In the Boxing Ring: Finding Yourself and Developing Self-Awareness with Tiffanee Cook

Have you ever done something without knowing why you connect to it so much? That was how it happened for Tiffanee Cook. Coming into the world of boxing and fitness, a world full of people who have stories and reasons behind their drive, she felt like she was the only one who didn’t have a ‘story’. Tiffanee soon discovered, however, that finding yourself, developing self-awareness and confronting your past can all happen in the boxing ring.

In this episode, Tiffanee joins me to share her journey from the corporate world to the fitness industry. She recounts how a traumatic past allowed her to connect with boxing and being in the ring. Tiffanee also talks about how her experiences changed her outlook and helped her learn how to set boundaries.

If you struggle with developing self-awareness and finding yourself, this episode is perfect for you.

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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Gain valuable insights from Tiffanee’s journey into boxing and fitness.
  2. Discover how finding yourself and developing self-awareness despite the odds is possible.
  3. How can you let go of your conditioned responses?

Resources

Connect with Tiffanee: Facebook | Instagram

Tiffanee & Co. Fitness: Website | Facebook

Roll with the Punches Podcast

Roll with the Punches on Instagram

Episode Highlights

[04:45] How It All Started

  • Tiffanee is from Tasmania, but she moved to Melbourne when she was around 20 years old. She’s been in Melbourne for almost 17 years now and has worked in the corporate world for the majority of those years.
  • She watched a talk on resilience by former British Royal Navy Aircrew Officer, Paul Taylor.
  • Paul showed her around his gym, where she saw a poster about a 12-week corporate boxing challenge.
  • Tiffanee was riddled with anxiety the day before the fight. Despite the odds, she won.

[09:14] Finding Her Way in the Fitness and Boxing World

  • Tiffanee ended up buying a Certificate of Fitness from Personal Training Academy at the fundraising event during the first fight.
  • As she was finishing her fitness training qualification, a friend trained with her. The next thing she knew, other friends also started training with her.
  • While initially not interested, Tiffanee felt like she needed to give it a go and grow in that career path.
  • Looking back, Tiffanee can see her transformation from a disengaged employee to an engaged employee, to a coach, to a business owner.
  • She launched an online coaching program three years ago. While it fell away quickly, she loved how people opened up to her and shared their stories.

[15:16] Confronting Your Emotions and Finding Yourself

  • The boxing ring is the one place where Tiffanee trusts who she is. She developed more self-awareness.
  • In the boxing ring, you react before your conscious mind catches up.
  • When she was younger, Tiffanee was a victim of sexual abuse.
  • Confronting her doubts and fear in the boxing ring also gave her the opportunity to look back and think about how her childhood experience changed her.

[25:42] The Connection Between Her Past and Boxing

  • Through the boxing ring, Tiffanee saw her inability to connect with her emotions at the moment.
  • She copes by compartmentalising, only accommodating what is happening.
  • She resonated with how there was support on the outside but none that could step in the boxing ring to help her. In the ring, she can come out on top and handle what’s happening.
  • It took a lot of reflecting and writing to see how past experience allowed her to connect with boxing.
  • Listen to the full podcast as Tiffanee shares more about taking a break, training and learning more about herself and her emotions.

[34:26] Changes in Tiffanee’s Outlook

  • Her story allows Tiffanee to meet and connect with people in the boxing ring.
  • We all yearn for a resolution on some level, especially if we are not happy in all areas of our lives.
  • Boxing has an opinion-based judging system. As a boxer, you are essentially putting your self-worth and identity in the hands of other people.
  • We all want to win. But at the end of the day and in the years and months to come, you’re just the same you.
  • What you do is not who you are.

[43:33] Helping and Finding a Connection with Paramedics

  • Tiffanee met a paramedic in one of Craig Harper’s camps. When COVID hit, they started an online fitness program to help other paramedics who are single and need to go in isolation.
  • The project eventually evolved into her podcast.
  • She found herself connecting with the paramedics. To be a great paramedic, you have to learn to suppress your emotions, and she knew how that felt and its repercussions.
  • First responders experience a lot of horrific situations and are working under a lot of stress. This can take a toll on them physically, mentally and emotionally.

[51:21] Epigenetics and Your Physical and Mental Health

  • There is no divide between mental and physical health. 
  • Epigenetics allows you to look at the various aspects of your health to get the best out of your body — from improving your performance to finding ways to prevent health problems.
  • For Tiffanee, one of her conditioned responses to signs of conflict is to be accommodating. Now, she has learned to set boundaries.
  • Having boundaries is vital to avoid burning yourself out and depleting your resources.

7 Powerful Quotes

The one thing I did love about online coaching was people would just open and bare their soul in a way that you don’t get when they walk in person in the boxing environment’.

‘The boxing ring is the only place where I feel that even for myself I am unmasked. It’s the one place where I can trust who I am’.

‘I resonated with standing inside a boxing ring with somebody standing in front of me that was there as an opponent to inflict pain. I resonated, that there was all of this support on the outside but none that could step inside and help me’.

‘It crossed my mind, “If I touch this area of myself, I'm changing who I am as a boxer”. So how much does it mean to be this boxer? How much of my identity revolves around that’?

‘If things have changed, but that in itself was beautiful. I went back to boxing not for boxing’s sake also, and I box not for boxing’s sake, for the sport, but for getting a handle on who I am’.

‘So it’s like what do we fight for? You’re putting your body on the line. And this one fight, this one result, this means the world to you. But guess what? … At the end of the day, in two month’s time, you’re just the same you’.

‘What you do is not who you are’.

About Tiffanee

‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face’.

Tiffanee Cook has learned this as a businesswoman, performance coach and boxer. The comfort, predictability and safety provided by the corporate world, to the lessons and let-downs in and out of the boxing ring. Coming to the realisation that to have one’s hand raised in triumph, adversity, discomfort and combat must be navigated. In the face of the messiness of life, do we fight or do we flee? 

Tiffanee speaks openly of her own personal experiences (good and bad) and how those experiences have enabled her to develop self-awareness, resilience, courage, independence and the skill to maximise passion, possibilities, and potential. She talks about getting knocked down (literally and metaphorically) and what it is that makes some of us get back up and some stay down.

Working in business, sport, high performance and personal development, Tiffanee explores a range of ideas, tools, skills, resources, philosophies and strategies to empower individuals, teams and organisations to improve everything from productivity, efficiency, culture and communication to physical, mental, emotional and social health.

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To pushing the limits,

Lisa

Transcript

Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.

Lisa Tamati: Well, hi, everyone, and welcome back to Pushing The Limits with your host Lisa Tamati. And this week, I have an exciting interview with a young lady Tiffanee Cook, all the way from Melbourne in Australia. And I came across Tiffanee because she's a fellow epigenetics coach, and we bonded and enjoyed over that topic. 

And I was just really fascinated with her story. She's an incredible athlete. She's a personal trainer in Australia, has her own podcast, called Roll With The Punches for obvious reasons. She's into her boxing and really incredible. I love watching her on Instagram and doing her thing. She's extremely fit, extremely strong minded and a really intuitive young lady. It was just a fascinating conversation over what it takes to be in the ring. And how it transformed her life from being a non-athlete, at the age of 29, going into the corporate boxing scene for the first time and then completely that revolutionising her life. 

And how going into boxing actually opened up a lot of old wounds from her childhood. She had been through some traumatic events in her childhood, which she shares about, which was very nice of her to share, and some reflections on that and some learnings from that. So a really interesting interview ahead for you.

Before we head over to the show, though, if you can give us a rating and review, if you enjoyed this content, please do share it with your friends and your family. I do really appreciate you doing that. Slowly, one by one we're trying to build a community of people who love good content, who find value and good content, who want to listen to experts in different areas. And I have some fascinating interviews coming up in the very near future with some really heavy hitters, some big names, and some really extraordinary experts in the field. So make sure you stay tuned for that. 

Just a reminder, too, as we head over into the crazy, silly season. I hope you've all survived okay this year 2020. Come out the other end of it. Let's hope that 2021 brings something a little bit better. It's been the toughest year of my life for sure. And I know many, many others have had horrific challenges to face both personally with businesses, with loved ones, with health issues, and fear. There's a lot of fear around in this last 12 months. So I hope you've survived that, okay.

If you are wanting some help with any issues, whether you're dealing with health problems, if you have come to the end of your tether with the sort of standard medical and if you want to get some alternative—looking at some alternative approaches to things and you want some help navigating a health journey, health optimisation, whether you want gene testing epigenetics, whether you just want some help in reaching a huge goal, some mindset support and some mental toughness training, then please reach out to me, lisa@lisatamati.com. You can send me your emails on there. And we can have a conversation and see whether working with us would be something that would be of benefit to you.

We also have our standard—other programs that we're running. Our epigenetics coaching programs, which looks at your genes and how to optimise every aspect of your life according to your genes and how they are expressing right now. I know Tiffanee's right into that as well. So it is next level information to help you be the best that you can be. 

We also have our online run training system, Running Hot Coaching. We'd love you to come and join our family. We've got over 700 athletes now from all over the world, that we train for various events, whether you're starting from absolute beginning, don't know where to start, want to make sure you do it in a proper structured manner, then come and see us. Or even if you've run hundred hundred miles and you still just want to optimise and reach the next level of performance, Neil and I and our team would love to help you with that. So please reach out to us at that. lisa@lisatamati.com or head on over to lisatamati.com, or our running website which is runninghotcoaching.com. Right. Without further ado, over to Tiffanee Cook.

Lisa Tamati: Well, welcome back, everybody. I'm so glad to have you with me. I have Tiffanee Cook with me, and I'm super excited for this conversation. Wow, what an amazing young lady. Tiffanee, welcome to the show.

Tiffanee Cook: Hey, Lisa. Thank you.

Lisa: It's just so exciting. We connected through our mutual love of ph360 in epigenetics. Tiffanee is also an epigenetics coach and fan. And we have a few mutual friends. So we connected through that. And then I sort of delved into Tiffanee's website and what she was doing and a podcast and thought, ‘Wow, what a What an amazing young lady’. So I wanted to get her on the show. 

So, Tiffanee, can you give us a little bit of a background in who you are, and what you do, and all about what you're up to now, that's what we really want to get into the weeds on.

Tiffanee: Yes, awesome. Oh, thanks for the intro. So I'm from Tassie. I'm a young Tassie lass Tasmania, that's this, we sit down at the very bottom of Australia floating around. I grew up there, and I screwed it over to Melbourne when I was almost around 20 years old, mainly because I just felt like I was twiddling my thumbs in Tassie. It just wasn't enough air to keep me occupied. 

I’ve been in Melbourne for the last 17 years. And I've worked in corporate for the majority of that. At 29 years old, I was at a talk for resilience. Actually, I went and watched a talk on resilience by a former Navy Seal. Actually, he's been on my podcast, Paul Taylor and that was fascinating. And after the talk, we went downstairs to have a look at—he had this gym called Acumotum, and it was all based on human movement. It was quite a forward thinking gym, and associated with PTA global to be honest. 

And we went downstairs to the boxing gym. And there's this big poster on the wall with dudes in suits and boxing gloves on and it said, Executive Fight Club. And I looked at that, and I was like, ‘Oh, there's something that gets attention. I’m in’. So on the spur of the moment, I decided to enter corporate boxing challenge, which was kind of crazy, because I certainly was not someone that knew how to throw punches all too well. And so that experience took me in the ring for a 12-week challenge. And then we were to fight on stage, on cameras, on Foxtail, in front of a thousand people and you know all the bells and whistles that you can hear in a professional boxing fight.

Needless to say it was an enormous experience—enormous experience. And it brought with it a huge amount of growth. So I can remember my fast forward to the day before and I did not sleep until 6am in the morning. I got to sleep. I had to wake up at 7:30 to go to the airport to pick my mom up, who's coming to watch the fight. So I remember texting my trainer, ‘6am, going home soon. Still no sleep, this is not good’. And he was, ‘Yes’. And then I was just socially useless for the day. Mom went out for lunch and then I was just riddled with anxiety. It hit me all in the last hours, riddled with anxiety. ‘What the hell am I doing’?

We get to the fight night and I'm sitting there and I'm watching my best friend. She was the first fight of the night and I watched her. And she won and of course that was amazing. And I was like ‘Yes right we're on the winning team’. Then they handed me the microphone. I remember this second bout of panic hitting me because I thought well, ‘I don't want to win because I can't. What am I going to do’? Now I’m about to get in the ring to win a fight that I don't want to win because I don’t want to speak to people. But long story short I did and I won that fight and you could not get the microphone out of my hand. 

After saying before the fight I will never ever ever ever do something like this again because whatever's on the other side could not be worth what I've been through the last 24 hours—that dissipated. And the feeling on the other side of that, the feeling having done it anyway was 10 times stronger. It was amazing.

Lisa: So cool.

Tiffanee: Yes so continued on. Fought with amateurs, had a great experience, ended up over the next couple years becoming a boxing coach, getting into health and fitness, and the evolution just keeps rolling on. I won't talk about it, it’s two or four o'clock here and we'll have to wrap it up.

Lisa: Oh and you've got a couple of titles and some image titles and you've—Victoria titles I think. And yes you came right into the boxing from then on and then dived into this world of fitness and coaching and more or less. So have you left the corporate job?

Tiffanee: I have left the corporate job. It was funny when I was doing the qualifications for fitness because in that first fight, we held a fundraiser that went to the Australian Save the Children trick. So held a fundraiser and Personal Training Academy donated a certificate of fitness to be auctioned off. And on the day, no one bid for it. So I purchased it for $500 which was super cheap. Yes, super cheap. 

So I ended up doing my qualifications. And as I was finishing them, it took me forever, because I never planned to use them. It was out of interest. And as I was finishing, it was a couple years later I finally realised, ‘I should finish this course’. One of my good friends and a friend that I network with sort of said, ‘Oh when did you finish that course’? And I said, ‘Sunday’. ‘Thank God, because—all right. Well, as of next week, I'm training with you, you just tell me how much and how often’, and I was like...

Lisa: Oh my gosh, you're gonna be a trainer.

Tiffanee: Yes. And I was like, ‘Oh, okay’. And then a couple of friends did that. And then next minute, within six months, I was like, ‘Something has to give. I have to start saying no’. But I just  looked around and went, ‘There's people that choose this career path that want to be where I am, and grow this quickly’, and I just feel like, ‘I have to give this a go’. I have to feel like I have the right to not throw in the job and give this career path for yes, I've never looked back.

Lisa: Wow, that's amazing. And, you know, when I go to your website and what you do, and the videos of you doing boxing, it's like you are a machine. Girl you are a machine. Your one tough nut. And so who wouldn't want to be trained by you? You mean? Yes, I was looking at you doing your boxing exercises that when you jump and go into the band there. Wow, that's really cool. You know I might finally want to get better at boxing.

Tiffanee: Oh, yes. It's an amazing sport. 

Lisa: Yes it is, I mean, I only dabbled in it when I was looking. I nearly did a corporate fight. And then I didn't end up doing it in the end. But the training was great. It was a great thing. So from the fitness side of it, absolutely love it, absolutely get it. It's really, really awesome. And to say, a kick ass girl like you just doing what you're doing. It's like, ‘Wow, that's so cool’. It's like, ‘Oh’. And diving into the hole, this is now my new passion where I need to be hitting. Obviously, the universe is sort of telling, ‘Here. Go here’. And having the net, the courage to jump out of your corporate job was at a big scary moment.

Tiffanee: Yes, look at what it was huge. It was huge on a couple of levels. So there's level number one, where I looked back over a couple of years of doing the corporate fights. And what I saw, when I glanced back was this girl who went from a disengaged employee that just did this job in this industry that she did. And if you ask me now why I did it, I loved it. I always loved my job. And everyone always thought that I was always really passionate and happy at my job, because that's the sort of—whatever I do, I'm pretty into it. 

But why I was working at the print industry, just because I fell into it out of school. And so that was my thing. But I looked back and saw this disengaged employee that had over the last couple of years, turned into an engaged employee that turned into a coach and a business owner and an entrepreneur for lack of a better word. I went, ‘Wow’. That wasn't deliberate that happened hand in hand with this stuff that happened in the boxing ring. And I always call the boxing ring walk my metaphor for life. 

So my passion when it came to coaching people was understanding. The cool thing was, it gets you super ripped to get you super fit. So people will come to that. They want your energy, and they want your enthusiasm. They want your empowerment and they want your abs. No, that's all this side repercussions. I was like, ‘What I love is that I know that you as a person are changing when I teach you this stuff in the boxing ring, I know what's happening. And you don't even have to know what’s happening’.

Lisa: You’ll look back...

Tiffanee: Yes. But one day, you'll look back and realize your whole life has changed.

Lisa: Very insightful. very insightful. It's really weird, because it isn't about the abs. I mean, like, right.

Tiffanee: Yes, it was funny. I did online coaching—I launched online coaching nearly three years ago, super successful. I launched it. And within the first two months, I'd sold $10,000. And I was like, ‘Wow, I don't have a huge following to be selling it like this’.

Lisa: That's cool.

Tiffanee: But it fell away really quickly, because I found so many people coming to me. I guess I wasn't equipped with my messaging and getting it out there and how to cope with things. But yes, people came to me wanting carbs and counting macros and counting whatever they ate. ‘Wait, we're not counting calories. We're not counting this. That's not my jam. I don't care. Like, yes, you have abs, yes right at the end of this. We're not doing it by measuring stuff and counting things’. So, a passion for that side of things really dissipated. 

But one thing I did love about the online coaching was, people would just open up and bare their soul in a way that you don't get when they walk in-person in a boxing environment. You get right to the crux of why am I here. People sitting in front of you saying—you know that they're beautiful, they're not overweight, they're super fit looking, they're gorgeous, and they're saying, ‘Well, I'm fat and when sometimes I don't go out for lunch with my friends, because I'm having a fat day’. I’d be like ‘Wow. I've seen you in the boxing gym for three years. You're so fit and gorgeous. And you’re still sitting there telling me this story’. That's getting stories out of people. 

Lisa: And you know, you write them in the online training space. I mean, we have an online run training system and stuff. It’s been through hundred iterations. And it's super powerful in one way, because you can connect with people all over the world, and you can help people... But having their—it's a real struggle to create that energy that you have when you're live in a room with somebody. And so there's this problem between you're only one person and you want to reach a lot of people. You want to help have a massive impact. And then you're struggling with the systems that are available today and the way—and then you're having to learn a whole new language and technology and my God, what. All these marble black things that you have to know what you're doing in the space. And we sort of persevere because we've frickin stubborn. 

Neil and I, my business partner and I, had huge learning curves. And by no means have we got it all sussed by any stretch of the imagination. And now we do both. We do the combination of things. And because you need to have one-on-one because you have a high touch and you also hone your skills when you're working one-on-one with people. And when you're in the online space, then you can reach a broader audience. It's more affordable for people. So you want a bit of both. Because when it’s high touch, it costs more, it's just the way it is. And so having that combination of things is really powerful, too. I wanted to dive down a little bit into—we got talking before we started the recording—a little bit about some challenges that you had as a young person, and how that sort of came out in the ring. Are you happy to share a little about that Tiffanee?

Tiffanee: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. I spoke to this—just recently shared it for the first time on my podcast. Roll With The Punches.

Lisa: Roll With The Punches, by the way people.  

Tiffanee: Roll With The Punches.

Lisa: Roll With The Punches is a podcast.

Tiffanee: Yes, so I guess I found myself at 29, I was inside the boxing ring and I had some really strong traits. And I had a really strong idea around who I was as a person and my identity. And like I mentioned to you before I had all these strengths. And at points inside that boxing ring—the boxing ring is the only place where I feel that even for myself I am unmasked. It's the one place where I can trust who I am. Because we build this identity. And I think sometimes that that identity is so strong that even we…

Lisa: Big believer, aren’t you?

Tiffanee: Yes. I can be the master of having stories and reasons that I believe. So what I see in the boxing ring and it’s this developing a self-awareness, is this raw honesty of how you react before your conscious mind can catch up. So if you're scared, you react before you can pretend anything. You see, if you're aggressive, if you're scared, if you have self-love, if you see all of these things. And it's quite confronting. 

I found that within two years of the sport, and I'm now questioning—I'd start to go for walks around town and I would have these memories, I would start thinking of memories of when I was a child. And when I was a child for quite a quite a few years, I was at the hands of sexual abuse from a person, a neighbor, a family friend. And it was something that I'd pushed down and I'd never ever spoken of for so long that I guess it really felt like it never even happened.

Lisa: You thought you’re over it.

Tiffanee: Yes. So here I am strolling along and all of a sudden, that would pop in my head. And I think about running into this person, I'd start to get angry, bad. And I start to think that ‘Why is this coming up. This is weird’. I start to Google it. ‘What are the repercussions of an adult who has experienced childhood sexual abuse’? I had a best friend at the time, who was a clinical psychologist, and we were on a walk and I was like, ‘Oh, so what…’ I explained the question to her, and I remember her answer was like, ‘Ah, no, I haven't dealt with anything’. And I was like, ‘All right’. And then a couple weeks later, we’re there speaking about so and so. And I was like ‘Nah just speaking about myself’?  All these frames feel differently. 

But yes, basically, I questioned why am I in this boxing ring? Something is drawing me in on a level, because I'm not someone who keeps coming back. I find the next shiny object pretty quickly. I said to you before, when I was at school I was not—I was smoking when I was 14 like smoking cigarettes. I wasn't turning up to do fitness and things. But when it came to sprinting, I'd come first in that 100, 200, 400 meters and anything jumping and I loved it because I was good at it. 

The boxing, I never felt I was good at it. It was a skill I didn't have that I had to work hard for. I'd work hard and consistently and self doubt and fear and all of those hard-to-cope-with, confronting emotions and I was doing it. So, I started writing why, what's going on here. And these emotional breakdowns were coming up. And it really just started peeling back that hard shell and making me look at how that experience as a child had changed me. And it really gave me the opportunity to face that.

Lisa: Wow, that's amazing. Because you were digging so deep in some really confronting stuff in the ring. It's sort of opening up your personal—because like you say, you can't run anywhere when you're in the ring, or your boxing, or in your training, and you're pushing your limits and you're feeling fear, and you're feeling anxiety, and you're outside of your comfort zone pretty much the whole freaking time. And that makes you start to think, ‘Well, who the hell am I and what am I doing? And where have I come from? And what am I’? 

I mean, for me, and I use ultramarathoning as my metaphor for everything, for obvious reasons. So as you in the boxing ring. I was running. When I started doing ultra marathon, I was running from the pain. And the pain that I felt physically was a metaphor for the pain that I was in internally. For me that's the masochistic side of really pushing my body to the absolute limit in the early days, was about listening in the pain that I was experiencing in my soul, in my heart, in my mind, and the talks of incessant negativity that was in my mind. 

I found when I pushed my body and was in pain, and suffering, and pushing to the limits, and achieving things as well, that changed the conversations that I was having with myself, and it opened up avenues for me to let that pain out and to start to work through it and start to heal from it. And then of course, you're surrounded by amazing, incredible people in the sport.

And you're doing incredible things. And then people are starting to say, ‘Hey, that's pretty amazing what you're doing’. And slowly over time, you start to build—rebuild, what's broken inside, and people don't see this on the outside. They don't see the broken heart that's on the inside. When I was young, I had no self esteem, no confidence. I'd never been doing this sort of stuff. Like for God's sake. I was like a timid, very broken person. I hadn't experienced sexual abuse, like you, thank God, in my childhood, but I had been in abusive relationships. And been through that experience, and had some other stuff in my youth, again, through sport, and being pushed too hard, too early in my sport, and things.So I was dealing with a whole lot of crap. In other words, and this was my outlet. 

And as time went on, running, rebuilt, who I was and what I thought I could achieve. And when I started to open those doors, just like you've been through in the last few years, it's like, ‘Holy shoot. I can do a heck of a lot of things that I didn't think I could possibly do. And if I can do that, maybe I can do this’. And your horizon starts to open up as to who and what you are and what you're capable of. And in that time, your things are changing as to how you're dealing with stuff because that's the other great thing with sport and training and discipline and perseverance is you start to develop a toolbox of ways of thinking, of skills, of ways of managing your emotions, and you learn all these tricks. 

And then when you dive into the whole world of epigenetics and you start to understand your own genes, that's the next level stuff. You start to realize, ‘Hey, I’m on this chemical bomb and I've got to move and I've got to do my breathing and calm myself down. And I know when to turn myself on. When to push and when to pull back’. And you know, come 52. So I'm starting to slowly work stuff out, not touch wood. I can still have breakdowns quite regularly. Don't get me wrong. But you know what I mean? And you start to feel as if like, ‘Ah, this is sort of making sense’. And then you know, as you get older, life’s even more shitty. So you've got stuff to look forward

Tiffanee: Yes. I can’t wait. I can’t wait.

Lisa: But you know, you've got some—at least some coping mechanisms or some ways of dealing with it. So what started to come out? So how did the sexual abuse as a child? I mean, a lot of people have been through this. And it's so cool that you're willing to share it because it is about how is it affecting you today as an adult, what happened to you back then. Because it's this stuff, that programs your subconscious, and you don't even know it?

Tiffanee: Oh, big time, big time. I'm taking it back into the boxing ring. What I saw in there, and it was a real strength in the boxing ring. So what I saw in there was this inability to connect with emotions in the moment. So I was a very technical boxer. I was inside. And I wasn't—definitely wasn't talented. In fact, in that first fight, I think everyone with myself and everyone around me was like, ‘Oh shit, look at this chick. How are we gonna fix this in 12 weeks’? We only sparred once or twice before the fight. And the time that we jumped in and sparred, the trainer came over and he said, ‘Is that the first time you've sparred’? Then he goes, ‘Wow, you did really well’. So you can't tell what you're gonna be like in any situation. So I did really well. 

But what made me do really well was this inability to connect and feel and deal with emotion. So I had built this coping mechanism that I guess it was: accommodate what's happening. Accommodate what's happening. Emotions will come back in three days later. 

Lisa: Yes, yes. That’s called compartmentalising. And there can be a real strength, compartmentalising, being able to not be emotional in the moment.

Tiffanee: Yes. And in most of my early fights, I'll walk back to meet the enemy like, ‘What happened’? Really, my awareness in there was, I was just on full fight or flight. Go. I couldn't feel the punch. It’s winning and losing felt was ours. My defenses weren't great. But I was strong. And I was resilient. And I would just walk in and I would go. I knew I was there for a job and I'd do it. 

Over there, what I found really interesting—so I guess let me talk about what connected with me there, was that idea of: I resonated with standing inside a boxing ring with somebody that was standing in front of me that was there as an opponent to inflict pain. I resonated, that there was all of this support on the outside, but none that could step inside and help me. I resonated with the fact though in this ring, they could see, I got a chance to show them that this is happening to me. And I'm going to come out on top and I can handle this.

Lisa: Wow.

Tiffanee: It was all this stuff. It took a lot of looking at that and writing it out and seeing how it felt to say and think like that, to know whether it connected.

Lisa:  Very intuitive.

Tiffanee: Yes. So, in 2015, I left work and became a coach. So I stopped competing for a little bit just to adjust and get in three years passed before I hopped back in the boxing ring. And when I did and that was only last year in 2019 or 2018. Sorry. I jumped back in the ring, and simultaneously as I opened two gyms. But mind you, so I don't know who whatsoever. Does it all at once. On that person, whoever it is. 

So I jump back and walk through. And my biggest curiosity—I don't say fear, I say curiosity—was in that time, I've done a lot of work. I've done a lot of therapy. I'd sought out help. I knew what I needed to resolve in relationships—and we can touch on that later. You wish but I knew that my biggest strength is inability to connect with emotions had now been tampered with a lot and that I'd worked on that. And I thought—to be honest in working on it, it crossed my mind. ‘If I touch this area of myself, I'm changing who I am as a boxer. So how much does it mean to be this boxer’? Yes. Oh, yeah. ‘How much of my identity revolves around that because of it. Because I don't play in this space’...

Lisa: You may not be the boxer that you were prior when you were emotionlessly be.

Tiffanee: Exactly.

Lisa: Yes. Can resonate with one.

Tiffanee: Yes. So I went back and I went to training and I remember I had a hard trainer. I've had a few trainers over time. He was my first amateur trainer, really loved his style of training. But you know, I think million dollar baby. He was brutal. He was… Yes, he did not come without the work. 

So I went down and trained with him. And at this gym down in Dandenong. A lot of—mostly male boxers there. Quite an intimidating space, really. I hadn't sparred or done anything for a couple of years. Aside from the—I had to throw the gloves on, hit the bag occasionally. 

And I remember jumping in the ring with one of his fighters, and he was a southpaw. He is a heavy hitter, he has a—without even trying he lands these punches that are like a freight train. Hitting like a really strong lad. And I hopped in the ring. And I wore an [31:08 unintelligible] that I thought broke my nose. So I've never had a broken nose.

Lisa: Pretty pretty nose.

Tiffanee: I know I always thought I've got quite a—for the listeners, I've got quite a sharp pointy straight nose that you just wouldn't think that a boxer could hate this nose. Basically the amount of punches are away. Anyway, he lives in Africa. And I thought, ‘For sure that’s broken nose in it’, quite a lot. I felt anxious. And it was the first time three minutes felt like three years in there. And I remember being hyper aware that my heart was—I felt naked. ‘I knew that you can all see my emotion. I'm feeling it. And I don't want to be here’. And I feel like for the first time I don't even want to finish this round. I felt so exposed. And yes and it told me you know, all I needed to know was ‘Yep, things have changed’, but that in itself was beautiful. I went back to boxing not for boxing sake. Also I boxed not for boxing sake for the sport but for getting a handle on who I am. And saying that—it's like my… Like I said it’s like...

Lisa: Like your measuring stick?

Tiffanee: Yes, yes, absolutely.

Lisa: So, are you competing now. Or are just back from the competitive side so that you can focus on all this sort of stuff?

Tiffanee: COVID certainly—well, by the end of last year, I'd burned myself out again because I was the head of all the gyms and all the training. I was doing way too much. Now that I know my about my health side, I understand what has always pushed me to the break point, into that zone.

Lisa:  Yes. People, so sorry. We're talking about the language. So we are very similar health type. So we tend to—just for the listeners, we have a lot of adrenaline so we go, go, go until we go bang, and then we’d crash. And recognizing that pattern and because we're both very similar—similar place in the wheel, and is a really important thing so that we don't burn out so that we learn to back off before we have the crash. It’s not great

Tiffanee: Yes, as an activator. So I would get up at 4:30 and I would do a five hour shift holding pads in my gyms. Then I'd drive down for an hour and I'd gonna do a two—usually a two hour boxing session but we're talking three minute rounds and probably sometimes up to an hour straight of sparring. So it was two hours of high intensity brutal work yet five nights a week. So I look at that and I'm like, ‘Okay, well activators aren’t built for to last in. It's no wonder’. But before knowing about epigenetics, I was just like, ‘I don't know why I'm burning out’.

Lisa: Pretty obvious now.

Tiffanee: I mean, it should have been obvious anyway.

Lisa: It’s also not born for running for days on end either. As I found that quite later to piece through.

Tiffanee: The Crusader coming through.

Lisa: The Crusaders a little bit more. But...

Tiffanee: Yes, it's kind of nice to be on the cusp of both.

Lisa: You get to have the best of both.

Tiffanee: Yes.

Lisa: You mucked up both ways. But did you see—did it change? Doing this emotional work, and she—and I've never seen this before. But, I often get asked, ‘Why are you not doing ultra marathons now’? And one of the reasons was obvious. My mom got sick and my whole life focus changed. And then you know, life's come at me with a full throttle and I haven't been able to do that. I can't dedicate 20 hours a week to my sport anymore. It's just impossible. 

But on the other side of that equation is that I've now spent so long studying the body and human physiology and epigenetics and all the rest of the stuff that I actually don't want to do that to myself anymore because I want longevity and I want health and I am 52. And I did it for 25 years and my body isn't the same. And I've taken some health hits from it.

I also have been in a place in my life where I feel like in the early, long part of my career, I felt like I had to prove something to somebody. And I was doing it to be something, prove something that I was tough, that I was strong, that I was able, because I've always been told, ‘You’re useless and weak, and you can't do this’. So that was my reaction to try to prove that I now no longer have that desire, and therefore the hunger is gone. If that makes sense. So I no longer have that absolute desire to go through whatever it takes to the finish line, and you need it in that sport. if that's what you—if you want to reach the top. 

And that played with my identity for a long time. ‘Then who am I if I'm not that tough, you know ultramarathon running girl’? And now I'm like, ‘No, actually I've got bigger, different’, or should I say, ‘different things to do on this earth. And that was a great time. I've taken these great experiences that I can now share. And it's okay to be doing—being a badass in other ways’. And that's okay. 

And I think a lot of athletes have this real difficult time when they shift from their active career into something else and feeling like you are nobody now. And that is not true. You now have a huge amount of things. You're not starting from scratch, you're starting from a place of wisdom and you've got these experiences that now you can move forward and—just pushing, repeating. I've seen some of this in a few other athletes—really top level athletes, who I've had conversations with and they've said to me, privately, ‘I don't want to be doing this anymore. But I don't know who I am if I'm not doing this’. And that's not a good place to be.

 It's time to do something different. We've got a short life, we want to do some—we can move on without feeling like we're losing ourselves. It’s as surprising that as a change in the transition. Does that make sense?

Tiffanee: Yes, I love that you asked this question because in my early podcast, I've tried—a couple of times attempted approaching this question. But I felt like I hadn't quite landed where I wanted it to with the people. So my question, because boxing is one... Because of my experience when I say boxers, when I walk into a boxing ring and somebody walks into the boxing club, especially a female. Through the first fight, we got to know everybody so you know everyone that you're training with. And I remember saying—I hadn't said this before—I remember saying in the early days, to like my parents, ‘I'm the only one there without a story. Ah, people have had marriage breakdowns, oh they're on drugs, oh they've got this, oh they've got that. They've got this big story and I'm just there like, this is me little not—no self-awareness me going’. Obviously I have a great time because I'm awesome. You know, like, did I not know what was coming.

Lisa: You did have a story. Everyone has a story. Everyone.

Tiffanee: Yes. And that's why I really connect with people in the boxing ring and people that walk in all boxing gym. You know that there's this deep story, don't know whether they know it or not. And I asked that question a couple of times to various people in this space, ‘If, do you think that the reason—so we have this we all have this drive to success, but what is the reason that’... The only thing that makes us succeed in one thing is this yearning desire for a resolution on some level. 

Lisa: Yes.

Tiffanee: And we're either aware of it, or we're not. If we weren't totally fulfilled in all areas of our life, we wouldn't—especially when it comes to things like boxing or ultra marathons where it's attacks on your bollock. I have a friend and she's a really good friend of mine and we both started boxing, Judith Courtney I spoke to her on the first fight. For a couple of years, her life really revolved around boxing, again someone with a story and a metaphor and it was strong. But boxing meant so much it was her identity at that time on such a level. 

But when you break it down, especially for boxing, especially for females, especially for Australia, you know like it's sport where the decision is based on a couple of factors sitting around the ring saying whether you want to last. You know, it's an opinion based judging system. And it's often tampered with whoever decides. ‘What are you scoring? And well I like this style of fight, so I’m gonna score it this way.’ So you’re putting your head, your self worth and your identity, and your win right into the hands of other people. 

And boxing is a sport, especially for females, especially in Australia, where if you're not in, if you don't have a passion for it, nobody knows anything. If you walk out and say some of the top boxers in Australia's names to 90% of the population, they'll go ‘What? Who’? They take someone in just doing amateurs. You know, I know some of the top amateurs in this space. But if I say their name to most people, they'll go,

Lisa: ‘No idea’. You know, famous...

Tiffanee: Yes, exactly. So it's like, ‘What do we fight for’? You’re putting your body on the line. Yes, and this one fight this one result? This means the world to you. But guess what? We all want you to win, you might want you to win. Yes, the accolades are all waiting for you. But at the end of the day, too much time, you’re just saying you.

Lisa: They don't believe the hype and that's a really good point. Sometimes, when you get even into podcasting, or you're in the public eye, and you get people telling you, ‘you're doing great, and you're amazing, and you're awesome’. Never believe that shit. Totally, they go to your head, because this is real. And you want to take your cues from the people that you love and respect and that are close to you at all times. Never take your cues from people— and this is not to—it's fantastic, having people love what you do and things like that. I’m not saying that. But what I'm saying is don't ever let that stuff get to you because it will change you.

Tiffanee: Because what you’re doing is not who you are. And if people are loving you for what you do, you stop doing it and they drop away.

Lisa: They drop away, and then all of a sudden you think... So in other words, just like in the boxing ring with the dudes in the corner are judging you and they have control over how you feel about yourself. If you lose, you're nobody you know. And if you don't finish that ultra marathon or you failed, not in my camp, that's not the way I operate it. That's not the way I coach. People who put in the hard work, do the discipline, go through the life-changing training, start on the startline, those are the people that I'm stoked about. 

What happens on the actual day, and you're going through the race, that's all up to the gods really. Hopefully, you give it your all. And if you gave it your all, then that's all you had to do. You gave it everything, you prepared your body right, you did that... Whether you won last, didn't finish, whatever, that's all about the learning curve. And then it's about standing back up again. So don't like—failure is— people say, ‘Oh, you know, you learn the most in failure’. Well, it's damn true. You do. And it's not pleasant always. But the journey in other words, the journey as we are doing the changing and developing and stuff. It's not all about race day or boxing day in the ring. It's all about the rest of the stuff.

So, Tiffanee, you've done a project recently, and you're talking about on your recent podcast. You've sort of wanted to help people with paramedics. You were talking to—the trauma that they go through and or first responders in general. What was the correlation there between what you do and how you've been helping in that arena?

Tiffanee: Yes, cool story. So when COVID hit— so, a couple years ago I did a camp with Craig Harper. I was on Craig Harper's podcast quite a bit. And he does a camp once a year for people to go down and spend three days, bit of luck, self-development camp, it's amazing. And I met one of the paramedics there two years ago. And from that, I'd done some boot camps and things a couple years ago with them. Now when COVID hit, Ryan had put a message in the Facebook group of support to the paramedics who was single, who will go into isolation, and it was gonna be a shitty time. 

And I commented on that, and I was like, ‘You're amazing. You're such a good soul’. And so she rang me up, she said, ‘I've got this idea. And she goes, ‘I'm going to get some funding together and give you a gig helping us stay fit online. So we're going to create a wellness hub’. Yes, so I put together this training program. And with that, I said, ‘Let's get together on Friday afternoon and feel good Friday, and we'll have a drink or whatever I have... Honey, soda water or just get together so people don't have to be alone’. And that quickly evolved into getting speakers on which involved into—evolved into this podcast. 

But, I found myself connect really strongly with paramedics and it was around this boxing analogy in my experience. But what I connected with is I look at these people, and they've chosen a career where they where they walk into trauma. And into walking into that trauma, in order to be a great paramedical first responder or a law enforcement officer or firefighter, you have to train yourself the ability to suppress emotions. 

So the first thing I saw was all you guys suppressing emotions. And I saw what that did to me. And I saw how that played out and the negative repercussions that I had to deal with. So I realized that this connection, there’s curiosity around these people and why do they deal with it, and what are their levels of self awareness? And how is it playing out for them? Is it playing out for them? Is it the same thing? Or am I on the wrong track? I'm still asking that question. And I've had so many conversations around it. And it's funny because I'm like, ‘Oh my god, you just these Tasmanian chicks sitting in front of my phone, zero qualifications in this area, but a huge amount of curiosity’.

Lisa: Would you let that stop you Tiffanee?

Tiffanee: Well, that's it. And I've sort of gone. I just—from any of the research that I've done, I haven't come across anyone asking these questions. Sometimes you find out great answers from a place of complete ignorance. And that's definitely where I come from in this space.

Lisa: You ended up making conversations, and you're living here. Our first responders—I come from a—as I was saying before a family, firefighters, my dad, my brother, my husband, all firefighters. And they are exposed to inordinate amounts of horrific situations, let's just be honest, and the trauma that they go through, and that they see is a very big impact. Without getting into any details, like my husband's lost a few friends over the last few years to suicide. And to say it's not job-related, and we don't know all the details and so on, but it can be bloody well, bet your bottom dollar. A lot of it is what they've seen, what they've been through, and the lack of support around them. 

And especially I think, for me, they're expected to be tough and handle the gentle. And when you are—you have to be able to function in these sorts of traumatic situations, which is super, super important. You also need to not suppress our emotions and to realize we're humans that have emotional responses to what we're seeing. And that needs to be dealt with some freaky now, and I don't—you don't have the answers. I don't have all the answers, but we need to shine a light on it. And say, ‘Hey, people in all of these really caring professions—doctors, nurses, first responders, all of these people. We want these people to be compassionate, we want them to have a high level of humanity. And we need to support them in what they're doing and what they're facing and what they're seeing in the aftermath of that’. I don't think I could cope with it. Day in and day out. It's pretty phenomenal the job that they do,

Tiffanee: Oh, it's huge, it's huge on an emotional level. And then on top of that, after looking at them, that these guys are—they're working under those conditions. But then just the conditions of shiftwork and which affects their diet, their exercise, their everything that creates a being that is resilient, is getting sorted out the walkthrough. It’s getting poked and prodded in every direction and then put into such a high-performance environment. I sat down with a friend of mine who has just recently joined the police force, and obviously he was getting into the academy and I was like, ‘Oh, no, whoa’.

Lisa: What are you doing?

Tiffanee: I said to him, ‘We want to have you on a podcast’. He says, ‘Give me a few years in the force’. I'm like, ‘No, right. because this may seem with you having breakfast asking you in your first year of becoming a police officer’, because he said, ‘Uh, yeah, I've become hyper vigilant from day one is now when I walk into a restaurant I check the exits I check the things’. That doesn't happen without your body...

Lisa: Responding.

Tiffanee: Yes, exactly. Exactly. Your amygdala switched on. You're having these physiological responses. You're putting yourself into hyper awareness all the time. You can hear. When you start responding to things like you said, you hear a certain language or something in a background conversation and you become aware of it like that you switched on, switched on, switched on.

Lisa: I can see it on my mind, my husband. you know, like, if I put the smoothie blender on, without telling him, his cortisol is up like that. He's very sensitive to loud sounds. In their job, they're exposed to the sirens and tones going off all the time. And so he's hyper responsive to those noises, the phone going. That in every single time it sends his body into a fight or flight, and trying to help him sort of bring that down really quickly, but that’s what they’re programmed. 23 years of responding to tones. 

And in the middle of the night when you're in a deep sleep phase, and then, whatever the case may be, that stuff has an effect on your—you just constantly—and you think about it, like a bus will go past and lead out to your brakes. Immediately the—’what's happening’? It's just because they're good at their job, they're good at responding really quickly. And it keeps them in a state of—for the next couple of hours, the body's got a whole lot of cortisol running around, and that puts up your blood sugar levels, and that causes insulin resistance, and that causes weight gain. And all of these knock on effects.

Tiffanee: Yes. A conversation I always have is, there's no divide between your physical and your mental health. I'm a different person mentally, when I'm underslept, undernourished, and your physical body creates the chemicals that give you mental balance and equanimity. 

Lisa: Yes. And this is why I think like, why I love epigenetics is in the programs that we both do, because we can help people look at the chemistry and the hormones, it's because they all want to know about the food and the exercise. But actually understanding your hormones, your personality type, what part of your brain you use the most, how you respond in different situations, and from a genetic perspective, really helps you understand how to get the best out of your body and not to play into your problem. 

So we both been very close to being very similar body types. We know we need movement. If you stick me at this desk all day, I'm going to be one angry person. I need regular movement breaks, I need little bits of food. I need, throughout the day, I'm burning very high. And I need them to shut down at night. I know all these things. So I'm called constantly aware of those, and that helps me balance out. And I wouldn't say, I've got the site's down because, gee sometimes I still have big meltdowns. But I'm watching myself—even when I have a meltdown, and I lose control whether I'm crying or I'm angry, or whatever the case may be, I'm watching myself, and I'm observing my behavior. And I'm thinking, ‘How did I do that? And why did I do that? And how do I bring myself back down’? So we're really on bringing awareness to the problem, even when I haven't mastered it, if it makes sense.

Tiffanee: Hmm. We're talking about conditioning. And you asked earlier how some of this conditioning plays out from the abuses. And what I noticed over the last few years was this accommodating—like my first response to things is to accommodate. So what I would find is I'd have constant—I remember having a conversation. I can't remember conversations. I remember being at work, I was a trainer and the owner of the gym and said, ‘Oh, can we do blah, blah’? And almost before people finished speaking, I'm like, ‘Yes, yes. Yes, cool, cool’. I just—I don't want conflict, I just want to be everything for you. Whatever you need

Lisa: Whatever you want me to be

Tiffanee: Yes. And then I'd find myself laying around a bit like, ‘Did I just agree to that’? You know and it took me a long time to realize that, ‘Ah, this is a conditioned response that you will accommodate the other person and it doesn't matter what you think or feel because you don't think or feel right now. You just accommodate and deal with it later’. 

And so what I've learned to do, which is hard for activators because we like to react and to respond. What I've learned to do is listen, try, and think and feel in the moment and then say, ‘Can you give me a day or so before I commit to that’? So this new setting boundaries. I don't have boundaries before, zero boundaries. So it was kind of a—I used to just dodged through life trying to keep massive distance between people because I didn't know how to set boundaries. So it just would avoid it and avoid conflict. And yes, so that was my way of keeping myself safe then. But now it is, I just say, ‘Hey, I think that that sounds good. But do you mind if I just commit and get back to you’...

Lisa: And that though, is a perfect answer. I really, really struggle with this. I'm still struggling with this one as my business partner Neil is like, ‘Just stop doing stuff for people and saving everybody in the planet. You've got to make a living’. And I’m like, ‘I know, but that other situation, that situation, excuse, excuse, excuse’. And I'm like, ‘Listen to yourself. You’re burning yourself out. You can't put your resources into our things. You're not helping them’. But you know, I'm like, ‘I know, I know. I know. But’... It's something I struggle with on a day to day basis, because I just want to heal the world, fix everything.

I have to make a living. I have to have money in my bank. Now. I can't just do what I want. And I really struggle with it. I really struggle with saying no. And that no is a perfect answer. And that's definitely a work in progress. You know, on the other hand, it's like, ‘Okay, well, deal with things that you know that you can be’. But it's hitting boundaries because I do burn out because I'm doing too many things with too many people and trying to help, too. And  spreading yourself too thin and then you don't do a good job. That's the other thing

Tiffanee: Yes. And maybe beat yourself up over it.

Lisa: Yes, then you fail. It’s an ongoing problem.

Hey, look, Tiffanee, I've taken up so much of your time already. It's been absolutely fabulous to have you on the show firstly. And to get to know you. I think we'll be doing things in the future together, I hope because you're a pretty cool young lady. I think you're amazing. I want people to go and listen to Roll With The Punches with Tiffanee Cook. And Tiffanee, where else can people can find you if they want to reach out to you after hearing your amazing story and what you do?

Tiffanee: They can find me on Facebook, Tiffanee Cook, Tiffanee, with a double E. Or @tiffaneeandco Instagram. More @rollwiththepunches_podcast on Instagram. Yes, all the usual places.

Lisa: Okay, we'll grab all those links on getting seen them all over to me and we'll share them in the show notes. Tiffanee, thank you so much for being on the show today. It's been absolutely fabulous.

Tiffanee: Lisa, I have loved it. Thank you.

That's it this week for Pushing The Limits. Be sure to rate review and share with your friends and head over and visit Lisa and her team at lisatamati.com

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My favourite running podcast by miles⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

This is the best podcast for long runs. Lisa is just so relatable, honest, funny and inspires me to push my own limits. Awesome guests (I particularly enjoyed the podcast with Kim Morrison) and a wide variety of topics covered. Thanks for keeping me running, Lisa!
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Helps me get through my boring desk job. Absolutely love this podcast. Great topics and advice that has helped me to better myself and my approach to running.
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Always great guests, great insights and learnings that can be applied immediately for every level of experience.
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Motivational and Inspirational ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I am getting my mojo back with regards to my health and running after treatment for breast cancer, I connected with Lisa as I was looking for positive influences from people who are long distance runners and understand our mindset. Lisa’s podcasts have been a key factor in getting me out of a negative space where I allowed others limiting beliefs to stop me from following my heart and what I believe is right for me. After 18 months of being in cancer recovery mode I wanted to get out of the cancer mindset and back to achieving goals that had been put aside. Listening to Pushing The Limits has put me onto other great podcasts, and in the process I have learnt so much and am on a pathway to a much better place with my mindset and health. Thanks so much Lisa for doing what you do and always being you.
L.Faire 





 

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