#GivingTuesday Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County!

Hi all, hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
If you follow me on other social media you’ll know that I’ve partnered with the Alzheimer’s Association of Orange County for a #GivingTuesday awareness campaign as part of my Thesis exit project. We are going to Barry’s Bootcamp at 4:15pm, TODAY, 11/27 to participate in one of their amazing classes. A healthy body = a healthy mind!

If you want to participate in the class it’s only $24 & the proceeds will go directly towards the Association. If you can’t make the class, donations are always welcome, even beyond today’s mission! Please share this opportunity amongst your friends & family – you never know who this could effect.

Alzheimer’s disease is the THIRD leading cause of death in California and 83% of caregivers are friends and family. 25% of those unpaid caregivers are from the “sandwich generation” – meaning, they not only care for an older person, but also have children under 18 to care for. This disease takes an emotional, physical, mental, and financial toll on all those it effects. We need to support the Alzheimer’s Association in their efforts to advance research, provide and enhance support for all affected, and promote brain health!

Please click here to donate!

Book Review! The Happiness Project (April to July)

This is the 2nd installment of my Happiness Project Review!
I started this project in January, you can read about the first installment here.

APRIL – Lighten Up – Parenthood
Goals: Sing in the morning, Acknowledge the reality of other people’s feelings, Be a treasure house of happy memories, Take time for projects
Review: I became insanely annoyed with author Gretchin Rubin at this point. I agree that reframing a negative outlook to a positive one is a healthy attitude that will lead to a happier life, but my goodness! She really seems like a Negative Nancy, I see why she felt the need to start this project.
My Experience: I had a easy time with singing, taking time for projects (such as this blog), & embracing happy memories. My struggle continues to be with other people’s feelings. I was perfectly fine acknowledging their feelings…it was dealing with them I had an issue with. This ties into being a good listener, which I will openly admit – I’m NOT. I can’t just listen, I want to get involved & become part of the solution. I have a friend that comes to me with her man problems & rather than just acknowledge how she feels & let her share, I say, “You have all the power in the world to leave, just leave!” Which isn’t making either of us happier or bringing us closer, so I tried & will continue to try  to JUST acknowledge her feelings.

MAY – Be Serious About Play – Leisure
Goals: Find more fun, Take time to be silly, Go off the path, Start a collection
Review: I continue to struggle with how I feel about Rubin. For example, she pretended to not like Harry Potter because she thought it was for kids. WHAT!? I’m not a fan of this. On the other hand, she also talks about her love for making “Blank Books” – decorating blank notebooks with magazine cut outs – something I also love to do. I kind of see Rubin as a warning, what I could turn out to be if I take life too seriously & don’t follow my passions.
My Experience: Find more fun/Take time to be silly/Go off the path were all easy goals to accomplish. I had recently moved back to SoCal & decided I would make much better use of my leisure time this summer by exploring more of what SoCal had to offer. My friends & I went on many wild adventures. Every time I live in SoCal I find new, exciting things to do & I’m more sad to leave than I was the time before. The only issue with these new adventures is the money they cost! It can be very expensive to be serious about play. I chose not to “Start a Collection” as I already collect things & honestly should work on slimming down my collections rather than adding to them.

JUNE – Make Time For Friends – Friendship
Goals: Remember birthdays, Be generous, Show up, Don’t gossip, Make 3 new friends
Review: I’m fairly certain I’ve mentioned my frustration with the research in this book, but it’s worth another mention. An example that irks me is on pg 157, Rubin says, “…research shows that…when introverts push themselves to act more outgoing, they usually enjoy it…”. I am in no way an expert, but I have my B.A. in Communication Studies & have studied how different personalities communicate. This contradicts most research I’ve read & I know at least a few Introverts that would disagree. I understand research isn’t perfect & when writing a research based piece such as this you only use supporting material. Perhaps I’m a tough audience because I have some background in the topics Rubin is discussing, but overall I don’t feel like I can trust the information, which is a turn off.
My Experience: During my birthday month I had a goal to remember birthdays! I turned off Facebook Birthday notifications to see which ones I genuinely remembered. While Rubin uses Bday greetings as a way to check in with friends, I feel like people “my age” are aware that Social Media is most likely the only reason their Bday was remembered. Any other attempt at communication feels fake, even if it’s not! Too often I’ve sent a Bday greeting & genuinely said, “Let’s catch up!”, only to have no response for whatever reason. The other goals are personal goals anyway, but it was good to reinforce them.

JULY – Buy Some Happiness – Money
Goals: Indulge in a modest splurge, Buy needful things, Spend out, Give something up
Review: Again, I’m more and more displeased with Rubin. No one is perfect, but her Goal in June is to not gossip, then in July, she delights in telling a story about a “wild and reckless guy” & how she was, “quite relieved when he broke his foot…because [it] prevented him from getting up to more mischief”. Uhh, okay? Not sure how that schadenfreude story is supposed to help me like her, but alright.
My Experience: My whole life is an experiment in splurging/buying things I need/giving up stuff I don’t, haha! Spending out was a little more challenging. The premise is somewhat related to “Be generous” and “There’s no time like the present”. Rubin made a good point while “Spending Out” that sometimes she saved blog post ideas for “the right time”. I often do the same thing or won’t create any content unless the setting is EXACTLY perfect, which sometimes results in the post never being created. In an effort to “Spend Out”, I started creating content even if the conditions weren’t just as I pictured them & no one even noticed. Overall, I felt more efficient and productive, which made me, yes, happier.

April – pg 109: “Although it’s true that taking photographs sometimes makes it hard to savor a moment when it’s happening, in the future, having pictures will help me recall a happy time”
YES. People always give me grief about taking pictures/group selfies or taking video at concerts, but I do it because I actually look back on those memories & it takes me back to that awesome moment.

May – pg 119: A quote from C.S. Lewis’s essay “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”: “When I was 10, I read fairy tales in secret & would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am 50 I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness & the desire to be very grown up.”
While I enjoy being a grown up, I don’t think that has to mean taking on a whole new set of “boring/serious adult interests”. The older I get, the less I care what other people think. I’m not cool, trendy, hip, whatever, I’m just me, & I like what I like. I think unhappy, insecure people try to trash talk other people’s interests.

This year is flying by & I’m obviously more than halfway finished with this book & project. I don’t necessarily feel that my whole life has changed in any substantial way or that my relationships have improved. As I mentioned earlier, I do feel slightly more efficient & productive in regards to my blog, which is making me happier in that aspect of my life. I’m also starting to feel that some of these goals are extremely similar in concept, just worded differently, so it’s feeling a bit repetitive.

What do you think of “The Happiness Project”? Have you read this or any similar “self help” type book? Please let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading!

Health/Fitness/Review: Update & Dr. Oz “3 Day Cleanse” Review

Hey everyone!
If you’ve been following my blog since January – what’s that? You’re not following me? How silly! There’s an easy fix for that! Just click the FOLLOW button at the top right of this page & you’ll be notified whenever I post something new. There, now that’s taken care of…This post will focus on updating y’all on The “Lowe” Down, the Health/Fitness plan I worked on with my friend Kylee Lowe (Instagram: @loveleeloe) and a Review of the Dr. Oz “3 Day” Cleanse. Get ready folks, it’s a long post…

In January when I moved home from SoCal I promised myself I was going to get in great shape before my 25th birthday – June 7th. I had (& still have) no job to take up my time and the added incentive of having a live in workout buddy in the form of my mom. I knew I needed to kick things up a notch so I worked with Kylee, who’s my go-to Fitness Guru. To read my previous posts about The “Lowe” Down which includes a Clean Eating Meal Plan and Exercise Routine click here, here, here, and here!

The plan we worked out was 4 weeks long & I promised to keep you updated at least once a week, but that didn’t happen & I apologize. The reason I decided to stop posting about my progress was because…there was no progress! After 3 weeks of eating clean and regular exercise, I actually gained weight! I was so upset! I had stuck to the plan Kylee created for me with only minor healthy modifications. I did struggle with the work outs because I didn’t really know what to do once I got to the gym – one of the downfalls of having your personal trainer in another state, but I still did some form of exercise at least 5 times a week! I’ve never really had a problem losing weight before. I just assumed I was heavy because I didn’t really care to be any other way. However, now that I was busting my buns in the kitchen & the gym – I was distraught to see the scale refusing to budge. This was an eye opening lesson for me. I can be an unsympathetic critic at times. In the past when I’d hear stories about people who “tried every diet but nothing worked”, I would scoff and roll my eyes. “Oh please,” I would think, “It’s basic science. Less calories in, more energy out, creates a deficit.” After seeing how hard I worked those 3 weeks with no loss in sight, I would like to apologize to anyone I have ever judged. We have no idea what’s really going on when we look at other people. We have no idea how far they’ve come, how hard they’re working, & honestly, none of that matters because it’s none of our business. Be supportive of others, but keep your eyes on your own path!

As I mentioned in my first Fitness related post, I’m fairly confident in my looks. Believe it or not, I’m in good health, my only issues stem from a lifelong minor kidney issue & injuries from cheerleading. I started this journey looking at it from a preventative angle. If I get fit now, when I find work and have less time, I’ll be at my optimum operating level. If I happen to gain weight, I’ll still be at a much healthier place than if I were to gain weight at my current state. With that being said, after not losing any weight & watching my mom lose 20 (!!!) pounds, my self esteem started to crumble. I am self destructive when I compare myself to others which I think stems from being overly competitive and a perfectionist. I TRY to have a relaxed attitude about other people’s lives because at the end of the day, to quote my favorite band, The Rocket Summer, “What’s right for me, might be not right for you”. For example, a majority of my friends graduated college at age 21 or 22, while I was still working towards my AA in community college. Sure, I felt a stab of anxiety that maybe my life was going nowhere & a hint of jealousy that they were accomplishing something major. Then I considered that they haven’t lived my life. We’ve walked very different roads and made different choices. With this in mind I’m able to keep some perspective and be genuinely happy for others while maintaining confidence in my journey. As I said earlier, be supportive of others, but keep your eyes on your own path! As you might imagine, being a teenager was Hell for me, haha! In my youth, I hadn’t quite developed the attitude I described above. Comparing myself to my friends put me in an extremely dark place that I would never like to revisit. However, while dealing with this weight loss issue, I saw shades of that darkness starting to creep out and I became extremely frustrated and emotional. I shared some of these frustrations with the personal trainer I worked with in SoCal and he helped me make some more healthy modifications to The “Lowe” Down.

Another month later and my weight loss was a grand total of….FOUR POUNDS! My faith in eating healthy and working out had been struck down. What was the point of not eating pizza and ice cream, and spending time at the gym instead of with friends, if all I had to show was a measly 1 pound a week?! NOT. WORTH. IT. Yes, I am aware that the healthiest way to lose weight is 1 to 2 lbs a week, but I want to be that person that loses 8lbs a month, dang it! On top of feeling emotionally disgruntled, I was also in near constant physical pain from injuring my hip somehow at the beginning of March. Seriously, it’s a mystery, I have no idea what I did. With my birthday goal date fast approaching, I did what any sensible person would do, work harder! I threw in the towel! Yes, I gave up! I spent a week eating Wingstop, pizza, Panda Express, Ice Cream, cookies & all sorts of indulgent foods & didn’t count one delicious calorie! However, a funny thing happened. In the midst of all that, I noticed…I didn’t feel good. I felt exhausted, sluggish, heavy, I needed naps in the middle of the day, my body was protesting, “Stop! What are you doing to me!?”. For the first time in my life…I have decided to listen to my body.

I can’t ignore the incredible negative difference I felt in that “Cheat Week” compared to when I was eating clean. My outside appearance may not show any remarkable changes, but my insides sure felt them & as I’m doing this for my health & not looks, that’s all that matters. So I’m back at it! My hip is STILL hurting, even after some time away from the gym, but I work out despite many other injuries, so I’ll just add this one to the list. I now have a much more realistic outlook. I’m not perfect, I love food, & putting so much pressure on myself to lose a certain number of pounds by a certain date was adding more stress than was necessary. Now there are no goal dates, there’s a goal number but it’s sitting on the back burner. I started this new phase off with the Dr. Oz “3 Day Cleanse” which I will briefly review down below, but even while doing that – I ate pasta. SUE ME! My grandma makes amazing pasta but she hardly ever makes it anymore. Was I going to pass up the chance to enjoy her homemade cooking? NOPE! I don’t need a fit body to help me make money, or help me do my job (if I had one), or ensure the safety of others in some way. I’m doing this for me, & on the last day of my cleanse, my grandma made me some pasta, which may have been a little misguided on her part, haha!, but was a kind gesture nonetheless. If I were to die tomorrow, I would want to be remembered as someone that loved good food, valued the feelings of others, & appreciated the gestures they made. I’ll just have to kick butt in the gym a little harder than usual now!

If you’ve read this far, thank you! I know I can be long winded, but hopefully you found something in this post worthwhile. Please read below my short (I promise!) review of the Dr. Oz “3 Day Cleanse”.

Credit to Dr. Oz

Credit to Dr. Oz

Review: I will come right out & admit – I “cheated” on this cleanse. Take my advice with a grain of salt, this is just my experience with it & how I made it work for me. I spaced all the drinks 2 hours apart.
– Disclaimer: I never drank the Green Tea, took the vitamins, or did the Detox Ultra Bath. I have a weird kidney issue that prevents me from drinking Green Tea, taking too many pills, and putting soap/salt/oils in my bath water. With that in mind, I knew this Cleanse would probably not yield weight loss results, so I was not expecting them. I was hoping to feel lighter and more energized, which I do, so I feel that it served its purpose. I have recommended this cleanse to friends.
– Day 1: The Lunch Drink was a bit hard to choke down because of the texture. I used my juicer for everything except the pineapple, coconut oil, & Almond Milk. I threw those 3 ingredients into my Magic Bullet then added the juice for a final blend, but it still resulted in a stringy, foamy texture. I didn’t drink the Snack Drink because I was feeling super full. Attempted to drink the Dinner Drink & absolutely could NOT manage. The Cayenne Pepper was so overpowering even though I put in less than the recipe called for. I couldn’t finish it, so I had chicken & veggies for dinner.
– Day 2: Fine until the Lunch Drink. This time I put everything in my juicer except the coconut oil & Almond Milk, but the texture was the same. For Snack & Dinner, I decided not to blend the ingredients at all and eat them as a salad or on their own. Cayenne Pepper is way more delicious sprinkled over Mango and Avocado than in a smoothie. I felt insanely tired this day. I think the 2nd day of a cleanse is always the hardest because your body is starting to figure out what you’re doing.
– Day 3: I decided to just eat the meals as stand alone foods or in a salad. This was much easier and tastier. I was happy to not waste any food. When I make a juice/smoothie & it turns out disgusting, I feel bad throwing it away. I’ll try to finish it but sometimes it makes me feel sick, so I’d rather toss it even though I hate watching my money go down the drain. Of course, tonight was the night of aforementioned Grandma’s Pasta, sorry I’m NOT sorry.

Okay, it’s finally over! You made it! Thank you for sticking with this post to the very end, what did you think? There was so much more I wanted to say, but I knew I was going on too much already. Have you ever experienced that emotional roller coaster that comes with weight loss or changing your lifestyle in general? Have you tried the Dr. Oz “3 Day Cleanse” or anything similar? Please let me know some good cleanses to try in the comments below! I think I’m going to try out a different cleanse every weekend…every month?…every now and then? I’m not sure, but I want to be the tester for y’all! Send me your thoughts, I’d love to chat! Thank you for reading…until next time!

Charity: Be Better Movement – Participant of the Week!

As y’all should know by now, I’ve been participating in the 52 Week Challenge with the Be Better Movement. You can read my previous posts about them herehere & follow my Instagram: @missal_leigh to see some of the previous challenges I’ve participated in! This week’s Challenge is to “Pay it Forward” – perform at least 3 acts of kindness like, pay for someone’s Starbucks, or donate your old blankets to your local pet shelter. Check out their website for more ideas!
Another reason you should head over to their website is…I was chosen to be the BBM’s “Member of the Week”. My interview is up now – click here or the picture below to read it! Scroll to the bottom of this post to read about the special treat we have lined up for 5 lucky MissAl-Leigh.com readers!
Have you joined?! The BBM a great cause & the first FIVE people that contact me wanting to join will be able to use my very own special code to sign up for FREE! What are you waiting for? Hit that FOLLOW button on the top right to be notified of all my posts & message me here or through my email MissAl.Leigh@gmail.com to get that code! Thank you for reading & thank you to the Be Better Movement for this feature!

Book Review! The Happiness Project – January/February/March!

Click here to purchase The Happiness Project!

Hey all!
I’ve had this book on my To Read list for a long time & decided January 2015 was the perfect time to start a Self Actualization/Self Help book, ya know, “New Year, New You”. That turned out to be the best decision because the author, Gretchen Rubin, created The Happiness Project as a year long project. Each chapter is a reflection of goals she set for herself & how she spent the month working towards them. Rubin was a Supreme Court clerk, but decided to leave law to become a writer. The Happiness Project consists of her personal values and research she conducted on the subject of Happiness.

I connected with Rubin almost immediately because she talks about something that I often struggle with, waiting to start projects until her life is in just the right place. I have a tendency to do the same thing, as evidenced by the way I waited precisely until January 1st to start this year long project. Rubin ends up deciding there are no perfect circumstances & sometimes you just have to dive into things. Her desire to change her way of thinking motivated me to join Rubin on her Happiness Project, instead of just reading about it. Each month I will follow the goals & we’ll see how I do. Look for these reviews periodically as it will (obviously) take me a year to fully complete this review and project.

Below, you will find the Goals for January, February, & March, my review of the author’s experience, and what my own experience was. Click the FOLLOW me button on the top right to be notified by email when I post the next installment!

Goals: Sleep earlier, Exercise better, Toss/restore/organize, Tackle a nagging task, Act more energetic
Review: I enjoy Rubin’s writing, she’s sarcastic and sassy. We would be great friends or hate each other because we’re too similar. She’s pretty Type-A & I can be too. She talks about finding peace through having things in just the right order. My friends & family semi-seriously joke that I have OCD because while I’m not necessarily a neat freak, I can be VERY particular. Another thing we have in common is an “insatiable need for credit” (p 24). We want the gold star! We’re highly motivated by praise – I’m really giving away all my secrets – haha!
My Experience: January’s goals were a breeze as I had already made them my New Year’s Resolutions.  I had just moved back to my hometown & was an unemployed, recent college grad – it was the perfect time to focus on my health and sort through the belongings I had accumulated in recent years plus all the stuff waiting for me at my childhood home. I definitely felt better after getting my things in order (somewhat) & getting back into a healthy lifestyle.

Goals: Quit nagging, Don’t expect praise or recognition, Fight right, No dumping, Give proofs of love
Review: While this book is based on Rubin’s experience, she also delves into research she conducted, which I found interesting & somewhat troublesome. Something that struck a nerve for me was, “the most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women” (p 52). I found this interesting because I don’t consider myself lonely & a majority of my friends are males because I don’t often find friendships with women fulfilling. The troublesome part of the research was that it relied heavily on stereotypical gender studies. For example, on p53 she talks about her husband not being a good listener, “[l]earning that men & women both turn to women for understanding showed me that Jamie wasn’t ignoring me out of lack of interest or affection: he just wasn’t good at giving that kind of support…[he] wasn’t going to have long discussions…[h]e didn’t want to spend hours pumping up my self-confidence” First of all, who WANTS to spend HOURS pumping up someone’s self confidence?! Second, why should we assume just because he’s male that he doesn’t want to have long discussions or isn’t a good listener? I know plenty of males that enjoy talking way more than I do & are way better listeners – that’s why we’re friends, because we complement each other. I understand there’s science behind these ideas, but if we want to grow as a society, we have to stop applying stereotypes to all men/women. Just learn about people & who they are.
My Experience: This month’s Goals were focused on Rubin’s marriage & I’m single, so I simply chose to apply the Goals to my friends and family. Following through was not as simple. I definitely struggled this month. I was especially nervous about “Don’t expect praise/recognition” because as mentioned earlier – I want that gold star! For example, as a “proof of love”, I bought my mom & myself passes to a ZUMBA studio. The instructor asked how we found them & my mom said, “We found you on Groupon”. Usually, this is where I would jump in & say, “Actually! I found the passes & bought them as a gift”, but I bit my tongue. I tried to consider these struggles as “what difference would it make?” issues. What difference did it make for the ZUMBA instructor to know that taking classes was MY idea, who cares!? Well, I care, but I guess that’s not the point. Another Goal I struggled with was “Quit nagging”. I found it hard to distinguish between nagging and giving a proof of love. Continuing with the ZUMBA example, in the past when my mom wouldn’t want to work out, I’d nag her about getting in shape, being healthy, etc. In an effort to not nag, when she didn’t feel like going to ZUMBA, I didn’t say anything. To me, it felt like I was uninvolved, the nagging was how I showed I cared. In this instance, not nagging worked because my mom found motivation on her own & didn’t feel like I was forcing her. In another instance, when I didn’t nag my friend about following through with something, feelings were hurt because she felt like I hadn’t been involved enough. You can’t please everyone!

Goals: Launch a blog, Enjoy the fun of failure, Ask for help, Work smart, Enjoy now
Review: It was comforting to hear Rubin go through similar trials that I have experienced while blogging. A couple quotes from this month I took to heart are, “People don’t notice your mistakes as much as you think. Even if [you do] something wrong on the blog, it [won’t] be a disaster” (p75). Also, “one of the biggest challenges posed by my blog was the doubt raised by my own inner critic…Was it egocentric to write so much about my own experience?…I didn’t want to be [a] novelist who spent so much time rewriting his first sentence that he never wrote his second…I needed to…[push] ahead without constantly second guessing myself” (p78).
My Experience: At first glance, I was feeling iffy about these Goals because I already write a blog (obviously), & failure & asking for help are not things I enjoy. The blog issue turned out to be a non-issue, because I’m still in the beginning stages of blogging, so it was easy to follow some of Rubin’s advice and start creating more content. I think I made great strides in terms of posting here more often, which has definitely made me happier and gotten my creative juices flowing as I try to plan my next post. I’ve been asking for help from others in the form of trying to find work & looking for companies that offer new bloggers support like the Bloguettes or Blogger Babes. I’m trying to enjoy the failure of being rejected from jobs, but that’s proving to be difficult. However, when I’m rejected, I try to think of it like “Woo hoo! Now I have more time to find an even more perfect job!”

Overall at this point, I can’t say I’m remarkably happier, but I feel like I’m challenging myself and growing along the way. Is that the same thing as Happiness? I’m not sure, & I think that’s what Rubin is aiming to find out. What do you think!? Have you enjoyed reading about The Happiness Project? Are you inspired to start a project of your own or follow along with me? Please let me know in the comments below! Remember, you can click the picture of the book at the top of this post and it’ll take you to all the Amazon listings – some sales are as low as one penny! Thanks for reading!

Charity: Be Better Movement!

Hello all!
Today I wanted to showcase a Charity Challenge I’m participating in, the 52 Week Be Better Challenge, part of the Be Better Movement. You sign up for a 52 week (1 year) program & each week they offer up a Challenge to help improve your Health/Well Being in some way. For each weekly Challenge you participate in, Be Better donates $1 to the Charity of the month – March & April is the UNICEF Tap Project. If you post a picture of yourself participating in the challenge to any of your Social Media, they’ll donate $2! Check my Instagram: @missal_leigh & theirs: @mybebetter for pictures of previous Challenges such as Phone Time-Outs & drinking Herbal Tea!

Sugar/Calorie free Strawberry Green Tea flavored water...drink up! I aim to drink a gallon of water a day - that's only 2 of these adorable jugs!

Sugar/Calorie free Strawberry Green Tea flavored water…drink up! I aim to drink a gallon of water a day – that’s only 2 of these adorable jugs!

Have you ever participated in a Challenge like this? What do you think of this one? If you’d like more information or are considering signing up please let me know. One of my best friends is an Intern with this company (how I found out about this) – so I might be able to use my “inside connections” to your benefit, or maybe I’ll send you a little thank you for participating in such a great cause 😉