Bible

The Firefighter

"When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses his face was radiant..." --Exodus 34:30

Read: Exodus 34

Immediately after my walk on Saturday, I was standing outside the condo doing my prescribed stretching when a neighbor's visiting father offered me encouragement on his way to dinner; a tall man, sharp, very put-together and gray-haired. He'd obviously learned I was recovering and he simply told me that he understood what I was going through. As I asked him questions, there was something about his answers. Not so much in the content, but in his conduct. You know those kinds of people who immediately capture your attention? This guy was that kind of guy. A man's man and a gentle giant of sorts.

Long story short, as we spoke, I learned he was a firefighter. Those who know me don't even blink when I admit that I unashamedly interrupted him mid-sentence to shake his hand and thank him for his service. But then you guessed it, just as naturally as could be, he spoke of the Lord as if he had just hung up the phone with him. His thankfulness to God for his health and ability were written all over his face long before it came out of his mouth. It was neat. He didn't know me or Loretta or what we did. He was just walking by, shared the Lord and drove away.

In our passage today, when Moses came down to talk to Aaron and the Israelites, how does the bible describe his face? Radiant, right? You just know when someone has been with the Lord. And nothing, folks -- nothing -- prepares us to meet the world, strangers, neighbors, obstacles or triumphs better than our intimate time with Jesus. You want to honor God with your body? It starts by hitting your knees and spending time with Him. The stranger who strolled by me on Saturday sure does, and it shows on his face. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that before that man puts out any fires, he goes to the well.

--Jimmy Peña

A FIRE FIGHT: We all have fires that need extinguishing today. Jobs, health, healing, family matters, kids' summers, and the list goes on. Amidst it all, how do we expect to live a life God desires if we don't pick up His word and read it? This week, who will commit to spending five minutes alone with the Lord? Not checking the phone, not on the TV or computer -- but quiet time with God. I realize we talk to Him throughout the day, but who's going to find a way for a personal bible study and prayer time? Maybe start with today's chapter if you haven't already. Let's come down from the mountain with an unmistakable glow that only God can give. Let's let the people we encounter say to themselves, "There's something about this one." And then let's tell them Who that is.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: THE RUNNER'S CORE

In an effort to become more efficient runners, people will often train their legs harder. A few more miles per week, a few more lunges in the gym -- legs, legs, legs. But as any experienced runner will tell you, legs are only part of the equation. Core strength and stamina are incredibly important for maintaining proper mechanics, whether you're training for a 5K or running out a double in a softball game.

>> Click here for a running-focused core routine!

ultralite-hat-back-white>> SHOP: Looking for some awesome PrayFit gear to sport on your next run? Visit the PrayFit store today for hot deals on tees, hats, wristbands and more.

Healthy Conscience

"But we must hold on to the progress we have already made." --Philippians 3:16

Read: Philippians 3

With Thanksgiving in the rearview -- deep breath -- it's time to gear up for Christmas. School activities, shopping lists, travel arrangements. Add to that a genuine desire to be healthy and as fit as possible, and the days get pretty packed, right? If it takes an hour in the gym or on the track to get my workout in, sparing even 10 minutes to read and pray is, well, tough to spare. A show of hands of those who can relate. Who has time to get quiet? Doesn't God know how busy I am?

But folks, if there's ever a time to create new habits or fortify old ones, it's now. At PrayFit, we believe it's more important to have a healthy conscience that it is to be health conscious. For the fitness-minded, shame on us if we train and eat "perfectly" this week but never crack open our bibles or hit our knees. Sure, it's great to plan your workout, but more important to work your heart out.

So let's enjoy the season; shop till we drop, pull out the Christmas sweaters and hang the lights. But as you set the week's schedule including your workouts and meal plans, bless the Lord and your life by adding in those precious few minutes of reading, praying and listening. Start with today's chapter. Find out the context of the verse. God knows time is precious, and He misses His with you.

--Jimmy Peña

Did You Know? >> The average person spends 18 hours a month on Facebook (checking the news feed just 7 times a day.) How many verses could you read in 18 hours a month? Will you lay down social media to get closer to the Lord?

WORKOUT OF THE MONTH: PrayFit 33

Don't wait until the turn of the calendar to renew your commitment to health and fitness. The PrayFit 33-Day Body-Toning System, the sequel to the team's first workout DVD, is a highly-effective blend of resistance training and cardio that can help you reshape your body for good.

For more information or to order, click here!

Standing Up Straight

"No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." --Psalm 84:11

Read: Psalm 84

Isn't it interesting that at the mere mention of the words "good posture," we automatically pull our shoulders back? (Admit it, you sat up a little taller in your chair as you read that sentence.) Well, if it helps, I sat up as I wrote it. Many of you don't know, but two years ago I had cervical spine surgery; a couple of fusions and an artificial disk were all my neck needed. Okay, basically I have a brand new neck. And of the many rehab mandatories, a lifetime of maintaining good posture is at the top of the list. That's why I'm constantly asking my wife to remind me of it.

Good posture. Physically and spiritually. Isn't that the goal each day? Am I eating right? Am I reading my Bible? Am I walking uprightly in my pursuit of abundant living? When it comes to my very small, brief life, there's a lot I think I need, but I want nothing more than a backbone for Christ, while protecting the frame He designed around it.

I just want to stand up straight.

Have a good week everyone. In Jesus' name, we train.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: BACK ISSUES

Speaking of good posture, a strong back can help. Next time you're at your gym, try this workout. It'll help target all the major muscles of your back.

Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 10-15 The lat pulldown is great as a warm-up as well as the start of your working sets. Do a few light warm-up sets with very light weight before reaching failure at the designated rep range. The lat pulldown targets the upper part of the lats, the wide, wing-shaped muscles that extend from your armpit down to your lower back.

Wide-Grip Seated Row: 3 sets of 8-12 Close-Grip Seated Row: 3 sets x 8-12 The wide-grip seated row will zero-in on your upper lats, while also hitting your middle back (rhomboids, middle traps). When you switch to the narrow grip, you shift the focus to the lower lats.

Pull-Up: 4 sets x To Failure Close-Grip Pull-Up: 4 sets x To Failure Finish your quick yet effective back workout with pull-ups and chin-ups, to failure, four sets each. Do as many wide-grip pull-ups as possible then finish with the underhand chin. Your biceps, which come into play more with this grip, will help you tax every remaining fiber in your back.

--Rest 60-90 seconds between sets and exercises. --Perform this workout once per week, preferably as one of the first in your schedule of workouts. --Do 5-10 minutes of general warm-up work, such as jogging or jumping jacks, in order to increase blood flow and elevate your core temperature. Follow each workout with a few minutes of back stretches to maintain flexibility in these crucial postural muscles.

He's My Brother

"Then I sent Moses and Aaron..." --Joshua 24:5

Read: Joshua 24

A great friend and mogul said to me yesterday, "I believe God puts people in your life to help show you where you're going." His statement couldn't have been more true about the day nearly seven years ago when I met then writer extraordinaire and future PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez. Little did I know that when I shook Eric's hand in the offices of Muscle & Fitness Magazine, God was showing me where I was going.

In the context of PrayFit, if I could humbly assign Eric a biblical counterpart, it would probably be Aaron. If you're thinking, "Aaron! Yes, of course! Aaron...wait...who's Aaron?" well, that helps my point. Aaron was Moses' brother. Often overlooked, but when Moses was in need, God sent Aaron. Moses stuttered, so God delivered. Aaron 'spoke well' and they became a team.

So please allow me to use the comparison to publicly acknowledge Eric and his selfless, often invisible, critical and fantastic work he does day in and out. If it weren't for Eric, there would be no daily message. If he's not writing amazing articles for the biggest fitness magazines in the country, or inspiring people to grow closer to the Lord and healthier in the process, he's smoothing out my stutter. He's my brother, and we're a team.

If you've been following PrayFit for any length of time, please help me in publicly thanking Eric for who he is and what he means to us all.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH FACTS, BY THE NUMBERS The AHA's most recent report on obesity and its ties to heart disease

149,300,000 - Number of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are overweight or obese

33.7 - Percentage of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are obese

23,600,000 - Number of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are overweight or obese

16.9 - Percentage of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are obese

33 - Percentage of U.S. adults that report doing no aerobic leisure-time activity

71 - Percentage of U.S. adults with cardiovascular disease that were overweight or obese

1 in 3- Deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the U.S.

Source: American Heart Association Statistical Update on Heart Disease and Strokes (2012)

STANDING UP STRAIGHT

November 28, 2011 Read: Psalm 84

"No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." --Psalm 84:11

Isn't it interesting that at the mere mention of the words 'good posture', we automatically pull our shoulders back? (Admit it, you just sat up a little taller in your chair as you read that sentence.) Well, if it helps, I sat up as I wrote it. Many of you don't know, but a little over a year ago, I had spine surgery; a couple of fusions and an artificial disk were all my neck needed. Okay, basically I have a brand new neck. And of the many rehab mandatories, a lifetime of maintaining good posture is at the top of the list. That's why I'm constantly asking my wife to remind me of it.

Good posture. Physically and spiritually. Isn't that the goal each day? Am I eating right? Am I reading my Bible? Am I walking uprightly in my pursuit of abundant living? When it comes to my very small, brief life, there's a lot I think I need, but I want nothing more than a backbone for Christ, while protecting the frame He designed around it.

I just want to stand up straight.

Have a good week everyone. In Jesus' name, we train.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: BACK ISSUES

Speaking of good posture, a strong back can help. Next time you're at your gym, try this workout. It'll help target all the major muscles of your back.

Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 10-15 The lat pulldown is great as a warm-up as well as the start of your working sets. Do a few light warm-up sets with very light weight before reaching failure at the designated rep range. The lat pulldown targets the upper part of the lats, the wide, wing-shaped muscles that extend from your armpit down to your lower back.

Wide-Grip Seated Row: 3 sets of 8-12 Close-Grip Seated Row: 3 sets x 8-12 The wide-grip seated row will zero-in on your upper lats, while also hitting your middle back (rhomboids, middle traps). When you switch to the narrow grip, you shift the focus to the lower lats.

Pull-Up: 4 sets x To Failure Close-Grip Pull-Up: 4 sets x To Failure Finish your quick yet effective back workout with pull-ups and chin-ups, to failure, four sets each. Do as many wide-grip pull-ups as possible then finish with the underhand chin. Your biceps, which come into play more with this grip, will help you tax every remaining fiber in your back.

--Rest 60-90 seconds between sets and exercises. --Perform this workout once per week, preferably as one of the first in your schedule of workouts. --Do 5-10 minutes of general warm-up work, such as jogging or jumping jacks, in order to increase blood flow and elevate your core temperature. Follow each workout with a few minutes of back stretches to maintain flexibility in these crucial postural muscles.

COMING SOON!: December 6 marks the official release of PrayFit's first DVD, now available for pre-order on Amazon and other retail websites.

 

CHARACTER. FLAWS.

November 22, 2011Read: Psalm 32

"You are my hiding place." --Psalm 32:7

A friend of mine recently asked her fans and followers if they could relate to any particular character in the Bible. I never get tired of that question. If you're like me, you don't know where to start. Pick one. The disobedience of Adam? That's me, hiding in the bushes. Insecurity of Moses? Yep, I'm a carrier. What about Sarah's idea of the impossible, versus God's idea of the inevitable? Regretfully, Sarah and I would share a good, brief laugh.

Indeed, find a character in the bible and you'll find your character flaw. But of all the things I'm thankful for this week, it's not about who I can relate to, but Who chose to relate to me. To think, I can identify with so many of the bible's lowest moments, yet Christ identifies Himself with me.

What are you thankful for today?

-Jimmy Peña

CRAVINGS: BRAIN GAMES Science shows that impulse control may have to do with your blood sugar

Think back on the last time you were hungry for something really bad. When that craving for high-sugar, high-fat and/or high-calorie food hit you like a freight train, how long had it been since your last good meal? Brain imaging scans show that when glucose (blood sugar) levels drop, an area of the brain known to regulate emotions and impulses loses the ability to dampen desire for high-calorie food, according to the study published online in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Your brain runs on glucose, so in a state of deprivation -- which can occur if you go too long between meals -- it may send signals that trigger these cravings. In order to avoid said cravings, your best bet is to have 4-7 small, healthy, whole-food meals and snacks throughout the day. This constant influx of fuel prevents your brain from going into panic mode and keeps you on the right track for healthful, abundant living.

>> For the full story on Science Daily, click here.

 

EASY TO MISS

September 30, 2011Read: Luke 24

"He asked them, 'What are you discussing together as you walk along?'"  --Luke 24:17

I can just imagine those two disciples walking toward Emmaus together.  It was late in the day, their heads hung low as they kicked up dust with each reminiscent step. After minutes of silence, one would remember something Jesus said, bringing a grin to both their faces. After all, these two heard and saw things not written in the bible.

After another quiet mile or so, the other would bring up "that time when," and the two would smile, shake their heads, laugh and cry. Who would blame them? They missed their friend. Not the miracle maker or the water-walker, but just Jesus. The same Jesus who would tell a good joke at night, sending all the guys to bed laughing. And the same Jesus that listened to their stories with the anticipation of one who didn't already know the ending. Jesus was easy to miss.

Even when He was walking right next to you.

--J.P.

Question for Friday: Did you see Jesus this week? Maybe in the Doctor that gave you the news of your blood sugar? Perhaps it was the homeless man who wanted nothing more than for you to look him in the eye? Friends, Jesus may not walk beside us like He did on the road to Emmaus, but He walks among us. Whether in school, work or the gym, let's remind each other not to miss Him, because it's easy to do.

Thankful to all of you for your faithfulness to Prayfit. You bless us. In Jesus' name, we train. Have a good weekend.

PRAYFIT TO RELEASE FIRST DVD New 33-day program available through Lionsgate Entertainment Dec. 6

On December 6, Lionsgate Entertainment will release PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge to a global audience.  The DVD will feature a 33-minute, bodyweight-only program that boosts strength, stamina and flexibility. The program's 33-day length is a nod to proven habit-forming behavior as well as the length of Jesus's life. "He gave us 33 years," says PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS. "Let's give him 33 minutes for 33 days, honoring the one who made us."

>> For the full story on the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge, click here. Or, to preorder immediately, visit Amazon.

A LOVE NOTE

February 15, 2011Read: John 13

"A new command I give you: Love one another." -- John 13:34

If you looked for me yesterday, you needed only to check the Hallmark store. Like many a husband, I waited to the last moment to find the one thing that matters most to my wife: a card.

Sure, I could come home with chocolate, flowers and diamonds, but if I were to forget the card, I might as well have forgotten her name. See, jewelry reaches her hand, but words find her heart. And her reaction says it all.

God gave, and He could have stopped at the world, but didn't. He put His love in writing. And to Him...our reaction says it all.

--J.P.

KNOW SQUAT

This week's workout -- Legs in 10 -- revolves around various versions of the squat. That's because this multi-joint move, which includes action at your hips, knees and ankles, is central to nearly every activity that we perform on a daily basis both in the gym and out. Done properly, the squat uses a tremendous amount of muscle, meaning that strength gains -- and fat loss -- are sure to follow. Familiarize yourself with the basics of the bodyweight squat to start changing your body from the legs up.

Bodyweight Squat | Focus: Quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, lower back | (VIDEO)

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, a light bend in your knees and your toes turned out slightly. Keeping your head neutral, abs tight and torso erect, bend at the knees and hips to slowly lower your body as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Pause when your legs reach a 90-degree angle, then forcefully drive through your heels, extending at your hips and knees until you arrive at the standing position.

>> EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS AND VIDEOS

RED LIGHTS, RED LETTERS

February 9, 2011Read: Psalm 119:107

"Revive me O Lord, according to your word." --Psalm 119:107

This morning, I woke up anxious. With barely one eye open, I stumbled across the room to check my phone. If you're like me, you look for that red light that screams, "You have a message!" But in my case, nothing. I grabbed my coffee and made my way to my favorite morning spot, but not before checking that measly phone...again. Alas, no red light. But as I sat there for a moment, I looked and realized that I had set my phone down right next to my bible. From across the room, I grinned, because I could feel the Holy Spirit say, "You do have a message..."

Rather than look for the red light, I should have been looking for the red letters.

--J.P.

8 WAYS TO EAT BETTER...FOREVER

By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

As a registered dietitian, I share many of the same tips with clients over and over again. For instance, I always tell my clients to give up saying they don’t have enough time to eat better and exercise, and remind them:  Health should be a priority!

We asked nutrition experts from across the country to share their most valuable tips. Here are their top nutritional landmines to avoid when it comes to eating for better health.

Don’t Stock Your Pantry With Junk Even if it’s not for you (yeah, right!), leaving junk food at arm’s length is just asking for trouble. Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD says “never put junk food on your kitchen countertop.” There’s a time and place for cakes, cookies or whatever junk food you love, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing. How about a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter instead?

Don’t Ignore Hunger Cues Chef and dietitian Katie Cavuto-Boyle says don’t “clear your plate just because.” Read her recent post all about mindful eating.

Don’t Guzzle Your Calories Healthy Eats’ “Veggie Table” dietitian Janel Ovrut reminds her clients to bypass gulping endless calories.  “Even seemingly healthy enhanced waters and beverages are usually loaded with sugar. Get nutrients from food, and hydration from water,” she says.  Not a fan of water? We’ve got ways to flavor it up that won't compromise your waistline.

Don’t Buy Into the Latest Diet Craze Food writer Jessica Cox, RD, reminds her clients to “avoid defined meal plans and ‘diets.’ It’s hard to stick to a boring meal plan for more than a few days. Instead, resolve to make a few healthier choices each day within your normal routine.” Alma Kay Nocchim, RD, CD, LD backed this up by also warning against “diets” altogether. “Changes must be considered a positive change in lifestyle to work!” 
Melissa Buczek, MS, RD, CDN says “don’t follow the latest ‘fads.’ Instead, seek out reliable, health information from professional source. Don’t think of your daily food intake as a ‘diet;’ make every meal and snack a pleasurable experience, a healthy part of your day-to-day life.”

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear Along the same lines as those diet crazes is our nutrition expert Toby Amidor’s number one no-no. “Don’t believe everything you see on TV or read.” she says. “There is lots of nutrition and diet information swirling around out there. Before you go and buy the newest buzz food, gather the facts by looking for information published by registered dietitians. To find a registered dietitian near you, check out www.eatright.org.”

Don’t Throw In The Towel Any nutrition professional will tell you that mistakes are part of the learning process. Registered dietitian and author of "The Thin Diary," Cindy Guirino warns against giving in if you slip up. “Don’t collapse when you spot too many lapses,” she says. “Correct the behavior that is causing it.” For instance, if you are prone to hitting the drive-thru because you're pressed for time, you may want to consider prepping healthy, easy-to-eat meals ahead of time that you can have anywhere.

Don’t Skip Meals Dietitian and life coach, Linda Eck Mills discusses a topic that RDs bring up on a daily basis. “Stop skipping meals, especially breakfast! If you don’t like traditional breakfast foods, eat foods you do like.” she says. “You will actually slow your metabolism by skipping meals.”

Don’t Weigh-In Daily It’s super-easy to get hung up on that number on the scale. What most people don’t realize is that daily weights are not always an accurate measure of your success. Don’t “weigh yourself every day” says Heather S. Zeitz, RD, Vice President of Health Content at Alere. “If you are going to monitor weight, pick one time a week where you weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink,” she says. “Fluid fluctuations throughout the day and week will be discouraging and won’t help build confidence in your efforts to manage your weight.”

TELL US: What are some of your major nutritional hurdles? Discuss in the comments section below.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

RECALIBRATION

December 14, 2010Read: Psalm 57

"I cry out to God most high, to God who fulfills his purpose for me." --Psalm 57:2

In grad school, one of the more tedious obligations we had was recalibrating our lab equipment. VO2 max machines, CO2 analyzers -- you name it, we had to put things in check and often. It's one thing for a piece of scientific apparatus to be precise, but unless it's accurate, it doesn't do much good.

With that in mind, let’s do a little calibration of our own. We're almost to the end of 2010, and we’re knee-deep in school and work. Sounds silly, but have we been going to work without shoes on? Or to school without books? Of course not. Some things just never cross our minds.

But when we fail to spend time in God's word, praying and talking to Him, we begin our day unprepared and unprotected. And if we're not dedicated to optimum health and nutrition, we're neglecting His gift of life itself.

So as we enter the last few weeks of the year, let's recalibrate. Let's be precise with those priorities and more accurate with our appointments. As the new year approaches, let’s draw a new line in the sand as it relates to our faith and fitness and we’ll hit it with our knees...together.

--J.P.

NEWS: KIDS NOT EXERCISING ENOUGH Sunday soccer may not be sufficient to boost health, prevent obesity

Many parents get their kids active in sports in order to plant the seeds of an active lifestyle. Weekly practices and games, they figure, are sufficient to help their kids reap all the developmental benefits that exercise has to offer such as bone development, better energy levels and strong mental health. And while it's better for our kids to be involved in sports than not, the cumulative amount of activity may not be enough, according to a new study.

Researchers at San Diego State found that fewer than 25% of the children -- ages 7-14 -- got the recommended 60 minutes of exercise per day that they needed. They discovered that despite the length of some practices exceeding three hours, much of that time was devoted to stand-still strategy and discussion.

The solution is beneficial not only for Sunday soccer, but for the collective health of our children. Coaches simply need to find ways to get them to move more during the time they have with them.

"If coaches were convinced that fit players were better players, there would be more physical activity during practices," said study author James Sallis.

>> For the full article from Reuters, click here.