calories

The Safest Place

"Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before God our maker." --Psalm 95:6

Read: Psalm 95

Every once in a while, the world pulls the rug out from underneath us. The sand shifts. The ground shakes. Be it from a financial hardship or perhaps an unexpected diagnosis, keeping your balance is sometimes impossible. And it's not long before you literally -- and perhaps figuratively -- find yourself on the floor, waiting for the aftershocks to stop. But wouldn't you know it? Whether by irony or divinity, the safest place to be when things are unstable is low.

This last weekend we received some news that felt very much like that, and it shook the house of PrayFit. But Sunday night, as I was about to turn in, I found Loretta kneeling at my bedside; a daily habit of hers our entire life together. That night would be no different. As I made my way over to her, I stood there for a second as she prayed. But I knew where I needed to be. After all, that's how we've always kept our balance -- on our knees. So for the first time since my back surgery, I slowly made my way to mine.

Taking her hand wasn't something she expected; shocked might be a better way to put it. She raised her head so fast, and her eyes got huge! I simply nodded and smiled with pursed lips, and then she finished her prayer (Out loud and crying, of course. We're weepers, don't forget.) Oh folks, aren't we so blessed to know that all things work together for good for those who love Him? (Rom 8:28) Like many of you, I am so thankful.

I wonder, are you low today? Should you be? Maybe the job search is still a search. The painful illness still hurts. And although you're a day closer to the future, the ground you're standing on still shows the cracks of yesterday's quake. But trust me. Fill them with your knees. Wherever you are and whatever shakes your world, remember: The safest place to be when things are unstable is low.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH UPDATE FROM JIMMY: "I walked to Trader Joe's and back yesterday. That's almost a mile. For me, it may as well have been a marathon. Small steps are huge strides, amen?  I say, To Trader Joe's, and beyond! Thank you all for the faithful prayers."

THE COST OF CALORIES

You may not stop to think about how quickly calories can add up. And if you're not controlling your own food preparation, portions and ingredients can leave you with a waist-widening caloric excess. PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White offers some insight on the caloric "cost" of some common snacks, take-out dinners and desserts in this article.

>> Click here for the true cost of a calorie...

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>> Click here to start "window" shopping!

Uphill Battles

"Carry each other's burdens." --Galatians 6:2

Read: Galatians 6

>> AUDIO: Click here to listen to this entry, as read by Jimmy Peña. [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Uphill+Battles.mp3]

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Simon did. Simon of Cyrene was of course the man who helped Jesus carry the cross up the hill toward Calvary. In one moment, a bystander. The next, a cross bearer. He did literally what you and I are called to do figuratively. Little did he know the example he was setting. I wonder if he knew his sin would soon be nailed to the tree he carried.

Uphill battles. If anyone understood the phrase, Jesus did. Yet Jesus knew that what He faced, He had to face alone. Nobody on earth, above or below, could take His place as He took ours. But the thought of you and me facing our days without hope was enough to kill Him. The weight of the cross and our helplessness were more than He could bear.

Simon, Jesus. Two men, one cross and an uphill battle.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Build & Burn Getting leaner isn't just about burning more calories. How much weight you can lose is determined in large part by how much muscle you are able to build or maintain. The best body-changing type of workout helps you to use up calories while also challenging your muscles to rise to the occasion. This workout does just that, working all of your major muscles groups with a quick, at-home, equipment-minimal scheme that's sure to leave you better for the effort.

>> Click here for the workout! For additional exercise tips and routines, visit our fitness page.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" PrayFit. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

A Thankful List

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:18

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

Do you like lists? I love lists. My wife and I can be driving, and all I have to say to her is, "Give me your top three for dinner" and she knows I'm asking her to name me the three people she would love to have over for a meal. Without hesitation, Kate Winslet, Dr. Charles Stanley and Derek Jeter are scooting their chairs under our table. We've done things like that for years. And don't get me started about New Year's resolutions. We've saved every list of resolutions for 18 years. Not only that, we witness, sign and ratify them. (I wish I were kidding). What can I say? I love lists.

Do you have one? A list of things for which you're the most thankful this year? What better week than this to consider it. Could be a friend, or new job or maybe your health has improved. (That last one would make mine, FYI.) Take a minute to think of, or better yet, jot some things down. Use our comment section if you'd be so bold. What are you the most thankful for as you look back on this year? Give me your top three. And if you say Derek Jeter, I just might have you over for dinner.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. God has a list, and we're on it. You and I will be sitting at His table someday if we say yes. The invitation is open. It's up to us to accept it.

ASK THE NUTRITIONIST with Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

[Q] I am looking to save calories where I can and I know that switching to lower-fat milk is an easy way to do that but I love whole milk! What's the best way to switch without going crazy?

[A] That's a great question. Milk is a great source of healthy protein and should be part of any healthy lifestyle but a lot of people do love the whole and find it hard to switch to lower-fat and therefore lower-calorie milk. If you have a hard time switching from higher-fat milk, try combining half of the higher-fat with half of the lower-fat, and gradually change the ratio so that the amount of lower-fat is increasing. This will help your taste buds to adjust and eventually, you will probably prefer the lower-fat! The same concept works for switching from regular to diet soda.

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.

Packaged in the Unexpected

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.--1 Chronicles 16:11

Read: 1 Chronicles 16

Amidst my usual helping of chaotic and unpredictable mornings, there is one constant in the day’s beginning: Josey. Josey is our chocolate Labrador...our very strong and excited chocolate lab. The apple of my eye. Blink blink.

Each morning Josey acts as if she hasn’t seen me in weeks. “Dad! It’s me, dad! I love you! I missed you!” (If only I started my days like that). And after our reunion, she heads to the door. Wait, let me rephrase, she attacks the door. “Okay Josey, okay!” I put her chain on, and we begin our morning adventure; she knows exactly where she wants to explore. First, she looks for the rabbits, then the squirrels, then the birds. So much to do! But it’s interesting that once we get outside, it’s as if I’m not even there. The one who opens all her doors, the one she couldn’t get enough of, was now an invisible bystander. Can anyone relate to her behavior?

Well, getting caught in some bushes today was not part of her plan. Tangled inside a bush on a steep hill, her joy turned to panic. And for the first time since emerging outside, she looked up at her master (the one who never lets go of the leash). Now, from my vantage point, all she had to do was listen to me, back up a few steps, and she’d be as free as the very bird that got her there in the first place.

Packaged in the unexpected, sometimes God speaks to us with thorn bushes and dog leashes.

--Jimmy Peña

UNLEASH YOUR POTENTIAL

Lately, we've been hounded by new studies and anecdotal evidence that suggest that dogs who are overweight are more likely to have overweight owners. The facts are easy to sniff out. The less active the family, the less active the pets. And though it might be rough at first, the solution just might fun. Make it a mission to see your dog get healthier and slimmer by picking up uneaten food and...and...wait for it... taking your dogs for walks. Your goal? Walk them everyday, allowing them to get used to the habit while trying to go a little further each day. With all the new daily walks, your best friend is sure to be healthier in no time.

According to the ACSM, walking the family pet can help you burn over 100 calories per half hour. Of course, the bigger the dog, the tougher the walk.

Here I Am To Worship

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138:1

Read: Psalm 138

Here I am to worship. If it's been a while since you've been to the gym, whisper it to the Lord as you open that door. If you're starting to walk after work with your spouse, pray it together as you take that step. Maybe you're about to take a swim, go for a jog or start your at-home DVD. Whatever the case, say it: Here I am to worship.

And as you do, remember -- it's not about the mirror, or lower bodyfat, or the muscle. Those things may happen, they may not. If they do, consider them gifts of obedience and blessings of diligence. But we believe it warms God's heart when we take care of ours. So go ahead. Lift, run, walk, swim, stretch. Have church. After all, you are a temple.

--Jimmy Peña

MENU MAKEOVER: Bread Pudding By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

With the kiddos being back in school, those after school snacks are back in business. And soaked in sugar, eggs and half-and-half, bread pudding is decadent to say the least. Good news: it’s possible to cozy up with a tasty version of this comfort food for less calories.

Nutrition Facts Classic bread pudding recipes can have over 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving. If you’re using doughnuts and buttery croissants instead of bread, you’d be lucky to keep things under 1000 calories.

The basic recipe is simple, combine bread with custard and bake. To lighten things up, you can use smarter ingredients at each stage of the recipe and keep portions to about ½ cup per person.

Bread Dense or sweetened breads will undoubtedly have more calories and monster portions just aren’t necessary. Consider using whole-grain bread for tummy-filling fiber and figure on 4 to 5 cups of cubed bread for 8 servings.

Custard Replacing half-and-half with low fat milk saves 200 calories and 25 grams of fat per cup. Don’t worry about the thinner consistency of the milk -- eggs help thicken the mixture and allow it to bake without separating. For every 2 cups of liquid, add 2 eggs and ½ to ¾ cup of sugar.

Extras Boost flavor (sensibly) with any of these embellishments: • Add 2 cups of fresh fruit or ½ cup of dried fruit • Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking • Mix in ¼ cup dark chocolate chips • Add 2 tablespoons of rum or orange liqueur to the custard

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.

How Deep Is It?

"For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the spirit searches all things; even the depths of God." --1 Corinthians 2:10

Read: 1 Corinthians 2

During Memorial Day weekend, I overheard some kids as they were running toward the pool. They had it all. Towels, floaties, goggles. I think I even saw Scuba Steve hanging out of a bag somewhere. But it wasn't what they were taking to the pool that caught my attention, it was what they kept asking: "How deep is it?!" One kid asked, then another and another. Their dad, carrying all the tools for the fun, simply said, "Go find out!"

I remember asking that very question at each new pool we visited as kids. Going over to a friends house to swim, "How deep is it?" Maybe you did the same. But one thing is for certain, we asked it on purpose. Why? Well, it wasn't because we planned to stay in the shallow end. It was because we were going to A) dive in and B) try to touch the bottom of the pool.

When it comes to our lives and our health, let's be kids again. Splash around. God has given us this one life, so let's go find out. I like to think He enjoys watching us run to the day's water with one question ringing in His ears.

--Jimmy Peña

FUN FACT: AQUA CARDIO

While you're scrambling around this week figuring out what to do to start reclaiming your health, you may want to consider hitting the deep end and splashing around, literally. (Okay, maybe with a bit more purpose.)

Did you know that swimming can burn 430 calories in a single, 30-minute session? That's right, "chasing the black line" in your local lap pool could help you get in shape quick, and with less stress on your joints. Swimming with high effort using the standard freestyle stroke tops some of these other activities in total calories burned over 30 minutes:

High-impact group aerobics - 301 calories Walking on 10% incline, 3 mph - 319 calories Bicycling, 12-14 mph - 344 calories Running, 5 mph - 372 calories --Estimates based on a 180-pound individual.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine

>> TAKE THE CHALLENGE: PrayFit is helping people of all ages and experience levels recapture a level of health they haven't seen in years. Have you taken the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge? If not, you can click here for more information and get started today! Once you're ready, you can track your workouts and interact with other members of the PrayFit community here.

>> RUNNERS: Do you run to keep fit? Join in on this hot forum topic now to offer insight, get ideas and share experiences.

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.

Here I Am To Worship

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138:1

Read: Psalm 138

Here I am to worship. If it's been a while since you've been to the gym, whisper it to the Lord as you open that door. If you're starting to walk after work with your spouse, pray it together as you take that step. Here I am to worship.

Whatever you do, it's not about the mirror, or lower bodyfat, or the muscle. Those things may happen, they may not. If they do, consider them gifts of obedience and blessings of diligence. But we believe it warms God's heart when we take care of ours. So go ahead. Lift, run, walk, swim, stretch. Have church. After all, you are a temple.

--Jimmy Peña

MENU MAKEOVER: Bread Pudding By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

Soaked in sugar, eggs and half-and-half, bread pudding is decadent to say the least. Good news – it’s possible to cozy up with a tasty version of this comfort food for less calories.

Nutrition Facts Classic bread pudding recipes can have over 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving. If you’re using doughnuts and buttery croissants instead of bread, you’d be lucky to keep things under 1000 calories.

The basic recipe is simple, combine bread with custard and bake. To lighten things up, you can use smarter ingredients at each stage of the recipe and keep portions to about ½ cup per person.

Bread Dense or sweetened breads will undoubtedly have more calories and monster portions just aren’t necessary. Consider using whole-grain bread for tummy-filling fiber and figure on 4 to 5 cups of cubed bread for 8 servings.

Custard Replacing half-and-half with low fat milk saves 200 calories and 25 grams of fat per cup. Don’t worry about the thinner consistency of the milk -- eggs help thicken the mixture and allow it to bake without separating. For every 2 cups of liquid, add 2 eggs and ½ to ¾ cup of sugar.

Extras Boost flavor (sensibly) with any of these embellishments: • Add 2 cups of fresh fruit or ½ cup of dried fruit • Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking • Mix in ¼ cup dark chocolate chips • Add 2 tablespoons of rum or orange liqueur to the custard

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.

BETHLEHEM ECLIPSED

"Where is the one born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him."— Matthew 2:2

Saturday night's lunar eclipse was as rare as it was spectacular. But if you're like me, you missed it. Chances are, we were all asleep, exhausted from work, school and some early Christmas shopping. It may have been a celestial phenomenon, but who has time for star gazing anyway?

It was 2000 years ago that God placed the star in the east to announce the birth of Jesus. But much like this weekend's early morning miracle, most everyone missed it. The calendar on Bethlehem's Blackberry was booked -- too busy, too stressed, too in control. Things had to get done and nobody else could do them. And yet, Jesus came to earth. Despite a limited live audience, life's main character was born.

Simply put, a lunar eclipse occurs when our world gets in the way of the sun.

Lord, may we never again let the same happen to us.

–Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Leg Day

The mark of a true gym warrior is the telltale hobble in the days that follow leg day. You see, as your calendar begins to crowd over the course of the week, the first thing to suffer is usually your workout schedule. And the first bodypart routine to get bumped is usually legs, due to the energy, focus and determination required to thoroughly and properly exhaust these large muscles.

Legs, however, offer you the best chance of the week to make a positive and drastic effect on your overall body composition. Because of the amount of muscle mass worked in a single, well-scripted leg routine -- like the one offered here -- you enjoy a greater caloric burn and hormonal response in the days that follow that workout. So do yourself a favor -- don't skip leg day. Ever. The long term benefits are too great to sacrifice for the sake of a few days of discomfort.

Perform these exercises in the order listed, allowing 90-120 seconds of rest between sets and exercises.

Leg Extension: 3 sets of 8-10 reps The leg extension is a single-joint move that targets the front of your legs without the assistance of other muscle groups.

Leg Curl: 3 sets of 8-10 reps The leg curl is an isolation move that zeros in on your hamstrings without any help from other muscles.

Leg Press: 4 sets of 12-15 reps The leg press is compound, multi-joint exercise that hits the quads, hams and glutes. Research shows that it is the best exercise to target the inner, tear drop muscle of the quad (vastus medialis). Despite what many trainers will tell you, no matter your foot placement, the leg press is not the best exercise for the glutes because you don't have full hip extension.

Smith Machine Lunge: 4 sets of 12 reps The lunge is a multi-joint move that works all major muscles of the leg while providing the added benefit of safety. And since the weight is locked in a predetermined range of motion, you don't have to worry about balance --  you can focus your efforts on simply pushing the weight.

Jump Squat: 4 sets to failure Capping off the workout is the jump squat. A plyometric move where you don't decelerate your momentum, but rather allow your feet to leave the ground on each rep. Plyometrics are an excellent "finisher" for this kind of workout as the jump squat will exhaust every last bit of fast-twitch fiber your legs have to offer.

FAST-TWITCH describes the muscle fibers most responsible for fast, powerful and explosive movements such as jumping or lifting weights. These fibers are also the ones most responsible for muscle tone.

NEXT LEVEL TRAINING: Take your workouts to the next level with PrayFit's first DVD, PrayFit: 33-Day Total Body Challenge, now available for order on Amazon and other retail websites. Reserve yours by clicking here or shop for friends.

THE MOMENT AT HAND

October 26, 2011Read: Philippians 1

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” –Philippians 1:12

You’ve no doubt seen the cartoon depicting a frog in the rain being swallowed by a pelican. Upon closer inspection, you may notice the frog choking the bird on the way down. I love it. The caption reads: “Never Give Up.” From the frog’s perspective, he had the pelican right where he wanted him.

Rain or shine, Paul kept a tight grip on the higher purpose of spreading the good news. Though deep in the belly of prison, Paul figured, “Good, a captive audience.” Can't you just picture him cracking his knuckles and clearing his throat? “Ahem, fellas…glad you’re here.

Turning circumstances into platforms, Paul saw the storms of life as mere downpours of holy water. Let’s find courage in his example today, physically and spiritually. Oh, you may not be in prison, but are you being tested in some way? Perhaps you're behind bars of doubt and discouragement. If so, let's remember Paul and never quit. I say we crack our knuckles, clear our throats and make the most of the moment at hand.

--J.P.

NUTRITION TIP: Smarter Soup

Soup is good comfort food. But it is also a terrific way to get more veggies, so load up your chowder with aromatics like celery, carrots, onions and leeks. To help thicken the soup, sprinkle the veggies with flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding liquid. Starchy add-ins like potatoes, corn and beans will add texture, while their natural starches will also help thicken the soup.

If your favorite recipe calls for butter, swap half of it for canola or olive oil – you’ll still get the buttery flavor and a boost of the more heart-healthy kinds of fats. Shrink down the portion of bacon or make the switch to turkey bacon and you’ll shave off more calories from saturated fats.

Broth-based chowders have considerably less calories than ones made with cream. But if your moto is like mine -- “go creamy or go home” -- using half-and-half  instead of heavy cream will save 500 calories and 60 grams of fat per cup. Since lighter dairy products (like milk and half and half) don’t stand up to high heat as well as cream, it’s best to add them towards the end of cooking to prevent them from separating and making the soup grainy.

PrayFit contributing nutritionist 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.

WHAT CAN I BRING?

September 21, 2011Read: Mark 6

"They all ate and were satisfied." --Mark 6:42

When the crowds grew hungry, can't you just see the disciples on their tip-toes counting heads? I wonder what number they reached that meant they were outnumbered? But just to be sure, they decided to count inventory of the basket. "Two, three, four...nope, we're sure of it. Five loaves, two fish."

If you're like me, depending on the day, you've been both the worried disciple and the hungry crowd. In either case, the only one we can ever count on is the only one not counting. But somedays, I feel like the young boy don't you? Imagine him for a second. Little did he know that when his mom packed his bag that morning, he would literally hand it to God.

And while we don't hear the disciples say, "Thanks kid!" or "Glad you didn't come empty-handed, son," I like to imagine that after he got squeezed between the disciples and pushed to the back of the crowd, he found a nice spot on the hill with a good view. Grinning, he put his chin in his hands and watched God make a miracle out of his lunch.

We never know what the day has in store, but we do know what we bring to the day, spiritually and physically. (Let's remember to bring it.) And while we may not get applause, make sure to stick around to watch God do what only He can do with your life, and save me a seat.

-J.P.

P.S. Did you notice the verse? "They all ate." You never know, maybe the boy grinned with his mouth full, and maybe Jesus Himself brought him his meal. But what we do know for certain is that our work never goes unnoticed, at least not by the one who doesn't count.

GREAT STARTS These two breakfast plans can help you fuel up right for the day ahead

People always talk about how breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It puts a halt to muscle-wasting, sets your blood sugar right, crushes food cravings and provides you energy for whatever the day holds in store for you. But what does a perfect breakfast look like? Ideally, as we published in yesterday's PrayFit Daily, your entire diet should be a three-way balance between protein, carbs and fat. Jim Stoppani, PhD, nutritional expert and co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," offers two energy-packed options for your morning repast.

Option 1: 1 cup cooked oatmeal 1/2 cup fresh berries 1 Tbsp chopped walnuts 2 slices cooked turkey bacon

Calories: 296 |  Protein: 20 grams | Carbs: 37 grams | Fat: 8 grams

Option 2: 1 egg + 3 egg whites, scrambled 3 slices tomato 1 Ezekiel 4:9 tortilla 6 oz. grapefruit juice

Calories: 358 | Protein: 25 grams | Carbs: 45 grams | Fat: 9 grams

>> For a full lineup of meal plans and snack options that offer balanced nutrition for your healthy lifestyle, pick up a copy of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" from Barnes & Noble or Amazon today!

HE KNEW

September 14, 2011 Read: John 14

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” --John 14:9

When God the creator put the finishing touches on our unique souls, He knew. He knew we'd scrape our shins, disobey parents and upset friends. He knew our kids would reject us, enemies would haunt us and our memory would fail us; and all before losing life's final war with pain. He knew, but that didn't stop Him.

He proceeded to count hairs on heads then fingers and toes. He added color to eyes, dimples on chins and swivels to hips. Why didn't He stop? He knew that what life rejects, Christ accepts. Someday, you and I will see what became of us the day we believed...what the Maker knew.

--J.P.

CEREAL SOLUTIONS What to look for in your breakfast bowl
We all love a good bowl of cereal, whether it's for breakfast or a late-night comfort snack. But not all cereals are created equal. PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez grew up with what he calls an "undiagnosed addiction to Cap'n Crunch," but is now wise to what makes a good, healthy cereal (hint: it's not a prize at the bottom of the box).
PrayFit contributing nutritionist Christie Menna, MS, RD, offers these following label readings to look for when selecting your next box of cereal to augment your healthy lifestyle.
>> 150-200 calories per serving (usually a serving is 1 cup)
>> Less than 6 grams of sugar per serving
>> At least 5 grams of fiber per serving
>> Look for cereals made with whole grains and that contain less than 1.5g saturated fat
Christie's Top Picks: Kashi Go Lean®, Multi-Grain Cheerios®, Kashi Sunshine®, Shredded Wheat®, Honey Bunches of Oats®, Bran Flakes®, Wheaties®
Christie Menna, MS, RD, is a consumer safety officer with the Food and Drug Administration and personal nutrition coach based in Long Island, New York. For more on Christie, visit her at www.activeeatingnutrition.com.

THE ACT TO FOLLOW

June 22, 2011Read: Luke 3

…one is coming who is more powerful than I, and I’m not worthy to untie his sandal straps.” –Luke 3:16

Sitting in a music studio recently, I had the unique privilege of listening to a young, talented band who opens the show for another very popular group of musicians. Their task is simple: set the stage and prepare the audience for the main attraction. You know, something tells me John the Baptist would understand their job. It’s a role he played until the day he died.

Sitting there listening to them, I got to thinking about John; what he said, how he acted. But I think of all his many traits, his best quality was knowing it wasn’t his show; that the act to follow was really the act to follow.

Yes indeed, John showed us that our primary job is to invite a crowd, pull back the curtain and get out of the way.

–J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Arugula Pesto

Enliven your pasta repertoire with this healthier summer sauce from PrayFit and Food Network contributor Dana Angelo White

Yield: 1 cup

Ingredients: 3 cups fresh arugula 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts Juice and zest of a lemon 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine arugula, garlic, pine nuts, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until smooth. With the machine on, slowly pour in olive oil. Blend until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to one week.

Nutrition Info (per tablespoon):

Calories: 76 Total Fat: 8 grams Saturated Fat: 1 gram Total Carbohydrate: 1 gram Protein: 0 gram Sodium: 36 milligrams Cholesterol: 0 milligrams Fiber: 0 grams

>> BOOKS & GEAR: Structured workouts, detailed meal plans and 56 daily devotionals highlight our book “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days.” Order yours at our online store today, or pick up a hat, shirt or wristband for your faith-and-fitness minded loved ones.

 

LIVE TO SELL IT

May 26, 2011Read: 1 Corinthians 6

"Honor God with your body." --1 Corinthians 6

During a radio interview yesterday, while thundering away about PrayFit -- probably using 20 words when ten would have sufficed -- the radio host said, "Jimmy, I like to tell my listeners that I want to live until the day I die." What she said made me lose my train of thought. Many of you know how I like to capture moments and phrases, well, this one just so happened to hit me during a live radio interview.

In one sentence, a voice I had never heard with a face I hadn't seen summed things up perfectly. What's funny, although I was invited to her show to talk about my book, she was the one selling it.

Fittingly, last night I caught an early round match of the French Open tennis championships, where an underdog opponent was losing two sets to zip and down five games in the final set. And while nobody would have blamed him if he quit trying, the man was diving for the ball and fighting for every point as if it were the first game of the match. The crowd noticed, and so did his opponent, with applause.

Isn't that the way you and I should be living, working and training? Like it's the first game of the first set? We should live until we die. After all, a voice we've never heard and a face we haven't yet seen has a book, and by taking care of our health, we can sell it.

--J.P.

CRUNCHING, THE NUMBERS

PrayFit contributing dietitian and advisor to the Food Network shares some ways that are proven to help burn off unwanted/extra calories.

"Calories in and calories out — the calories you eat from food are expended with physical activity. When eating outweighs what you’re burning, you can pack on the pounds. High-cal foods take more exercise to get rid of, and sometimes it makes it more real to visualize just how much moving you’d have to do to shed those decadent calories."

(The values below are average based on a 155-pound person.)

Dessert Damage 2 small scoops of chocolate ice cream = 1 hour 20 minutes of tennis 1 medium strawberry milkshake = 1 hour 30 minutes of high intensity aerobics 1 slice cheesecake (restaurant portion) =  1 hour 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer

Fast Food Frenzy A large order of French fries = 1 hour of swimming laps Bacon cheeseburger = 1 hour of fast running  at 8 mph Fried chicken sandwich = 45 minutes hiking

Takeout Trouble 1 slice pepperoni pizza = 30 minutes of medium-paced jogging Medium-sized movie popcorn with butter = 1 hour 20 minutes of downhill skiing 1 order General Tso’s chicken = 2 hours on the stair-climber

Snacking A candy bar = 1 hour of  brisk walking at 3.75 mph A (12-fluid ounce) can of soda = 30 minutes of volleyball A 1-ounce bag of potato chips (15 chips) = 45 minutes of weight-lifting

Damage Control We aren’t suggesting banishing these foods from your diet forever, but if you want to indulge a little more sensibly, consider:

Serving up smaller portions Indulging only on occasion Increase your calorie burn by getting out there and exercising more often

TELL US: How do you like to burn those extra calories?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.

THE COMMON TOUCH

March 29th, 2011Read: Matthew 9

"She said to herself, "'If I can just touch the hem of his garment, I will be whole.'" --Matthew 9:21

If you've spent any time here on PrayFit, you've realized by now that we love America's pastime. We agree with Babe Ruth when he said, "Baseball is the greatest game God ever saw fit to let man invent."  And with opening day around the corner, we thought we'd give you another reason why we love it even more. Ever notice that the managers wear the same uniform as the players? Think about it. There's not another sport like it. Ever see a football coach with a helmet? Or a basketball coach wearing a tank-top and shorts? No, baseball is the only sport where its managers blend in with the team.

I think Jesus could relate, because he chose to relate. Rather than standout among us, he blended in with us. Though He created the universe, His appearance was universal. He became our up-close-and-personal savior. In order to reach us, He let us touch Him.

--J.P.

SLEEP LESS, EAT MORE Failing to get a good night's sleep can lead to overeating

One of the most important keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition is to exercise regularly. But it's also important to rest and new research is showing that a failure to do so can result in weight gain. How?

Researchers at Columbia University's New York Research Obesity Center found that those who were sleep deprived ate more during the day. Women, on average, consumed 329 calories more when sleep deprived while men had 263 more when under-slept.  Regularly consuming 300 calories more than usual can lead to 30 pounds of weight gain over a year, researchers say, putting you at significantly greater risk of obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

Read more on the study here: CNN Health

Source: CNN

POWER AND STRENGTH

January 26, 2011 "We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength." --Dr. Charles Stanley

In "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," we advocate spending a few minutes each day working on faith and fitness. No matter what time of day you choose to do this, life can make it difficult to muster the motivation to work on either. Long work days, kids running you ragged, all-night study sessions, brutal commutes, bad sleep -- even amidst the status of a life lived well, cracking open your bible and then working up a sweat may seem such an extraneous and wholly dispensable chore. But by making that time and keeping that morning meeting with the Lord, you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish, not just for the workout that follows, but for the day ahead. Energy, power and strength -- byproducts of a commitment to faith and fitness. Dr. Stanley was on to something.

WE'RE PACKED AND READY

During a recent interview about the book, we were asked if we traveled to churches and groups to discuss faith and fitness. And our answer was a resounding "Yes." And so we'd like to share the same with you. Please talk to your Pastor or church leaders. Give them a book and reach out to us to discuss the Prayfit Team visiting your community. We're packed and ready to help you and yours take back your health for the Lord. Remember, something so fearfully made deserves more attention and upkeep than what we as a nation of believers are giving. And we want to help.

>> PRAYFIT JETSETTERS: To invite PrayFit to your church, or for help setting up your own PrayFit ministry, contact us at info@prayfit.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

215: Number of calories burned in 30 minutes of rigorous weight training.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

GOODBYE, "BAND" LEADER

January 12, 2011Read: 1 Timothy 5

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers." 1 Timothy 5:1

You might not know who Dick Winters is, but he died this week, and you and I owe him a moment of pause. Winters was the leader of Easy Company — arguably one of the most elite groups of American soldiers in World War II. Their story was made popular by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg in the acclaimed series Band of Brothers.

Prior to D-Day and long before the beaches of Omaha, the Winters-led group who would come to be known as the Angels from the Sky had to first prove their readiness. After months of testing and training, only those left standing were given their wings. Interestingly, while their worries were few, the one common fear they all had was whether their chutes would open correctly since they were responsible for packing their own parachute the day before each jump.

Please forgive the comparison, but if you and I were responsible for providing a safe landing from our many falls, we’d live in fear too. But since God’s love reaches lower than our worst mistakes and higher than our greatest accomplishments, we have a green light to take a daily leap of faith. Or as Major Winters would have put it, "to stand up, hook up, and jump."

--J.P.

REST NOT, WANT NOT How to use rest to your advantage when training with weights

If you train with weights, you likely do so with an eye toward being stronger and leaner. And while a great many exercisers will set their programs with precision -- dutifully planning exercises sets and reps for each workout -- very few are as diligent when it comes to rest periods. Instead, some people will choose to rest until it "feels right" to get into the next set.

But if you're trying to burn more fat, you may want to start watching the clock.

"Studies find that those who rested 30 seconds between sets during weight training workouts burned 50% more calories than those who rested three minutes," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days."

For more information like this from the Doc, visit www.jimstoppani.com or join his Facebook fan page.

>> FEATURED JOURNAL: Eric Gonzalez | Back at it in 2011

AN ATHLETE'S FAITH

January 10, 2010Read: 1 Corinthians 9

"All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.: --1 Corinthians 9:25

PRAYFIT QUOTE OF THE WEEK

"It doesn't take faith to be physically fit, but if we have faith, we should try to be." --Jimmy Pena

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Shoulders

Building stronger, better looking shoulders is a good goal whether you're a hardcore lap swimmer or a desk jockey. Anyone who has ever had a shoulder injury will attest to that. Because of how critical your shoulders are to any exercise or everyday life activity, it is important to train them to be fit and functional. This short workout works provides a dose of both.

If you have set of two-pound dumbbells, soup cans or other handheld object in that weight range, you can do this workout. But don't let the light weight nature of this routine fool you -- done right, a deeply effective burn awaits. By working without rest, you will stress both slow- and fast-twitch fibers to the point of complete exhaustion. Do as many rounds as you have time for, or as much as your shoulder can handle, performing each exercise to failure.

Bent-over lateral raise Lateral raise Front raise Overhead press Straight punches

TRAINER PLUS: For those who are curious, the order of exercises is strategic in that each move puts you in a position that is stronger than the previous. So when you fail at the bent-over lateral raises for example, when you stand up, you gain a mechanical advantage and are able to continue without rest. After the last exercise, rest anywhere from 30-60 seconds -- but no longer. This will add a cardio element to your workout, providing an extra dose of physique-friendly calorie burning.

I'LL DRIVE

December 8, 2010Read: Psalm 139

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." --Psalm 139:14

"Jimmy, you drive." Those three innocent words used to cause me serious panic. Well, it wasn't so much what was said, but who said it. Growing up, whenever the family went anywhere, Dad drove. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times he didn't. But on the other hand, when I got old enough to drive, he'd surprise me and want to take my truck.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't so much the driving that worried me, but it was the condition of my truck. See, I wasn't a neat freak. Alright, that's putting it mildly. I was kinda messy. (My mom and Loretta are both nodding and shaking their heads right about now.) And whenever Dad caught me off guard, his disappointment in how I was taking care of the truck he gave me was like a dagger.

See to Dad, that truck was more than something to get me from here to there. It was a gift that he practically built with his own hands. And my negligence might as well have been a blow to the gut. Speaking of, at PrayFit, we believe that our effort to be healthy, whether it be to lose weight or lower our blood pressure, is a way to show God just how thankful we are for the body He made to get us through life. Hypothetically speaking, if God asked us to take Him from here to there, in what condition would He find us? On second thought, that's not all that hypothetical after all.

--J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: ORANGE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES

That's right, it's time for some dessert. Being healthier, after all, isn't about painful deprivation as much as it is about better choices. So if you are moving your body regularly, you shouldn't feel guilty about occasionally giving in to your sweet tooth. But if you are being calorie-conscious, this can be a bit more agonizing unless you know how to indulge without going overboard. That's where PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, comes in.

"My mother-in-law discovered this recipe last year in a magazine, and these cookies became an instant family favorite," she says. "The combination of orange and chocolate makes for a light but decadent cookie. At 90 calories each, you can have one (or two) and not feel guilty about dessert."

Orange-Chocolate Cookies

Makes 4 dozen

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup granulated sugar 1 egg yolk 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel 2 cups all-purpose flour 1/4 cup orange marmalade 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate 1 tablespoon shortening

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar. Beat until combined, scraping sides of the bowl occasionally. Beat in egg yolk and orange peel. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Using a 1 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut into rounds. Press your thumb into center and fill with 1/4 teaspoon orange marmalade.

Bake on parchment-lined baking sheets in a 375-degree oven for about 12 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate and shortening over low heat. Dip half of each cookie in chocolate mixture. Place cookies on rack to set.

Calories: 89 Fat: 5.5 grams Saturated Fat: 2.5 grams Protein: 1 gram Carbohydrate: 11 grams Sodium: 2 milligrams Cholesterol: 15 milligrams Fiber: 0 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.

>> PLUS! 3 ways to start losing bodyfat...today