Yankees

The Captain

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." --Romans 8:1

Read: Romans 8

Yep, I'm too predictable, aren't I? As I do each year, I'm celebrating the beginning of the Major League Baseball season. Of course, many of you know we're thrilled that the Boys of Summer have taken the field. In fact, I'm not kidding when I say I've been whistling "Take me out to the ballgame" a lot lately. (And maybe now so are you.)

But as I watch my beloved Yankees take the field today, it occurs to me that Opening Day can teach us a lot about grace. Reason being, right before player step into the batter's box, each person's average on the screen will be .000 -- a clean slate. Reverend Scotty Smith says, "Jesus didn't just die to give us a clean slate, but to give us His righteousness." Take a swing at that for a second.

You know, each morning you and I step up to the plate ready to swing away at whatever the day throws at us. Thankfully, no matter how many strikeouts we had yesterday, God's mercy is new with each plate appearance. And with Easter fast-approaching, it feels so appropriate, no? Jesus conquered death so we can have life; an abundant life with no record of wrongs. When Jesus rose from the grave, He gave us every reason we need to look alive. You know, I'm now whistling a medley. "Take me out to the ballgame"...because I know "He Lives".

--Jimmy Peña

The CaptainFAREWELL TO THE CAPTAIN Today will be my favorite athlete of all-time, Derek Jeter's, last first bat of the season. I won't try to explain what it means to me (I'll save that for the end of the year) but I will express this: Many of the things I'm doing at PrayFit may very well be my last. I see this latest book opportunity as 100 percent a gift -- pure grace. Nothing of me, all of God. I'm not sure -- and neither are you -- of how many days of at-bats we have left. And much like Jeter demonstrates in this picture, I thank the Lord everyday for inspiring PrayFit. Maybe you're saying the same thing about a dream you're living. If so, here's a virtual fist-bump from me to you. Here's to a new day, a new season, a new opportunity to swing away.

BAT & BURN: A 160-lb. person who plays baseball for 30 minutes burns approximately 182 calories, according to HealthStatus. This, of course, doesn't take in the potential for post-game calorie burn, triggered by the aggressive, sprint-based actions typically taken on the field.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Have you shared The PrayFit Diet link with your friends yet? We're giving away a Jimmy Peña-autographed copy of one of our new books each day this week (Monday-Friday). All you have to do is share the following link via Facebook, or Tweet it out to your followers!

>> www.prayfit.com/book <<

Just Because

"Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as unto the Lord, and not for men." --Colossians 3:23

Read: Colossians 3 The last two days have been special in the Peña household. My beloved Yankees came to town to play the Dodgers. But stay with me, you football fans, it gets better. See, it's because I wasn't able to actually go to the game that I had the honor of listening to the legendary Vin Scully broadcast it. To hear him welcome "The Great Derek Jeter" to the plate (his words) was, well, was just about perfect.

For those who know Vin Scully, you're well aware that he can find the best stories about each player on the baseball field. Well, my night went from good to great when he reminisced about current Dodger coach Don Mattingly back in 1995 -- then the Yankees veteran captain -- talking to a young rookie Derek Jeter. Vin Scully recounted, "It was just a regular practice. The stadium was empty. Not a soul in the stands. And when it was time to go to the clubhouse, Don turned to Derek and said, 'Let's run. Always hustle. You never know who's watching.'"

You never know who's watching. Well, we know who's watching don't we?  Our verse today says, "Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as unto the Lord, and not for men." (Colossians 3:23) We've said it before but there's no reason why we should ever be out-worked. Never so that the world sees us, or for the social community to praise us, but simply for the Lord. You know, the longer I live the more I know that Jesus is the reason we summon whatever it is He made us with to answer life's call from the deepest parts of us.

He's why we forgive and give, hold the door, hold the hand, hold our tongues. He's why we serve, share, smile with people one day and cry with them the next. And He's why we see health as stewardship. He's why we take the stairs, take charge of what we drink, take ownership of what we eat. He's why we run, walk, swim, train and work with all our might. And He's why we do so modestly and quietly. Does He love us more or less if we succeed or fail at any of it? Of course not. And that's just why. So friends, today, in our own unique way, in whatever ways we have to or can, let's run. Always hustle. Just because He's watching.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Are you answering your life's call from the deepest parts of you? Is it time to run at work, school, the dinner table?

HUSTLE AT WORK

For as often as we espouse the virtues of high-intensity training, some may find our fitness tips to be a bit intimidating. After all, working harder than you’re accustomed to never sounds like a fun undertaking. And while there are some actual, defining guidelines for intensity — i.e. working to 95% of your max effort on an interval run — you can take heart knowing that it is also relative.

One example is interval walking. If you’re not up to performing sprints, you can simply speed up the pace of your walks. Try walking at a faster clip for 30 seconds, then falling back into your normal pace for 1-4 minutes. As you progress, speed up the pace — it may not be long before you’re into a slow jog — and/or shorten rest periods. Ideally, you want to work toward 30-second “sprints” followed by one-minute “walks.” One study showed that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week burned more bodyfat than those who did traditional steady-state cardio. But the term “sprint” is a measure of effort, rather than speed.

You don’t have to be a sprinter to get the fat-burning, heart-healthy benefits of high-intensity interval training (HIIT). By applying the basic tenets of HIIT to your cardio and implementing concept of progression, you can start right where you are — today.

The Key to Hitting

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." --Psalm 19:14

Read: Psalm 19

In a New York Times article, Ichiro Suzuki -- Hall of Fame-bound outfielder for the New York Yankees -- said that the key to hitting is having respect for the bat. Mind you, this was coming from arguably the best hitter in the majors since 2001. But for Ichiro, having respect for the bat wasn't always the case.

Back in 1999, while still playing in Japan, Ichiro returned to the dugout so mad about striking out that he demolished his beautiful, black Mizuno bat -- completely destroyed it for all the world to see. But as it turns out, Ichiro was so embarrassed about how he treated the lumber, he wrote a letter to the bat's maker and apologized. And to this day, no other player in Major League Baseball cares for his bats like Ichiro -- it's a reputation he's known for. Rather than merely dumping his bat into the bin like everyone else, Ichiro carefully places his best bats inside a shockproof, moisture-free black case that he keeps by his side at all times.

Now, whether or not you love baseball, the story obviously has special meaning, especially when we consider that Ichiro says that the key to his success on the field is caring for his bat. Not his batting stance, not his swing, not his hand-eye coordination, but the bat itself -- the instrument that's used to put the ball in play. And whether he succeeds or fails at the plate, his bat gets placed back in its place of care. When he mistreated the bat years ago, he apologized to its maker; actually reached out to him. Why? Because Ichiro learned the craftsman made each of his bats by hand, and he figured something so carefully made deserved better attention when placed in his own.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Uniquely handcrafted by the ultimate Artisan, perhaps our bodies deserve the same Ichiro-like reverence?

OBESITY: THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM

Our waistlines aren't just widening because we're eating more. Click here to learn what else is causing this global pandemic and what we can do to reverse the trend.

SWING AWAY

October 5, 2011Read: Philippians 1

"For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." --Philippians 1:21

Well, seasons come and go. Baseball seasons, that is. If you've followed PrayFit for any length of time, by now you know we're baseball people. And personally, I have a tradition. Each year, since I left high school, I call my little league coach on the first game of the year and whenever it could be the last. And yesterday, with my beloved Yankees facing elimination, I called coach. The same voice that comforted me as a 9-year-old, somehow does the same decades later.

Not sure if you can relate, but some days just feel like the last game of the season. Whether at work, school or in your quest for greater health, we often feel like one more strike and we're done. But friend, don't quit. Like Paul said, "For me to live is Christ, but to die is gain." Whatever we lose in obedience on earth, God has something better in mind, especially if it's our Game 7. So step out of the box, and call on Him. Hear His familiar voice. And if the sun comes up, it's not just another at-bat. It's God's sign for us to swing away.

--J.P.

THE DAIRY DEBATE

In "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," we advocate a balanced diet that splits calories evenly between protein, carbs and fat. The diverse selection on the weekly menu includes plenty of milk, cheese, cottage cheese and yogurt, which has raised some eyebrows. While some suggest that dairy can contribute to inflammation and other allergies, the connection may be somewhat overblown.

"There is little clinical data showing a relationship between dairy and inflammation," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, senior science editor for Muscle & Fitness, FLEX and M&F Hers magazines and architect of the "PrayFit's" nutrition plan. "There is, however, a lot of research showing that dairy protein is one of the most effective for building lean muscle. That is not only important for aesthetic reasons, but for quality of life as we age. And since muscle mass is a metabolic tissue, it can help to further aid fat loss.

Stoppani concedes that dairy's bad rap isn't without cause. "Yes, there is some "evidence" to suggest that dairy products may be related to some inflammation. Again, there is not strong enough data yet to fully support this.  If it is a major concern for you, however, on any diet that recommends dairy you can simply replace any dairy foods with other protein choices, such as eggs, poultry, fish, or beef."

>> For more from Dr. Stoppani, visit his official website at www.jimstoppani.com. To try the PrayFit diet for yourself, pick up "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" today at Amazon.