How the Arthur Boorman Viral Video went viral!

Never Ever Give Up – Arthur\'s Amazing TransformationI am dusting off the cobwebs here to give everyone a small update. I’m going to be revising the whole site, as it’s super outdated, and it needs a refresh. Stay tuned…

There has been new energy pumped into our project since I gave a video to Dallas Page to post as a short summary of Arthur’s journey. While I might have saved such a video for our own purposes, I felt I should share with him since production was stalled a bit with the addition of our new son Möbius and a focus on paying the bills (since making a doc doesn’t do it!)

The Arthur Boorman video went viral on Friday May 4th 2012 — when it got picked up someone on — and moved all the way to #1 on the front page. I was pretty shocked, as I understand this can be a hard thing to do. From there, things started to get interesting.

We started seeing a lot of twitter activity sharing this video — and it started to pick up pace — every minute several people were sharing it on Twitter as well as Facebook. I was in complete awe when Tony Robbins himself tweeted the video, as did David Copperfield. This, as I understand it, is when things start to pick up speed when it comes to viral videos. Since Tony Robbins had 2 million followers on twitter and David Copperfield over 200,000 — people start to pay attention when a celebrity shares something.

The comments on the video have renewed my faith and excitement that we can inspire people to change their lives if we can show them what is possible. Stay tuned for some new updates, as this new attention on Arthur’s story will probably help give us some momentum as we try to get the film into some major film festivals. Who knows?

Here’s the video, in case you haven’t seen it yet!

Arthur Video on YouTube

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Will knowing the calories in foods change our fast food consumption?

It looks like a recent study done by NYU and Yale seem to indicate that posting caloric content in menu items at restaurants do not affect or actually adversely affect what consumers order. I suppose I’ll have to take a closer look at how this study was done, but I suspect there are a few things going on here that perhaps are being overlooked in terms of consumer behavior.

1) Many of the caloric value menus I’ve seen are confusing and ambiguous, even for me to look at, and I pay close attention to calories in my foods. Some menus display huge ranges of calories for a single item, making it nearly impossible to understand what determines if it’s 200-400 calories more or less within the range posted. If you pause the above video at the :21 second mark, you’ll see a menu (I’d guess this is Chipolte due to my love of food) — the ranges displayed are actually pretty ludicrous. The last item, “Salad” has a calorie range from 155 to 823 calories???! Hmmm, I think I’ll order that one and hope it’s only 155 calories. This is useless information for most people.

2) The individuals who are ordering have no idea what calories mean in the context of their day. Is 1500 calories too much for a single meal? What’s the difference between ordering something that’s 400 calories or 1000 calories when it comes to one’s ultimately body weight or health. Because it sounds like the study may have been performed in lower income neighborhoods, this might contribute to the lack of knowledge when it comes to nutrition.

3) The sample size sounds like it was pretty small. Still, it sounds as if 25% of the people actually made better choices – or attempted to. This should be viewed as a positive thing I think…

I’ll have to repost when I take a closer look at this study, as I’m a big believer that being able to compare menu items based on caloric content will help many people who are trying to eat healthier to do so. This means, if someone is “on a diet” this info should really help them — for those who are not trying to lose weight at a given moment, these numbers may be ignored. For some less educated, they may even believe that the higher the caloric content the better for them, who knows?!

Stay tuned!

Graph of results
Having read over the study, I think that there is probably a bit more of investigation that needs to occur, that actually determines the accuracy of the menu labeling, since the researchers ultimately looked up caloric information from the web sites of these restaurants, instead of from the data provided at the point of purchase. So in some instances, where individuals believed they were ordering less calories, it is entirely possible, that they believed they were, but the labeling didn’t make it clear enough. Additionally, the notion that these consumers believed they were making better choices has been known to cause people to add extras to compensate for their good decisions (sometimes known as the Halo effect). So before we can really draw conclusions, a better designed study is needed (as usually is the case).

Here’s a link to the Study itself.

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Consistency and Intensity:

The two basic elements to getting fit in the shortest time possible

Most of us understand what these two words mean, yet as it applies to many things, our own individual interpretation of consistency and intensity are among the fundamental determinants of our degree of success. Within these two concepts are the keys to whether or not we see dramatic results from our fitness routine, or we see very little change and all, and ultimately, if we are motivated to continue working at it.

Over the last 4 years, we’ve followed dozens of people trying to get fit in the context of a documentary film, INSPIRED: The Movie, and we’ve come to understand these two principles can make anyone extremely successful no matter what fitness plan or diet they choose (for most of the good ones at least). As it turns out, consistency and intensity are universally important no matter what you do.

Consistency First

No matter how difficult your workout or low calorie your diet is, if you can’t stick to it for any length of time, it is very unlikely you will ever reach your goals. Whether you’re just starting a new fitness or weight loss program, or if you’ve been stuck at a plateau for some time, you must first learn what consistency means before you can start tackling the intensity part of any program. The reason for this; if you embark on an extremely hard workout or highly restrictive eating plan and you are not ready physically or mentally for the change, you will be unable to follow it consistently. This is a common mistake for many individuals, who get on a treadmill for the first time in years, and they try to run as fast as they can. While it’s great that you want to start off with an intense workout, this can be too much too soon, resulting in both physical and mental setbacks. Not only can you injure yourself, but you can also become discouraged by how hard your workout is. Similarly, if you’ve decided to go on a very restrictive type of eating plan, your ability to keep eating this way will be very limited and soon come to an end (i.e. you will gain the weight back).

For this very reason, you must first learn to be consistent before you focus on your intensity. While you may consider several workouts per week to be consistent, normally when I try to help someone just starting out, I challenge them to exercise 20 minutes, 7 days a week, for 2 weeks. The point of daily exercise in the beginning is to reframe your ideas about exercise. It is actually more about training your mind than training your body! Most of us are struggling to find the time in our busy schedules to fit exercise in, right? Remember why you started reading this article? Your motivation to follow any plan is driven by the the payoff — we all want to see amazing progress from our hard work. If you don’t think you can exercise every day, you can’t allow this to stop you from trying. Most are amazed the first week, when they have exercised every day. If you can overcome the initial inconvenience and discomfort for about 14 days, you’ll soon find that your mind adapts to new habits much faster than you thought. (In order to avoid overtraining and injuries, be sure to vary your workouts and incorporate low impact options such as cycling, walking, and/or yoga)

When it comes to eating right, consistency is even more important. This is because we can consume an incredible amount of calories in a matter of minutes — we can have a great day of eating and easily overdo it with a single meal or snack. A single meal or desert can be well over 1000 calories, which would take you over an hour to burn during a workout. One or two bad decisions a day, easily outweigh the many good decisions we may make. So, if we do not eat in moderation nearly every day, we’ll soon get frustrated by our lack of progress, despite our efforts to exercise daily. This means you’ll have to limit yourself to just one (maybe two) splurges per week it you want to make significant progress.

Becoming ultra-consistent with both diet and exercise is the foundation of any dramatically successful fitness plan. It is critical to your ongoing motivation as well, since being more consistent will allow you to see results quicker, and this fuels your ability to stay with it. Remember, without consistency, you will often get frustrated by the lack of results, and ultimately, you may give up.

Train Harder

When assessing one’s workout intensity, often times we ask someone who’s been working out for some time, how heavy they may go for a particular exercise.

In many cases, the answer is something like, “I normally use 25 lb. dumbbells for my biceps curls.”

I’ll often respond, “When is the last time you have tried 30 lb. dumbbells?”

The answer is quite often, “Never.” This is a very common shortcoming in our exercise routines — we become comfortable with the number of sets, repetitions, and weights we use, and we seldom challenge ourselves much more than getting ourselves into the gym. While the notion that something is better than nothing may hold true, many people will find themselves stuck at a plateau, because they fail to adjust their workout intensity over time. This applies to both cardiovascular exercise, as well as resistance training. There are so many variables we can adjust in nearly every type of exercise, to challenge our bodies just a little more each time, and this idea of challenging muscles and systems, is ultimately what causes our bodies to change. There comes a point when walking each day at the same speed for the same distance, only provides us with a marginal benefit. It is when we can learn to push ourselves every time we decide to workout, that we see even more dramatic change.

Here are just a few tips that may help you improve your awareness of your workout intensity:

1) Each time you perform a set, rate it on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the hardest). Write it down, and aim for a difficulty rating of 7-10 each set, and when you never hit anything higher than an 8, it may be time to increase your weight, and/or your number of repetitions. Don’t be afraid to add a 4th, 5th, or 6th set to an exercise as well.

2) If you find yourself stuck at a specific weight for example, when performing the bench press, you can often reduce the number of repetitions for “heavy sets” and perform 3-5 repetitions at a heavier weight. Over time, this type of training will allow you to break through weight training plateaus.

3) Interval training is a great way to increase the intensity level of your cardio. If you’re used to only running at 5mph on the treadmill for 20 minutes, try running at short 1-2 minute intervals at 5.5mph or higher, in between longer intervals at 5mph, and your body will eventually be able to run a full 20 minutes at the higher speeds. You can vary the length of an interval anywhere from 1-10 minutes, and adjust the speeds accordingly.

4) Use a journal. Using a food and exercise journal will keep you both more consistent and will improve your workout intensity.

If you can consistently improve your workout intensity, you’ll end up burning more calories per workout which again, will increase the rate in which you will see results! Be sure to listen to your body when you feel it needs a lower intensity workout from time to time.

Be Patient
When changing these elements of your program, you have to allow your changes to make an impact. Sometimes it can take 2-4 weeks to see the difference when you improve your consistency and intensity. Don’t abandon these concepts too early, because often results are just around the corner, and we give up just before we get there. No matter what path you’ve chosen to get into your best shape ever, keep these ideas in mind, and you are sure to reach your goal before you know it!

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Regina Benjamin – Why the Surgeon General will probably lose weight…

So there’s a lot of talk these days about the new Surgeon General, Regina Benjamin, and whether she was the appropriate choice as surgeon general since she is on the overweight side. I was asked the other day what I thought of the situation, and I really do think it’s an interesting one, because there are many forces involved…

Is a thin Surgeon General a better choice? Is is true that a normal weight person understands the obesity situation better? Not necessarily, and sometimes less so, in my opinion. You see, there are plenty of people in the world who can be thin or normal weight without much effort, so it doesn’t really mean that someone else would have a better idea of how to address one of the biggest health risks this country faces…obesity! The best person would probably be one who does have to work at it, who has lost weight, or who knows of the struggles of the average man or woman to manage their body weight.

The interesting side effect of all of the publicity about the new Surgeon General’s weight, is that this alone will likely cause her to change her eating and exercise habits. One can only assume that regardless of her genetic or metabolic challenges, she has probably not adjusted her energy balance to achieve an optimal weight that promotes good health (i.e. she probably eats a little too much, and may not exercise enough). So — this new position that she’s been put in, will probably require that she does pay attention to this aspect of her life — whether she really understands how to address it or not. She will eat better. She will exercise more. She will probably lose weight. The hope is that she will gain insight from this experience, and better serve Americans by learning about the true struggle — to understand what MOTIVATES us to be consistent and to manage our own weight (and health) more effectively.

The situation is interesting, because it is the circumstances and the attention that will actually be the catalyst for her weight loss (assuming she does address the issue). She clearly has the background and intelligence to know what she should be doing, so hopefully it can become clear to the administration and those involved in coming up with new solutions to obesity, that the key is finding out what will trigger more Americans to actually pay attention to their own weight and health. It is our hope that this new Surgeon General might take this opportunity to get into incredible shape, transform her lifestyle and inspire many others, to do the same.

So there seems to be a tremendous opportunity, I think, that Ms. Benjamin could actually be a great choice because she has struggled with her own weight…and this insight will allow her to come up with different approaches to the problem.

Predictions? She will lose weight, and learn a lot about developing a healthy, consistent lifestyle. The extreme accountability should be all that is necessary to do the trick, since she is sure to have everything else she needs to succeed, now that there is a motivation to do it. It will be interesting to see what happens!!! :)

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Relearning what we already know…why we always need reminders!

So today my good friend, and one of our documentary subjects called me and said he needed my help.

Most of the time when people say this, it means their computer has crashed…but this time it was because he felt his eating was off track. He knows exactly what he should eat, as he’s done it before, but he just couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t doing it.

This is so common for everyone, us included…that we just don’t follow through with the things we know we should do. So I asked him a series of questions:

1) When are you not eating right? All the time? His response was that his breakfast and lunch were almost always good…not too much trouble. It was in the evenings…

2) Are you going out to eat? His answer was yes, more frequently.

3) What are the things you are eating in your house? Snacks, eating cereal at night…etc.

What we are often looking for is some sort of strength, that will allow us to resist these bad behaviors…some might call it willpower…but there’s a much easier way, that we all already know.

We can all troubleshoot our failings and find ways to fix these behavior patterns without worrying about the random nature of our willpower.

1) Going out to eat is NEVER a good idea when you are trying to eat right. This is because there is just too much temptation, and the portions and calories are too much for almost everyone. The unfortunate truth is we MUST limit our restaurant eating if we expect to make significant progress on our fitness…some can do the right thing and still go out to eat…but most cannot.

2) The foods we keep in our house, and the foods we find ourselves snacking on, matter way more than we think. We all really know this, but when we fail to execute this idea, we can’t be surprised when we reach for those cookies we didn’t plan to eat…that are in our pantry.

3) Are there people or things that are triggering our behaviors? We can all “reverse engineer” our bad behaviors if we use common sense. We can’t underestimate the little things that are precursors to “bad” behavior.

So while often times I’ll write about something that makes so much sense, because it seems obvious…all of us need to be reminded of these practices in order to keep moving in the right direction!

Is your environment shaping your success or taking away from it?

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Building Credibility: Finding the experts for our film.

Part of the challenge in creating this documentary, is setting some sort of standard of credibility in order to get people to actually pay attention to the things we’ve uncovered. There are so many claims in the world of weight loss and fitness, that it’s really hard for people to judge what is true and what isn’t. Most of us tend to hope that the “magical” claims are true…so we don’t have to do what we know is probably the truth.

In trying to establish credibility, I think there are several things we have tried to do. First, by following documentary subjects who are on different plans (Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, Body-for-LIFE, etc.) we are able to really examine the differences between them – and the similarities. Most people don’t realize how much crossover there is between successful programs and books. Each one is seen as unique, and I think that’s by design.

Another way in which we’ve tried to build trust in our film, is to include subject matter experts in areas of nutrition, psychology, and fitness…experts who study the science behind the complexities of weight loss. We began by trying to find any “expert” who would help us, but as it has evolved we have been extremely fortunate to have found some the most respected individuals in their field.

Experts like Walter Willett, Brian Wansink, and James Prochaska have all led groundbreaking research, and are world-renowned for their work. More to come on these individuals… We were fortunate to have the Harvard School of Public Health agree to assist us, which amazingly opened doors for us along the way, and allowed us access to more and more experts in different fields.

I’ve included a short clip of another subject matter expert, Tom Venuto, in this blog entry as it pertains to supplementation. I think that the experts who have done the research help us in some aspects, and people like Tom Venuto add valuable real-world insights. We’ve tried to include perspectives that go beyond just anecdotal evidence, but ones like Tom’s that are meticulously based upon the science as well as their application. Tom’s unique perspective comes from a lifelong natural bodybuilder and trainer, who not only talks from personal experience, but from his desire to help others understand what is actually going on as the research meets application. I’m hoping the end-result is a very easy to understand, highly credible message.

In the video clip here, I think we can see that while many of us like to believe there’s some magic in some supplements, if we really quantify the benefits of them, they are minuscule in comparison to the bigger picture. It may be a hard pill to swallow, but if we stick to the basics, we will be far more successful in the long run!

We’re also excited that Tom is releasing a new book in 2009, “The Body Fat Solution“, as it turns out to be great timing (as long as we can get this film done soon!). I was able to get an early copy of it, and I think it’s going to change the paradigm in terms of weight loss (much like I feel like INSPIRED will when it comes out). Most people believe that it’s a particular program that will be the answer for them, but as Tom covers in his book, it’s more about what gets each of us to follow ANY program…the behavioral factors that are so critical in achieving success. I think his new book perfectly addresses the very same topics in our film, bringing the science of exercise and the behavioral psychology together…a powerful combination! Hopefully we’ll benefit from Tom’s new book, as it adds even more credibility to what we’re doing!

Stay tuned for more videos from our experts!

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What does faith have to do with it?

This quote has found it’s way into our film recently:

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think this is really important, the notion of faith, as it pertains to overcoming most challenges in life. It seems to be very related to addiction recovery, whether the addiction is alcohol, drugs, or food. As the first step in a 12-step program is to declare powerlessness over our problem, and then the 2nd step is to “believe in a power greater than ourselves.”

I think many people have a problem with this idea of faith, if they aren’t religious, because they feel like it really must mean having faith in a god. This is where many people who try a 12-step program have a hard time.

Often however, when we are faced with a challenge in life, that we’re not quite confident we can overcome, the notion that we can put faith in something, some idea, some plan, or some one, is incredibly powerful. It’s because of the self-doubt we have within our own minds, that we cannot really get past, in order to succeed. So as we begin a challenging journey, having someone, or some higher power to give us the confidence that we will succeed, is often very important…it helps us to forage ahead even when we don’t know if it’s the right way. We must have faith that it is.

In some cases, it’s having faith in a trainer or friend, that they know what they are doing (because maybe they’ve done it), and so we can have the “blind faith” that can often be necessary for us to leave our doubts behind and just go for something. There are times with blind faith can lead us in the wrong direction, but nevertheless, it allows us to do things we might not do, if we were only to use our own prior experience and logic.

This quote from Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. is very true. We must often believe in something that we are unsure of, in order to reach new levels of understanding. If we are afraid of unknown territories in life, and allow our negative thoughts to keep us in a comfortable place, we often never get to climb that mountain, overcome that obstacle, because we quit before we begin.

So this whole notion, applies not only to losing weight, but anything you can imagine.

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Is the potential of high school athletes largely unreached?

I’m pretty sure that most big time collegiate and professional sports teams have it down to a science, but I often wonder what things I’d achieved if I understood the process of change and motivation a little more when I was younger.

I still remember hating those drills in football running every 10 yards at the end of practice, and how much torture it was. I think mostly because I wasn’t in very good shape. I remember as a sprinter in track, hating do to anything longer than a 200 meter run, and those days of doing 400 meter drills were the worst!

As I relate this back to what we’ve learned in the process of this film, and some of my experience in training others, I’ve come to believe that most of us hate doing the things we are bad at. It’s uncomfortable! It doesn’t feel good at all. And so I wonder if when coaches and teachers decide to make a whole football team (or whatever you want to relate this to) run for 30 minutes, back and forth…if we’re missing a big piece of the puzzle in trying to find each individual’s potential.

It’s much like putting everyone on a treadmill and starting them off on the same speed. This doesn’t work from my experience, because the tolerance we all have for discomfort is different in the beginning, and some people really just give up if it’s too hard from the start. Some choose a speed far slower than they could be running at, to get by. Some might call this natural selection, but we ARE trying to figure out how to help even the “worst case” scenarios in finding out what they are capable of doing.

While this may be totally outside of what we can call practical, the effort to restructure our thinking in training young athletes (or students) to reach their potential might be far more exciting if we structured our conditioning (and skill) training in terms of “current levels” and set more specific goals and incorporated more measurements and motivators for each individual. If we grouped those who couldn’t run a mile in 10 minutes together, and trained them every day to run it faster, through different drills, intervals etc. would they progress more systematically than randomly? What if kids could actually SEE the progress that were making every week? Running back and forth for 20 or 30 minutes is hardly gratifying.

I remember in High School we followed a plan called “Bigger Faster Stronger” (not to be confused with the documentary about steriods), and this plan was on the right path, because it had a very big journal component. We tracked all of our weight training pretty carefully. What I don’t recall is a measure of our consistency in training, however…and there wasn’t a piece on cardio-vascular conditioning.

Being that it’s 20 years later, I’d suspect that things have moved forward and the benefits of tracking each young person’s progress has made some leaps and bounds.

I relate this to watching our documentary subjects who are very consistent, and very gradual in their training process. After only a few weeks of consistent training, changing little things each week, their progress adds up tremendously. Those who do things inconsistently and without any method, end up at nearly the same place after a year’s time.

Any experienced trainer would think these ideas are pretty basic of course, but I still find myself curious how many opportunities there are for us to find our untapped potential in nearly every area of our lives, if we adjust the way we are “training” for it. Perhaps we’ll save that for the next film!

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Knowing how to lose weight is sometimes not enough!

Oprah's recent weight gain is in the news again!

Oprah's recent weight gain is in the news again!

If there’s anyone who knows how to lose weight, it’s Oprah Winfrey. Even if she didn’t know by now, she certainly has all the money in the world to pay experts to ensure she stays on track. So why did she gain so much weight recently?

I know she’s mentioned her struggles with a Thyroid issue, but still the question remains, did she continue to exercise and eat right? Unfortunately, when we find a good excuse for our weight gain, it can really reduce the level of self-accountability we have, instead of making us more vigilant about doing what we know we should do.

Just like most people, Oprah probably has a difficult time keeping herself accountable for her eating – especially because she’s probably invited to the best restaurants and parties every night…with the most delicious food money can buy. So temptation is great!

There’s no telling what combination of factors caused Oprah’s recent weight gain, but we’ve seen a very common situation with many of our documentary subjects — overconfidence in the knowledge we have about maintaining our weight. This happens to everyone I know…dietitians, personal trainers, and us too! It’s just too easy to rationalize just about any behavior because we know how to lose weight. Most people have a pretty good idea why they gain weight…so I think in this case it comes down to finding what holds us accountable for our actions. In Oprah’s case, she may have reached such a level of power in her circle, that nobody can really hold her accountable except herself…which is a tough thing to do with eating and exercise. Perhaps her relationship with Bob Greene has changed too, and he no longer has the ability to tell her what she need to do every day.

What’s the answer? Some new cleanse? A new trainer? Whatever it is, it probably will work, just as long as she uses something to hold her accountable every day, or every week. Something as simple as a weekly weigh in every Monday on her show would probably be all she needs. That’s because when we have the know-how about weight loss, it really comes down to what makes us execute. Why should we do it everyday? We forget that when we start to lose consistency in our schedule, we have a very tough time fitting it in.

I’m sure Oprah will get back into shape, and be on top of the world again, looking great – much like Brittany Spears. I just hope it’s not another vehicle to market some new fad, and it focuses more on the real things that keep us all in check.

Time to bring Kirstie back on and make some sort of wager! I’m hoping they will call us and give us that interview we’ve asked for…

Stay tuned!

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The fastest, most effective solution to the obesity problem is…

…finding out what motivates each individual to take charge of their own health and change their lifestyle. I know, easier said than done! I know there are countless conferences each year, that tackle the topic of childhood obesity, diabetes, and the growing burden on the healthcare industry, but we truly do believe, that if we can figure out what inspires people to change, we can create profound change all over the world.

It’s because we don’t need to wait for a magic pill, special diet, or more effective exercise program…the power to fix the problem lies within each of us. We’ve seen it countless times, when one person decides to transform their lives, it creates a ripple effect. Once parents learn the importance of exercise and healthy eating, they automatically begin shaping the foods and activities for their whole family. Do we expect a child who learns the importance of healthy eating in school to resist the pizza or fast food his parents bring home at night? If we as adults can’t resist it, what are we expecting our children to do?

So in essence, if we can fix the adults, we’ll be able to fix the childhood obesity problem. The adults will pay more attention to what the kids are doing…whether it’s parents, teachers, or school administrators — once we can really change a school administrator’s view on his or her own health, the impact that single person may have on an entire school may be profound. Priorities will change.

This goes far beyond just telling people what they should eat, and how fast they should run. Once the adults who have influence over kids lives at home or school have changed their own lives…they must then understand how to shape environments to make staying healthy convenient and fun for the younger generation.

Before we can expect any change to occur with kids, we must first prove to ourselves as adults, that it is worth it so we can teach it with passion.

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