Allison King Earnst

Off You Go

"God doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called." I have always loved that saying. Story of my life. But what does it mean? Well, for me it means that God often calls us to do something that we may not feel equipped to do. Sometimes I think, "Who me? But Lord, that isn't what I am best at." Or so I think. I'm reminded of a few biblical examples of those who understood what it meant to be outside their comfort zones. (Moses, Peter, Mary Magdalene...) But when we're obedient, I believe those are the times we grow and are really used by Him.

Reminds me of my recent trip to Allaso Ranch, my amazing church's kids camp where I was a counselor. So many adventures and fun things to do, one of which was the zip line. As I stood in line with my 9-year-old daughter to fly high above the camp and across the lake, she was all smiles. I was smiling too but beneath my smile and sunglasses, I was scared. How is it that my 9-year-old daughter has no fear but me, a grown woman, is apprehensive?

So the guy tells us, "Just sit on the edge, let your legs dangle, lean over and off you go." I literally asked him, "Can you just push me?" (It seemed easier if the choice wasn't mine, but his) "No, you have to do it," he replied. "Ugh," I growled under my breath. I looked over at my daughter beaming at me from the other zip line, she was seated, feet dangling, just waiting for me. I flashed her a big grin, took a deep breath and off we went.

You know what? Experience of a lifetime. In my comfort zone? No. Worth the risk? Yes.

Outside of my comfort zone, I struggle. I sway back and forth between what is comfortable and what is good. It's a tug of war between my mind and my heart. Thankfully, God knows my heart, and He knows yours. He created us to be anything but mediocre, and He cares about the details of our lives. So today, I am going to move forward outside of my comfort zone, in obedience and in faith that the God of the universe has great things in store for me. He has them for you too. It’s His promise. So go ahead, sit on the edge, let your legs dangle and...off you go.

--Allison Earnst

PrayFit's contributing writer, Allison Earnst, is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can visit her blog by clicking here.

TOP DIETS RATED U.S. News evaluates several of the top nutrition plans. Here are the top three

1. Dash Diet This diet plan is heavy on produce and light on saturated fats and salt.

2. TLC Diet Fiber and calcium, two very important parts of any diet, are stressed here.

3. Mediterranean Diet Wine, fish, salads, olive oil. This trendy diet is touted for its balance.

For the full story, click here.

But which one is really best? When selecting a nutritional plan, stories like this can make things even more difficult. Though the U.S. News story rates 20 different diets, each has benefits and drawbacks -- no single plan is the universal choice for body composition or healthful living. And when you consider that each has complicated formulas, painful exclusions and/or odd requirements, their sustainability becomes problematic. For many, simplicity is key to long-term progress which is why PrayFit recommends a diet that lends equal weight to protein, carbs and fat.

Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the body responded best to a diet that was split equally among the three macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat. Their research pointed out that this type of diet limited inflammation as well as certain type of cancers by acting favorably on key genes.

Ironically, this is the dietary approach advocated by Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days.” Says Stoppani: “This not only makes the diet easy to remember, but it ensures that you are taking in a well-balanced diet that provides adequate amounts of quality protein for repair and regeneration of tissues, healthy sources of carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for proper brain function, cardiovascular health and joint function. When these three macronutrients are eaten in equal quantities (and in proper amounts), fat loss is optimized, while important muscle tissue is spared. In addition, research shows that when protein and carbs are eaten in equal amounts, brain function is optimized, allowing you to be more efficient at work and on all cognitive tasks – such as your daily devotionals!”

It is worth noting that those with other considerations such as intense training or preexisting health conditions will likely need to alter their macronutrient intake accordingly but as the research shows, this type of dietary balance has plenty to offer for the general population.

>> For a glimpse at how balanced nutrition plays out, pick up our book by clicking here. You can find plenty of workouts to go with your redesigned diet right here at PrayFit.com everyday, or you can try our starter training program by clicking here.

Ripened Fruit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." --Galatians 5:22

Read: Galatians 5

There aren’t many things that make me as happy and content as perfectly ripened fresh fruit. I love to walk into the market and smell the fresh peaches as I pass, see the bananas yellow to perfection. Perfectly ripened fruit doesn’t just "happen." It is a process that takes time, patience, and growth. There are many factors that come into play when I ultimately choose the perfect Gala apple to put in my basket and take home.

I often wonder if God sees us as His ripened fruit. Sometimes we end up the best of the bunch and other times we are a more banged-up version of ourselves. But, the awesome part is that even when we have bumps and bruises, He still picks us. To Him, we're keepers. We don’t have to be perfectly ripened. We're in His basket and He proudly takes us home.

--Allison Earnst

PrayFit's contributing writer, Allison Earnst, is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can visit her blog by clicking here.

DID YOU KNOW?

High blood sugar can sour your mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drink two and a half cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious than those drinking less pop. What's more, the depressed have a heightened risk for Type II diabetes. The reverse also holds true: Diabetics are twice as likely as others to suffer depression.

Source: Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"

Nice To Meet You: Part 1

Driving home today, I decided to take a familiar route. This is a picture of the old Muscle & Fitness Magazine Headquarters. With it's palatial interior and athletes carved out of the walls along the rooftop facade, this building holds special memories for us. First of all, it's the reason my wife and I moved to Los Angeles when I took over the magazine's Fitness Director position in 2005; or so we thought it was the reason.

Days into my tenure, I happened to notice there was just something about one of my co-workers, far beyond his unbelievable writing skills and sense of humor. I knew he was smart -- smarter than me for sure. But something more. I remember the conversation. "You're a Christian," I said. And indeed he was. The weeks, months, and years serving readers together was an experience I'll cherish for a lifetime.

One late evening as we were both writing and editing fitness and nutrition content for our readers, I approached him and said, "Hey man, you got a second? I have an idea," And as he left my office, I think the last thing I said to him was, "I think I want to call it 'PrayFit.'" And the blessing of a best-selling book and DVD, a thriving website and an amazing future are byproducts of what we now know is the reason we moved to L.A. -- to meet Eric. And I'm glad you have, too.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. As we continue to serve, I know I speak for Eric when I say how thankful we are for the book's co-authors, Dr. Jim Stoppani and Jimmy Page, as well as our contributing nutritionist Dana White and our online contributing writers (and selfless crusaders) Allison EarnstCatrina Vargas-Cormell, and Emily Ann Miller MPH, RD. And mostly, we want to thank you, the faithful reader. Nice to meet you.

>> ABOUT US: Click here to learn more about the genesis of PrayFit. >> TEAM PRAYFIT: Get to know the faces (and stories) behind the daily entries here.

THE "OTHER" PROTEIN Why you should have casein in your cabinet in addition to whey

So much is made over the post-workout whey protein shake and its impact on muscle recovery. But there are other times of the day when protein consumption can payoff in a big way. New research published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that a casein shake consumed 30 minutes before bed immediately elevated (then sustained) circulating amino acid levels, increased whole-body protein synthesis and improved net protein balance. In other words, this “second tier” protein kept up muscle repair all night long. Since it clumps in the stomach, casein is absorbed by the digestive system at a much slower rate than whey, providing a steady trickle of muscle building blocks while you sleep.

About half hour before you snooze, try drinking 20-40 grams of casein mixed in water. Since it is thicker than whey, figure on adding a bit more water to achieve your desired consistency.

Our Daddy Rocks

“God will take away all their tears. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All the old things have passed away.” --Revelation 21:4

Read: Revelation 21

Recent business took my husband half way around the world to Hong Kong and Singapore, and after two weeks, my three young children missed their daddy. While he was gone, it was business as usual -- homework, projects, bath times and bedtimes -- but there was a huge part that felt empty. Though we were doing our best, I knew the kids missed those special moments that only a father can provide and I missed the comfort and security I feel when I lay in bed with him at my side. We had a few incidents including, but not limited to, rain storms, tornado warnings, power outages, falling from a tree and crashing a bicycle. Part of our well-oiled machine was missing, and we felt it.

The day finally came to pick up dad at the airport. Two full weeks of stumbles and bumbles and he was finally home to put us back together. The kids made signs saying, “Our Dad Rocks” to make sure anyone and everyone knew that our dad, in fact, rocks.  My daughter even had her favorite stuffed animals to help greet him as he arrived. I told them before we left, “Now, when you see your father, don’t drop everything and run. Give him a minute to get through the doors.”  But as we looked down the corridor and finally spied his blonde hair walking swiftly toward us, all three kids dropped everything and took off at lightening speed to tackle him. Home at last. Hugs, kisses and tears of celebration. In a moment, all was right again.

I wonder if that's how we'll be when we finally get to meet our Heavenly Father.  I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that we will drop all of the things we carry -- all the stuff that seemed so important -- in a millisecond and run with wild abandon to embrace Him. In that moment, all will be right (for good). After all, He not only keeps us from falling apart, but He's the only one who can put us back together. So, while we await His return, may our lives be a sign that says to anyone and everyone, "Our Dad (our Abba) Rocks."

--Allison King Earnst

PrayFit contributor Allison King Earnst is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can follow Allison on Facebook, Twitter or follow her blog here.

PRAYFIT NUTRITION TIP by Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

A salad before dinner is a great way to fit one or more servings of vegetables into your day. Try using bagged coleslaw mix (it usually contains shredded green and red cabbage and carrots) or broccoli slaw as an alternative to bagged lettuces. Cabbage and broccoli are packed with nutrients, provide a satisfying crunchy texture and are almost always cheaper than the bagged lettuce mixes -- you can often get the same amount of coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw for half the price of the bagged lettuces! Some of my favorite add-ins are chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, which contains plenty of healthy fats.

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the D.C. area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

OUR DAD ROCKS

October 19, 2011Read: Revelation 21

God will take away all their tears. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All the old things have passed away.”  --Revelation 21:4

Recent business took my husband half way around the world to Hong Kong and Singapore, and after two weeks, my three young children missed their daddy. While he was gone, it was business as usual -- homework, projects, bath times and bedtimes -- but there was a huge part that felt empty. Though we were doing our best, I knew the kids missed those special moments that only a father can provide and I missed the comfort and security I feel when I lay in bed with him at my side. We had a few incidents including, but not limited to, rain storms, tornado warnings, power outages, falling from a tree and crashing a bicycle. Part of our well-oiled machine was missing, and we felt it.

The day finally came to pick up dad at the airport. Two full weeks of stumbles and bumbles and he was finally home to put us back together. The kids made signs saying, “Our Dad Rocks” to make sure anyone and everyone knew that our dad, in fact, rocks.  My daughter even had her favorite stuffed animals to help greet him as he arrived. I told them before we left, “Now, when you see your father, don’t drop everything and run. Give him a minute to get through the doors.”  But as we looked down the corridor and finally spied his blonde hair walking swiftly toward us, all three kids dropped everything and took off at lightening speed to tackle him. Home at last. Hugs, kisses and tears of celebration. In a moment, all was right again.

I wonder if that's how we'll be when we finally get to meet our Heavenly Father.  I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that we will drop all of the things we carry -- all the stuff that seemed so important -- in a millisecond and run with wild abandon to embrace Him. In that moment, all will be right (for good). After all, He not only keeps us from falling apart, but He's the only one who can put us back together. So, while we await His return, may our lives be a sign that says to anyone and everyone, "Our Dad (our Abba) Rocks."

--Allison King Earnst

PrayFit's newest executive team member is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act."

PRAYFIT NUTRITION TIP by Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

A salad before dinner is a great way to fit one or more servings of vegetables into your day. Try using bagged coleslaw mix (it usually contains shredded green and red cabbage and carrots) or broccoli slaw as an alternative to bagged lettuces. Cabbage and broccoli are packed with nutrients, provide a satisfying crunchy texture and are almost always cheaper than the bagged lettuce mixes -- you can often get the same amount of coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw for half the price of the bagged lettuces! Some of my favorite add-ins are chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, which contains plenty of healthy fats.

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the D.C. area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

RIPENED FRUIT

October 7, 2011Read: Galatians 5

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” --Galatians 5:22

There aren’t many things that make me as happy and content as perfectly ripened fresh fruit.  I love to walk into the market and smell the fresh peaches as I pass, see the bananas yellow to perfection. Perfectly ripened fruit doesn’t just “happen." It is a process that takes time, patience, and growth.  There are many factors that come into play when I ultimately choose the perfect Gala apple to put in my basket and take home.

I often wonder if God sees us as His ripened fruit. Sometimes we end up the best of the bunch and other times we are a more banged-up version of ourselves.  But, the awesome part is that even when we have bumps and bruises, He still picks us. To Him, we're keepers.  We don’t have to be perfectly ripened. We're in His basket and He proudly takes us home.

--Allison King Earnst

PrayFit's newest executive team member is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act."

PRAYFIT: WEEK IN REVIEW

Faith

>> NO HILL FOR A CLIMBER: Exhausted, He still climbed mountains to pray. When was the last time you were out of breath for Him?

>> SWING AWAY: Today's sunrise is the only sign you need to step up and swing away

>> AGREEMENT ISN'T ENOUGH: When you answer the call, it's the body that gets the soul where it needs to go

>> MISFITS SELDOM DO: Don't fit in with a world that disregards health as a means of praise?

Fitness

>> MASTERING THE PUSH-UP: Practicing variations of this fundamental move can improve your gains

>> THE DAIRY DEBATE: Is dairy beneficial or detrimental to your overall health?

>> NUTRITION Q&A: Should you be taking artificial sweeteners?

>> WORKOUT: Four moves for great abs

GEAR UP: Looking for PrayFit hats, shirts, wristbands and more? Visit the PrayFit store for the perfect gift today.

GRACE FOR IMPACT

August 18, 2011Read: Matthew 18

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." -- Matthew 18:20

Yesterday, my friend Allison King Earnst -- in just a few words -- wrote a novel's worth of wisdom. She alluded to the fact that God will often plot a course for believers to meet and team-up for the cause of Christ. She called it a "spiritual collision." The expression (appropriately) knocked me back on my heels.

Friends, in the area of health, we need each other. If we're gonna to live abundantly like God intended, we need moms and dads, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends, to help us hit life head on. And when we do, God is more than near, He's here. So let's do more than just meet. Let's collide! With a running start, let's push our faith into the battle. God Himself designed these bodies of ours and the world won't take them without a fight. So...I'll see you in the middle? Remember, it's not the battles we lose that should bother us, it's the ones we don't suit-up for. Thankfully, in the times we break through, and when we ultimately break down, God promises grace for impact.

-JP

DID YOU KNOW? High blood sugar can sour your mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drink two and a half cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious than those drinking less pop. What's more, the depressed have a heightened risk for Type II diabetes. The reverse also holds true: Diabetics are twice as likely as others to suffer depression.

Source: Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"