August 4, 2020

Hey You! YOU ARE ENOUGH.



We are programmed as kids to believe that true happiness is found in the arms of a lover. We grow up watching movie after movie about princesses being saved by strong men. Then as teenagers, rom-coms tell us that we should ignore obvious red flags in partners because everyone is flawed and love conquers all. Then you grow up with the pressure to get married, have babies, and not be too old doing it. 

It's exhausting. And I'm here to finally call bullshit on it all! So let's talk relationships today...


For those who know me well, I've always been boy crazy and a serial dater. While it's not something I enjoy being known for, I also am not ashamed to have a big heart and that I am hopeful. Over the years, the boundaries I've set for myself in relationships have changed, as they should with age and experience. I've learned to narrow down what I'm looking for (and what I'm not). I've been in manipulative and abusive relationships. I've been in wonderful relationships that I wish didn't have to end. For each and every man that's ever been a part of my life, I am thankful. They have helped shape me along the way. 

All of these lessons are well and good. But something I wished I'd learned about myself sooner is that I am enough.

I'll say it again. I AM ENOUGH. I'm more than enough. Some might even claim "too much". But I love those parts about myself. And as soon as I began to love that about myself is when I started to see the quality of my relationships change. 

Reentering the dating pool as a single mom has been a challenge. It's not just you in the car anymore, and you have to find a co-pilot willing to be OK with the passengers you're bringing along. Additionally, after divorce there is this immense pressure put on you and the you put on yourself to find the "right" person. People share sweet encouraging sentiments like "you're going to find someone great! You deserve a good man!" And they are right, I do. But what I've come to learn is it's OK if I don't find someone great, or "the one". For once, it's more important to me that I find someone great in myself first and that I show my children that it's OK to be a lone and not to settle. 

In every relationship I've had, the common theme I've always found with what went wrong is not that someone cheated, or that I was being disrespected, or there just wasn't any connection. To me, the common thread has always been how I felt about myself while in those relationships. Weak, compliant, oblivious and anxious. It's a version of myself I hate seeing appear, but also has been a huge indicator for me when things aren't right. When I feel uncomfortable and unnatural, it's time to let it go. 

I don't need to be in relationships that do not serve me. I don't need to go looking for "the one". When the universe wants me to have it, it will make its way to me. Until then, I'll continue to find more things about myself that I am proud of and improve the pieces I am not. That's plenty enough for me.

July 22, 2020

How to Initiate Change In Your Life




So you'd stopped allowing yourself to self-sabotage. Now what? What comes next?

Living the life you want takes a lot of thought, time and patience. And time and patience or some things we just don't have (or I know I don't at least).

A few days ago, I was cleaning out my closet. Occasionally when I do this, I check the space behind my dresser with a flashlight to make sure nothing important has fallen behind. It's been awhile since I did it last so I opened my flashlight app on my phone and took a peek. I was surprised to see an old journal had fallen back there. Forgetting I even owned that beautiful Kate Spade journal, I was excited to find it. After pulling the journal out and flipping through it to see if it was blank, I found a few journal entries in there that I had to read. 

July 17, 2018 was the first dated entry. Only a few days after my late mother-in-law, Deb had been buried. I began reading through each entry to find a common theme. Scared, lost, needing direction, and questioning everything in my life. 

"There has to be more to life than this..."

For more than two years, I have been feeling this way. And what shocked me the most is I still felt all the same things now except tenfold. With Tim's death (something I still plan to share and address here at the right time), I've really come into a place where I don't want to be patient any longer. I feel I've served my time. I've waited, and tried to live the cookie cutter path set forth by my previous generations. And it's time for me to go now.

So what do you do when it's time to go? You set the stage. 

How to Initiate Change In Your Life

Manifestation
Take time to really consider what it is in your life you want. Ask yourself what it will take for you to feel fulfilled, happy, successful. Tell yourself you will have these things.

Outline Your Dream Life
In this dream life, what are the different aspects that make up your world? Where do you live? What do you do for a living? What does your day look like? Who is in your life? How do you FEEL?

Create an Action Plan
In each of those items that make up your Dream Life, what is one action item you need to take to get closer to that dream? Is your dream to own a home? Then you might need to model a homeowner budget to see if you are ready to take that step. Or maybe you are ready to contact a mortgage broker to get pre-approval for a loan. Whatever it is, write it down. If you don't write it down, you will lose sight. I prefer writing everything down in a journal. But if you prefer to go paperless, the Mindly app is a great tool for mind-mapping and setting tasks/notes for specific aspects of your life.

My timeline is 12 months. In 12 months, I will change my entire life. I will be on the path forward to living the life I want and deserve. By July 2021, I will be financially sound to not feel stressed at the topic of budgets and bills. I will be in love with the life I have created for myself. 

Someone asked me, "what happens if you fail, is there a backup plan?" No. There is no backup plan. Because I am not allowing myself to quit going after what I want anymore. Changing your mind to match your desires sets the right intentions. Failure doesn't need to mean "it's over." It means it's time to redirect my attention to another way of doing things. The end goal remains the same...
Find your WHY.

July 17, 2020

Working Moms: Another Coronavirus Hero Businesses Need to Acknowledge



March 2020 began a seemingly impossible journey I was not prepared to take. Like many other parents around the globe, I was about to get a crash course in how to raise children, be a day care provider, a responsible citizen and also a full-time employee all simultaneously. I panicked slightly, but ultimately was looking forward to what I thought would be some down time from the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. 

First, I want to start by acknowledging that:

1) Moms are not the only people who had to navigate this newly of living. Parents in general were thrown to the wolves, whether they are in a single parent home or have a partner to share the responsibilities with, it's a lot for any family. This is not a competition, we all feel each other's pain.

2) I was fortunate to not have school-aged children during this pandemic. I cannot even begin to imagine the frustrations that parents who were expected to be teachers as well have to endure. You parents are the real MVPs.

3) I was on a furlough period of 8 weeks from April to June. I had a break. Many parents did not. If I'm feeling as burnt out as I am, imagine how essential workers are feeling?


The experience of raising two toddlers, one being autistic while working full time and being a single parent has been eye opening. It's completely changed the way I view the systems in place for support, a teacher's role in a child's life (with some insights from my teacher besties) and how business expectations are completely unreasonable for parents in the age of coronavirus. In the way we are living today working virtually, we have a choice....be a mom or be an employee. But you can't really achieve both. And if you can, you cannot give them each the attention they deserve. 

I'd like to think of myself as fairly business savvy. I tend to always be diplomatic in business and can see things from many perspectives. So when I say that expectations are unreasonable, know that I do understand that business isn't personal. In America, our culture is very separated where we treat mothers and fathers like they should parent like they don't have a job and on the flip side, their jobs treat them like their responsibilities of being a parent shouldn't be relevant to their work. We compare productive in employees on the same scale when we each have our own obstacles to overcome that are vastly different.  We do this so that things are fair. It's the same playing field for everyone and your personal obstacles are not a business's problem. Many companies even judge an employee's work ethic by how many hours they put in after their daily work hours and on weekends! 

But then I stop and look at all I've been able to accomplish in the age of Covid, and I'm pretty damn proud of myself. I've been able to keep a two year-old busy while my four year-old received home based ABA therapy Monday thru Friday, all while attending meetings, meeting deadlines, running a side hustle as night and on the weekends, and finding time to somehow give a shit about myself too. I may forget a detail or two or take a little longer to drink my morning coffee now, but dammit I'm doing it.

I should be proud. I am woman, hear me roar. So why do I feel like such a failure all the time? Like balls are dropping in all areas of my life and I cannot seem to balance them all at the same time?

The answer is WE ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO. We are not supposed to balance all of this at the same time. It's almost impossible, and yet here you are parents, making the impossible possible. It's not secret that parents are superstars. We know this. We know we are valuable and useful in the workplace in ways childless employees cannot be. We are used to juggling many schedules and meetings and homework and deadlines. We do this on the daily. And now we are doing it tenfold. 

So when do we give ourselves the recognition we deserve and stop living by antiquated corporate culture? We need to change the game. In the new world order, we need to demand flexibility and respect for our lives outside of the office walls. We need to hold balance and proclaim that we can be valuable without feeling like we need to make up for something. We are smart, adaptable and dedicated to the people and things we care about. Make sure you are treated that way!

I'm not trying to state that being a parent makes you a better employee than another person. I'm stating that we bring value in a different way. The truth is we need both parents who can adapt quickly to changes, and non-parents who may have the time and capacity to make change. But what we really need to put back into business right now is compassion and empathy. No longer will the brick and mortar 9-5 structure work for all. And if you try to shove your employees into this box, you're just going to shut out a huge portion of your workforce that is talented, driven and inspired to have a career. Your patience is required. These people are critical to your business. 

But don't expect your employees' families to suffer so your business can thrive. Because if you do, they will leave. And they will find an employer who appreciates what they bring to the table and respects that not everyone lives to work. We work to live.



*DISCLAIMER* When referring to business expectations, I am not referring to pressure my employer has put on me. They have actually been wonderful and the people I work with have been so understanding. I am referring to the pressure I put on myself to "do it all". Just wanted to make that clear so it didn't sound like I am bashing my employer. They rock! :)


July 10, 2020

Stop Self-Sabotaging and Just Go.



Do you ever just sit back one day and your mind begins to race? Thinking of all the things wrong in your life, why they happened and why you can't seem to just push forward and achieve that goal you wanted?


When will I get that promotion? No one appreciates the work I do. They want me to fail. They think I'm inadequate.

When will my boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife finally start to help out? Why don't they just GET IT?

I can't afford to do what I want. It's too hard to be successful.


It's called self-sabotage. And we all do it...It's one of those things we all know we do but don't know how to stop doing it.

Since I graduated high school in 2007, I have felt completely lost about what my "passion" is. What did I want to do for the rest of my life while also securing myself financially? Is it possible to have both? It felt like I had to chose. Either be successful or be happy. But what if you COULD have both? You just have to get out of your own head and find a way to do it. Great risk comes great rewards.

On my path to self-discovery (which has yet to be completed) I started believing I wanted to go into the fashion industry as a merchandiser. I wanted to move to New York City, go to a fancy fashion school and just be this glamorous, happy, single girl living in NYC. My financial restraints and fears landed me at an in-state university in Rhode Island, as a Fashion Merchandising major. I thought "fine, I can still achieve those dreams from here and then move on later."

I took my first fashion course: Intro to Textiles, 8am MWF. I walked into class on my first day in my oversized athletic sweatpants, my boyfriend's hoodie and my hair in a messy bun that I threw up on my head after waking up 10 minutes before needing to be out of my dorm.  I looked around to mentally decide who my classroom buddy would be for the year and where I would claim as my seat. When I scoured the room, I saw beautiful girls, perfectly straightened and curled hair, full faces of make up, designer handbags as book bags. I was shocked and felt extremely out of place. I felt like I didn't belong there and didn't feel I deserved to be there. Before actually giving it a chance, I mentally had told myself I can't do it and I immediately went on to find my new calling.

I transferred schools the next semester and changed my major to journalism. Reading and writing had always been a love of mine. I felt like I had so much to say and not sure how to share it with people and journalism seemed like the perfect outlet. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in journalism, ready to find a writing job in the height of the recession. After spending the next year working 5 jobs to pay my bills and be told time and time again that I'll never find a job in writing in this economy, I gave up. 

I took the first full time role I could find, a temp job working in Human Resources. I had no idea what I was doing but learned along the way, deciding that if I put in the time and effort I could figure it out. Eight years later, I've had multiple career progression steps in HR and am making a six-figure salary doing something I had no experience in. While I've been successful in my work thus far, and have found financial independence from it, I still have felt so passionless about what I do. It was not my calling. It was not what I thought I was meant to do, but it was a job.

I think back now and imagine if I had put the same attitude I had from that temp job toward getting through a degree in fashion merchandising, or searching for a way to make it as a writer, where could I have been today instead?

The point is - stop getting in your own way. Stop telling yourself you can't. If someone wants it bad enough, they can make it happen with work, drive and using obstacles as redirection instead of stop signs. Today, I will speak my future into existence. Today is the first day of my new career.

I am a writer who will be a published author in 2021. I will finish my novel by the end of this year and self-publish my book. I will find happiness and success doing the things I love doing. Serving my purpose in life of making impact on people's lives. 

What have you put off out of fear of failure?

June 3, 2020

Weight Loss Journey



I already mentioned in my last post that my lifestyle has drastically changed from two years ago. Most of that change started once I decided to ask for a divorce. At that time, my confidence was at an all time low. I felt tired all the time, sluggish, lazy, etc. You name it. It wasn't good. I was at my highest weight and I could see the difference in my body. I didn't recognize the person I was anymore.

My sister Alyse was visiting from Tennessee when we decided to go to the gym. I had just signed up for a membership a couple days before, dedicated to trying to reintroduce exercise into my life. After our workout, we decided to pop a few doors down to New Rhode Nutrition. At the time, I didn't really know much about the club, other than they made protein shakes. It was here I was introduced to the products that really changed my body and mindset.

So many people ask me what I did to lose weight. So I'm going to lay out exactly what my experience was a little over a year ago that led me to lose 35 lbs. My nutrition today is much different than it was a year ago because my goal is no longer to lose weight, it is to maintain and tone.

Nutrition

I believe nutrition to be the hardest but most crucial part of losing weight and keeping it off. In order to lose weight in a healthy way, you need to commit to a lifestyle change, not a "diet". Diets are temporary fads and do not give you long lasting help. More times than not, a diet will help you lose weight fast, and then as soon as you return to "normal" eating habits, you gain weight like crazy. This is not what you want. You need to shift your entire mindset and the way you view food and your food habits.

For me personally, I've come to believe that food "guilt" is bullshit. And when I say guilt I mean:

- Cheat Days: These don't exist to me. I'm not on a diet. I'm not cheating. There are meals I eat more nutrient dense foods and meals I eat less nutrient dense foods. There are no "good" foods or "bad" foods. There is just food.

-Punishment Exercise: This is the mindset that if I eat a "bad" food, then I have to punish myself with a harder or longer workout. This is ridiculous. You don't need to do that. You just make a decision to consume a more nutrient dense food choice for your next meal. This idea of punishing yourself has become so ingrained in the minds of people because of diets. I keep my workout routine based on the goals I want to accomplish. I make my food choices based on the goals I want to accomplish. There is no punishment if I don't hit that goal. It just means I need to continue striving for it. Once I hit my goal, I make a new goal.

- Counting Macros: For me personally, I don't do this. I know what I should be taking in per day and I make my choices based on that. But I don't stress out over the number. If I'm consistently making less nutrient dense food choices, then I know I'm not going to see the results I want. I motivate myself by what I know the end goal can provide me. This does not work for everyone. Some people feel more accountable by tracking macros. That's cool too! Whatever works for YOU is what the right thing to do is. But don't stress or punish yourself if you miss your target macro for the day by a fraction. Or at all for that matter. That's how you spiral out of control. Just say OK, I'll do better tomorrow. And do it.

Make the Change

So how did I do it? Again, all about mindset. I wanted to lose weight. I made a choice to do that. And once I started to feel some results, it became so much easier to keep it up. I'm just going to list everything I did below in order of how I progressed here. This all happened over a span of about three months.
  • I started by drinking ONE Herbalife Nutrition Formula 1 shake per day + ONE Herbal Aloe Iced Tea for breakfast. I would purchase these every day from the nutrition club.
  • I began working out 5-6 days per week for 30 mins to an hour each time. My workouts mostly consistent of cardio, arms/back, abs, glutes and legs. I would switch up the workouts slightly each day but NONE of my workouts were strenuous whatsoever. They were just frequent to keep my body moving.
  • I meal prepped. I had just began cooking for just myself and I was used to cooking huge meals for me and Tim so this was an easy transition. I stuck with a small protein of a lean meat, sweat potatoes or cauliflower rice + a green veggie. This is how I made every meal. I'd make 8-10 of these at the beginning of the week to take for lunch or have for dinner when I didn't feel like cooking. It was super convenient and prevented me from ordering out or eating out.
  • I had a SECOND Formula 1 shake two days per week for dinner. This was not part if my program really, I just needed to get out of the house the days Tim was home (we were still living together for a while) and needed a place to go that wasn't a bar. So I'd go to the nutrition club.
  • I cut out almost all alcohol. If I did have any alcohol, I'd have one Truly or White Claw and the was all. Cutting out all the sugar was likely a huge help.
  • I cut out all coffee. The aloe tea was plenty of caffeine for me and I was a HEAVY coffee drinker. But I would always put sugar in my coffees.
  • I started drinking an additional Herbal Aloe Iced Tea in the afternoon. These kicked my metabolism into high gear.
  • I started drinking my morning Iced Tea with Lift Off. Whoa! Super delicious, extra boost of energy, extra metabolism booster.
  • I reevaluated all the food I typically buy and selected a healthier option. For example, I love potato chips. They are my kryptonite. Instead of Lay's, I'd buy terra chips or another veggie chip. This way I was still getting my salty crunch but with some better nutrients.

Keeping consistent with these things, I was able to drop 35 lbs., but gains so much confidence. The confidence was not only because I felt I looked better, but I FELT better. I had more energy, I was more upbeat and happy, I was mentally just in a better place.

I don't like discouraging people from trying another nutrition plan that may be right for them. The goal is to live a healthy life, not to shame you on how you choose to do it. Just make sure you do what is RIGHT FOR YOU and are consistent. Stay away from fad DIETS. You need a healthy lifestyle not a healthy diet in order to see long term results.

If you want to chat more about how you can get the results like I did, feel free to e-mail me at edusseault@gmail.com or DM on social media.

Stay Healthy!

June 1, 2020

Guess Who's Back...Back Again!



If you had asked me two years ago if I would ever come back to write Top Knots & Sweatpants again, I would have laughed. I love writing, but blogging is so saturated and usually just a highlight reel of reality. It's the glossy cover of a magazine. Affluent, aspirational and flawless. The beautiful image of what you wish your life was like. But like every magazine, life has flaws. You lift the cover to find advertisements to help pay the bills. Guest articles, because you can't do it alone. Maybe a typo since humans are simply not perfect.

But more recently, I've found myself chatting a lot more on socials. About things I like, about products I've tried, about my gripes on life and ways I try to see the positive in every situation. It's essentially become my more digital, instant blog. Even earlier today, I sent a link to my two besties for some eco-friendly cleaning products that I stumbled upon and have come to LOVE! And one of them said "ugh you should start up TKS again!" And at first I laughed, and then thought...well why not? I have the time right now to get it off the ground, prep more content and reignite that flame? Why wouldn't I?

So here we are! I'll give you some brief life updates. I'm sure I'll go into more detail on these in subsequent posts. 

I have two sons now, Cooper (age 4) and Callum "Cal" (age 2).

Cooper was diagnosed with Autism in 2018.

Tim and I were divorced in 2019. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for numerous reasons.Very recently, Tim passed away from some health issues. This has been an extremely difficult period for me. I'm grateful the kids don't understand right now.

I'm currently on furlough from work due to Covid-19. Provided I don't get extended, I'm set to return full time to work sometime in mid-July 2020.

Also, we got a dog! Unfortunately, we had to rehome our cats since Cal is allergic. I miss them dearly. Not having a pet in the home felt so lonely. So I decided to get a puppy once I started working from home at the beginning of all this Covid-19 stuff, and I am training her to be a service dog to Cooper!

I started a health journey over a year ago. I lost 35 lbs., have become more active, eat better, and have become an Herbalife independent distributor as a side hustle and LOVE IT! It's such a great company and community that has truly changed my life. 


Content may change slightly from before. I'm definitely going to still be real with everyone. But the content I want to share in this stage of my life is going to be much more health conscious, product reviews, workouts, great reads, and reflections on my life as a single mom of two little kids and how I manage it. I'm in a stage of my life where I feel I have a much healthier relationship not only with my body but my mind as well. I'm much more positive and hopeful than the past and I want to make sure I can share that with everyone!

Look forward to restarting our journey together!