Weekly Comfort Item/Procedure: Swimming

With the Olympics behind us, it is pretty obvious that swimming is a sport that more people are becoming interested in. Swimming is the best exercise, as well as the best therapy in the world. Just ask your doctor, and he or she will confirm that the buoyancy of water, the water resistance when working out during a water aerobics class, or the exercise received during swimming, far surpasses any other physical fitness activity.

The strength build by swimming may be a way to combat the back and neck pains many children experience at any early age as a result of the increasing number of cell phones, PDA’s and other items weighing down the backpacks of today’s youth. Swimming can also be the perfect remedy for the lack of exercise in a child’s life. The benefits of learning to swim at any age far outweigh any excuse to not learn to swim.

Deciding to pursue swimming for fitness and comfort will require purchasing comfortable swim trunks or swimsuits, nonslip comfortable shoes to be worn around the pool area, and in some cases, other swim accessories. Some individuals prefer covering their eyes with goggles. Other individuals prefer wearing a swim cap to protect their hair from chlorine exposure.

You may not be the next Michael Phelps, but it is important to indulge in a sport like swimming that provides health benefits. But if purchasing the latest Speedo Goggles motivates you or your child to consider venturing into the water as a means of a healthy lifestyle, more power to you! Water is soothing, comfortable and definitely therapeutic. You can’t go wrong if you make the decision to swim as a sport, for relaxation or simply to feel better. Even if you don’t win a few gold medals, the time spent was well invested.

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Healthier Lifestyle Week by Week: Olive Oil

In this week’s blog, we’re going to begin discussing heart healthy fats. While many of these fats are indeed heart healthy, many people still shy away from them. The challenge lies in getting over the fact that many of these foods contain several grams of fat per serving. After you’ve become comfortable with this fact, which you will, you need to figure out how to incorporate more of these foods into your diet. Let’s begin by discussing olive oil.

I avoided olive oil for several years. I knew that it lowered cholesterol, but one look at the nutrition label, and I just couldn’t add it to my shopping cart. One tablespoon of olive oil contains 120 calories and almost 14 grams of fat. That doesn’t sound healthy at all. Later on, I began to learn about heart healthy fats. Upon closer inspection of the nutrition label, you’ll find that olive oil has 10 grams of monounsaturated fat, 1.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat and no trans-fat. Olive oil does contain 2 grams of saturated fat, but the same amount of butter has over 7 grams of saturated fat. It’s easy to see that olive oil is the clear winner. With so much heart healthy fats per tablespoon, you can’t go one more day without adding olive oil to your diet.

Of course, knowing that olive oil is healthy doesn’t make it any easier to incorporate into your diet. Over the years, I’ve played around with olive oil and found that it works well in place of other oils. For example, light olive oil works wonderfully in baked goods. I also love to sauté salmon and chicken in olive oil. I’ve even seen Mario Batali use olive oil for deep frying, which can be healthy when done properly. One of my favorite uses for olive oil though is to mix it with vinegar as a topping for sandwiches. It’s more refreshing than mayo and definitely healthier. Also, don’t forget that olive oil can be tossed in your bag and enjoyed on the go on top of salads and as a dip for bread.

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That’s right, a horrible thing has happened here at the Zappos.com HQ. Elvis Stitch, (as in Lilo and Stitch) the action figure has been taken from Kathleen J’s desk! First of all, it really is a serious issue when things go missing from co-workers desks. Most of us (including myself) like to kidnap things from others from time to time…but once the laugh is over, give it back.

Here at Zappos we keep fun things on our desk because we can, and our culture encourages it. So please…just like we all learned in Kindergarten, keep your hands on your desk, and your desk only. (Unless you taking something from someone’s desk brings about a serious laugh and possibly a fun CSI to go with it.)


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Zappos Blog World Twitter Party (Part 1)

For those of you who follow our CEO Tony Hsieh (@zappos) on Twitter – which is roughly 13,000 of you – then you got the invite to our exclusive Twitter party hosted at Prive’ in the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, here in our hometown Las Vegas.

@Zappos likes throw parties or Tweet-ups fairly often, but very rarely do the leading personalities on twitter get to join. Blog World Expo 2008 brought bloggers, podcasters, and all types of social media giants from all over together under one big roof in the Las Vegas Convention Center. And that, my blog-reading friends, was definitely something to throw a party about.

This week we will be sending you bits and pieces of our private party containing interviews from quite a few well known people in Social Media circles, as well as just some regular old party-goers, who lucky for them, might get a few more followers on Twitter from this one.

So if you’re not a huge social media buff or are having a hard time deciding which blog you will add on to the blogs you already follow religiously, then stay tuned, because we had a lot of web dwelling rock stars at this event.

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Recipes For The Family: Comfort Food!

Who doesn’t love comfort food? Unfortunately, many types of comfort food are loaded with fat and calories. How can you prepare a comforting dish that doesn’t make your entire family wobble like penguins? All you need is healthier recipes. Luckily, you came to right place.

Bacon Cheese Fries
Serves 4 to 6

1 small bag of frozen seasoned French fries
4 ounces of 2-percent, shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup real bacon bits (ex. Hormel)

1. Heat oven according to French fry package.
2. Spray cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
3. Layer French fries in a single layer and spray with additional cooking spray.
4. Bake according to package direction, turning the fries halfway through the cooking process.
5. Once done, immediately add the cheese and bacon bits.
6. Serve immediately with reduced-fat or fat-free ranch dressing.

Creamy Chicken with Vegetables and Pasta
Serves 4

1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces
1 can of 98-percent fat-free cream of chicken soup
1/3 can of 2-percent milk (use soup can to measure)
2 ounces of shredded cheddar cheese
Fresh ground pepper, to taste
2 cups of frozen vegetable and pasta blend

1. Cook olive oil and chicken in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through.
2. In the meantime, combine the soup, milk, cheese, pepper, vegetable and pasta blend.
3. Once the chicken is cooked, lower the heat and add the soup mixture.
4. Allow the mixture to heat until bubbly.
5. Serve a side salad and whole wheat rolls.

Almost-Sugar-Free Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 8

1 large box of sugar-free, cook-and-serve chocolate pudding
Milk needed to prepare pudding
6 tablespoons of reduced-fat peanut butter
1 graham cracker pie crust

1. Cook pudding according to package directions for pie filling.
2. Once you take the pudding off the heat, stir in the peanut butter.
3. Pour into pie crust and refrigerate until set.
4. Serve with sugar-free whipped topping.

Slip on a pair of sweatpants and enjoy the comforts of fall.

Evolution Of Clothes: How the Mini Skirt Got So Mini

The miniskirt, which seems a rather ordinary part of fashion today, was shocking when it first emerged on the scene. While hemlines started to go up significantly with the abandonment of corsetry by some in the 1920s with flapper-style dresses often showing off the knees, women’s clothes for most of the first half of the 20th century remained fairly modest and well structured.

Then the miniskirt arrived. Considered part of the Mod fashion trend of mid 1960s in Britain, the skirt, which generally must be at least eight inches above the knee to qualify as a mini, is usually credited to fashion designer Mary Quant who began experimenting with the shorter skirts as early as the 1950s. Other designers picked up on the trend and hemlines continued to rise, resulting not just in the ubiquity of the miniskirt but also the arrival of the micro-mini. In fact, it was thanks to these skirts that pantyhose and tights became more common than stockings with garters. The short skirts would reveal garter belts, stocking tops and possibly more without the new hosiery.

In the 1970s, the miniskirt faced a backlash, not on moral grounds (although there have always been some objectors) but on fashion grounds. With hemlines unable to go higher, and fashion always thriving on change, skirts necessarily became longer and more flowing in response to the mini. The 1980s brought the return of the miniskirt (not that it ever really went away) and more styles and cuts. Popular miniskirt trends included those based on the skirts of cheerleader uniforms and those structured into puffs and spheres with tulle and other even heavier construction.

The miniskirt, however, became truly tame in the 1990s, when it became a common part of women’s business wardrobe, at least on television. The sexy business suits of shows like Ally McBeal and Sex in the City became so ubiquitous that many workplaces found their dress codes and expectations challenging by younger office workers who had used these shows for blueprints.

Today the miniskirt, micro-mini and mini-dress continue to be alive and well and appear both on their own as well as worn over pants, leggings or tights, often in a nod to international styles that pair long tunics (or short dresses) with pants.

Shoe Encyclopedia: There's No Such Thing as Too Much Shoe Knowledge

If you’ve been keeping up, you’ve already learned quite an array of shoe terms to keep you up to date. If not, don’t despair. You can easily take a few moments to catch up by reading the previous installments of the shoe encyclopedia. At this point in the game, you should be really starting to impress your shoe-savvy friends while shoe shopping and gossiping. In fact, you’re becoming quite the shoe connoisseur yourself.

This mule won’t be carrying your baggage, but it could get you around with both style and comfort. In shoe talk, a mule is a slip-on shoe with a closed toe and an open heel. They are available in an array of choices, such as slippers, casuals or dress shoes . Mule shoes can come in a variety of styles for both women and men.

Hammertoe is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a medical condition where a toe is bent in a shape that resembles a claw or the end of a hammer. Most of the time, hammertoes develop due to an imbalance of the muscles. However, they can also be caused by arthritis or even by ill-fitting shoes. So, be sure you pick the right size when you are shoe shopping.

A last is a form used to make a shoe. The form can come in metal, wood, or plastic. The shoe is pulled and shaped around the form. That process is called lasting. Some shoes are hand lasted, while others are made using a shoe lasting machine. Since the use of a hand last is more time-consuming, hand-lasted shoes can sometimes have a higher price tag than machine-lasted shoes.

Lug Sole
A lug sole, when talking shoes, is a sole that is heavily treaded and made of rubber. Ever need some shoes strong enough to get you up a mountainside and also weather a storm? Maybe you’re not quite that brave. How about some cute boots to get you around town during the winter season? Footwear with a lug sole can do either and more.

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Snowboarding: It's Risky, but Snowboarding in Hawaii Could Be Worth The Risk

Travelers visit Hawaii each winter to snowboard and ski – yes, you heard us right – on the Big Island. Even so, the Hawaii Ski Club recommends against it. Perhaps this is a case in which familiarity breeds contempt.

The destination is Mauna Kea, Hawaii for “White Mountain,” because indeed the Big Island’s biggest volcano often draws snow. After all, it is nearly 14,000 feet above sea level, or 2.7 miles.

Authors on trailsource.com are positive. They report that south of Waimea and northwest of Hilo, Mauna Kea Park offers “amazing backcountry snowboarding.” No lifts are in place, but an access road is plowed a few days after each storm, “so you can drive or hitch to the summit” and ride down. Snow is most likely during the traditional winter months, but “can have 6-foot dumps” as well. In fact, prominent pro-snowboarding competitions have taken place at Mauna Kea.

A counterpoint is worded clearly: “Due to safety and environmental impact issues and health concerns, the Hawaii Ski Club no longer sponsors group ski trips to the Mauna Kea volcano, nor will we endorse or recommend travel agencies which may offer such trips.”

The Ski Club formed to plan trips elsewhere, but leaders have found themselves subject to inquiry when outsiders discover that such a tropical place as Hawaii actually has a place where snow falls, and where people get out their snowboards and skis.

Club leaders note that winter sports activities are “iffy.” They assert that snow often comes in the form of a shallow dusting. Even with deeper drifts, boarders and skiers may suddenly find themselves negotiating with lava rock and “being MEDEVACed to a hospital with massive injuries!”

As for driving up the access road or hitching a ride, members of the Hawaii Ski Club are skeptical. If you drive, then you have to walk back up a 14,000-foot mountain. And who would have room to give you a hitch, given that they already are loaded down with their own equipment? In the most common scenario, snowboarders or skiers rent a Jeep or a 4-wheel drive, and then members of the party have to take turns as the designated driver.

Snowboard or ski at Mauna Kea? Decide for yourself.