Posted on 12/01/2013 by Yvonne McCarthy / No Comments / Leave a Comment »
I finally found an article about food addiction written in a way that is easily understood by all. Below you will find the normal behavior versus the addictive behavior. Here’s an excerpt from that section:
- Dependence on food will be habitual, while addiction to food will be somewhat unpredictable (e.g., a morning cup of coffee versus the sudden, inexplicable drive to eat four servings of cheesecake)
- Dependence on food will have few, if any, emotional causes, but addiction to food is provoked by emotions and circumstances that cause feelings of powerlessness (e.g., a treat to get through a trying day at work versus a binge to avoid focusing on painful thoughts
- Dependence on food will have few, if any, emotional effects, whereas addiction to food will cause great anxiety if not properly attended to
(e.g., being cranky due to caffeine deprivation versus feeling panicked because a planned binge is interrupted)
- Dependence on food will cause minimal interference in other areas of a person’s life, but addiction to food will disturb every aspect
(e.g., a love for red wine with dinner versus preferring to eat alone for the sake of overeating)
- Dependence on food can be controlled at will, but food addiction appears as an unstoppable force in the person’s life
(e.g., giving up pizza after noticing slight weight gain versus trying to stick to a healthy eating plan but derailing constantly; having a divided mind that seems to want opposite things)
- Dependence on food is pleasurable, but food addiction is a torment
(e.g., traditional Christmas cookies versus the horror one has that one has eaten the whole box of cookies, coupled with the knowledge that one isn’t done yet)
- Dependence on food is casual, whereas food addiction appears to the addicted person to be closely tied to his or her identity
(e.g., the guilty pleasure of Cheetos versus the shame and feelings of inadequacy that often accompany a binge)
Perhaps one of the most important paragraphs is below: (helpful to read the entire article)
What happened in this scenario demonstrates what, for many people, is the central issue of food addiction. Bingeing allows the food-addicted person to avoid dealing with threatening emotions (such as his or her perceived failure, powerlessness, or inferiority) by replacing them with guilt and shame, which are also threatening, but in a familiar, almost comfortable way. In the mind of the food-addicted person, the pivotal issue is lack of willpower. But in truth, they are using food to defend themselves against the pain in their life. By facilitating this transfer and avoidance of emotions, food has become a drug, and it is at this point that the food-addicted person needs to seek help.
Bingeing has a different meaning for most people. When I was obese I thought it meant that you ate in the closet in the dark with a whole package of Oreos and a gallon of milk. Of course I didn’t do that so I didn’t think it applied to my behavior. (umm…denial) Finally I realized that my weekend routine of buying a huge Bucket ‘O Chicken and locking myself in my apartment from Friday evening until going to work on Monday morning was certainly a form of bingeing. The same thing applied to my Quarter Pounder with Cheese obsession. I’m sure the Dallas quarterly earnings dropped significantly around the time I woke up to my dependence on this junk food.
Most importantly please, please, please….do not walk the path of shame. From that same paragraph the very important part of the article… “In the mind of the food-addicted person, the pivotal issue is lack of willpower. But in truth, they are using food to defend themselves against the pain in their life.” How sad it is that we are just trying to avoid the pain of life by using food. The problem is that it never works without paying a great price. Ask for help, educate yourself, and know that freedom from this disease is truly possible.
Posted on 11/24/2013 by Yvonne McCarthy / 4 Comments / Leave a Comment »
You are not alone….
My post today was inspired from an insightful blog post on OAC’s site called “Risk factors for cross addiction” by Dr. Nicole Avena.
I’m nearly 13 years post-op RNY (open gastric bypass) and this subject is by far my most passionate. There are many patients who have had weight loss surgery but have no benefits for therapy or even much access to any education about the psychological issues associated with food addiction. My favorite description of addiction is “uncontrolled use despite negative consequences”. That certainly described my obesity perfectly.
Every day I hear from dozens of post-ops that have no one to talk to. For those who don’t live in the trenches with post-ops 24/7 there are many hidden issues that so often never reach many professionals. I have seen every kind of surgery cross addict and I believe the study about RNY and alcoholism did a huge disservice because no surgery type is exempt. (that’s a long discussion for another time) Post-ops mostly cross addict to drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling and/or exercise. I have also seen many individuals get sober from drugs/alcohol and cross addict to food. Next they turn to weight loss surgery but will they ever learn where the root problem lies? Additionally there is another subset of post-ops that hide in hush hush shadows because they “look” normal. I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about these post-ops that pass in “normie land”. The comment section below that post has a wealth of information. This hidden group are the ones that do whatever is necessary to maintain goal weight. One woman confided in me that she never thought she’d end up with a $200 a day cocaine habit in order to stay at goal. WLS Anorexia. WLS Bulimia. There is also rampant opiate abuse and it’s legal because it comes from unknowing doctors (who are doing their best) and then their patients progress to doctor shopping. Don’t get me started on the diet drugs….
So many do not want to accept food addiction as real so why do I believe? I see the same inherent characteristics as addicts. Some don’t believe there is actual painful and physical withdrawal from food. In this video you see the brilliant Tennie McCarty talk someone through food detox. Rarely have I seen video of Tennie crying …. it reflects the severe pain she remembered.
I’ll borrow this from Dr. Phil “You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge”. There should be NO SHAME in admitting you are dealing with addiction. Addiction is a disease and the shame keeps us separate, feeling “less than”, and not asking for help. Instead of weeding out the pre-ops who show signs of addiction, I believe we should educate them at the time of surgery. Is this an easy task? Probably not any time soon but we have to start somewhere. Are we going to let them die from obesity? Even twelve years ago I gave an Oscar award winning performance in my psyche eval because I knew what they were looking for. Fortunately for me I had a doctorate in street cred on addiction because of a severely sick family member. I practice what I call “food abstinence” by eating healthy and avoiding almost all processed sugar, all processed foods and definitely no junk food. Sugar and junk food might as well be crack for me and I’m not in the least bit deprived. Deprivation is losing what I have worked hard on for 12 years.
Thank you Dr. Nicole Avena for talking about this issue. The answers will come slowly but thanks to you and the many others who continue speaking out they might come a little sooner.
Posted on 03/06/2013 by Yvonne McCarthy / 8 Comments / Leave a Comment »
This morning a story was featured on Good Morning America. Chris Powell is a beautiful soul and I can’t be grateful enough that he said he wasn’t for or against weight loss surgery but he mentioned he has seen many after surgery for help with weight loss. This is a misleading statement because his clients wouldn’t be WLS post-ops who kept the weight off. The words that sent an arrow through my heart…”Brian was so busy focusing on altering his body that he didn’t change his mind and that’s where the transformation happens. Then he got it. He learned from his mistake. And then he said I’m going to do this the right way. I’m going to walk my dog. I’m going to start one step at a time.” I know Chris meant the right way was by making the transformation in his head but it sounds like weight loss surgery was the wrong way.
Chris made some excellent points that I’ve been talking about for years.
With every transformation we need to surround ourselves with people who love us unconditionally.
Find another purpose that feels much better than food ever did. Always have something to look forward to more than food.
Most importantly he mentioned that after you quit getting the thrill of seeing the scale move and getting all those compliments, you have to find more happiness in service to others.
Where are the stories about those who figured it out the first time around after surgery? We have to work just as hard every day to maintain our weight loss. This isn’t about me….it’s about all of us who have gotten our lives back. While some haven’t kept it all off they are still 100 pounds plus ahead of the game. Watching someone freed from their bed, wheelchair or walker is a miracle to me. Seeing someone resolve their diabetes is a miracle. Some of us have damaged our bodies so intense exercise isn’t an option but there are still ways to move our bodies.
For years I’ve been writing People Magazine when they publish the issue about people losing half their weight. They don’t want my story because I had surgery and they really don’t understand how many times we’ve lost half our weight only to gain it back. Why can’t they celebrate those who have kept it off period? It is always funny when I hear how weight loss surgery doesn’t work but the moment someone loses a great deal of weight quickly they are immediately accused of having surgery.
I want this post to be understood. Brian is to be congratulated for figuring it out no matter when it was. Chris knows how to teach people how to keep the weight off but I hope some day he’ll learn more about our community. Please don’t leave negative comments about either of them.
The cynic in me says no one wants to do positive stories on WLS because it just isn’t good television.
Maybe some day….in my lifetime…the stigma will go away forever.
Posted on 07/11/2012 by Yvonne McCarthy / 9 Comments / Leave a Comment »
Thank you Lisa Lampanelli! Yesterday I just happened to be watching an episode of Bethenny and even more unusual I was actually watching in real time. The words were being said but my brain wasn’t really comprehending.
“Weight loss surgery, lost 52 pounds, healthy and happiness”. After I recovered from my shock I collected myself and backed it up and watched again….and again…..and then again. Next I searched the internet because I usually know exactly which celebrities have weight loss surgery and found out she was announcing her weight loss surgery on that show! She and her husband Jimmy both had the Gastric Sleeve 8 weeks apart. Lisa was brave and went first. A portion of the segment can be seen in video below.
Bethenny asked her why she considered surgery and Lisa said the doctor asked “Have you noticed that you don’t see a lot of 70 year old people that look like you?” When asked about the cost (she self paid) Bethenny compared it to an expensive plastic surgery but Lisa was very quick to correct that assumption. Lisa told her the surgery saved her life!
Lisa shared our typical story….tried all the diets on earth and lost weight initially but gained more after each diet. One of the interesting parts was admitting she felt her emotions more because she wasn’t stuffing them down with food. It sounds like she’s getting the necessary psychological support to help her deal with why she ate in the first place.
And even cooler…..Lisa didn’t contact one of the diet plans to get paid for losing weight with their diet when she actually had surgery.
WOW a celebrity that just stepped out there and told it like it was. You go girl!
Posted on 05/26/2012 by Yvonne McCarthy / No Comments / Leave a Comment »
I have just returned from an incredibly motivating event in Las Vegas for WLSFA.org. We had over 500 people in attendance and when I have time to gather my thoughts I will share about the event and include links to pictures.
In the meantime I want to share with you about a book that is a MUST read! If you’ve ever felt alone regarding how it felt to be obese….. you will no longer feel that way. Incredible stories written by weight loss surgery patients!
Dr. Connie Stapleton, PhD wrote the book and compiled the stories and included some WLS bloggers as well. She helps you understand more about our disease and how to work a journey that moves you toward the optimum outcome. My wish is for bariatric professionals everywhere to read about us and our disease.
Hard copy version is available here: http://wlsfa.org/how-to-help/purchase-book/
If you buy the book, part of the proceeds go to WLSFA.org. For those who no longer read paper books you can purchase it on Amazon for your Kindle. It helps WLSFA if you purchase the actual book. For those that are unfamiliar with WLSFA.org it is a non-profit organization that helps cover weight loss surgery for many who have been denied. The 7th grant recipient was just announced. No other organization has granted seven surgeries!
The excitement I feel about this book is impossible to explain. This is the world I have lived in for the last ten years and as much as I try to share these experiences with our bariatric professionals….I feel like I have failed miserably. Sometimes I feel like I can’t possibly share how “not alone” many people are that write me. Now I have a way to easily share. This book is for the WLS pre-op, WLS post-op, family of the obese, anyone that truly wants to understand obesity and the professionals that treat us. Thank you Connie Stapleton and thank you WLSFA.org for making this possible!!
Posted on 03/25/2012 by Yvonne McCarthy / 16 Comments / Leave a Comment »
Carnie Wilson is the reason I had weight loss surgery. Some of us affectionately call each other Carnie babies. My surgery was about a year after hers. In 2000 there was no aftercare and maybe a couple of places you could even discuss it online. We forget how much ridicule Carnie had to endure going first and going so publicly. The moment I heard about gastric bypass I made the first available appointment for a consultation. I literally did fifteen minutes of research.
Now Carnie has decided to have a second surgery twelve years later and the comments under the online articles are so incredibly cruel. Not only from the “normies” (as I certainly expected) but also from the weight loss surgery community. Revisions are very common so we should be accustomed to those. Many of us regain so we should be accustomed to that too. At the very least if you don’t have something kind to say… don’t say it. We have enough problem fighting the stigma of WLS without our own community helping. Since I have been volunteering for many years I’ve noticed some particular circumstances that seem to cause regain. In no particular order:
1. Having babies. Almost every woman who has a baby after WLS fights regain.
2. Not being educated properly about the psychological aspects of our disease.
3. Being super morbidly obese before surgery. It’s just plain harder for those folks.
4. Being a woman. (Men have a far superior metabolism)
Carnie also has to do it in the public eye. How well would you do if after your surgery paparazzi was there every time you left your house to record every pound regained or lost? I would have crumbled. She went first so the process was a little easier for the rest of us and yet some of us pound her at the first opportunity.
She deserves to be happy with her decision. I don’t know anyone who is perfect enough to throw stones so let’s give her another chance to be healthy and avoid diabetes. I’ve never seen it in the “WLS life rules” that you don’t get another chance. I would really appreciate some support for her in the People magazine online article linked below. People Magazine has particularly not given us much of a chance because every time they publish the “Half Their Size” issue we are intentionally left out. The cover says “no surgery, no gimmicks”. Aren’t you happy to know we used a gimmick?
Thanks in advance for voicing your support.
Thanks in advance for not posting if you are against giving her support.
We are so strong when we pull together and nothing would make me happier than People Magazine hearing us roar!
Posted on 03/18/2012 by Yvonne McCarthy / 8 Comments / Leave a Comment »
In December of 2010, I wrote about a very special friend of mine named Gina.
Many times I reference this blog post when someone asks for help with regain. I cannot even begin to count the times I’ve shared it and so often I wonder if it ever makes a difference. Maybe it does and I don’t find out. Yesterday someone told me it made a difference and I want to share what she said. Of course if you go to the post linked in the first sentence you will find all of the comments.
It’s lengthy but I think it’s worth the read because you see the light bulb come on. Oh….and then there’s the part where this helps both Gina and I in ways I can’t possibly explain. I hope you’ll read the original post and in particular I hope you’ll watch the video. Gina is a trip and she’ll make you laugh out loud!
“WOW!!! This was just what I needed!!! Thank you so much for directing me to your site and your friend Gina! I watched that video and read her story and saw myself! I was 300 lbs. before my surgery June 29, 2004. I lost 120 lbs that first year and another 20lbs the second year post op. I worked that program perfectly for 2 years and was like a new person… 140lbs down and wearing a size 10 from a 24/26! The attention I was getting from men was amazing! I actually had men holding the door for me and pouring coffee for me at the local 7-11! WHAT! At 300lbs I had been invisable! How you can be so large yet see through, unbelievable, but at 160lbs, all eyes were on me when I went out and the attention I was getting felt awesome for the first time in my life. The more confident I got, the more I slowly started to test the waters of my pouch. Hmmm, I can eat the cheese & sauce off the izza, lets see if I can handle the crust. WOW, it causes some discomfort, but not too bad. I just ate crust and cheese for a few months and then thought I’d test again! Lets add the rest of the slice. Not bad! Kept it down! Gradually testing for 3 years eventually led to being able to eat 2 full slices. I continued to play the “Lets see” game which resulted in a 42 pound weight gain and feeling inside me that were worse than before I had surgery. I did maintain a 100 lb loss, but I slowly watched that 42 pounds creep back on. I went from size 10 slowly back to buying 12s and now 14s which are tight!!! I refuse to buy a 16! Well, feeling totally out of control, addicted to carbs, snacking and grazing nonstop, and an emotional basket case, I felt it was too late. I had life threatening surgery & took advantage of that gift! I lost 140 pounds and took it for granted! I THOUGHT it was too late! A surgeon told me I needed another surgery… lap band over my gastric bypass pouch!! WHAT!!! No!!! I know in my heart & this is a quote from Gina that rang so true to me, “The only revision I need was revision of my mind!!!” With that said, last weekend I spent reaching out to anyone and everyone online who had experience with WLS weight regain. I spent the weekend preparing my house & fridge with everything I needed to get back on track. Well, I am happy to report that after only 5 days back on track, I have regained control and lost 6.2 pounds over the past 5 days! I know this is the beginning, but after reading about Gina and watching that interview, I KNOW it is possible to lose the weight I regained plus more to get to my goal! I am 8 years post-op, but thats ok. I CAN DO IT!!! With your support. Thanks so much!”
My response to her:
Denise I don’t know how I can thank you enough. There are days that aren’t pretty when I put all this information out there. I knew it would happen but the entire reason I do it is right here….today. You made me cry. I’m going to tell Gina to make sure and read your response too. I have used her quote so many times. Actually I use two of them. The other one is “a trained monkey can do the first year”. Do you realize that 6.2 pounds is getting close to 1/4 of your regain and you did that in a week! Keep your carbs under 100 grams a day and it will come off faster. Eat veggies and fruit too. Oh and the reason you weren’t invisible anymore is not because of your size. I’ll let you in a little secret. When we lose the weight and start feeling better about ourselves we become more approachable. When we feel badly about ourselves we give off an air of “leave me alone”. It’s not that you were invisible….it’s just that every cell in your body felt worthless and you didn’t want to be bothered or noticed by anyone you considered worthy. I’m so proud of you because you won’t buy an 18!! You’ve drawn your line in the sand. Welcome to Gina’s world!
“DENISE..okay..now I’M crying!!! I got a text from YVONNE, this morning, telling me to check my e-mail, but I am out of town, visiting our friends’ support group, 3 hrs away, and just now home, to the computer..and I am just blown away, that someone is getting something out the interviews Y and I did so long ago. To update you, I am now a little over a month shy of 10 year post op, and DID reach “goal” by my 9th surgiversary, and DID complete another half-marathon. Every day is a new struggle-adventure, but I am 200% HEALTHIER than I was 10 years ago. I am more impressed by YOUR efforts, and what you have described, in your post, than I can begin to tell you. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep in touch. You can find me on Facebook, thru Yvonne’s friends-or just look me up-Gina Derr Robinson–You CAN do this!!!!”
“OK, now you BOTH have me crying!!! I don’t even know you and you have both given me more than you can imagine… the hope and reassurance I desperately needed. THANK YOU SO MUCH! Congratulations Gina on reaching your goal!!! I can’t believe you have been running 1/2 marathons too. WOW YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION! I will be 8 years post op in June, so I hope that I can follow in your footsteps and be at my goal by my 9 year post op anniversary as well! My first goal is to lose the remaining 36 pounds I regained by my 45th birthday in September. I will keep you posted. Yvonne really made me feel a sense of relief with her statement that I have lost almost 1/4 of my regain in a week. Looking at it that way makes my first goal definately seem reachable! Thank you both again!”
I’m so glad you got that Denise! (about losing almost 1/4 of your regain). I constantly tell people to put it in perspective. Don’t make the regain into a monster you can’t fight. You just chopped off 1/4 of that monster in a week! Stay motivated and when you come up against a wall or slip down DO NOT FEEL SHAME! Shame sucks the life out of us. Put that in perspective too. I’ve done great for 30 days and I mess up one day. What can you do? You can beat yourself up about something that’s happened in the past (something you cannot change) or you can get back on the horse and start riding toward that place you want in life. No one is perfect.
I am told by some that I am an inspiration. I believe the people like Gina and you and the ones that turn around the regain are the inspiration. I’d love for you to read some other parts of my blog. I’ll send you a list of some. I’m so impressed you watched the video of Gina and I. She’s so smart and so funny and we’ve known each other for 7 years. I love her so much and I can’t thank her enough for putting her story out there so that people like you can be helped.
“DENISE-your additional comment could have been written by me-AGAIN..lol..Just yesterday I was telling peeps, at a support group, about when I FINALLY made up up my mind to get a handle on my “brain revision”. I had “kept off” over maybe 60 lbs, and needed to give myself POSITVIE CREDIT for that< so I put on my “surgery day” clothes, and had my sister take a pic of it. I used it as my screen saver, for a long time. Pictures can’t lie, the way our mirrors can. It helped to understand I was not a TOTAL FAILURE, and that all was not lost (pardon the pun!)..Also–I never want to misrepresent myself–so to calrify–I did not RUN all those miles–I walked/lurched/almost CRAWLED a few..but I did FINISH..I have a shirt that says “The winners are not only are at the FINISH line-they are also at the STARTING line”. I love that!!”
So thank you Denise.
Thank you Gina.
You both made my day and you reminded me of why I do what I do…
Posted on 02/29/2012 by Yvonne McCarthy / 29 Comments / Leave a Comment »
Did she have weight loss surgery?
Will we ever know for sure?
I doubt it.
Here are the reasons I think she did. First of all she has diabetes. We all know that many post-ops are no longer diabetic before they leave the hospital and that would be an excellent reason for her to make this choice. Of course the only problem with that is her new gig for a diabetic drug. Can she represent a product she no longer needs? I don’t think so and that would be the primary reason I believe we will never truly find out.
The second and most obvious hint is the rapid weight loss. OK guys we’ve all done extreme diets and couldn’t get results like that. She attributes the thinner body to portion control. If I’m wrong about this I will apologize profusely….but I don’t think I’m wrong.
The third hint is that statement about “Oh I don’t know how much I’ve lost because there are no scales in the house”. She admits to losing two pant sizes. If she were to have to admit the exact amount of pounds we could put a pencil to it and say “yep that’s surgery”.
At first I was upset because I thought this was yet again another example of WLS shame. Star Jones tried so hard to hide her decision because she didn’t want to be a poster child and it failed miserably. We also hide it because we are afraid we will fail and the stigma is still so alive and well.
Paula has a bigger reason to hide it. She’s being paid the big bucks to promote a drug.
This is just food for thought but I’ve got a feeling we’ll find out where Jimmy Hoffa is buried before we find out the truth about Paula Deen.
Posted on 01/24/2012 by Yvonne McCarthy / 22 Comments / Leave a Comment »
I think I’m dreaming.
Please don’t pinch me and wake me up!
Yesterday history was made when Dr. Oz did a positive show on gastric bypass surgery. Lap banders he did a show for you a few months ago and I posted about that here.
Of course I expected the very vocal anti-surgery types but I was a little surprised at how many pro-surgery people picked it apart. I had to remind myself that many post-ops are fairly new and don’t remember the years of abuse we have suffered from other talk show hosts. I’ve blogged many times about Oprah and even Dr. Phil who is kind of half and half on the subject (one of his nephews had the surgery). I’ve blogged about People magazine that won’t include us in “women half their size” because they say “no surgery, no gimmicks”. I’ve offered articles about great weight loss stories to many magazines but they don’t want weight loss surgery content. The list is endless. The stigma is alive and well.
When I read the description of the show I thought it was a trick. It was called The most under performed surgery you should be getting. A Dr. Oz special report on how to lose weight instantly, prevent heart disease, cancer and even reverse diabetes overnight with a surgical procedure. After reading it about ten times and peeling myself off the floor I was jazzed. Dr. Oz usually has a pro and con professional but this time he only had positive professionals. The only post-ops were one woman who was four years out and had done well and another who was ten years out that hadn’t. The woman that hadn’t done well had three children after surgery and said she gained with each pregnancy. I’d say that’s pretty common under any circumstances. More power to post-op women after pregnancy who keep the weight off because I’m not sure how well I would have done.
Let’s remember that just because he didn’t cover other surgeries, cross addiction, and the many other possibilities that it’s at least a beginning. He did cover lifestyle changes and vitamins. Instead of complaining about the show why don’t you write Dr. Oz and ask for specific subjects to be covered? I’m very close to many people in AA and one of my favorite sayings about addicts is “you could ask one of us to a birthday party the wrong way”. That translates to no matter what is said someone will find fault in it. This surgery basically cures diabetes and we will be paying for years treating the disease instead of stopping it or at least slowing it down. We all know post-ops that have had various levels of complications but they are in the minority and most of the post-ops I talk to say they would do it all over again. Having the surgery is a personal choice and I’m tired of being criticized for taking the easy way out. I’m healthy for the first time in my life and it shouldn’t matter how I did it as long as I didn’t damage myself.
I can’t convince you to like this show, the content, or Dr. Oz but I believe this is one great step for man and one great leap for mankind. (Thanks Neil Armstrong)
Posted on 12/14/2011 by Yvonne McCarthy / 2 Comments / Leave a Comment »
Who is Bariatric Girl?
Musician, Artist, Photographer,computer geek and weight loss surgery aficionado. On March 30th, 2001, I had weight loss surgery weighing in at 260 pounds. Since that day I have lost and maintained a 130 pounds. I am a passionate animal lover, I play guitar and sing, play piano, cello, a bit of drums and the recorder (kinda like a flute). I love putting my photography and music together on video and I’m a craft making fool. My signature quote: I’m here for each of you…to hold your hand as I walk down the road ahead of you. When I see the bumps in the road, I’ll tell you where they are and that…Read More »
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