child obesity

It Just Wouldn't Be Sunday...

"Why do you seek the living among the dead?" --Luke 24:5

Read Luke 24

Run away. Just run away. Prayfit contributing writer Allison Earnst can often be heard urging people to run away from bad food choices. Simply put, sometimes you have to just physically remove yourself from situations. Can anyone relate?

You know that reminds me, a few weeks ago, we celebrated Easter, and one of the stories of the Resurrection comes to mind today. When the women saw that the tomb was empty, what did they do? They ran to tell the others. They ran away from what was empty. In fact, what were they asked? "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

Reminds me, on Saturday I wrote on Twitter:

"Donuts aren't the cause of the church's failing health, but whether we continue or discontinue, I'm afraid we'll lose members far too soon."

And wouldn't you know it, the next day the leader of the elder board at church said to the congregation, "It just wouldn't be Sunday without a donut." I turned and asked Loretta, "Did that really just happen?" To which she replied, "You're squeezing my hand." I'm chuckling as I type this sentence, because folks, I know donuts aren't the problem, but our heart toward food might be. Because of that, I think Allison is right when she urges people to do the unthinkable. And in many ways, we need to follow Mary's example and turn from what is empty. Plainly said, if believers are going to be the example in this country for a heart toward health, I think Sunday just might be the best day to start. Don't you?

--Jimmy Peña


When was the last time you checked in on the rising epidemic of obesity in this country? If it's been a while, here's a heavy, disheartening update. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 35.7 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese. And, if the trend continues, every state will see 44 percent of its population hit the obese category by 2030. Several states will hit 60 percent.

Despite the many causes of weight gain, the solutions are always simple: an increase an activity and changes to diet. A preponderance of resources on exercise and nutrition in the marketplace have failed to stem the rising tide of obesity and weight-related disease. Perhaps it's time for us to stop focusing so much on "the how" and start focusing more on "the why"?

By focusing on our health as a means of praise and seeing the need to be better stewards of our physical gifts, we can commit to serious, long-term change, honoring the One that created us.

"We don't strive to be healthy to be loved by God," says PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. "We strive to be healthy because we are."

For Discussion: Are you struggling with your own weight? What are the roadblocks to a healthier lifestyle? Do you think the Lord is pleased with the care that you have shown the body He gave you? Why or why not? Have you ever thought of your body as a divine gift that requires better upkeep?

He Just Couldn't

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." --1 Peter 5:10

Read: 1 Peter 5

With yesterday being the start of Lent, I'm reminded about the countless biblical examples of people who had physical reactions to Jesus, either to be near Him or because they had just been with Him. We've said it before, but He just moves us! But there was one person who didn't move a muscle.

The criminal had just been given Heaven. Every sin of his wasted years had been forgiven, his name had just been written in the lamb's book of life, and soon the angels would be teaching him to sing. And yet, despite this gift of grace and mercy, He didn't run to embrace Him. He didn't leap for joy, lift his hands in praise or kneel in worship. Why? Well, he couldn't move. See, the nails were too deep, the pain was too great. If he could've climbed down that cross, he probably would've demonstrated physically what his heart had experienced spiritually.

What about you? You may be 18 or 80, and Lord knows this brief life is not about the body, but if you've been given Heaven, do what the criminal couldn't and tell your body to react. Walk the block, lift some weights, swim a few laps. And by all means, kneel. Don't wait. Celebrate in this life the free gift of the next one.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Are you preparing your heart for the holiest of seasons? Does that preparation involve physical commitments? Perhaps you're trying to be healthier for your spouse or kids? Whatever goals your heart has, don't let your heart stop. Keep going. For the right reasons, strive. What are some of your goals for spring? We'll help you pray.

TROUBLED YOUTH: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.


November 1, 2011 Read: Psalm 121

"The Lord watches over you." --Psalm 121:5

Last week, PrayFit co-Founder Eric Velazquez posted this picture of his little girls. What Eric wrote as a caption was something I'm sure only a Father can truly understand, but it hit me. Eric said:

"Does Ella's grin give it away that they're not really asleep? Still, I found them in bed, sharing a blanket and laughing yesterday, and it was just one of those fun, dad moments I wanted to snap. Bonus: Mya is in bed wearing a princess dress. She refused to nap without it."

Hmm...haven't we all slept with Ella's grin? We close our eyes, pretend, and try to fool God under the blanket of the very grace He provides. But the fact is, He knows us. And He loves us despite ourselves. Call me sentimental ('cause I am), but I like to think God watches over us like Eric does his kids, pausing on moments too good to pass up...with a grin of His own.


Lord, we love you. And you're watching. Though we often fall asleep on Your watch, we never lose your blanket of grace. We're so glad You love us and You never, ever... stop being Dad.

Question: How does knowing God is watching over you help you take better care of yourself and your family?


As the numbers on child obesity climb and favorite after school activities gravitate more toward thumb work than lawn play, do you wonder exactly how much activity is enough for your kids? The more your child runs around, the better. But if you’re looking for a basic guideline to help them follow, look to the experts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes per day of activity, including some of the “vigorous” variety three times per week.

>> Commit:

Today, take stock of how much activity your children are getting each day, taking physical education at school and organized sports into account as well. Discuss the importance of regular activity with your child and make today the first day of a scheduled family “workout,” where you spend 15-20 minutes exercising, walking or playing together.


(Source: CDC)






December 21, 2010Read: Matthew 2

"...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

It's been 372 years since the last lunar eclipse occurred on a solstice, so last night's celestial phenomenon 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 Christmas shopping. Who has time for star gazing anyway?

It was 2000 years ago this week that God placed the star in the east to announce the birth of Jesus. But much like last night's midnight 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 let the same happen to us.



Regardless of what side of the aisle you are on politically, there's reason to cheer one of the latest bills signed into law by President Obama. With his wife at his side on December 13, 2010, the president put his John Hancock to the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which reauthorizes the federal nutrition program, a $4.5-billion measure that expands free school meals for the needy. The biggest difference is that it sets nutritional standards for all food in schools, including what appears in vending machines, and is designed to fight the growing epidemic of child obesity.

Opponents of the bill claim that it is another example of America becoming a Nanny State, wherein citizens need their lifestyle choices made for them. But advocates of the legislation believe that simply making better choices available to our kids where they spend a great deal of their time each day is a good first step that can help stem the tide of a growing problem.

Urging people to depoliticize the issue, the First Lady said: "“We can agree that in the wealthiest nation on earth, all children should have the basic nutrition they need to learn and grow," she said. “Nothing is more important than the health and well-being of our children. Nothing."

>> For the full story from the L.A. Times, click here.


October 6, 2010 Does God call us to be fit? Does He care if we're unhealthy? If the heart is right, does the body matter? We want to know what you think. Weigh in on the discussion here.


And while you're at the forums, visit these other hot topics:

PRAYER REQUESTS: Pray with and for other PrayFit members here.

NO SMOKING?: What does the bible say about smoking?

POLL: Where do you workout? Share with others in our informal survey.

WORKOUT JOURNALS: Find out what other PrayFit readers do to keep fit, or start your own online journal.

CHILD OBESITY: Join the discussion on this growing epidemic.


August 10, 2010Read: Joshua 6

Joshua could relate to our steep challenges. His neck cramped as he surveyed the impregnable wall of Jericho. "Gonna need a bigger army," he whispered out of the side of his mouth. You might be saying the same about your predicament. Does something at school or work have you hoping for reinforcements? If so, stand next to Joshua as he listens to God's strategy.

"But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. Then the wall of the city will fall down flat."

"That's it?...That's the plan?," this time out of the side of your mouth. I wonder if Joshua paused when he heard the order. After all, he was among men of war (v. 3) and probably dressed for the occasion. Not sure if he hesitated, but I know we sure do. When we have to respect a less than respectful boss, or when it seems the rules only apply to us, obeying God's marching orders is sometimes the last thing we want to do (or actually do), especially if we're ready to fight.

But we all know the story. Joshua's army walked around Jericho for seven days without making a sound or saying a word. Then when it was time: the trumpet, the shouts, and the walls came tumbling down. God's enemies might have laughed and scoffed for a week, but being obedient has never proved popular or easy, just effective.

So the next time we feel like taking the wall ourselves, let's wait with Joshua. He listened, walked without talking, then praised God on day seven. Sooner or later, like Jericho, the world will see we're not just walking in circles.


HEALTHY, HUNGER FREE KIDS U.S. Senate takes steps to curb the spread of child obesity

Last week, the U.S. Senate passed the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act which is designed to improve the nutritional standards in schools and to increase the number of low-income children that receive free or reduced cost meals. The price tag? A hefty $4.5 billion over the next 10 years.


All 100 Senators sped the bill through by way of unanimous consent, meaning that there was no need for a voice vote. The House of Representatives would need to pass its version of the bill in time for President Obama to sign the legislation before Sept. 30, when it is set to expire, or the programs risk losing the newly found funding.

The bill is lauded as a great first step in the battle against child obesity which has soared to alarming heights in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%. An advocacy group called Mission: Readiness has cited the rising obesity statistics as a national security threat, suggesting that greater numbers of potential recruits are unable to meet the physical standards of the armed forces.

"I think the news of this legislation is wonderful and long overdue," says PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS. "It's great that the government recognizes the need for action. Now, we need to make sure that we support the bill by sending our kids to school with healthy offerings and making good, nutritional choices when dining together as a family."

>> What do you think about the legislation? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, or e-mail us at