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Monday, August 15

My Cat Is My Star: Gemma

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #MyPetMyStar #CollectiveBias

If you've followed any of my past posts at all, you probably know that I have a cat named Gemma. She's about 2 1/2 years old now and I got her right at 6 weeks old. To tell a bit of that back story, I wasn't planning on adopting a kitten at the time. I had just moved out of the dorms on my university's campus and a friend of mine just so happened to be working at a vet's office when that happened. 
Apparently, someone showed up with his/her cat, dropped off their pet for some type of overnight procedure, then never came back to pick her up (Which makes me SO INCREDIBLY ANGRY. I mean, really?). However, the cat was pregnant whenever she was left at the vet's office and had five or six kittens while in their possession. At that time, the city I live in was in the middle of building a new humane society that would hold twice the amount of animals the first building could hold, but it wasn't done yet. That being said, my friend asked if I was interested in adopting a kitten so they wouldn't have to send them to the pound - they were worried that the new kittens and mother would be euthanized since they didn't really have enough room for new animals.

So, a little over two years ago, I hopped in my friend's car to go look at the adoptable kittens. Funnily enough, I was initially drawn to one of the boy kittens, but my boyfriend at the time fell in love with one of the shier girl kittens.

Fast forward to today - the boyfriend isn't around anymore but Gemma has become the most important thing in my life. I love her to death. I'm sure other pet owners can attest to this, but she always seems to know when I'm upset or sad or stressed, because her response is to come lay down on my chest or by my side to comfort me. I wouldn't trade her for the world and I spoil her to death, even though she has a ton of attitude. I have two roommates, but she definitely has the most attitude out of all four of us (myself included).

So when I found out that Kroger was working with Tidy Cats® to get the brand out there and more noticed, I was super excited. I've worked with other companies before, but this is one that I can completely back and say that I was a customer for before I ever partnered with them. 




If you have a cat (or cats), you know that their litter box can be extremely frustrating. I've tried a few different brands over the past two years, and it's immensely difficult to find one that doesn't scatter outside of the litter box and also provide the fresh smell that so many companies claim to give. 

I was actually already using the litter sold at Kroger before this partnership, and I will recommend this brand until the end of time: Tidy Cats® Lightweight varieties are definitely the best I've ever used. I do my best to treat Gemma like the rock star she is, and it's definitely a part of it. 

 I picked the rest of my toys and shampoo up at my local Kroger - they have fantastic options when it comes to toys and health care options for your cat (and dog!) that are also super price friendly. It's great to know that I can stop at Kroger on my way home from work (well past 8 p.m. !) and know that they have just as many options as other pet stores/department stores when it comes to making Gemma feel like the rock star she is to me. I can get all of her stuff at once - from litter to light up toys that she loves to chase in the middle of the night. When I decided I wanted to update her space in my room, I got all of my stuff from Kroger. How to update, do you ask? 




Step One: It doesn't sit in her space since it could possibly opened and spill, but buying her new shampoo that smells great is the first step I took to spoiling her. Before this, I was just using dish soap!






Step Two: These three cat toys! I don't know about your cat, but mine fetches. And I mean that literally. Sometimes I think she's a dog with how fast she'll run out, grab whatever it is, and bring it back. So yeah. I leave these little guys laying around her so she can let me know when she wants to play.




Step Three: The outside of this is something I already had laying around that I wasn't using, BUT the inside is a new scratch pad! I've never had her de-clawed and I clip her nails myself, but she LOVES to paw on things around my room so I figured this was probably a good idea. And it was! She loves it, and now I can stop shooing her away from other pieces of furniture in the room because she'll go there instead. 

So in just a few simple steps, I can have her "part" of my bedroom ramped up with her favorite toys and also get a shampoo I trust at a super low price. (I mean, even she likes it - look at her!)

But if you have a kitten or cat and are looking for a brand of litter that actually does what it's promised - Tidy Cats® Lightweight options are definitely the way to go. Not only can I tell the difference, my roommates can too. For the past 50 years, the brand has been committed to combining high quality ingredients to create a result that will fit any kind of lifestyle: from fully inside cats (like mine!) to cats that spend most of their time outdoors. The brand guarantees a lack of "Stank Face" that tends to happen with litter boxes since they tend to be inside people's bedrooms or bathrooms, and have made their products based off of that statement. Even taking into consideration the fact that you may not check the litter box every day.

To find your best match for you and your feline friend, go check out the brand here! 

Purina is also offering a few coupons (currently active!) to get some of their products with a discount. If you're like me and have a cat that you love, they're on the Kroger coupon page. However, if you're like me and want them as soon as possible, then click here for the latest coupons! There are a few for you dog lovers as well!

Overall, here are your ways to learn more and find some awesome discounts:

Coupons (For dogs and cats alike!)
Facebook Page
Twitter Page
YouTube Page

I ABSOLUTELY recommend this brand. I partner with companies from time to time, but this is one that I can definitely say is absolutely worth every penny. They're the bomb.

Happy Monday! :) 

Sunday, July 17

My Summer 2016 Playlist


There are two reasons that this ended up being what I posted today.

ONE

It's mid-summer and I haven't yet! I used to do playlists all the time. I don't know if they're your favorite posts or not, but they're a lot of fun to make since I basically get to dance around my room making Gemma (my furbaby) dance with me while I choose.

TWO

Not even gonna lie. Pokemon Go has consumed my life for the past few days. It's absolutely insane how addictive it is. So, uh, yeah. My second reason is that everything in my life, including texting people back and looking at anything other than the Pokemon Go app on my phone, has been put on the back burner. My friends would wholeheartedly agree on how ridiculous it is. Probably because they're playing too.

But anyway. This post isn't about Pokemon Go (although, I mean, if you play you should absolutely comment so we can nerd out about what we've caught, what levels we are, and what team [VALOR!] we're on). So here you go!

THE PLAYLIST

Niykee Heaton - Bad Intentions
Meghan Trainor - Me Too
Melanie Martinez - Gingerbread Man
All Time Low - Missing You
Beyonce - Formation
Halsey - New Americana
Sia - Cheap Thrills
Daya - Sit Still Look Pretty
Ariana Grande - Let Me Love You
Niykee Heaton - Skin Tight
Jessie J - Bang Bang
Peg Parnevik - Ain't No Saint
Niykee Heaton - Champagne
Taylor Swift - Shake It Off
Ariana Grande - Bad Intentions
Childish Gambino - Bonfire
Pink - Just Like Fire
Demi Lovato - Something That We're Not
Frankie Ballard - Young & Crazy
Halsey - Ghost
Jana Kramer - Said No One Ever
Maria Mena - It Took Me By Surprise 
Melanie Martinez - Dollhouse
Miley Cyrus - Do My Thang
Panic at the Disco - Emperor's New Clothes


What do you guys think? What songs are you obsessed with at the moment?

Happy Sunday! :) 


Wednesday, July 13

My Results From Taking The TRESemmé #ReverseYourRoutine Challenge


I don't know if you guys have heard about TRESemme's new hair care system, but I was given the products through Influenster to try a few weeks ago and it has done WONDERS for my bleached, constantly damaged hair. 

Just as an example:


I don't really have a "before" photo that shows just how fried my hair normally is (because what blogger is going to not fix her hair before taking photos?), but rest assured that this is 10x better than what my hair normally looks like. I don't have any product in my hair in this photo, and all I did was dry it and give it a quick once over with a straightener. 

I don't think my hair has felt this soft since I was in middle school. No lie.



STEP ONE:

The first step in this system is actually to condition your hair - not shampoo. It's a bit weird to get used to at first since conditioner is so slick and doesn't suds up as much, but conditioning your hair first is TRESemme's way of "reversing your routine" so that residue from the conditioner doesn't stay in your hair after the shower.

STEP TWO:

Wash with shampoo once you've rinsed the conditioner out of your hair. It lathers up super easily so you don't need a ton - meaning that it lasts for quite a long time!

The results are absolutely worth the weirdness of swapping out your routine, I promise.

Have any of you tried the new system? If so, how's it affected your own hair?


Happy Wednesday! :) 

Saturday, June 18

10 Easy Ways To Get Healthier & Lose Weight!

If you're like me, you tell yourself constantly that you're going to start working out regularly and start eating entirely healthy. You throw out all the junk food in your apartment and stock up on everything you need to make those ten super healthy recipes you found on Pinterest. 

However, that's never how it actually how it ends up happening. Two days into your "healthier way of living," you get so hangry that you grab your roommate and go binge on Waffle House before going back to the grocery store and stock up on everything you normally eat. 

That being said, I eventually realized I have to have some type of organization and accountability system for me to actually get up and go workout or plan meals accordingly. Because of that, I've learned a few things in the past month or so that could help all of you lovely, busy, relatively unorganized people (just like me) out when it comes to losing that Freshman 15 or extra pounds you've unknowingly added while working/in college WITHOUT breaking your bank account or making you do crazy exercises that make you not want to move for three days. They're all small changes that still have a pretty large impact on your results.

Also, just to be clear, I'm not being paid or sponsored to talk about anything in this post. These are genuinely things I've been doing to make my lazy self get up and get healthier without getting so frustrated that I decide to give up.



1. PRINT AND FILL OUT THIS WORKSHEET


One of the biggest reasons the "throw out everything and buy only super healthy food" doesn't work is because you're trying to change your entire diet in one day - and there is absolutely no way you (or I!) can go from habitually eating fast food, ramen, and snickers to eating kale chips for a snack and greek yogurt for breakfast. All you're gonna do is make yourself cranky until you finally break and eat an entire bag of Doritos in shame.

This weekly meal/workout plan worksheet is so helpful if you're wanting to start eating better and keeping up with (and plan) your workouts! Instead of just documenting what you eat and exercise every day, sit down with the worksheet and decide what you're going to eat and do ahead of time.

And to save yourself the money of buying tons of new groceries, go inventory what you already have. Chances are, you have plenty of food to create healthier meals for yourself. Even if it's just replacing fast food with "peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chips." Just the calorie difference is in the hundreds, depending on what fast food you would've gotten.

Oh, and ALWAYS give yourself a cheat day. Mine is Sunday. :)


2. CHANGE YOUR MUNCHY FOOD 

One of the most important changes to being healthy and losing weight is changing what you grab on the way out of the house, when you realize it's 3 pm and you forgot to eat lunch, or when you're eating because you're bored and binge watching Law and Order SVU.

Instead of straight up junk food (starburst, chocolate, a huge bag of chips), stock up on snacks that help fill you up and not give you completely empty calories.

The snacks I keep in the house to grab? Nutri Grain granola bars, LUNA bars, string cheese, individual servings of guacamole, and a box of individually packed fruit snacks.

3. BRING YOUR IPAD/PHONE WHEN EXERCISING

The apartment complex I live in has a small workout room that includes two treadmills, and (for the most part) I have barely used it since we moved in last April. I hate exercising, and I especially hate running. I get bored super quickly and since I wasn't in shape I was also out of breath pretty quickly as well.

One day, though, after sitting on my bed and binge watching The Voice on Hulu for three hours, I decided to be productive while marathon watching the show. I grabbed my headphones, my iPad, and walked over to the workout room. And you know what? I WALKED FOR TWO HOURS. Without realizing it. I had the speed set to 3.5 mph. Eventually, I looked up to see how long I'd been walking and the treadmill was at an hour and forty-three minutes. I actually had to check my iPad to see if that was right or if it had a glitch, because I could not believe I'd been on the treadmill that long. I decided to stick it out for 17 more minutes to round out my time though.

According to a fitness app I have, 120 minutes of walking at 3.5 mph = 452 calories burned. And I barely felt like I'd been exercising.

And speaking of fitness apps...

4. DOWNLOAD AND USE MYFITNESSPAL

I absolutely love this app. It makes keeping up with calories and other nutritional information an absolute breeze, and it's almost kind of a game to see how close I can get/stay to my daily goal. It can also sync with other apps to add in your estimated daily steps to your exercise. It has a ton of other cardio and strength options to choose from as well - all you do is type in how many minutes you did that particular exercise.

Seriously. I thought it was going to be hard to remember to put everything in every day, but once I got the hang of it I just automatically check the app just like I check my texts.

Bonus: You can keep up with your daily weight as well and see your stats and progress.

5. ANKLE WEIGHTS

This is the one I probably struggle with the most, simply because my bedroom is up about fifteen stairs in my apartment. However, if you're not really planning on getting out of the house, strapping an ankle weight to each leg is a small workout that doesn't take much extra from you.

If you're planning on doing any type of heavy or whole-day cleaning, adding the extra weight will help you both burn a few more calories and strengthen your legs.

You can find ankle weights pretty much anywhere online. The ones I have are just a black strip of fabric with removable weights (to make it be anywhere between 3 and 6 pounds per leg) that wraps around my ankle and attaches back to itself with velcro. Super super easy since you can put them over any type of clothing. If you're cool with looking a little silly walking around with weights strapped on, you should DEFINITELY order some online. Walmart technically sells them in-store, but I couldn't find them in my own so online ordering may be your best bet.

6. ANOTHER APP: ASANA REBEL

I know a lot a lot a lot of people decide to try yoga or pilates as their method of working out every day, and I was most definitely one of them not long ago. I took a yoga class on campus before I graduated and loved it, so I thought that it'd be easy to just look up some routines and do them myself. Alone. In my room or the living room.

Just in case you haven't tried to do this blindly like I did - it's probably not going to work. Even though you may have taken a class or two or looked up yoga routines on YouTube, it's extremely difficult to make your own routine and remember the steps correctly. And if you're randomly searching the internet for routines to follow, it gets confusing to know which one you should choose based on what you want to get out of it. Do you want to use it to gain muscle strength? Flexibility? To relax?

Yeah. It can be really frustrating.

Eventually, I found this app and downloaded it just out of curiosity to see what it offered. And you know what? It's actually the best way I've found to regularly make myself do yoga - even when I'm still doing other exercises later in the day.

The app starts you out with a six minute beginner basic routine just to warm you up, and then it has other routines you can choose based on what you want to get out of it that day. Of course, you can buy in-app purchases that include more workouts, but I'm perfectly happy so far with what's offered for free. The longest one I've done is only 15 minutes long, and I can actually tell a big difference in my flexibility even though it's only been about a week. And it also reminds you to do it if it gets to be late in the day without a completion. It's the bomb.

7. 30 MINUTES OF ANY TYPE OF EXERCISE EVERY DAY

One of the main things a friend of mine kept telling me to do is just WALK. Even if you're sore or not really wanting to move or not in the mood to exercise, just making yourself walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill (possibly with your iPad/iPhone, remember!) or pacing in front of the tv for an episode of Friends will make a huge difference over time.

30 minutes of walking at 3 mph (moderate pace) = 97 calories burned

97 may not sound like much, but that's one more shot on a night out or piece of toast you can munch on for brunch without stressing about it. Plus, it's a great way to get some energy midday when you're lagging or wanting to do nothing but take a nap.

8. PENCIL IN A CHEAT DAY

I feel like this should be a given, but I also know of quite a few people who either don't remember to pencil one into their schedule or think that having one cheat day per week will kill a lot of the progress made in the few days before.

For the latter, I'll say this - a cheat day does not mean that you can/should eat an entire pizza, endless amounts of Dr. Pepper, and poptarts during that 24 hour window.

A cheat day isn't supposed to be your day to go full-on "munchy twelve year old at a gas station with your mom's credit card in hand." The day is just meant to be a reprieve so that you don't have to focus on making time to go to the gym or worry about calorie/carb/etc. counting. As long as you eat relatively normal, your progress isn't going to take a hit. Even if you do go to Starbucks for a super sugary coffee and banana nut bread (guilty!).

9. TALLY YOUR SHOTS/ALCOHOLIC DRINKS

This area of cutting back calories is ABSOLUTELY the most effective for people who drink relatively regularly and go out on the weekends (I'm looking at you, college crowd - undergrads and graduates alike!). Even though I obviously drank more when I worked as a bartender because of my hours, sleep schedule, and friends who were on the same basic routine as I was, I honestly never thought to look up how many calories are in a shot of liquor or glass of wine. I'm not a fan of most beers, so I can't really help you there, but it's easy enough to find online.

However. When I was writing down my fitness goals and reward system (see below!), I decided to look up the main liquors I tend to stick with when drinking to see just how bad they were affecting my diet. I consider a shot to be 1 1/2 oz.


Yeah. I'm going to go ahead and assume that at least half of the weight I'm working off right now is just from the empty calories I've drank in liquor and wine. The difference is that when I worked as a bartender, I was on my feet serving, bussing, and picking up behind bar goers for an average of 12 hours 3-4 times a week. I honestly walked/jogged it all off and had no idea how many calories I was actually drinking.

Personally, I'm not a fan of fruity drinks so I can almost always base the count on the shot itself, but here's a few other crazy numbers to keep in mind for drinks I served quite a bit (averages taken from My Fitness Pal:

Walk Me Down = 230 calories
Sex on the Beach = 270 calories
White Russian = 301 calories
Grateful Dead = 910 calories (per 12 oz. serving)

Not gonna lie, I actually looked up the Grateful Dead just now because I thought it was a glitch or the info was wrong...and it's not.

Guess I know what I'm definitely staying away from forever now!

10. HAVE A REALISTIC REWARD SYSTEM


This one is probably my favorite (for obvious reasons!). Motivation is such a key factor in all of this. If you don't have something that makes you super excited or happy as a reward for yourself, you're probably not going to stick with your exercise routine for very long. Sometimes "an extra hour of sleeping in" or "a night off from everything" just doesn't cut it. However, I'm definitely not going to tell you what your rewards should be.

But just as an example, here are mine! (My goals specifically revolve around the 20 (or so) pounds I gained after I quit working as a bartender. It snuck up WAY too fast for my comfort so now I'm focusing on getting rid of it)

In order of least to greatest: new nail polish and shirt, mani/pedi, new running clothes/shoes, hair extensions, Fit Bit, annnnnnd a shopping spree when when I finally reach my end goal!

I've already surpassed the first two goals and rewarded myself for doing so, and I hope all of these things help you start to get in shape and get healthier like they've been doing for me over the past few weeks!

Good luck!

Happy Saturday,



Monday, April 18

Why I've Decided to Keep Blogging


Back a few months ago, I had just left a job and was living on my savings while trying to find a new one. Along with many other stressful things happening all at once, all of the decisions, changes, and people leaving and entering my life left me in a place where I didn't have time to blog anymore. I didn't have any time to actually enjoy the blogger friendships I've made over the past two years or so. Every time I sat down with great intentions, I'd just get anxious because I'd slipped on posting. I felt like I was letting myself and everyone that reads Allisonleighann down. So I ignored it for awhile longer.

But then I happened across this shirt while shopping one day recently and laughed out loud. I didn't even try it on - I knew I was going to buy it the moment I touched it. And for some reason, just this shirt invigorated me. It gave me back my want to blog and keep up with people that I've "known" in some way or another for awhile now. 

In saying that, I'll be starting back off with fewer posts per week to get myself back in the creative groove I used to be in. Hopefully it won't take too long to get it back. :P

For the people who still read at the moment, you are AWESOME. Really. People like you are why I have faith in the world.

Happy Monday!

Allisonleighann.

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