Moses

Go Back and Ask

"God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites. I AM has sent me to you." --Exodus 3:14

I AM your solutionRead: Exodus 3

When Moses needed a name, he got one. "Tell them I AM sent you." Before Moses became one of the greatest leaders the world ever knew, he needed guidance. The leader needed leading. So he went back and asked for it. Not the run-of-the-mill, garden-variety, Twitter-savvy kind of guidance, but he needed what only God could give; Himself.

Imagine if that were our first thought as we begin the week. Is your plate full? Big tests coming up? Maybe the boss has loaded you up with more than you think you can handle, or you just can't quite find the strength to sure up healthier habits. Whatever this new week stacks against us, make sure you remind yourself of Who lives in your heart.

If you notice, Moses didn't gather his wits, self-confidence or assurance. He didn't look in the mirror or take a selfie and repeat to himself, "You're Moses, you're strong, talented, you're handsome and happy. You GOT THIS!" No, Moses knew what was up. And he wasn't up for the task without the Lord. Who are we to think otherwise? Truth is, our week is no match for the One who sends us, and we're nothing for the week if we don't go back and ask.

--Jimmy Peña

Workout of the Week: Build & Burn

This start-of-the-week workout will have you building strength and burning fat in only a few intense minutes per session. Grab some open space and some dumbbells or heavy soup cans if you have them. After a 5-minute warm-up, you'll get to work with this total-body blast, starting with legs. You then move to back, shoulders and arms and finish the circuit on the floor with push-ups and planks to failure. If you have time or the energy, take a couple minutes to rest and repeat the cycle. The jump squats will be brutal but you should expect to achieve around 15-20 reps each round. Rest only as long as necessary before beginning the next exercise.

Welcome to Monday!

Bodyweight Squats for 1 min. Jump Squats to failure Dumbbell Deadlifts for 1 min. Jump Squats to failure Dumbbell Bent-Over Row for 1 min. Jump Squats to failure Dumbbell Overhead Press for 1 min. Jump Squats to failure Biceps Curl for 1 min. Jump Squats to failure Triceps Kickbacks for 1 min. Jump Squats to failure Bodyweight Push-Up to failure Jump Squats to failure Plank to failure Repeat the cycle

>> Click here for exercise videos and descriptions!

>> If you're looking for a more comprehensive, daily program to help you reach your fitness goals, try one of our at-home workout DVDs by clicking here.

A Powerful Statement

"Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." --Isaiah 2:5

Read: Isaiah 2

Walking is a powerful statement. We've spent a few days this week on the subject, but there are a few biblical faces I wish I could see as they put one foot in front of the other. Try to imagine Abraham's anguished face as he walked with Isaac toward the altar; a wide-eyed Moses when his feet touched the Red Sea's floor; a groggy Lazarus coming out of the tomb; a soon-to-be-blind Saul heading to Damascus. The visionary Paul pacing in prison writing, "We walk by faith". Picture the crippled boy carrying his bed through town, or a once-blind Bartimaeus -- now turned follower -- not letting Jesus out of his sight. I'd love to have seen Simone the Cyrene heading to Jerusalem, or Simon the Cyrene leaving Jerusalem. The two mourning disciples shuffling along the road to Emmaus just before their eyes were opened, or Peter's look of wonder as he strolled across the water.

Oh, we could go on and on, right? Some of the greatest moments of all-time occurred during one of life's most basic yet powerful actions. Whether they were called, healed, leading, following or reminiscing, we get to imagine their faces of faith as they walked. But I don't think the best evidence of its power is found on the floor of the Red Sea. It's not on the island of Patmos or somewhere along the road to Damascus.

How does the Bible describe the miracle moment of the Word becoming flesh? He walked among us. Of all the ways God chose to relate to us, making footprints was one of them. And those precious feet wouldn't stop until they were nailed to a Roman cross. The hill of Calvary didn't require Paul's brilliant mind, Job's resilience, Mary's innocence, Luke's precision, Joseph's persistence or the positive encouragement of Barnabas. No, Calvary required the perfect, spotless, blameless, loving, grace-giving walk of the Savior.

Evidence of faith, of agreement, of courage, of vision, of passion and purpose, of love and amazing grace. Walking is a powerful statement.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: We know the specialness of a walk, don't we? The bride in her aisle. The soldier exiting the plane home. The surgeon walking out to family with good news. What walk are you about to make? What steps of faith will you take to get your soul where it needs to go? Make no mistake, your walk is powerful statement. Say something with it today.

Sister Powell Update: Hey everyone, Sister Powell received the prayers and thoughts from everyone. She's traveling from the jungle of Cambodia en route home. Thank you guys for blessing her and me with your words. Here is her reply to you all:

"Jimmy, I am honored by your kindness and your generous spirit toward Henry and me. I praise the Lord that Henry lived long enough to see the Godly man you have become. I thank the Lord we both saw the stable marriage you and Loretta have. And, I thank the Lord for my PrayFit partners. I just received this e-mail and devotion. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support.

You are like the steel girders under the bridge, holding me up. I cannot even express the encouragement you deliver to me through your words and responses. Encourage means to put courage in another. Truly, you have and continue to do that for me. I am both humbled and grateful."

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"

Agreement Isn't Enough

"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'"  --Exodus 3:11

Read: Exodus 3

I wonder if Moses ever went back to the place of the burning bush. Oh, I know it's doubtful, but for one of the pillars of our faith, that spot was a pivotal point in his life (not to mention for yours and mine). But Moses didn't just agree there. He didn't concur with some sophisticated nod like he was looking at some priceless work of art. "Hmm, yes indeed." No, his body had to get him where his soul had to go. A simple agreement wasn't enough. And so with ash still on his sandals, he marched through Pharaoh's front door to prove it.

What about you? Do you remember when you were called to your task? For me, my soul was called in the eighth grade, then again in 2007 to create PrayFit. For you, maybe it was 10 years ago, or maybe even 10 minutes. But regardless, agreement isn't enough, especially when it comes to our health. Like it was for Moses, agreement is just the opportunity to prove it. So go back with him. Get close to the flame. Hear it crackle. Rub your hands together and get warm. You have your own Pharaohs to face. Obesity? Heart disease? A better example for your kids? Perhaps for your congregation? Pharaohs all. And as you march through those doors, let the ash on your sandals be a reminder that agreement isn't enough.

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION: The Perfect Breakfast

There are a lot of strong options for your breakfast table in the morning. But when it comes to starting your day, you don’t want to tinker with anything that is less-than-effective at fueling you up right.

>> Click here for the perfect morning combo!

Walking Joshua To Class

"So Joshua ordered the officers of the people." --Joshua 1:10

Read: Joshua 1 I used to dread 5th period math. Oh, I was fine with the subject matter, but it was the getting to my math class that had me shaking in my little boots. Each day that semester, a small group of bullies would hang out by my locker, calculating ways to torment me until one day, I got smart and asked my Bubba to walk me to class. Little did they know that the skinniest kid in school was the younger brother of the toughest. They did the math.

In our passage today, Moses has just died and the responsibility fell on Joshua. In preparing Joshua to address the people, you notice God say things like, "Nobody will be able to stand against you" (v. 5), "Be strong and courageous" (v. 6) "Be strong and very courageous" (v. 7) and then again God finishes his holy encouragement with, "Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (v. 9)

God walked Joshua to class.

You know, I don't remember ever being scared again on the way to math. Not because of who I was, but because of who walked with me that day. If you notice, God didn't tell Joshua, "Chin up, you have the power, trust your instincts, believe in yourself." No, God knew Joshua could stand tall because he wouldn't be alone. And what was Joshua's response? After nine verses of God's assurance, we learn Joshua didn't hesitate. That's right. He ordered. He commanded. He pushed forward in faith and trust. (Because that's how winning is done.)

Folks, faith says that there aren't enough problems waiting around today's corner that can add up or stand up to the One you bring with you. Like we said yesterday, life hits hard. Life can bully. And if we rely on our "selves," we do have reason to fear. But like Joshua and that skinny fifth grader, you and I don't walk to class alone.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What are you facing that needs your absolute faith and trust that God is with you? Health, financial, relationships, hardships? What can we be praying with you about?

EXTREME MAKEOVER: FRIDGE EDITION Body makeovers start in the kitchen. So for 2013, it’s out with the old and in with the new for your fridge and freezer. We’ve got five things to scratch off your shopping list and five fresher, healthier, and more affordable things to put in their place.

>> Click here for tips on how to retrofit your fridge for year-round clean eating. Prayfit Stainless Steel Water BottleSHOP FIT: Looking for some new fitness swag to sweat up in your pursuit of a leaner, healthier body? We've got just the thing(s).

Click here to explore the newly updated PrayFit store!

Now What?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. —Ecclesiastes 3:11

Read: Ecclesiastes 3

Now what? Have you ever asked yourself that? If so, you're not alone. It may not comfort you to know that this ham-and-egg writer has asked himself that question many times, but a few others you'll recognize just might. Abraham when he reached the altar with Isaac, Moses when he reached the sea, or Joshua when they finally reached Jericho. The same question they whispered to themselves after being obedient was the same question Satan shouted when Jesus was on the cross: Now what?

In response, God left Heaven's hall for Bethlehem's stall. He then climbed out of his crib and onto the cross. He became the answer to our biggest question and our direst need. Are you facing a now what moment? Maybe your health is taking a wrong turn or the job you wanted is already filled. Whatever you're dealing with, the next time you look up at the stars with unanswered questions, think of Abraham. When you run into a sea of obstacles or walls too tall to climb, remember Moses and Joshua. Just like you, their question just before the miracle was Now what?'

--Jimmy Peña

86% of American workers are above normal weight or have chronic health issues

CALLING ALL PASTORS, CHURCH LEADERS, TEACHERS, AND INFLUENCERS >> Dozens of churches and small groups around the country are using our book, "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," as bible study curriculum. From California to Texas to Florida, PrayFit groups are enjoying an enormous blessing, combining fitness and fellowship in His name.

If you're interested in more info on how these groups got started and how you might begin a small group in your city, reach out to us at info@prayfit.com. We'd love to share the stories of others with you. This is our life's work. Let us help you and those you love be healthier for all the right reasons. For a sample of the message, click play below.

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.

The Water's Edge

"One day Jesus was walking along the shore..." --Matthew 4:18

Read: Matthew 4

Although the weather was gloomy last weekend, Loretta and I decided to drive to the coast to relax. As we walked onto the sand, we immediately noticed a sea lion laying on the beach. When the wildlife rescue team arrived, they said it was probably sick and needed to rest, which is why it came ashore. Had it not, those able to save it said it would have surely died at sea.

Now, if you've been on PrayFit for any length of time, you know by now that I'm a little sentimental, so you'll forgive the analogy. But some of the greatest men and women have been rescued near the water. Moses needed courage on the banks of the Red Sea. David needed wisdom as he chose five stones. And on the beach in Galilee, Andrew and Peter met their Purpose face-to-face. Courage, wisdom, a Savior.

Are you facing some heavy work issues? Are you or someone you love in dire need of physical healing? Or maybe you just need a little rest. No matter your needs as we start a new week, His favorite place to run is to our rescue. Let's remember that our only hope in the world is waiting for us at the water's edge.

--Jimmy Peña

10-MINUTE WORKOUT: LEGS Wanna change your entire body? Start at the bottom and work your way up. By training the large muscles of your lower body with greater intensity, you stand to burn more calories and raise your metabolism. This 10-minute training plan, which attacks your legs with bodyweight exercises only, is designed to set your whole body on a path to transformation. Click below to get started.

>> POWER LEGS

>> NEW!!! For a more comprehensive target training routine plus motivation and biblical encouragement, try the NEW PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System DVD, exclusively through Thomas Nelson Publishing and its family of retailers. Find out more or place an order by clicking here.

A Cry at the Door

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." --Joshua 1:5

Read: Joshua 1

As a new dad, one of the toughest things to do was to leave my daughters. Each morning, when I would head out into the garage to depart for work, I'd have to endure the heart-wrenching sound of their screams from behind the kitchen door. They were so distraught that I was leaving that my wife's explanations of my eventual return seemed to do little good. But that was then. Older and more confident that I'll always come back, they hardly notice my departures now. Whether I'm heading to the store for milk, or dropping them off at grandma's for the weekend, I'm lucky to get a second look when I'm heading out.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them missing me so much. I know they love their daddy but part of me wishes that they were always a little more aware of my absence, a bit more hungry for my presence -- anything to make for a more dramatic, lasting embrace when I return.

At times, it may feel as if we've been left alone -- like our desperation has us crying at door for a father that is ambivalent to our desperation. But our heavenly Father never leaves our sides. We are His work so while there's never occasion for such a conspicuous exit, just know that He still loves it when we hunger for His presence and that our eventual reunion with Him will be all the more sweet as a result.

--Eric Velazquez 

PRAYFIT GARNERS ENDORSEMENT FROM JOSH COX Elite ultramarathoner voices support for faith and fitness

"Jimmy and the PrayFit team embody the words Paul penned to Timothy, 'For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.' (1 Tim. 4:8) Their daily devotional feeds my spirit and inspires my sweat!"

--Josh Cox, elite ultramarathoner, American record holder in the 50K

--Come back tomorrow for an in-depth Q&A with Josh Cox! Visit his website today at www.joshcox.com.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: RUNNER'S CORE

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. Muscles in your abdomen, such as rectus abdominis, obliques and deep transverse abdominis, help to keep the torso stable when running, allowing the legs to do what they need to. But simple crunches won't suffice. Your core needs deep and dynamic work in order to strengthen your stride. If you're a runner, or just someone looking for a more athletic core, this routine will come in handy.

Plank - 30 sec. Side plank - 30 sec. (each side) Ab rollout - 10-12 reps Bicycle crunch - 30 sec. Mountain climber - 30 sec. Medicine ball twist - 30 sec.

--Perform all exercises as a circuit with little to no rest between moves. Do the entire circuit 2-3 times total, 2-3 times per week on non-running days. If you must perform your core work and runs on the same day, go running first -- doing your abdominal work first could compromise your running form, putting you at risk for injury.

A Sea of Obstacles

"But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left." --Exodus 14:29

Read: Exodus 14

If you've been following us on PrayFit, I know it seems we spend a lot of time the desert, but let's rewind the tape. Moses was reluctant, but he led the Israelites out of bondage, motivated and on their way. Then came the Red Sea. Uhh...Moses?

The reason we're stopping here at the banks is because we receive countless e-mails expressing gratitude for the motivation, but there are all sorts of barriers that prevent activity. The workout of the week was too challenging, time constraints, bad sleep...the list of valid reasons goes on. Can you relate? While you feel encouraged, you often face an immediate impasse. Well, with water up to his knees, and Pharaoh breathing down his back, Moses could relate to you and me. We've got health issues chasing us but seemingly impossible challenges blocking our escape.

Friends, we have to remember that it's not about a particular workout or routine, but rather it's whatever you can do, enjoy doing, and can strive to improve upon from one day to the next. For some, that means a brisk walk around the block, for others it's pumping iron at the local gym. Truth is, we all have our own personal seas to cross, so stay encouraged. God is able, so stay available. No matter how you got to the water or how you plan to get to the other side, it's not impossible...the sea is crossable.

--Jimmy Peña

DID YOU KNOW?

"Researchers find that even a relatively small loss of weight can have a significant benefit in blood sugar control, regardless of how you lose the weight."

--Andrew J. Ahmann, M.D., medical director of the Oregon Health and Science University Diabetics Center

Source: "Sugar Nation" by Jeff O'Connell

Now What?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time." —Ecclesiastes 3:11

Read: Ecclesiastes 3

Now what? Have you ever asked yourself that? If so, you're not alone. It may not comfort you to know that this ham-and-egg writer has asked himself that question many times, but a few others you'll recognize just might. Who comes to mind? Abraham when he reached the altar with Isaac, Moses when he reached the sea, or Joshua when they finally reached Jericho. The same question they whispered to themselves after being obedient was the same question Satan shouted when Jesus was on the cross: Now what?

In response, God left Heaven's hall for Bethlehem's stall. He then climbed out of his crib and onto the cross. He became the answer to our biggest question and our direst need. Are you facing a 'now what' moment? Maybe your health is taking a wrong turn or the job you wanted is already filled. Whatever you're dealing with, the next time you look up at the stars, think of Abraham. When you run into a sea of obstacles and walls too tall to climb, remember Moses and Joshua. Just like you, their question just before the miracle was 'now what?'

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT SUCCESS STORY Team Prayfit wants to publicly recognize Roy Gonzalez, of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Roy describes himself as a Christian and family man. He says he's finally getting fit after 20 years of neglecting his health. He's a 49ers fan, a wannabe golfer, husband, dad, son, brother, and uncle. And one more thing...Roy has lost over 51 pounds since turning his health into praise with PrayFit. Congratulations, Roy! So blessed to know you. You inspire us all.

>> You can follow Roy on his journey at Twitter @RoyJr4753.

>> Got a success story of your own? We want to hear it! Share it with the PrayFit community by clicking here.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: PUSH-UPS AND PLANKS

If you're short on time, but long on enthusiasm, today's workout will meet both needs. No equipment required -- all you need is some open space and 5-10 minutes. Even if you had other plans for the day's workout, indulge us and give it a try anyway.

Plyo Push-Up: Akin to a normal push-up, this version requires you to have your hands leave the ground on each rep. The plyo push-up stimulates and innervates the fast-twitch fibers (the ones most responsible for tight, toned muscles). Upon failure -- the point at which you can no longer continue with good form -- go right into the...

Standard Push-Up: Do as many as you can. The push-up works the chest, front shoulders and triceps, not to mention your core musculature. Upon failure move right into a...

Straight-arm Plank: Basically, you're in the start of a push-up position with your arms straight, palms pressing into the floor, back straight and abs tight. Hold that position for as long as possible. When your arms begin to shake and fail, lower yourself to your elbows and begin the...

Standard Plank: Hold that position above the floor until failure. Like the straight-arm version, the plank works the innermost core muscles (transverse abdominis), the muscles that support your spine and ultimately your entire body.

After a brief rest, repeat that sequence. Chart your reps (or total time) for each exercise and strive to do better the next time you try this workout.

>> For exercise descriptions and videos, click here.

Character, Flaws

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

Read: Psalm 32

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, if 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 hits you like a freight train, ask yourself this: How long has 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.

Agreement Isn't Enough

"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'"  --Exodus 3:11

Read: Exodus 3

I wonder if Moses ever went back to the place of the burning bush. Oh, I know it's doubtful, but for one of the pillars of our faith, that spot was a pivotal point in his life (not to mention for yours and mine). But Moses didn't just agree there. He didn't concur with some sophisticated nod like he was looking at some priceless work of art. "Hmm, yes indeed." No, his body had to get him where his soul had to go. A simple agreement wasn't enough. And so with ashes still on his sandals, he marched through Pharaoh's front door to prove it.

What about you? Do you remember when you were called to your task? For me, my soul was called in the eighth grade, then again in 2007 to create Prayfit. For you, maybe it was 10 years ago, or maybe even 10 minutes. But regardless, agreement isn't enough, especially when it comes to our health. Agreement is just the opportunity to prove it. So go back with Moses. Get close to the flame. Hear it crackle. Rub your hands together and get warm. You have your own Pharaohs to face. Obesity? Heart disease? A better example for your kids? Pharaohs all. And when you decide to blast through Pharaoh's doors, imagine God as He nods at you like a priceless work of art...because you are.

--Jimmy Peña

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: Bodyweight Squat

Have you tried our workout of the week, affectionately dubbed The Gideon? Click here to refresh your memory. This routine centers around the squat. So today, a refresher on this fundamental move.

Focus: Quads, glutes, hamstrings 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.

>> VIDEO: Bodyweight Squat >> For more exercise descriptions and videos, click here.

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)

NOW WHAT?

"He has made everything beautiful in its time."— Ecclesiastes 3:11

Now what? Have you ever asked yourself that? If so, you're not alone. It may not comfort you to know that this ham-and-egg writer has asked himself that question many times, but a few others you might recognize probably have too. Who comes to mind? Abraham when he reached the altar with Isaac, Moses when he reached the sea, or Joshua when they finally reached Jericho. The same question they whispered to themselves after being obedient was the same question the enemy shouted when Jesus was on the cross: Now what?

In response, God left Heaven's hall for Bethlehem's stall. He then climbed out of his crib and onto the cross. He became the answer to our biggest question and our direst need. Are you facing a 'now what' moment? Maybe your health is taking a wrong turn or the job you wanted is already filled. Whatever you're dealing with, the next time you look up at the stars, think of Abraham. When you run into a sea of obstacles and walls too tall to climb, remember Moses and Joshua. Just like you, their question just before the miracle was 'now what?'

--Jimmy Peña

MEMORY BOOST: GET THE BLUES

Eat one cup of blueberries, three times a week for better memory. "Blueberries," according to Johnny Bowden, PhD, CNS, author of "The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer," "are the ultimate memory food. They are loaded with compounds that fight both oxidation and inflammation in our brains."

AMAZON TODAY!: If you're looking for a health-inspiring Christmas gift, head to Amazon and pick up our first-ever DVD. Loaded with at-home workouts and inspiring devotionals, this 33-day program offers a great way to start the new year!

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.

 

A CRY AT THE DOOR

November 6, 2011Read: Joshua 1

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." --Joshua 1:5

As a new dad, one of the toughest things to do was to leave my daughters. Each morning, when I would head out into the garage to depart for work, I'd have to endure the heart-wrenching sound of their screams from behind the kitchen door. They were so distraught that I was leaving that my wife's explanations of my eventual return seemed to do little good. But that was then. Older and more confident that I'll always come back, they hardly notice my departures now. Whether I'm heading to the store for milk, or dropping them off at grandma's for the weekend, I'm lucky to get a second look when I'm heading out.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them missing me so much. I know they love their daddy but part of me wishes that they were always a little more aware of my absence, a bit more hungry for my presence -- anything to make for a more dramatic, lasting embrace when I return!

At times, it may feel as if we've been left alone -- like our desperation has us crying at door for a father that is ambivalent to our desperation. But our heavenly Father never leaves our sides. We are His work so while there's never occasion for such a conspicuous exit -- at least there hasn't been in 2,000 years -- just know that He still loves it when we hunger for His presence and that our eventual reunion with Him will be all the more sweet as a result.

--Eric Velazquez Co-Founder, Prayfit

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 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. Muscles in your abdomen, such as rectus abdominis, obliques and deep transverse abdominis, help to keep the torso stable when running, allowing the legs to do what they need to. But simple crunches won't suffice. Your core needs deep and dynamic work in order to strengthen your stride. If you're a runner, or just someone looking for a more athletic core, this routine will come in handy.

Plank - 30 sec. Side plank - 30 sec. (each side) Ab rollout - 10-12 reps Bicycle crunch - 30 sec. Mountain climber - 30 sec. Medicine ball twist - 30 sec.

>> Perform all exercises as a circuit with little to no rest between moves. Do the entire circuit 2-3 times total, 2-3 times per week on non-running days. If you must perform your core work and runs on the same day, go running first -- doing your abdominal work first could compromise your running form, putting you at risk for injury.

>> 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.

HE'S HOW, HE'S WHY

October 17, 2011Read: Matthew 4

"Come, follow me." -- Matthew 4:18-20 Last Friday night we glanced back. For those who didn't see it, here's the thought we posted on Facebook: "Whew, Friday. Looking back down the week's mountain, some of us wonder how and why we made it. I know I do. That Monday meeting, Tuesday's test, Wednesday's wreck...well, you get the point. But it's ok to look back. Moses looked back at the sea he crossed. Daniel looked back at his bed in a lion's den. And Jesus? He looked back too. Of all the memories He had on Friday, our future was one of them. So go ahead. Look back in awe, in wonder. And while we do, let's remember that Jesus finished His week to give us purpose in ours. Whew, Friday. That's how. He's why..."

And so...whew! Monday. That was quick. The foot of yet another mountain. Head craned, eyes up...it's steep. But before you start your climb, look down. Notice? Somebody's been here. Go ahead, kneel to get a closer look. Seems our 'how' and 'why' has cleared a path. Are you shaking your head in wonder? Yeah, me too. The one who delivered us on Friday is leading us on Monday. Let's look up the hill in awe as we put one foot in front of the other, shall we? We'll see you at the top.

--J.P.

Workout of the Week: Legs in 10

You may not have heard it here first but you've certainly heard it here often: Training your legs regularly is one of the best things you can do to enhance your body composition. The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and calves represent a large portion of your body's musculature so, by working them hard you burn more calories. This, of course, on top of the more direct benefits such as increased strength, stamina and power production. This lower-body routine allows you to train for multiple goals at once, without equipment and in just a few minutes.

Warm-up: Jog in place for 1 min. High-knee running Jumping jacks Squat jumps Split jump lunge Speed skaters Wall squat hold

--Perform each exercise for one minute, resting 15-30 seconds between each. Then, repeat the entire sequence as many times as possible.

SHARE: GOALS What is one goal you hope to crush this week? List it here in the comments section. Is it consistent prayer time? Bible study? Perhaps you want to walk a certain number of laps or run a particular number of miles. Whatever it is, make it known. Let us and others help hold you accountable. We're on this side of the hill together.

IT'S OKAY TO LET GO

October 14, 2011Read: Exodus 4

"The Lord said, 'Throw it on the ground." --Exodus 4:3

Moses was reluctant to part with his staff, but when he finally laid it down in obedience, it became the rod of God. Abraham was asked to lay down his own son upon the altar, and Peter was asked to lay down his nets after catching nothing all night. I'm sensing a theme.

You know, we talk a lot about picking up the weights or picking up the pace in our pursuit of a fitter lifestyle, but God is honored most by what we're willing to lay down. And if we're obedient in the most difficult times, He'll bless us beyond belief. What are you holding that's keeping you from living a more abundant life either spiritually or physically? Whatever it might be, just know that Moses, Abraham and Peter know first hand that it's okay to let go.

--J.P.

RECOVER FASTER WITH R.I.C.E. Learn the basics of injury management to get back to your exercise program sooner

When you roll an ankle playing basketball or feel a pull in your hamstring during a sprint, do you wrestle over what approach to take? Is it heat? Or does ice work best? Should you just wrap it up tight and call it a day? If you can remember the term "RICE," you'll never go wrong with treating acute, soft-tissue injuries like strains and sprains. RICE is an acronym that stands for "rest, ice, compression and elevation," a fundamental injury treatment technique used in training rooms everywhere.

R - REST Forget about making tomorrow's pick-up game. Your body needs time to heal and complete rest is the only way to ensure that the injured soft tissue remains immobile until the pain has subsided and the majority of function has returned.

I - ICE We love to hate the cold stuff. Applying an ice pack to the area, usually for 20 minutes of each hour as soon as possible after the injury, helps to alleviate pain and swelling to the area. Care should be taken not to over-ice, as the extended restriction of blood flow can limit the delivery of nutrients and the elimination of waste from the injured area.

C - COMPRESSION Keeping a good elastic bandage on hand is a good idea if you're active, as this simple implement can help to further reduce inflammation. Wrap the affected area firmly, but not so much so that it is overly restrictive and never sleep with it on -- doing either can unnecessarily or dangerously interrupt important blood flow.

E - ELEVATION Gravity is your friend. If possible, keep the affected limb above the heart in order to reduce swelling and to improve the removal of waste products from the point of injury.

What about heat? From the above, you have probably deduced that most of these steps are designed to limit swelling and blood flow to the injury. Since direct heat increases circulation to the point of application, applying heat before swelling subsides (usually 48-72 hours) can be counterproductive, even if it offers some temporary comfort. To these steps, you can also add a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) such as ibuprofen which will further aid in pain management and the reduction of swelling.

>> For more on RICE, visit WebMD.

AGREEMENT ISN'T ENOUGH

October 4, 2011Read: Exodus 3

"But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" --Exodus 3:11

I wonder if Moses ever went back to the place of the burning bush. Oh, I know it's doubtful, but for one of the pillars of our faith, that spot was a pivotal point in his life, and for yours and mine. But he didn't just agree there. He didn't concur with a sophisticated nod like he was looking at some priceless work of art. No, his body had to get him where his soul had to go. A simple agreement wasn't enough. And so with ashes still on his sandals, he marched through Pharaoh's front door to prove it.

What about you? Do you remember when you were called to task? For me, my soul was called in the 8th grade, then again in 2007 to blend faith with fitness. For you, maybe it was 10 years ago, or maybe even 10 minutes. But regardless, agreement isn't enough, especially when it comes to our health. Agreement is just the opportunity to prove it. So go back with Moses. Get close to the flame. Rub your hands together and get warm. You have your own Pharaohs to face. And when you do, imagine God as He nods, looking at you like a priceless work of art...because you are.

--J.P.

NUTRITION Q&A Addressing reader questions from the PrayFit inbox

Q: I noticed that on page 225 of the book "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," there is a note to "add artificial sweetener if desired." Isn't that contrary to good health as artificial sweetener's are relatively "poison" and is a contributor to the obesity crisis?  Shouldn't you be recommending honey or stevia?

--Mo, via e-mail

A: Honey provides fructose, which is fine is small amounts but honey is known to cause numerous health problems. Stevia is a pretty good alternative for sweeteners, but it too has research showing some concerns over its safety. The research on artificial sweeteners concludes that they are safe when used in moderation. My personal stance is to avoid these chemicals. However, we realize that some people do need a "sweet treat" every once in a while and we wanted to make the diet tolerable for them. If a diet is too limited in the foods you can eat most people will not stay on the diet. The PrayFit nutrition plan we developed was designed to help people create a lifestyle out of healthy eating, rather than giving a quick fix solution.

--Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days"

>> Got a question for the PrayFit team? Send it to info@prayfit.com, or post it in our forums.

>> WATCH: Click on the player below for a peek at the official trailer for the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge by Lionsgate, due out December 6!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3k7_WPk5LU

TELL THE FUTURE

August 12, 2011 Read: Jeremiah 29

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." -- Jeremiah 29:11

If you happen to keep up with the stock market, well then you know it's been tough to keep up. A roller coaster has less ups and downs. Yesterday's confidence going toe-to-toe with tomorrow's uncertainty. If only we could tell the future.

Well, it's Friday; (Monday's futures, if you will). Looking back at the week according to health or otherwise, that roller coaster may have taken you lower than you thought you could go, or higher than you actually expected. But like we learned from Moses at the water's edge or from fallen Navy SEALs, we've been rescued from a life that doesn't always return our investments. We need to consciously remember that the options in life we lose or give up in obedience will ultimately make perfect sense. Put stock in that truth as you thank the week for the ride. And if you tell the future anything, just tell it you're comin'...and Heaven's comin with you.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT WEEK IN REVIEW A weekend reboot of abundant, active living tips

>> WORKOUT: Use this home-based workout to burn fat, build muscle

>> NOMENCLATURE: How we really managed to kill adult-onset diabetes

>> HEALTH: Keeping diabetes at bay...without medication.

>> STATISTICS: How much is the obesity epidemic costing us in fuel?

>> COMING SOON TO A CHURCH NEAR YOU!: Want to have Team PrayFit come to your church? Contact us at info@prayfit.com for more information.

>> SHOP: Visit our online store by clicking this line to pick up PrayFit hats, tees and wristbands!