far has been the evolution of the relationship Leslie and I have.  There is no question that she is the outside force holding my “Triad” together, whether she knows it or not.  We have learned to reel each other in when we were ready to throw in the towel.  We have also pushed each other to live the program and lifestyle bigger and better every day.  Her commitment to continuing the lifestyle well beyond this 16 weeks is certainly a driving force.

With all that said, carry on.  Feel good about YOUR accomplishments big or small.  Even the smallest gain today is a huge gain from yesterday and the days before.  Keep plugging along and moving forward.  The journey is worth it!

December 31st, 2016


 

A New Year, a New Resolution

It has been a little while, ok a month, since we have posted anything.  Just like everyone else’s life around the holidays, we got busy.  Not so busy we fell off plan or anything detrimental, just fell off the blogging bus.  We are back.  We have also brought another friend with us.

Jose, one of Rob’s co-workers, dove in and started SOS a couple of weeks ago.  He was already on a good path of eating clean and working out, but he had plateaued on his old system and wanted to try something new.  His first week got things moving again, to the tune of six pounds.  His pants are already getting loose from his first week and a half in phase 1 and his motivation was gaining even more momentum, not that he needed any more.  He is dedicated to getting healthier and has been in that mindset for a while now.  So, with his success there have been a couple more people around Rob’s office that have been showing interest enough to buy the SOS book.  This New Year’s post is a shout out to those about to take the leap of dedicating themselves to a new lifestyle…and to Jose’s future success!

Lets talk about resolutions.  First of all, SOS is a life long resolution, not a month-long resolution.  As we have found, just like is stated in the SOS book, these are permanent changes in habit, mindset, and of course happiness.  We are not trying to come off negative by saying that New Year’s resolutions are bad, quite the opposite in fact.  We ENCOURAGE you to make the resolution to lead the SOS lifestyle!  It has made our lives considerably better, we just didn’t know that could happen before we started.  Not only has our physical/nutritional well-being improved, so has our mental well being.  The healthy demands of this program fuel those good endorphins through the exercise and unprocessed food regimen.

What does it take to really make SOS work for the longterm?  Rob likes to think of it in associative terms from a military concept called the “Combat Triad”.  The proven theory establishes that for survival in combat there are three pillars that must be mastered, Marksmanship (shooting a gun well), Gun Handling (handling/manipulating the gun efficiently) and Mindset (being mentally prepared and strong).  How in the world can this theory be associated with SOS?  It is simple actually.  Only two of the pillars need to be changed.  With those changed, we now have the SOS “Combat Triad” of Mindset (being mentally prepared and strong), Consumption (eating well) and Movement (manipulate/handle your metabolism well).

Generally, a one legged stool is not an efficient or comfortable base.  Mindset, which is important in countless aspects of our lives, cannot alone be the driving force in getting things done.  Mindset just prevents the other two legs from buckling under the stress.  So, when you make that New Year’s resolution to start SOS you really need to be making a resolution to change your mindset.  The SOS mindset has a lot of different facets.  It is healthy.  It is active.  It is happy.  It is determined.  It is fraternal.  It is one complex bugger that will be a little different for each individual.  Just remember, while it is not always easy to keep the mindset (Leslie has thought, “this is ridiculous, and I’m exhausted” more than a few times), there are two other legs to bolster it when it wants to buckle.  When the program gets hard, take a few minutes to evaluate your weekly logs.  Are you clearly on plan?  How about your exercise, is it where you want to be?  Remember, these three things working together will get you through the battle to get healthier.  If you are still struggling, look to a fellow SOS’er for that little boost.  We all need a back rest sometimes, don’t hesitate to seek out a little support!

With that, we wish you all a Happy New Year!

Some Thoughts for Thanksgiving

In light of celebrating Thanksgiving last week, we decided to talk about Indulgence Meals.  First of all, the foodies in our souls are jumping for joy that Week 9 brings more Indulgence Meals with it.  This is followed quickly with some thoughts of caution.  Let us explain a little more…

We knew exactly what our first Indulgence Meal was going to be before we even started the program: we were going to do our wedding reception menu tasting!  For a number of reasons, obviously, this was an exciting first Indulgence Meal.  While we initially were focused on the excitement of getting one more thing checked off the wedding planning list, as Phase 1 wore on it became more about having some delicious “normal” food.

We sampled delicious appetizers of Brie with raspberries and flatbread with prosciutto, then moved on to some tasty entrée’s of roasted pork, salmon, filet mignon, and chicken piccata.  These came with some wonderful sides such as roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.  Let’s not leave out the most significant accompaniment: wine.  There were six half glasses of wine; three reds and three whites.  That, however, was not enough.  We were on a high of good food and wine, and we wanted more!  Rob quickly exclaimed to our coordinator that we needed a bottle of the red wine that we liked, no matter the cost.

While that meal was really not that far off plan, we certainly felt the difference of how our bodies dealt with the change of diet.  The next day, we were feeling sluggish and crabby.  It was a solid first lesson of just how much clean eating has made us feel better.  This lesson has been repeated after every Indulgence Meal that we have had, some more so than others.  There is no doubt that these experiences make us question why we want to eat some of our old favorites, like pizza.

Let’s talk about that elephant that just entered the room; that beautiful one that looks like pizza.  It was a weekly must in our lives prior to the commitment we made to SOS.  Those of you who live near the Downtown Denver area might be familiar with Fat Sully’s Pizza.  You know, the pizza joint that is associated with the Denver Bisuit Company?  We are quite partial to Fat Sully’s for sure.  The Saturday that Rob returned from his hunting trip, we dialed them up and ordered our old norm of Pepperoni and Jalapeno.  This was our first time eating pizza since starting SOS, and it was freaking delicious.  Even more delicious than we had remembered!  We savored each bite, eating it more slowly than we had ever done.  Then our world came crashing down…  The bowling ball of pizza sat uncomfortably in our stomachs well into the next day as we felt lethargic and un-motivated.  While there is no doubt that a pizza night will be on our radar, it is going to be held in reserve for those times when the comfort it brings is a true necessity.

As we used the first of our two indulgence meals in week 9 for Thanksgiving dinner with family, we went a little heavier on the turkey and sweet potatoes.  The other goodies like stuffing and pie were consumed with much more modesty.  While over-indulging on the poor choices was defeated by the the desire to feel good and energized for Black Friday, we were able to enjoy the feast.

Other Indulgence Meals have included some old favorites: Mexican, Spanish Tapas, Dim Sum.  It’s all SO DELICIOUS.  There’s a certain comfort that comes with eating what you’re familiar with.  Food is tied to memories and feelings, and it’s easy to assume that nothing will be different when you eat some of your old favorite foods.  Really, why would anything have changed?  Oh, but what a difference there is!  Once you’ve been eating as clean as SOS prescribes, your body is thriving off of good-for-it food.  Throw in the junk you used to eat, and it goes haywire.  Leslie literally feels like she’s on a sugar high after eating an Indulgence Meal.  We are both cranky with tummy aches later that day (or the day after, if we’ve indulged at dinner).  It’s frustrating and, quite frankly, a little depressing!  One of the lessons here is that an Indulgence Meal isn’t meant to be an all-out, eat as much as you want of the food you used to down on a regular basis; moderation and slowing down to enjoy the meal are musts.

We have come to the sound conclusion that, while we really do enjoy being able to visit our old favorites, we are much more comfortable with how our new eating habits taste and make us feel.  SOS has trained our bodies to use healthy fuels efficiently!  As you go through your own journey, savor not only the tastes of the old but think about the feeling of the new.

 

 

If We Knew Then What We Know Now

Before we get into this week’s post, we need to announce our first milestone of success!  As we entered into Week 8, Rob met with his primary care physician for a two month follow up.  The normally straight shooting guy that had always commented about Rob’s weight was impressed and almost at a loss of words for the transformation that was under way.  In the eight weeks since his last visit, Rob had dropped 44 pounds.  We are barely halfway through the program and both of us are seeing results.  It is a testament to not only the validity of this program, but to the fact that it takes teamwork to make such a big lifestyle change.  It would be difficult at best for either one of us to be successful if the other was not “In it to win it” too.  We could not imagine how much of a challenge it is to do it as a solo mission, and we want to give a big nod of admiration to those who are having to face that challenge of doing it on their own. That being said, onto this week’s post…

When Rob met with Dr. Holly, she told him that the first two weeks (Phase 1) would be hard.  She also pointed out the realistic fact that anyone can do it;  it is only two weeks after all.  In retrospect, we would only really credit the difficulty to our circumstances rather than to the actual plan.  As you learned in the last post, Leslie was in the Philippines for most of Phase 1.  Talk about proof that it can be done!  The three things we want you to be prepared for (and what we will certainly be more prepared for if we do Phase 1 again) are energy loss, menu variety, and finding our groove.

When Coach Marsha mentioned in our first appointment that we would notice a dip in energy during the first two weeks, we thought, “ehhhh how bad can it be?”  We.  Were.  WRONG.  We were sapped!  We went from running a couple miles three times a week and other activities on other days, to just struggling to get through the day.  Almost even more shocking to us was how hard it was to concentrate at work.  Essentially, our bodies went into shock from newly introduced healthy food intake; as our bodies were learning an entirely different way to burn fuel.  It got better after week one, and our energy was back to normal by the end of week two.  We are not telling you this, if you are preparing to start the program, to worry you.  We only want you to expect it and not freak out when it happens.  It is not debilitating by any means; it just caught us off guard.

When we go back to Phase 1 for maintenance, we will approach menu planning much differently.  One of the most important aspects of this journey for us has been to find our way through the uncharted territory of a limited selection of food; it’s daunting and a bit depressing when you first see the Phase 1 food list.  While Rob will probably never enjoy vegetable omelets quite the same again ( a cup of egg whites was just too much for the big guy), we found there are many more options than just the handful of recipes in the book.  Really, there are a ton of fantastic recipes out there that are Phase 1 friendly.  Just search the internet for recipes and match it up with the list of allowable foods.  They are there!  I will offer a word of caution for Pintrest though, not all of the recipes that result from a search for SOS Phase 1 are really Phase 1 friendly.  Be skeptical until you have checked the ingredients list all the way through.

Some of our favorite Phase 1 recipes are the Skinnytaste Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps and the Sweet Life Chef Healthy Granola.  Tuna or salmon salad on cucumber or tomato slices is a great way to get in your veggies and protein.  Throw the tuna or salmon in with low fat mayo, mustard, and dill pickles, et voila… you’ve got a tasty lunch.  Simple ingredients you could even put together at your desk.  Vegetables don’t have to be plain old steamed veggies.  They can be pretty tasty, but you start to crave some variety after the third day of those.  Experiment with different roasted vegetables (we love balsamic roasted veggies); they’re delicious AND an easy way to make a few servings in one shot, making less work for each day.  That brings us to….

Finding our groove!  It’s one of the biggest lessons we’ve learned and something we still work on.  Once you get into a rhythm, things become less overwhelming.  While we still get a little frustrated with spending a good portion of Sunday getting food prepped and packaged for the next week, we have found ways to make it easier and not spend a whole weekend day in the kitchen.  Throw something in the crock pot that will provide a few days worth of one meal per day.  Lean meat and vegetables are hard to go wrong with in a crock pot.  You can add some more spices or herbs when reheating it if it is lacking some flavor.  Make a quick salad like cucumber and tomatoes with red wine vinegar; it tastes even better after sitting in the fridge overnight, and it’s easy to portion out for a quick grab and go vegetable option throughout the week.  On weeknights, plan quick and easy meals that will include leftovers for the next day (fajitas anyone?). Knocking things out in chunks throughout the week takes the load off of the weekend and makes for fresher meals towards the end of the week.

Phase 1 is the most challenging part of the program (so far.  who knows, maybe there’s a big surprise for us in the second half!), and we hope the lessons we learned will help set you up for a successful start to an awesome experience.  Cheers!…but make sure it’s non-alcoholic; cocktails aren’t allowed until indulgence meals in Phase 2.  That’s something to look forward to!

 

 

Traveling and SOS can go together!

We travel…  A LOT!  Leslie travels to the Philippines once a month for ten days on business.  Rob has traveled for both business and fun.  You know that saying, “Proper planning prevents piss poor performance”?  Same thing goes for SOS!  Preparation is key for staying on plan while you’re traveling.  Find a few things you can prepare and pack ahead of time; ours have been granola, muffins, protein powder, and almonds.  If you’re going someplace where you have easy access to stores and a refrigerator, buy yogurt, veggies, and almond milk when you get to your destination.  If not, check out how Rob got creative in the Camping section below.  Without further ado, here are some of our secrets to stay on plan and be successful…Bon voyage!

Manila, Philippines

Leslie spent the better part of Phase 1 on one of her trips to Manilla.  While it was quite the challenge, she made it through with success!  We packed up protein powder, almonds, granola, and muffins.  We also sent her with some of the trusty crockpot buffalo chicken lettuce wraps for the long flight over.

While there, she found some fat free greek yogurt, almond milk and a salad place that is similar to Mad Greens here.  She would also hit the breakfast at the hotel to get veggies.  Because the cooks where she stays would have no idea where to begin on cooking egg whites without any butter or excessive oil, she opted for hard boiled eggs.  Peeling egg after egg while her co-workers looked on at amazement for her dedication to the program.  She was able to make due with room service for the rest of the meals.

Las Vegas

Rob spent four days in Las Vegas for a business conference during Phase 2.  Who knew that Vegas, on top of all of the other things contributing to its moniker Sin City, has got to be one of the unhealthiest places on earth in food terms?  He was able to make it through successfully with a little forethought and planning.  Before leaving, we packed up snack baggies of protein powder (Wonder what TSA thought?), granola, muffins and almonds.

Once on the ground and checked in, he took off to the nearest big pharmacies.  It took going to two to get the necessary supplies: a styrofoam cooler (because the hotel wanted $30/day to get one in the room), almond milk and non-fat greek yogurt

He got a bit of a big head for outsmarting the hotel on the refrigerator business.  A $6 cooler and they provided the ice.  How about that stick in the eye, Monte Carlo?  This made it so that he could have some of the basics on hand.  At a minimum there was a wake up meal of Protein Powder and Almond milk, meal of Yogurt and Granola, and muffins.  That left it to having to find lean protein and vegetables.  Seemingly easy enough, right?

He was putting about six miles a day on the pedometer by walking from restaurant to restaurant looking at the menu to see if they offered anything that would be within the rules.  Here is what to look for: Subway, most steakhouses (Look for the “Loin” steaks), Starbucks (good oatmeal option), street taco shops, and a little creativity.  He found that it was cheaper to eat a monster salad with smoked chicken at a bbq joint than at Subway.  Not that the Subway option is bad, but for some reason the price is double in Vegas.  Outback Steakhouse had a great sirloin steak and steamed vegetables, and he found a Mexican joint  that offered  steak fajitas with lettuce cups instead of tortillas.  The Mexican joint started a new beast, as that is the food that he craves the most.  We now have fajitas at least once a week.  They are easy and well within plan, and they’re even tastier for lunch the next day.  When you get to Phase 2, you can swap the swap REAL tortillas for the lettuce cups.  We use the La Tortilla Factory Low Carb Whole Wheat tortillas; learn from Leslie’s mistake and be sure to buy the small ones!

Camping

Rob heads to the western slope of Colorado every November for a ten day Elk hunting trip with a few of his close friends. While it would be considered camping, they have just about every amenity besides electricity and plumbing.  They have a huge setup with a propane fueled oven and stove.  They usually prepare meals at home which are vacuum sealed, frozen, then heated up in boiling water when they are up there and ready to devour the meal.

In preparation we made a ton of vegetable beef soup, chicken and vegetable soup, pumpkin pancakes (SOS book recipe) and of course the trusty granola and protein powder.  He also took a pretty good stock of sirloin steaks to grill over the fire,  tuna for tuna salad wraps, salad mix, yogurt cups (non-fat greek of course!)  and veggies like red bell peppers, carrots, and single serve green bean cups.  His friends, who are supportive of his participation in SOS, also brought things like lean fajita steak, carne asada, and lean beef chili without beans.

Rob claims that he ate like a champ up there, but he came back looking like he lost another 20 pounds.  While his quest for an Elk was unsuccessful, his adherence to the Phase 2 of SOS was a huge success.  In reality, he only lost about ten pounds according to the scale, but Leslie thinks the scale is lying.  (This is Leslie here: you guys, this is the skinniest I have ever seen him!)

In summary

What we would like you to take away from this post is that just because your life is busy and you are on the run, sticking to the SOS program is not as prohibitive as you might think.  You really can be a long ways away from the comforts of your own kitchen and still stick with the plan.  Don’t let the seemingly scant list of foods be a reason for you not to get out of town for an adventure!

 

 

Some Experiences to Learn From

With our willingness to experiment we have made some meals that will never be repeated.  One day Rob, who loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, had the brilliant idea of making PB&J yogurt.  He took yogurt, PB2, sugar-free raspberry jam and mixed it together to pack in his lunch for work.  Being committed to eat it at work, because of a lack of back-up options, he gagged it down.  It is fair to say, DON’T DO IT!

We have also learned a couple of lessons from the recipes in the book.  The first is that a cup of oats ground at home is different from a cup of Bob’s Red Mill Oat Flour.  The cup of oats thrown in the blender comes out to a little over 3/4 of a cup of oat flour.  Keep that in mind when you are making the delicious muffin recipes.

When making the Fiery Sweet Potato Chips for phase 2, watch them like a hawk and don’t put the baking sheet below the middle of the oven.  We have set the smoke detectors off… Twice…  Overall, it seems like a finicky recipe that you just have to get through with a little trial and error.  We have to admit they are even tasty when a bit dark.  They are fantastic when cooked just right.

Like anything new in life, there are lessons to be learned before perfection is achieved.  Though it is easy, for us anyway, to get into the groove of the SOS program, there are going to be hurdles and bumps in the road.  Stick to it, adapt and overcome to obtain your success!

Variety is the Spice of Life

We just started week 5 of the SOS program. We feel like we are getting pretty savvy, and the weight loss is certainly evident. Rob’s dress pants are bunching under the belt and Leslie has plenty of extra room in the waistband. If that isn’t evidence of what this program does for you, we don’t know what is!

Lets step back a few weeks to when this started. There is no doubt that weeks one and two are difficult. We would not say it is hard because the food selection is so restricted, it is hard because of the overwhelming feeling of having to plan six meals a day out in advance. With the help of a couple trusted recipe websites such as Skinnytaste, The Sweet Life Chef and Pinterest, we were able to adapt and overcome. What was our “go-to” meal for those weeks? Crock Pot Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps.  Skip the dressing and it is Phase 1 friendly (and delicious).

Another go to that was easy to make and have around is vegetable beef soup made in the crockpot. We did not use a recipe, rather, just cut up sirloin, vegetables that were in the fridge, garlic, onion, a can of diced tomatoes and some beef broth. Spice it up however you like and let it roll on low for 8 hours. When it is done, divide it up by however many servings of meat you put in and then store in the fridge for a grab and go lunch. Speaking of grab and go, lets look at a sample of how Rob’s daily food routine developed.

  1. Vanilla protein powder with almond milk
  2. Plain greek yogurt with sugar free jam and Homemade Granola (this is DELICIOUS…Leslie will take someone out over the last portion of granola)
  3. Vegetable beef soup
  4. Nonfat cottage cheese with tomato/cucumber salad
  5. Buffalo chicken wrap
  6. Vanilla protein powder with almond milk and almond milk

Generally, he follows the same snack routine, but the ordinary lunch (3) and dinner (5) meals will change out.

The trick that we found to mastering this; find what works for you. When things start getting a little too routine or bland, don’t be afraid to try something new. Part of the fun of this is exploring to find something different to cook. It is unrealistic to think think that we have to eat the same thing for the rest of our lives. Both of us would lose our minds if that were the case. We love flavor and we love new things, so we are constantly on the hunt for a new recipe to try. For example, in week 4, Rob was dying to have some mexican food. After scouring fajita mix recipes, he was able to piece one together that did without the sugar. Really it was salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. He dry rubbed a couple sirloin steaks and broke out the grill pan. After “grilling” onions, bell pepper and Anaheim chili’s, he grilled the steak. They were amazing on a low carb whole wheat tortilla. The leftovers were to die for! A new “go-to” may be formed.

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