Communication 101: Weird Habits We All Exercise

Have you ever observed a primarily one-way conversation? I bet you have and don’t even realize it. Every morning when you get up to watch Matt or Meredith interview someone like the governor of New Jersey, you’re witnessing a primarily one-way conversation. You are seeing a receiver (Matt or Meredith) and a sender (interview subject) interact. Now something I’ve observed over the summer is the difference in mannerisms involved with this type of communication.

  • Receivers often nod frequently throughout the conversation. One thing I’ve even caught myself doing in an interview or, unfortunately, a conversation monopolizer’s verbal death grip, is constantly nodding. Now when I’m in an interview, I usually nod when I agree with something the person is saying. However, in uncomfortable situations, such as the c.m.’s death grip, I find myself nodding out of uneasiness. I’ve even managed to train my mind and body to automatically nod every 15 seconds or so, freeing up ample brain space to daydream about running over the person with my car. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
  • Senders will sometimes use certain phrases for confirmation or reassurance. As a response to my

    You feel me, man?

    daze-induced defense mechanism for c.m.s, on occasion I’ll find one that notices the glazed over look in my eyes and will periodically say, “You know what I mean?” or “Right?” after certain thoughts. Now as I’ve said, I usually assume that’s a sign that I need to straighten up and get my body back into listening mode, but sometimes I think it may be a nervous habit that is formed out of uncertainty or perhaps a lack of confidence in what they are even saying. Whatever it may be, it’s a bizarre tick.

  • Men and women employ different receiver traits. Studies have shown that females generally do more nodding and smiling when communicating or acting as the receiver in a conversation than males. This is due to the female’s need to connect with the person on a personal level. On the other hand, males tend to give more direct attention by maintaining strong eye contact. Specifically in business situations, males tend to exercise this habit to show that they respect what the person is saying. This isn’t to say that women don’t also maintain a steady laser beam of eye contact, however the average woman generally tends to physically communicate more. Sometimes this can backfire though. For instance, too much eye contact can be perceived as creepy or even aggressive and too much nodding can make someone seem like a bobble head.

Communication is such a tricky thing, because even once you master the customs of the U.S., if you travel, you then have to learn how each area of the world interprets certain behaviors. To read more about communication gestures, click here.

How Vegetarians Get Their Kicks

Since becoming a semi-vegetarian/pescatarian, I’ve mainly stuck with basics. I almost always would turn my nose up to fake meats, since the real stuff grossed me out anyway and generally stuck with fish and vegetables. However, a few weeks back, I had dinner with one of my oldest friends and got to try vegetarian barbecue riblets. Abigail, to whom I am referring, has both a vegetarian friend and sister in her life constantly exposing her to the wonders of meatless meat. Since her sister was joining us that night for dinner, Abigail prepared ultra healthy green bean salad, sweet potato fries (o.m.g.) and of course Morningstar Farms very own Hickory BBQ Riblets. I was hesitant at first, but quickly allowed my hunger to take over. Before I knew it, I was a meatless convert.

This is Abigail.

Since this infamous night, I have started exploring my options a bit. For instance, shortly after the BBQ night, I braved my way in to the meatless deli section of the grocery store to purchase Lightlife Smart Deli sliced turkey. The next day I had to travel to Webster Springs, WV to get some coverage of a 4-H camp being held there and decided it would be a good idea to make a veggie wrap using my new sliced turkey. After the first bite, I thought, “Wow, this isn’t so bad at all.” However, after the third  bite, things took a turn for the worst. I suddenly had a bad after taste with each bite and eventually started eating around the creepy stuff. In short, Lightlife is probably a fantastic company with great products, but their sliced turkey is not for me.

After that unfortunate experience, I tried my luck with a veggie burger, provided once again by my dear friend Abigail’s family. It was a smash. A+ for the veggie burger! So at this point I was 2-1 with meatless meat product and still trying to forget a horrendous experience with a veggie dog back in 2008. (I’ll spare everyone the details about it simply melting in the water I attempted to boil it in.) So since Morningstar Farms had a decent track record with me, I had decided it was time to try their meatless frozen entrees.

Now this was definitely stepping into murky waters as far as quality goes,  because as far as I had known, these were a relatively new concept. I decided to go with the Sweet & Sour Chik’n and I am happy to report that this too received an A+. Being a recovering Chinese food-aholic, sweet and sour chicken was always something I pined for and probably would break my own rules for, but thankfully, now that I’ve discovered the wonders of Morningstar Farms, I won’t have to. I swear to soy, this stuff was dead on. Not only was it good for a frozen meal, but the meat substitute was really great too. The peppery sauce had a hint of sweetness that made everything taste just right. Plus, I saved a ton of calories in comparison to what I would have consumed from a Chinese restaurant.

So the moral of the story here is that meatless meat can be a great adventure for vegetarians. It can fulfill all of those weird cravings we all inevitably get and can save us the heartache of having to give up the things we love. However, brand does matter. If you’re going to go veg, go Morningstar Farms all the way.

Meatless meat products final score: 3-1.

The Old Fashioned Way

Well, it certainly has been a while since I’ve been on here! I must say, I’m glad to be back. Because of my busy, busy schedule, I’ve been dedicating quite a bit of time to my other blog via the J-School, but today I’ve had health on my mind.

After I made the decision to lose weight over two years ago, I had two choices. The first was to load up on diet pills and starve myself, while exercising to the point of exhaustion each and every day. The second was to slowly ease myself into a fitness routine and cut out greasy foods and soft drinks. I had seen enough from the ladies in Hollywood to know that the first would give me results much faster than the latter. However, my conscience told me I would regret damaging my body later in life and would have a much harder time adjusting post diet catastrophe. Well here I am two years later and a few sizes smaller and I must say the slow way was the best choice for a few reasons.

1. Crash diets don’t work. Weight Watchers does. No, but really. The easiest way to lose weight is to gradually change your daily fitness and nutrition routines. One of the main reason why Weight Watchers does so well is because they allow normal foods just in smaller portions. According to an article on, the best way to do so is to resist the urge to deprive yourself of all things yummy.

“You’re much more likely to stick with a diet if your food looks, tastes and smells delicious. Feeling deprived will only backfire. Make a plan you can live with by livening up healthy foods with herbs and spices like basil, cilantro, curry and ginger; aromatic veggies like garlic and onions; and condiments like mustard, hot pepper sauce or salsa. Experiment with new nutritious foods: Tantalize your taste buds with two new fruits or vegetables at each meal. Try different cold/hot cereals and breads. Don’t declare high-fat favorites ‘off limits’; savor them in small amounts to maintain a balanced healthy diet.”

2. Exercise must become a normal staple of your daily routine. Another big reason why crash diets and unrealistic exercise routines fail is because they are just that. Unrealistic. Is it really plausible that you will get up every day at 5:00 a.m. and exercise for an hour and a half? Probably not. Maybe some days you’ll feel like squeezing in a good workout before you start your day, but chances are, if you have a normal life, you’ll have mornings where you hit the snooze. This will make it just a little easier to find an excuse not to do your workout. The same applies for evening workouts. Most of us are too exhausted after going to work, hitting the grocery store and cooking dinner to sneak in a workout.  A tip I read in a magazine said to plan for at least 10 minutes of working out on days you know you’ll be exhausted. That way you won’t set the bar too high for yourself and you won’t be thinking “I just want to stretch out on the couch and vegetate all evening. Workout, schmorkout.” Then after you do your 10 minutes, see how you feel. If you feel like that was enough, stop and relax. If you feel like it gave you just the boost you needed, carry on my friend.

3. Becoming a health food nut is HARD. This isn’t something to be taken lightly. I’ve struggled with food for two years now and I’ve just started to figure out how to kick my bad craving habits. Back to rule 1, if you are thinking of drastically changing your diet, reconsider. You’ll just be setting yourself up for a lot of stress and probably will fall off the wagon more than once. I know I did. When I made the choice to give up meat, it was really a sneaky way of cutting my fast food habit. I knew if I couldn’t eat hamburgers, I wouldn’t go to Burger King.  I knew that if chicken wasn’t an option,  spicy chicken sandwiches from Wendy’s would be out. So when I did it this way, I tricked myself into avoiding my troubled areas. It wasn’t becoming a vegetarian that helped me shave off the last few pounds, it was cutting out the crap. Also, a year ago I gave up soda cold turkey. Haven’t touched a drop in over a year. I must also say this was HARD. Some people make the switch to diet in an attempt to cut calories, but in my opinion, just cut it out. If you really need the stuff, make it a treat. Only allow yourself one a day or even one a week if you’re feeling crazy. Either way, easing in to the whole process will not only make your life a lot easier, but it will also guarantee lasting results.

Well I hope these tips will help many of you realize that crash dieting and starving yourself isn’t the way to go. Not only does it do irreversible damage to your body, but it also just flat-out doesn’t work. You’ll definitely see quick results…a rib here, hip bone there…but for long-term success, gradually changing your lifestyle is the way to go. Plus, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you did things the hard way and succeeded. Nothing is better than that!

I leave you with this gem. I was 17 years old in this photo and I will be going back to the beach for the first time since this was taken. Let’s just say thanks to motivation and a lot of support from a certain blond fellow, I do not look like this anymore.