children

Lord, Do You See Yourself In Me?

"The Lord looks at the heart..." --1 Samuel 16:7

Read: 1 Samuel 16

When Prayfit VP Eric Velazquez describes seeing his resemblance in his daughter's faces, this weeping writer fights back tears. He says, "Jimmy, it's one thing to know they're your own flesh and blood, but when you start to see yourself, it's simply amazing. I'm at a loss for words." (That says a lot coming from Eric, arguably one of the best writers in the country.)

But you know what? I want to be like Mya and Ella. Not that I want to look like Eric (handsome as he is), but the only thing I want more than being a dad one day is to be a child that resembles the Father.

Friends, we hope that's the message you've heard here at PrayFit. Some enjoy the fitness tips, others the recipes. But don't miss this: Nothing matters unless we have Jesus in our hearts. If we're at a loss for words, our approach to wellness merely serves as a back-up to A) praise Him with our lives and B) help spread the gospel. Despite our highest highs and lowest lows, when He looks at us, it's His own reflection He longs to see.

--Jimmy Peña

Lord, we love you. Our utmost desire is for you to live in our hearts. We seek your resemblance. See yourself, we pray. Amen.

DISCUSS: Are you a believer who feels compelled to take better care of yourself? Are you a fitness enthusiast who feels compelled to demonstrate more modesty? Whoever you are and whatever you feel called to do, we're here to support, motivate, and inspire to you to stay that course. It's our life's work to help your lives work with a deeper faith and better health.

EXERCISE IN DEPTH: The Plank

Today we take a closer look at one of the simplest, most effective exercises you can do for your core: the plank. This exercise has no movement whatsoever but has plenty going on. The plank primarily works the muscle called the transverse abdominis -- the muscle most responsible when we breathe out air. Try it, as you read this sentence, take a deep breath and then blow out as much as possible. Keep going....keep breathing out....feel that? Well, that muscle ache deep in your gut is exactly that, deep in your gut. In fact, the transverse abdominis is highly responsible for the strength of your spine and helps prevent low back pain. The stronger the transverse abdominis, the better your posture and the more likely you are to enjoy abundant low back health. Try it. Each day, shoot for a longer plank time. Here's how to get it right:

PLANK | Focus: Core, abs, lower back Lie facedown on the floor with your body straight and forearms resting on the floor. Slowly press your body up off the floor onto your forearms and toes. Keep your abs pulled in tight and your back flat while holding this position.

>> Does God call us to be fit? Let us know what you think by offering your comments on this discussion, either below in the comments section, or by clicking here to leave your thoughts at our forum.

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Perspective: Salvation

"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is the Lord." --Jeremiah 17:7

Read: Jeremiah 17

It seems like the latest and greatest kids movies these days are all in 3D. Well, if you are an older child that might be great news, but for the younger ones, it can be a tricky thing to understand the concept that you must wear the proper glasses in order to fully experience the intended effects of the 3D movie. Well, my youngest son is not a big fan of the movie glasses and insists on watching without them. We show up on time, perfect seats, bag of popcorn and ready to go. We are all set except without the glasses, the screen is pretty much a colorful blur.

As a mother, this just kills me because I want the best for him, I want him to experience every amazing effect of the movie and not miss a single detail. Yet, as the third child (and a lot like his mom), he is stubborn and he thinks he knows best. So while my other two children are sitting still, 3D glasses on and fully engaged in the movie, my youngest is distracted and restless.

I often wonder if this is how Jesus feels about us. He wants the absolute best for our lives and he offers us the only tool we need: salvation. Some of us are just too stubborn to accept the offer because we think we know best. Until we give up ourselves and fully commit our hearts and lives to Jesus, we will continue seeing and living a flat, one-dimensional life that will never satisfy. We might have our perfect seats and our popcorn ready but until we get the proper perspective -- seeing life through the lens of salvation, living our lives with Jesus, through Jesus -- we aren't really seeing anything at all.

--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.

FITSTAT: PILATES

Do you do pilates? If so, you are doing your midsection a considerable favor. Pilates, which many dismiss as “for women only” can pay big dividends, particularly when it comes to your abs. Research in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that 36 weeks of pilates training improved the volume of muscle fiber in the rectus abdominis by 21%. And a stronger, thicker abdominal wall means better back support, greater core stability and a midsection worth showing off.

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Work Backwards

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you." --Matthew 6:33

Read: Matthew 6

Losing stuff is easy. It's finding it again that takes a little work. But what do we do? We work backwards. Be it car keys, a book, maybe a wallet -- we mentally retrace our steps until...ahh, the lost is found.

You know, I think that's the way God intended us to live. He said to Seek first His Kingdom, because He wants us to secure our future so we can sing "Blessed Assurance" for a reason. When you look at it that way, you and I are just working backwards. After all, why would He ensure our final step, only for us to be unsure of our next one?

So if you're facing tough times, do just that: work backwards. Misplaced your courage? Lost your will for a healthy life? Well, you'll find what you've lost and what you're looking for, so long as you retrace His steps: The view of the cross changes everything.

--Jimmy Peña

THE SECRET LIFE OF PROTEIN

Almost universally, higher-protein diets are associated with greater muscle mass. While it's true that hard-training individuals should consume more protein to maximize muscle recovery and growth, protein also helps you to stay lean. A recent study published by the American Society of Nutrition showed that dietary protein stimulated thermogenesis (fat-burning) and promoted satiety more than high carbohydrate meals. While casein and soy protein were found to be more filling, fat-burning was higher after consuming whey.

Researchers at Skidmore College also found that when subjects followed a high-protein diet for eight weeks they lost significantly more body fat, particularly abdominal fat, than those following a low-carb/high-fat diet.

Minimum recommended daily allowances for children range between 16-28 grams per day. Healthy male adults should aim for 45-63 grams per day, while females should strive for 46-50 grams. Pregnant? You may need 60 grams per day for your growing baby. Protein requirements vary, of course. If you workout regularly or at higher intensities, you may need more protein -- up to 1-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day -- to help rebuild muscle and keep your lean body mass in healthy ranges.

>> SHOP: In need of the perfect stocking stuffer for your loved ones? Visit the PrayFit store for faith-and-fitness inspired clothing, books, wristbands and more!

Of Gifts and Gratitude

"If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it." --John 15:6

Read: 1 Corinthians 12

Anyone who is blessed enough to be around children for any length of time knows that you often end up with the strangest collection of gifts. My girls are no different. Much to the dismay of our community groundskeeper, Mya and Ella are intent upon picking every flower that they see, always with a single plan in mind -- to brighten someone else's day with a makeshift, yet heartfelt bouquet.

This gesture, which holds great meaning to the girls, is quickly lost on us grown-ups. We accept the flowers with a showy smile and a nod, only to set them down in the moments to follow. We carry on with our business, leaving petals to wilt and whither from neglect. It is only when Mya and Ella return to inquire about the condition of their floral good tidings that we are suddenly forced to ponder the true value of their gift. Put plainly, the flowers matter to them because they probably carefully selected each one with me and Wendy in mind, and no explanation can soothe the heartbreak of our apparent ingratitude.

Our bodies are exquisite and unparalleled works of art. Formed from the dirt in His own garden, each for a unique purpose. And like flowers handed to you by a child, they were given to us with an expectation of continued care. How we express gratitude for our bodies doesn't just matter to us. It matters, perhaps more than we'll ever know, to the One who gifted them in the first place.

--Eric Velazquez

SPRINT TIP: INTERVALS Yesterday, American ultramarathoner Josh Cox dropped some truth on the PrayFit Nation: "Long slow distance makes long slow runners. If you want to run fast you need to run fast." Cox recommended that intervals should be part of your program each week if your goal is to build speed. But intervals also help you burn fat faster and workouts are shorter to boot. For the next few weeks, try this simple interval scheme to start getting leaner -- and faster.

Week 1: After a two-minute jog to warm-up, sprint at top speed for 10 seconds, then walk for 50 seconds. Repeat this until you have completed 10 sprints. Perform this workout on two, non-consecutive days.

Week 2: After a two-minute jog to warm-up, sprint at top speed for 11 seconds, then walk for 49 seconds. Repeat this until you have completed 11 sprints. Perform this workout on two, non-consecutive days.

Week 3: After a two-minute jog to warm-up, sprint at top speed for 12 seconds, then walk for 48 seconds. Repeat this until you have completed 12 sprints. Perform this workout on two, non-consecutive days.

Week 4: After a two-minute jog to warm-up, sprint at top speed for 13 seconds, then walk for 47 seconds. Repeat this until you have completed 13 sprints. Perform this workout on two, non-consecutive days.

Week 5: After a two-minute jog to warm-up, sprint at top speed for 14 seconds, then walk for 46 seconds. Repeat this until you have completed 14 sprints. Perform this workout on two, non-consecutive days.

You're essentially working in one-minute increments, adding one second to your sprint and eliminating a second from your recovery time each week. By challenging your body with greater intensity each week, you are paving the way for better improvement in body composition as well as sprint efficiency.

RUNNERS FORUM Walk, jog or sprint your way into the growing discussion on the forums Are you a runner? You have a 5K coming up? Maybe you're just interested in running and don't know where to begin? Whatever the case, it's time to surround yourself with a community of like-minded individuals. This thread on the PrayFit forums is dedicated to those who prefer to get fit by running. So dive into the discussion to encourage one another, to share experiences or to pick up some tips.

>> RUNNERS FORUM - CLICK HERE

Me and My Drum

Turns out PrayFit has a theme song -- a song that sums up PrayFit perfectly. My wife and friends might guess it's a Rocky montage or the Gladiator theme song but alas, no. I have one better. The Little Drummer Boy. (Pa rum pum pum pum) That's right. Yesterday with my iTunes on shuffle, it played. Christmas in March? Why not? I hope you won't mind either.

"Come they told me, a newborn King to see.  Our finest gifts we bring, to set before the King. Little baby, I am a poor boy too. I have no gift to bring, that's fit to give a King. Shall I play for you on my drum? Then He nodded... I played my drum for Him. I played my best for Him.  Then He smiled at me. Me and my drum."

It might be odd talking Christmas gifts in March, but health isn't seasonal and neither is the news of His birth. What's more, You and I are poor. Like the little boy, we have nothing to bring that's fit to give the King. But He's delighted when we come to Him. And it's music to His ears when we play our life to its fullest. And that's the basis of PrayFit. Giving our best effort to let health be a means of praise. I want to bring a smile to His face, don't you? The very idea of doing so brings one to mine; to me and my drum. Pa rum pum pum...pum.

--Jimmy Peña

STAY LEAN WITH PROTEIN

Carbs taste good. No…they taste great. But it’s the main course on your plate –- that chicken breast, fish cutlet or steak –- that may be doing your body composition the most good. As you work out your family’s menu for the week, make sure that you choose a quality, lean protein as the foundation of each meal. Research published in the journal Physiology & Behavior showed that subjects who consumed a diet rich in protein burned significantly more fat than a control group. What’s more is that they did so without regard to total caloric intake.

Minimum recommended daily allowances for children range between 16-28 grams of protein per day. Healthy male adults should aim for 45-63 grams per day, while females should strive for 46-50 grams. Pregnant? You may need 60 grams per day for your growing baby. Protein requirements vary, of course –- if you workout regularly or at higher intensities, you may need more protein to help rebuild muscle and keep your lean body mass in healthy ranges.

(Sources: Physiology & Behavior, FamilyEducation.com)

26 Grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving of sirloin steak

7 Grams of protein in a 1-ounce serving of peanuts (Source: FamilyEducation.com)

Can't Be Silent

“‘I tell you,’” he replied, “‘if they keep quiet, the rocks will cry out.’” –Luke 19:40

Read: Luke 19:28-40

The song of creation. Can you hear it? You and I are God’s special guests in a masterpiece performed in His honor that He conducts. Not only that, He’s given us “first chair.” In orchestra speak, first chair is reserved for the one who is both most capable and responsible, regardless of the instrument they play. You and I are active participants in a grand arrangement entitled, 'Creation.'

When the Pharisees demanded Jesus to quiet the praise of His disciples, He assured them that if the disciples hush, they would literally hear rock music. But the idea of God’s people being quiet is probably as sad a commentary as I’ve ever read…like a father who comes home to a silent family oblivious to his presence, or a mom who has never heard her children say, "I love you." Friends, the God of wonder, who has a beyond-conceivable love and unbelievable future for us is worthy to be praised with everything we have — our minds, our money, our time, and yes, our bodies.

The song of creation. Are you playing it? It’s your life. Your cue! You can’t be silent. He gave you the music. You are the music. Just read the notes and watch the Master. You’re in the first chair. Be amazed…and play.

--Jimmy Peña

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: Push-Up

Our workout of the week, a home-based strength-and-conditioning gem, includes the push-up. Here's a closer look at this staple exercise.

Standard Push-Up | Focus: Chest, shoulders, back, abs

Get into a push-up position with your body in a straight line, feet together, hands wider than shoulder-width apart and your eyes focused on the floor. Press yourself up to full arm extension, keeping your abs tight and back straight. Squeeze your arms and chest at the top then lower yourself to the start and repeat. Don’t bounce your chest off the floor, but rather start each rep when your chest reaches a point an inch or so away from the floor.

>> VIDEO: The Push-Up

"GO"

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'"— Mark 16:15

"Tell me, Jimmy, can you talk about some before and after successes?"

Of all the questions about PrayFit I fielded on the radio this week, that was probably the toughest to answer. Not because we don't have powerful testimonies of physical change, but like I told the host, "It's too early for a victory lap." Because honestly, the day health won't be a necessary battle will be the day it's no longer our responsibility.

But right now, during this "before" called life, our souls want to go places our bodies simply can't go. And because of that, sadly, our minds don't let our hearts even dream of living abundantly. Serve on the mission field? Laugh. Participate in a charity walk? Chuckle. Make it to church? Sigh. Our physical troubles have become spiritual warfare. We're soldiers of the cross who can't reach the battlefield.

Sure, someday we'll be rescued from a body that doesn't work, but until then, let's see what it can do for the cause of Christ. After all, His great commission to us -- "Go" -- hasn't changed. It's still an action verb.

–Jimmy Peña

YOUTHFUL STRENGTH

In addition to the typical monkey bar romps and lunchtime hoops, dedicated muscle strengthening is a good idea for kids. Training for strength, contrary to a commonly-held belief, does not interfere with a child’s growth or promote excessive musculature. In fact, even a minimal amount of strength training can be beneficial for a child’s bone density, muscle growth, coordination and motor learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least three days per week of activities that include strengthening moves such as gymnastics, push-ups or jumping rope.

>> STOCKING STUFFERS: Looking for a few gifts to hang from the chimney with care? Visit the PrayFit Store to do a little digital shopping for the faith-and-fitness devotees in your life.

 

 

 

 

ELLA'S GRIN

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.

--J.P.

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?

HOW MUCH ACTIVITY?

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)

 

 

 

 

GRACIAS A DIOS

October 20, 2011Read: John 20

"Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." --John 20:27

"The usual?", I asked with a smile. The sweet lunchtime waitress and I have grown accustomed to each another. I'm greeted, not with a menu but with a name. By now, she knows I don't like ice in my water, and that I prefer egg whites. Probably in her late sixties, she speaks beautiful Spanish and forces me to practice mine. I know she likes my PrayFit hat and goes to church just around the corner. Today, however, she lingered longer than usual after showing me to my booth. I knew immediately she was more empty than my stomach.

"Do you ever doubt?" she asked as she straightened her apron and adjusted her bifocals. Before I could answer, she began to serve up her hurt, and as she phrased it, the need to "see Him" in her life. A glimpse. That's all she wanted. Something to feel, something real. I didn't presume to have all the answers, but we chatted. By the time I ate and payed my bill, my friend was assured of two things. 1) she wasn't alone in her doubts, and 2) she wasn't alone at all.

Friends, Jesus understands. That's why when He showed His scars to Thomas, He showed them to you and me. In order to reach us, He let us touch Him.

Gracias a Dios.

--J.P.

KIDS & ASTHMA

Want to keep your kids lungs healthy? Keep them at a healthy bodyweight. Research shows that overweight or obese children are 50%  more likely to have asthma than children who maintain a healthy weight. But even if your child is heavy, keep them eating a sensible diet and make sure they still get 60 minutes per day or more of moderate to rigorous physical activity. Increased physical activity can actually work to improve lung function, so the benefits far outweigh the risks. More severe cases should be monitored more closely, of course, so be sure to consult with your family physician before starting your child out on any structured exercise program.

 

 

 

 

RECALIBRATION

December 14, 2010Read: Psalm 57

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

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

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

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

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

--J.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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