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17 Feb

BLOG 151 POLY-CYSTIC OVARY SYNDROME

Women and hormones…. the subject matter goes hand in hand. Our health is a culmination of bodily operations functioning effectively, but there are an array of medical conditions that can impact our fitness journeys. Poly-cystic Ovary Syndrome, better known as PCOS, is a hormonal imbalance which can lead to many problems for females. I was actually inspired to write this Blog because my best friend has this and the star of a reality T.V. show I watch called, “My Big Fat Fabulous Life”, has it too. So let’s take a closer look.
PCOS has to do with cysts growing in the ovaries, and “poly” means many small cysts. On their own, these cysts are not dangerous, but they can cause havoc in other ways. Hormones are communicators in our bodies. They send signals and messages for functions to occur. But when there is a hormone imbalance, the following can result: “One hormone change triggers another, which changes another. For example:
• The sex hormones get out of balance. Normally, the ovaries make a tiny amount of male sex hormones (androgens). In PCOS, they start making slightly more androgens. This may cause you to stop ovulating, get acne, and grow extra facial and body hair.
• The body may have a problem using insulin, called insulin resistance. When the body doesn’t use insulin well, blood sugar levels go up. Over time, this increases your chance of getting diabetes.
(https://www.webmd.com/women/tc/polycystic-ovary-syndrome-pcos-topic-overview#1)
There has not been a direct cause of PCOS, but it seems to be genetic. Hormones really don’t make sense, much like behavior during puberty doesn’t either. There are associated symptoms which include:
• Acne.
• Weight gain and trouble losing weight.
• Extra hair on the face and body. Often women get thicker and darker facial hair and more hair on the chest, belly, and back.
• Thinning hair on the scalp.
• Irregular periods. Often women with PCOS have fewer than nine periods a year. Some women have no periods. Others have very heavy bleeding.
• Fertility problems. Many women who have PCOS have trouble getting pregnant (infertility).
• Depression.
The star of the show I watch, Whitney, from “My Big Fat Fabulous Life”, blames her weight gain on PCOS. But the controversy arises in that it wasn’t PCOS that put the weight on, rather it is difficult to take the weight off because of it. It’s a culmination of these symptoms that impact the psyche which impacts one’s fitness journey. It is said that 8-20% of women suffer from this condition (nichd.nih.gov), and are diagnosed in their twenties and thirties. Treatment is hormone based and might include birth control to regulate periods, diabetes medication, hormones for fertility and then any hair removal procedures. Thus, this can be a frustrating experience for those on their fitness journeys having a hard time losing weight. I know some of my clients have found comfort in having a diagnosis when they feel like they are eating well and exercising very well, but don’t see the results they want.
Good old lady hormones, and men don’t like them either. They are only a speed bump on the road to health, but like we know, this is a journey not a sprint. Results will come and the scale isn’t the only measurable indication of success. You are so much more than that number!!!!

10 Feb

BLOG 150 THE REALITIES OF OBESITY

I’m a sucker for a good health and fitness reality documentary, as I’m sure you are well aware of reading my blogs. In my years of this industry, shows like, “My 600 Pound Life” and “The Biggest Loser” are rather depressing and surprisingly hard to view for me. But I’m intrigued by the emotional struggles and mental capacity of those who go on national television in their most vulnerable state. So I watched another. This time is was called, “Fat”. I guess the only difference with a movie vs a reality TV show was that the lead character was his total true self, cussing and behaving as he normally would.

Sean was obese. He was well aware he needed change, but the motivation to take action was more than lacking. Finally, he took a trip to the doctor just to see what could be done, of course with the mindset that there’s a quick, easy fix for all this. Sean didn’t get the answer he was looking for, rather the doctor prescribed him medication for high blood pressure. Sean inquired about weight loss surgery, but instead the doctor recommended seeing a nutritionist. Sean continued to feel defeated when he left.

His best friend was on his team, trying to be an advocate for his change. He even set him up with a lady friend. However, when initially shown a picture of the gal, he said, “What the hell, she’s fat” and “fat people aren’t into other fat people”. So what did he do?? He called up his ex who he had been really stuck on. She, however, upon meeting him said that he had let himself go, and why was he asking for closure when it was such an insignificant relationship. Crushed, he met up with best friend at their regular bar. On a bet, he asked out the bartender. They go out, he tells her that he slept with a homeless person once before. Ruined that. When he finally did go out with the original woman his best buddy set him up with, he actually liked her. She revealed she was getting the lap-band and later on in an argument he said to her, “Ohh that’s right take the easy way out like your surgery”. That ended the relationship.

He got a trainer who he ended up standing up. He attended O.A. (Overeaters Anonymous). He blew up at the man running the meeting. Sean was diagnosed with diabetes. His best friend admitted to him that he smelled bad. His nutritionist fired him.

The point of my Blog is to tell your how poorly we have represented obese people to be in the media and on T.V. We watch as they are degraded and made out to be lazy and weak. What about discussing the causes, the psychology of their current state, and what can be done for them for long term results?? No, obesity is a money- making industry from the diseases it causes, the billions of dollars spent on diets and surgeries, and the insane amount of money spent on food. Someday I will write a book that discusses this. For now, don’t judge obese people by their cover.

Mark Phinney. (2015). “Fat”.

03 Feb

BLOG 149 HUNGER BY ROXANE GAY

A client recommended a great read to me, Hunger, by Roxane Gay, and I’m so thankful she shared this book. It is her personal story of her past forever haunting her and a life of food to hide herself. As a trainer, this story of her BODY, was both powerful and moving. Sadly, it’s not the first time I have read/heard/or even helped clients with similar memoirs. The odds seemed to be lined up against her, but Roxane lives today as a feminist, successful writer, and woman with an incredible message.

Roxane said, “I was broken, and to numb the pain of brokenness, I ate and ate and ate, and then I was not just overweight or fat. Less than a decade later, I was morbidly obese and then I was super morbidly obese” (pg. 22). At the age of 12, she was gang raped by a boy she thought she was in love with along with his friends in a cabin in the woods. Today, she can still smell and taste the trauma, and she used food to suppress this horrible moment of her life that she kept a secret until this book. At her highest, she was 577 pounds. Her outlook on relationships, sex, and her personal sense of self-worth, were forever changed when this happened to her.

Food offered her comfort and she was able to make herself unattractive the larger she became (at least in her mind). Contrary to what one might assume, she had an amazing, loving, family and support system. She was Haitian, and her family was a tight knit unit. She grew up with parents who paid the utmost attention to their kids and provided very well for them. But that didn’t mean she felt it was okay to share her secret with them. In fact, she separated herself from them and isolated herself in books and writing. She is a great writer.

Of course, her weight was a concern to her family and self, and she did try every diet known. But every time she lost weight, she regained it, again hiding inside the cage she created for herself but could still see out of. She lived her life always saying to herself, “Tomorrow, I will make good choices. I am always holding on to the hope of tomorrow” (pg. 139).

Obesity isn’t just about food. Although society has created the notion that overweight people are lazy and eat too much, they rarely stop to ask WHY?? Food is a drug for many people and it can be the high one needs to not feel emotionally. The temporary satisfaction becomes an impulse and just like a drug, one can never have enough as tolerance is built. To binge is to numb whatever emotion is taunting. Food isn’t nourishment; it’s comfort. And yet, society passes judgement, even doctors do too. A client might think I don’t know what it is like or I can never relate, but food is a crazy, messy, mind game for most of us. Professional natural bodybuilding has taught me that lesson all too well. It isn’t just calories in and calories out, oh there is so much more to being healthy than that.

I thank Roxane Gay for sharing her story and I thank the client her recommended this book. Our fitness journeys are unique to ever BODY, and every BODY is worthy of health and happiness. Sometimes the worst moments give credit to who we are today. But they don’t define us. You can turn the page and I will help you.

Hunger, Gay, Roxane. (2017). Harper Collins Publishing.

27 Jan

BLOG 148 MIKE TYSON

Sometimes the personality of an athlete can outshine their talent. This holds true for Mike Tyson, a definite champion and top-notch fighter, but maybe not the most considerate human being. I went into my research with an open mind, understanding the media can distort. So here’s a little bit about Mr. Tyson….

He grew up in Brooklyn with his single mom who he spoke of as being promiscuous. She made ends meet and Mike grew up making cash here and there from drug sales, mostly marijuana and cocaine. He didn’t ever expect to be a fighter, and learned how to fight after saving up all his money and having one of the neighborhood kids tear the head off of one the pigeons he bought. That’s where the instant rage and anger began. It was a man named, Cus D’Amato, who discovered his fighting talent and quickly took him under his wings. Mike trusted Cus, who built his confidence and let him live with him in his mansion. Unfortunately, he passed away when Mike was only 19. It was then that under little guidance and direction, Mike’s career, especially financially, became messy. Most memorable was Don King, who Mike beat up publicly over money. He did get some of the money back from a legal case, but most of his money became mismanaged and washed up from others taking advantage of him.

Mike Tyson came in at 217/218 fighting weight. For a heavyweight he had speed. He felt he had people beat psychologically before the fight even started. He would stare right at the opponent and once they looked down, he knew he had them. He traveled the world, was in a Moscow parade, had figurines made of him in Japan, met the Prime Minister of Italy, but always said his probation officer made it hard for him to travel.

His outlook on females was quite distorted. He wanted to dominate as many as he could, sleeping with as many as he could. He was married to Robin Gibbons for only 8 months before his extra-curricular activities became too much for her.
In 1992, he went to prison for rape. Today, he has 6 children from different women. Tyson regrets a lot of his actions with women and how he handled his finances. He only did fights in his later career to pay his bills.
1997 was the year he bit Holyfield’s ear, not once but twice. The fight ended early and he admitted he lost his cool. He was enraged by Holyfield head-butting him.

The tattoo on his face is a New Zealand tribal symbol, which represents him scaring the enemy.
He ended with a record of 50-6-0 and 44 knockouts.

Today he has made some movie and radio appearances, but mostly is making up for lost time with his kids. He an interesting outlook on life so who’s know why lies ahead as he tries to put his past behind him.

20 Jan

BLOG 147 TONY ROBBINS

After hearing about all the lives he has helped, touched, and improved, I had to know more about him. Netflix released a 2 hour documentary called, “Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru”. He wasn’t your typical life coach that I was anticipating to find. In fact, his approach was shocking, yet powerful for those he worked with.

Okay so I don’t know if I’m the only person who didn’t know that Tony Robbins uses the “F” word freely. He is in your face, and seeks an arousal. The “F” word provokes people and is taboo word so there an energy that comes with it causing a reaction. Probably shouldn’t use this on your kids at home, but under Tony’s circumstances it seemed to work.

Obviously, this entrepreneur is doing something right. He has written 6 best selling books, owns 30 companies worth nearly $5 billion visits 12 countries per year performing his seminars. These seminars hold over 200,000 people each at rate of $4995, which is for 6 days each 12 hours long. A typical day is form 11am to 11pm all with Tony. Netflix covered his seminar “Date With Destiny” focusing on reclaiming who you are. He has helped big names like Aerosmith, Green Day, Pitbull, and Usher. He has a team of life coaches that work for him.

His purpose is to help you make changes. It isn’t about just solving your problems but really narrowing down the source of them. You have to decide what you want, not just what you will tolerate in life.

The best advice I received from him was regarding blame. We can blame our parents or other people for certain issues we have, but we can also blame them for the good too. Meaning just because I lost my mother to alcoholism and grew up with the associated situations of that, doesn’t mean she’s at fault for all that goes wrong in my life. My mother is actually to blame for my drive and determination to be the best. She is to blame for my work ethic and perfectionist traits. For that, I thank her, which aided with my closure.

On your fitness journey, we know it isn’t just all about working out and eating right. We have to get our minds right too. A life coach like Tony Robbins may just be the additional help you need. No hurt in doing a little research to better yourself because that’s the end goal…. to become the best version of YOU!!!!

Tony Robbins: I Am Not Your Guru. (2016). Joe Berlinger.

13 Jan

BLOG 146 JUICING

Juicing has become a popular craze among fitness and nutrition fanatics. Having a juicer at home is just about as common as having a toaster these days. The power of fruits and vegetables does wonders for our internal health and it is unlikely to consume the recommended daily totals (17 each). The reasons one might start to juice include weight loss, lowering blood pressure, or detoxing. It is no healthier than eating the same content, but a popular trend is a trend and jumping on board happens to the best of us.

Personally, I like the texture and chewing action of eating. I feel satiated longer and feel that I’m getting more bang for my buck. Liquid doesn’t fill me up, at least not for long. So if I were to eat an apple vs. drink an apple you can see my point…. 5 min to chew an apple vs. 2 seconds to drink that sip of apple. And I do have to say from my research for this, there aren’t many claims other than being able to consume more fruits and vegetables per day that justify the benefits of juicing. So why so popular??

Adding to this, I watched a documentary called, “7 Days 2 Guys 1 Juicer”. In this film, Chad and Kenny were two obese middle-aged men, who for 7 days were put in a hotel to complete a 7 day juicing cycle. When they arrived the refrigerator was stocked with nothing but fresh produce. Not one item was in the freezer. From the gate, the men noticed how much work juicing really was with prepping the produce and then cleaning up after. This was quite the lifestyle change for them both, coming from backgrounds of fast food, no activity, and very little motivation to be healthy and make changes. Taken out of their environments, the men were forced to follow the plan precisely. They underwent withdrawal, headaches, and hunger pains.

According to the documentary, juicing dates back to the ancient Greeks who used pomegranate juice as a love potion. In the U.S., juicing was introduced in the 1920s when there was a new popularity to be vegetarian or vegan. In the 1970s, Jack Lalanne sold his famous juicer. Today, people in their 20s and 30s have created a $5billion business out of juicing. There’s a status associated with high end juice bars connected to yoga studios.

In the end, Chad and Kenny lost about 9 pounds each. I really anticipated a higher weight loss considering their past, which goes to show that juicing isn’t entirely weight loss oriented and the weight can be gained right back after stopping. Here’s the concept: “Doing the math, on average, an ounce of ‘mixed juice’ contains about 15 calories. If you need 1,400-1,500 calories daily to achieve weekly weight loss, you could drink a whopping 96 ounces of this juice (about 12 cups) each day and still stay in that calorie range, which should result in weight loss. On this sample juicing diet, you would, however, only be getting 9 grams of fiber (36% of your need) and 25 grams of protein (41% of your need) each day, which is far from ideal. This unbalanced nutrient intake would result in immediate muscle mass loss and an increase in hunger and food cravings. Other nutrients such as fat, vitamins and minerals would also be severely lacking. Successful and safe long-term weight loss would not be achievable on such a plan” (http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/nutrition_articles.asp?id=1800).

Obesity causes over 25 diseases, so we do want to make sure proper nutrition is in place, but the type that is sustainable. In a world that praises fat-free and all natural that comes out of a box, something isn’t right with our food. Fresh is always best. Have a juice here and there to compliment your eating. It can be a nice, cold, refreshing, sweet beverage. Take your fitness journey tips, use them to your advantage, and make those changes the best you can, each and every day!!!!

06 Jan

BLOG 145 CHILDREN & NUTRITION

Is it strange to see a child reading a nutrition label?? Is that not something a kid should be doing….worrying about their weight, concerned about calories, watching how much sugar there is in an item?? In a sense, we want kids to be kids, but we also want them to be healthy, happy, and do well. As childhood obesity rises, we know that changes need to be made to address the problem. Innocence isn’t lost with nutrition education and food doesn’t have to serve as reward for our youth. Let’s talk about children and nutrition.

It’s never too early to learn the basics of foods. We all grew up going to the store with mom or dad and walking down the aisles. We would reach for what we wanted and beg for those treats, sometimes making store time a real battle for our parents. Fruits and vegetables aren’t children’s favorite food selections, sometimes making the be forced. They’re not the after school snack of choice. This is due largely in part to the 5,500 advertisements kids see about junk food versus the 100 they might see regarding fruits and vegetables (“The Kids Menu” (2015) by Kurt Engfehr) featured on Netflix.

If you ask a child if they know anyone who is obese in their family, almost everyone would raise their hand that they do. If one parent is obese, that child is 40% more likely to be obese too. That goes to say that if both parents are obese, then there is an 80% chance. It is said that parents are 72% responsible for what their children eat, of course the rest of the time is when kids are at school or not with them. Fast food is also a reality with the demands of parenting, but it becomes important to make healthier selections and teaching children to do so. (“The Kids Menu” (2015) by Kurt Engfehr)

I grew up on fast food. That was what 2 full time working parents with 3 kids and sports year-round resulted in. I was active and that deterred a lot of what I was eating. But to be completely honest, my parents were role models of healthier choices. When we went to McDonalds, dad ordered a salad or grilled chicken sandwich and an iced tea. Mom did the same. We could order whatever we wanted, but you do what your parents do. Just this Christmas, I was saying to my dad while everyone was eating that I never had prime rib before because you never made that. We had chicken and salmon.

Where my mixed messages came from were the athletes and TV that I watched. I saw my favorite sports stars drinking Gatorade, so naturally I wanted that too for every practice. I was oblivious to the sugar content and definitely didn’t need the excess calories. Processed food is attractive with it’s decorative packaging.
So all in all, the issue with children and nutrition comes down to 3 key points. The first being their lack of knowledge. If children knew the benefits of whole foods, fruit and vegetables versus their bodies’ responses to cereals, granola bars and sugar filled drinks, maybe they might make a better-informed decision. Second, children need to have access to a good diet. This means what they are fed at home and school. The pantry shouldn’t be filled with boxes of food and school lunches can have a daily salad bar. And lastly, children need role models of health. What they see is what they do. We are products of our environment.

Obesity isn’t the entire issue, it’s also the resulting diseases from it. I hope that I can lead children by example and lead my clients by example who can then pass this on. It’s a community effort and requires leadership in health and wellness. When we better ourselves, we can better others, and you never know who is watching. So be a leader on your fitness journey and be the difference in someone’s life to see and feel the results of a healthy mind and BODY.

30 Dec

BLOG 144 USAIN BOLT

Netflix got me again, this time with a great documentary called, “I Am Bolt”. This movie explored the running career of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt from Jamaica. There is certainly a gap between this man and the rest. He’s naturally a champion and he’s says it’s all for making people smile. His tall stature and fun energy make him lovable, but best of all, he just runs…. no drama, no politics, just the sport. He’s that much better than everyone else.

Bolt has a triangle team that helps him. His coach is Glen Mills, is an ordinary man who always reminds Bolt to take control, there’s no pressure, and to just run. He is like a second father to him. NJ is the name of his best friend who is also his manager. He might be the most influential person in his life and the brotherhood is mutually beneficial. Finally, his agent is another important member. They’re the folks that make him work. In fact, his training is sort of barbaric. Like an ox he drags weights behind him on the dirt field. He cuts up his legs with his cleats on a daily basis.

His running started in 2002 at age 15, where he won the World Jr. Championships. Some of Bolt’s titles include the 4x World Champion of the 100 and 200 meter races. 2007 is when he broke the World Record the 1st time.

Injuries have cost him setbacks along the way, but realistically he still wins when he comes back. Due to his scoliosis he does have lower back and hip issues. But Bolt is his own worst enemy when he’s not motivated, not necessarily his injuries.

The Jamaican team has also won the 4×4 relay with him. Justin Gatlin of the USA is probably his closest form of competition. Justin is a talker and Bolt hates that, but uses it as fuel for the fire. The catch would be that although Gatlin is fast, he also was caught in 2006 using performance enhancing drugs, somewhat tainting his abilities.

Bolt is an athlete like no other with his ability to basically out run anyone. He has now retired, saying he looks forward to normalcy and eating what he wants. He feels like he sacrificed a lot but it was all worth it. What a site to watch him run. He will remain among the Michael Jordans and Babe Ruths we will never forget.

“I Am Bolt”, 2016, Benjamin Turner & Gabe Turner

24 Dec

BLOG 143 SLEEP APNEA

Sleep is part of each cycle in our day. We are sensitive to how much sleep we get and are aware of the bare minimum to make it through the day. Sometimes this nightly routine is not easy and sometimes it’s amazing. However, sleep apnea is a common but very serious sleep disorder among more folks. So let’s take a closer look at this condition.

Definitions are always a good start. Thus, “Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain — and the rest of the body — may not get enough oxygen” (https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox). There are 2 types of this. Obstructive sleep apnea (OPA) is the more common type in which the airway is blocked and the throat collapses. Central sleep apnea is when the brain isn’t signaling the body to breathe. Communication is ineffective with the respiratory system.

Here are the common risk factors for sleep apnea:
(https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox)
• Being male
• Being overweight
• Being over age 40
• Having a large neck size (17 inches or greater in men and 16 inches or greater in women)
• Having large tonsils, a large tongue, or a small jaw bone
• Having a family history of sleep apnea
• Gastroesophageal reflux, or GERD
• Nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, allergies, or sinus problems

And here are the health risks if left untreated:
(https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox)
• High blood pressure
• Stroke
• Heart failure, irregular heartbeats, and heart attacks
• Diabetes
• Depression
• Worsening of ADHD
• Headaches

If you have any of these symptoms, go see your doctor. From there, they might have you to do a sleep study to monitor your eye movement, heart rate, breathing, choking, and/or snoring. This may result in the following: “The treatment of choice for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). CPAP is a mask that fits over the nose and/or mouth, and gently blows air into the airway to help keep it open during sleep. This method of treatment is highly effective” (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-apnea-treatment). And then, “Other methods of treating sleep apnea include: dental appliances which reposition the lower jaw and tongue; upper airway surgery to remove tissue in the airway; nasal expiratory positive airway pressure where a disposable valve covers the nostrils; and treatment using hypoglossal nerve stimulation where a stimulator is implanted in the patient’s chest with leads connected to the hypoglossal nerve that controls tongue movement as well as to a breathing sensor” (https://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-disorders-problems/sleep-apnea-treatment). Other lifestyle changes like losing weight and cutting out alcohol and smoking can help.

It’s hard to argue that lack of sleep is not fun. Sadly, many of us are used to this with life’s demands. However, serious cases when sleep deprivation is continuous need to be addressed. We want our mind and body to be operating as best as possible on our fitness journeys so be sure to get those zzzzzz’s.

16 Dec

BLOG 142 JEANS
They say the tell-tale sign you know you are losing weight and working out is when your jeans start to FIT better. Coming from a FIT Chick who never wears regular clothes, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what size I wear. But I hear clients refer to this all the time as they shed inches and pounds. Go by how your clothes feel 😊 In my case, when gearing up for a competition by leggings do actually fit differently. Anyways, the retail industry markets sizes and we gravitate towards the sections in stores where we find what works for us. But how accurate are these sizes??

It honestly depends where you shop, what size you will wear. SO how can you mark all your progress and hard work by what pants size you wear or desire to be?? You don’t because a pear of jeans at the GAP that are size 4 don’t necessary fit like a size 4 from H&M. In fact, “This phenomenon is called ‘vanity sizing’, and it occurs because clothing size in the U.S. is not standardized, so brands are free to create their own definitions” :

Use this link below on your browser to see a good image of this comparison (sorry the image would not insert here)
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2702866/Are-six-Gap-eight-H-M-A-look-just-jeans-sizing-differs-25-mainstream-retailers.html#ixzz4zgyeZXHt

And yet, we fall for the trap. Society tells us what sizes define you as “skinny”, so much so that “skinny” jeans were created. The tighter the better somehow took precedence over what was comfortable. Here’s the reality, “Despite the inconvenience caused by vanity sizing, it does seem to have a positive psychological effect on shoppers. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found that smaller size labels increased the self esteem of customers, while larger size labels reduced self esteem” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2702866/Are-six-Gap-eight-H-M-A-look-just-jeans-sizing-differs-25-mainstream-retailers.html) .

So best practice would be to keep a pair of jeans, regardless of the size that you currently are not able to fit into. As you start to notice progress and change, revisit them. Do they FIT now?? Size is not the priority. Men, this goes for you too. Your self-worth, hard work, and fitness journey don’t depend on any number. Your fitness journey is about daily strides to become the best version of you. Rip the tags off and focus on the process because you are soooo worth it.