dad

What Was I Thinking?

Genuine fear. That's what I felt the day after my 12th birthday. Allow me take you back. A couple of friends and I stayed the night at a buddy's house for his birthday. We played games, watched TV -- kid's stuff. But the next day -- the day -- one of us found an itzy bitzy, harmless, spool of wire outside. So what did these little boys do? Played with it, of course. We bent it, rolled it, played Army with it. No harm, no foul. That is, until we stuck it into the valve stem of a parked car tire.

SSSSSSSSSSsssssssssss. DOWN...Down...down....flat. Mind you, it would have been bad enough had we stopped with that first one. But no, we three geniuses decided to hit every other car in the entire apartment complex. I'm chuckling as I type this question but..."What was I thinking?"

Sitting in the apartment office, I stared out the window at flashing police lights. But truthfully, I wasn't thinking about the police, I was thinking about Daddy. Waiting for our parents to show up, I knew I was dead. The other two boys knew I was dead too. See, they knew Papa Peña. Before I knew it, I heard his voice from the other room. The first words out of his mouth? "Where is he?"

I won't go into too much detail -- to protect the innocent -- but suffice it to say that little Jimmy never got into trouble again. Later that night, both my parents came into my room to give me love. Even though it was hours later, I was still crying because of how I disappointed them, and because my older brother kidded me "in all seriousness" that Mom and Dad were shipping me off. (Pretty sure my brother got in trouble for that.)

Why do I tell that story during our "Fear Less" week? Because to this day, I love and respect my Daddy more than life itself. Growing up, I loved him, respected him, and feared him. And guess what...I still do.

PrayFit friends, help me wish my sweet Daddy a very Happy 70th Birthday come this Saturday. I love you, Papa.

Still my father's son, Jimmy

For Discussion: On this Halloween, I thought I'd share the scariest moment of my life with you, wink wink. Love and fear. Isn't that an amazing combination? It molds us. Shapes us. Develops us into the kind of people God designed us to be. 

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I'm His Resume

"By this all men will know that you're my disciples, that you have love for one another." --John 13:35

Read: John 13

Yesterday I worked on a resume. Some of you may know, but trying to put a life of work on a sheet of paper is no easy task. The objective, the history, the qualifications, all to make sure your best foot is forward and in view. Here I am! This is what I've done! But as I was working on it, I knew it didn't even come close to capturing his worth. See, it wasn't my resume, it was my Dad's.

And while his job history in the Navy and then in private business is impressive, I'm his resume. My brother is his resume. My mom, his wife of almost 50 years is his resume. I wish I could call prospective employers and tell them that we are who we are today because of who he is and what he's done. What a conviction to try and convince someone to give your sweet Dad a chance.

You know, our lives say a lot to the world about our Father. I know you feel the same, but I want nothing more than to be a living resume for my Jesus. You and I may be the only Jesus someone ever sees; the only believers someone will ever come into contact with. They may be famous, popular or simply a next door neighbor, searching for the truth. The truth is, Jesus died and rose again so that you and I may have an abundant life and eternity with Him. Because of that, I want the way I talk, think, act and live to be such a strong testimony to those around me that they have no other choice than to take a good, long look at this Jesus we call the Savior. And when they see us, hear us, and watch us, may they pause long enough to give Him a chance.

--Jimmy Peña

TRAINING TIP: Compound Moves

The three most popular, widely-used lifts in the gym are the bench press, deadlift and squat. Referred to as “The Big Three,” these moves fall into a category of exercises called compound, or multi-joint, lifts. These exercises require movement at more than one joint, which means that more total muscles have to get involved to complete each rep. And the more muscle you work, the more muscle and strength you stand to gain. As a bonus, the more muscle you recruit on a given exercise, the more calories you burn. Finally, any measure of muscle gain will improve your metabolism since muscle is calorie-eating tissue.

>> Learn how compound moves can be your ticket to a healthier body.

A Dad Who Shows Up

"Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." --Joshua 1:9

Read: Joshua 1

A few years ago, I was living a fitness writer's dream -- working at Weider headquarters in Los Angeles, contributing to two of the most widely-read publications in the industry. But it came at a cost. Hopelessly long commutes and deadline-packed work weeks meant that I was arriving home in the evening with just enough time to kiss my baby girls goodnight and spend a few hours with my amazing wife before heading to bed to do it all again the next day. Though I was flourishing in my role at work, I was far from fulfilling my role as a father. My girls needed a dad who showed up.

I left Weider HQ, along with my bi-monthly paychecks and generous benefits, in hopes of remedying the situation. The overwhelming uncertainty was worth the risk. Today, I am still blessed enough to write for several fitness publications, only now it's out of a home office. With my girls now at school age, they can count on seeing dad in the seats for every school performance and on the sidelines for every sports camp. They can depend on me to be there to prepare them for the school day and to be there when class is out. They have me to guide them along when it's time to ride on two wheels and to pick them up when their balance fails them. I may no longer be at the center of the industry but I am at the center of their childhood and that's alright by me.

Like my girls with me, I draw comfort from the unfailing, divine presence of our Father (Joshua 1:9). He is there when we struggle and when we succeed. We can look to Him when we crave guidance and reach with certainty for His outstretched hand when we fall. We can absolutely depend on His love to find us, each day, and always when we need it most. We never need to ponder whether He'll be absentee in our life story.

He could have stayed in heaven but the distance and disconnect were simply too much for Him to bear. He needed to be closer to His children and was willing to bear the consequences to come. He didn't want to miss a thing. Architect of the heavens, Author of our DNA -- there's no disputing His resume. But by a grace we can scarcely understand, He is most at home in a much simpler role: as a Dad who shows up.

--Eric Velazquez

NUTRITION: Stir-Fry Basics Stir-fry is a quick and easy weeknight dinner. They make a well-balanced meal with a bit of protein, tons of veggies and healthy carbs from rice. We’ll run you through the basic steps to get you started, then share a few ideas to liven things up.

>> "Wok" this way for better stir-fry! (Click here)

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Are They Here Yet?

"They went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was." — Matthew 2:9

Read: Matthew 9

This week, many of you will arrive at the home of family and friends to celebrate Christmas. Do you have "going home" traditions? We do too. One tradition my parents actually started during my college years was hanging a "Welcome Home, Jimmy!" sign at the house. When I got married, they added "& Loretta". But if you happened to read yesterday's post, you know by now that my parents are coming to our home for Christmas for the first time; our turn to hold up the sign.

Beyond a doubt right now, celebration plans are almost ready in homes such as yours and of those you love. All the decorations have been hung, everyone's favorite dishes are being prepared and front room curtains are being impatiently pulled back to see if "they're here yet."

You know, I've often wondered if the star in the east was as much God's way to honor His son, as it was our way to find Him. Even though Jesus' time on earth was short, God knew how He'd be rejected, and of the cross that awaited him. So perhaps it was God's way to say, "I love you, Son" and in doing so said to us, "Here He is."

He loves us that much. And if we look forward to seeing loved ones, how much more does He? Because you see, someday God will send for us. And I like to think that after spreading the table for the great celebration and hanging the welcome-home banner across the door, the angels will pull back the curtain, peeking to see...are they here yet?

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT NUTRITION: PREP FOR THE FEAST Knowing what to do before the first course is served can keep you from overindulging

A few people on our boards have expressed concern at the nutritional temptation that comes along with holidays like Christmas. After all, no one wants to completely erase the hard work they've been putting in at the gym, or to slide deeper into a quagmire of bad health. Here are four simple steps you can take to ensure that your feast is truly "fit" for a King.

1 Exercise early Before people start dishing up the ham, eggs and roast beast (thank you, Dr. Seuss), you can minimize the damage of the caloric tsunami by grabbing a quick workout. One of the best ways to do that is to sneak in a power workout. This will create a caloric deficit and a great window for muscle repair. This way, most of the calories to come are used to your benefit. Since travel time is usually a concern today, we suggest a quick bodyweight workout and a high-intensity interval cardio session. Try doing one round of bodyweight squats, push-ups and sit-ups, doing each exercise to failure (the point at which you can no longer complete any more reps). Then, immediately head into your interval workout, sprinting 20 seconds and walking or jogging for a minute, for a total of 10-15 minutes -- after a 1-2 minute speed walk. (Or try our new DVD).

2 Fill up on fiber & protein There's a lot to be said for satiety during the holidays. It can literally make or break you before the big get-together. Before the family meal, try filling up on high-fiber, calorie-friendly fruits and veggies and take in 20-40 grams of protein from a high-quality source like turkey breast or a whey protein shake. This will keep you fuller longer, helping you to avoid a second -- or third or fourth -- trip back to the dessert table.

3 Hydrate Drinking water -- lots of it -- will help you get a head start on leveling out your sodium levels. Most holiday food -- from the glazed ham to the turkey gravy -- are loaded with sodium. This can force you to retain water and add pounds to the scale that will cause alarm with some people. Strangely, one of the best ways to avoid water retention from sodium is to drink water. Try to get about 1/3 to 1/2 of your bodyweight in ounces per day to keep your body in balance.

Priceless

"You are not your own." --1 Corinthians 6:19

Read: 1 Corinthians 6

Sitting in my Dad's garage is his workmanship. Car buffs will be pleased to know that my Dad piddles on a 1934 Ford Coupe every weekend. As a matter of fact, he's been tinkering with it for as long as I can remember. There's not a corner of that car Dad doesn't know. He's taken it apart and put it back together his entire life. How is that? Well, that coupe was his very first car; given to him by Granddaddy when Dad was only 12 years old. Yep, he still has it. Well, about 42 years ago, Dad sold it for a few hundred dollars to help pay the doctor bills when my brother was born. But years later, Dad traveled half-way across the country, spending much more than what he sold it for, and bought it back.

Sitting in front of your computer is God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), completely unique (Galatians 5:26), knit together in the womb (Psalm 139), and made in God's own image (Genesis 1:26). Is there any wonder why the bible says that we should honor Him with our bodies? After all, his Son went from Heaven to earth and bought us at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). So go ahead, tinker a little. Piddle a bit. Enjoy working on something with the Lord He designed and gave to you.

(You know, I don't think Dad will ever finish that old car. Not because he can't, but because I think he simply enjoys working on something Granddaddy first gave him, and they worked on together.)

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT GETS MENTION ON "KATIE"

Tyler Perry comes back to the big screen this weekend, this time taking on the role of Alex Cross, which was last occupied by Morgan Freeman in Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. Appearing today on Katie Couric's couch, Perry talked about his prep -- both on set and in the gym -- for this highly anticipated action-suspense film based on the books by James Patterson. About 45 seconds into the clip below, he mentions a key part of his training program that helped him shed 30 pounds for his role as Cross and his recent cover of Men's Health. To start on your own Perry-like physical and spiritual journey, click here.

Waving Over Walls

"The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call on Him in truth." --Psalm 145:18

Read: Psalm 145

As a young boy, watching my dad leave for work was more than a habit or tradition -- it was a son's ritual. We'd say bye to him at the door, then I'd run to my room and watch for him from my window. I remember we had a big rock wall, over which I could barely see the top of his truck. As he drove down the street he'd wave goodbye out his window and I'd be waving from mine. And all was right with my world.

But boy oh boy, if I happened to miss his truck, you'd think the sky had fallen. I still remember the anxiety. "Did I miss him? Did I look down or turn away? As much as I wanted to watch him wave, I needed him to know I was there waving back. And if I thought he didn't see me,  I was a mess. Mom would get me on the phone with Dad once he got to work, and he'd calm me down. He'd assure me that he sees me waving, even if I can't see him.

I don't know when I grew out of that, but I didn't outgrow the need to see my dad.

God, we're at the window. We've run here to watch you go to work in our world. We're on our tiptoes, and our little eyes are looking for you over the walls of fear and doubt that we ourselves have built. But even if we look down or turn away, you're there. Lord we need you so much. You see us waving, even if we can't always see you.

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYER REQUESTS? God sees you and me in our physical struggles. Whether if it's to lose weight or if we're suffering from a chronic condition with no end in sight, He sees us. So keep waving at Him. And if we can be praying specifically for you, please let us know in the comment section. If not specifically, simply write "Unspoken Request" and we promise to pray.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: EZEKIEL STYLE Below is a recipe with one of our favorite healthy carb choices: Ezekiel bread. Great as a pre-workout food, Ezekiel bread will stay in your system longer, allowing you to get a lot of good energy from it. Ezekiel bread takes grains and legumes, mixing them together and making bread that contains no flour but is instead a mix of organic sprouted whole grains like wheat, millet, spelt and barley and legumes like lentils and soybeans. This makes the bread not only a source of very low GI carbs, but also a good source of complete protein.

Cinnamon-Apple Peanut Butter Toast 1 slice Ezekiel bread, toasted 2 tsp natural peanut butter 4 pieces thinly sliced apple Pinch ground cinnamon Spread peanut butter on toast, top with apple and cinnamon.

Calories: 159 | Protein: 6 grams | Carbohydrates: 19 grams | Fat: 6 grams

Alternative Recipe: Replace peanut butter with 2 Tbsp of low-fat cottage cheese.

 Calories: 109 | Protein: 8 grams | Carbohydrates: 18 grams | Fat: 1 gram

>> SUBSCRIBE: Are you subscribed to the PrayFit Daily? If not, click here. You'll get this bite-sized portion of health and faith every morning, straight to your inbox, FREE. Sign-up then tell your friends and family to do the same!

Priceless

"You are not your own." --1 Corinthians 6:19

Read: 1 Corinthians 6

Sitting in my Dad's garage is his workmanship. Car buffs will be pleased to know that my Dad piddles on a 1934 Ford Coupe every weekend. As a matter of fact, he's been tinkering with it for as long as I can remember. There's not a corner of that car Dad doesn't know. He's taken it apart and put it back together his entire life. How is that? Well, that coupe was his very first car; given to him by Granddaddy when Dad was only 12 years old. Yep, he still has it. Well, about 42 years ago, Dad sold it for a few hundred dollars to help pay the doctor bills when my brother was born. But years later, Dad traveled half-way across the country, spending much more than what he sold it for, and bought it back.

Sitting in front of your computer is God's workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), completely unique (Galatians 5:26), knit together in the womb (Psalm 139), and made in God's own image (Genesis 1:26). Is there any wonder why the bible says that we should honor Him with our bodies? After all, his Son went from Heaven to earth and bought us at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20). So go ahead, tinker a little. Piddle a bit. Enjoy working on something with the Lord He designed and gave to you.

(You know, I don't think Dad will ever finish that old car. Not because he can't, but because I think he simply enjoys working on something Granddaddy first gave him, and they worked on together.)

--Jimmy Peña

EXCLUSIVE: THOMAS NELSON RELEASES PRAYFIT DVD NO. 2 PrayFit's 33-Day Body Toning System available now through world's largest Christian publisher

PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System (Lionsgate) is a more advanced system that toggles between targeted exercises that build lean muscle and high-intensity cardio to blast through body fat. By repeating these intervals, you’ll see results faster than you would by doing cardio alone. This DVD will help you improve steadily each day, building your fitness and your faith. This DVD incorporates toning exercises with “PrayFit Minutes” – encouraging, weekly devotionals aimed at helping you become healthy in body and strong in Spirit.

“If you thought the first DVD was fun, effective and challenging, you won’t believe our newest edition,” says Jimmy Pena. “Thomas Nelson Publishers, one of the most respected names in Christian publishing, is exclusively releasing our second DVD through retailers everywhere. We hope you order it and are blessed by the message and workout. Get ready. You are going to love it!”

>> For other PrayFit products to help boost your faith and fitness, click here.

>> Interested in having PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña come to speak at your church? Write us today for more info!

Still Time To Dance

I will be your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age." --Isaiah 46:4

Read: Isaiah 46

You remember 8th grade dances, right? I sure do. I was the king of holding up the wall. Turn down the lights on a basketball court, add some streamers, some 80's music, and you had yourself a dance. Just...without the dancing. (No way I was crossing the outer marker.)

I thought of those dances this week while on a television interview in the Midwest. Referring to the senior citizens watching her show, the host asked me if it was ever too late to start an exercise program or to improve your health. Instantly I was transported to those last ten minutes of my 8th grade dance. Knowing my dad would be pulling up any minute to get me, I knew I didn't have another minute to spare. So I took a deep breath, swallowed any last drop of moisture left in my throat (gulp), and I defied 8th grade logic. I walked across the three-point line and asked the first girl I saw to dance. Best 10 minutes of the year for me.

And that's my answer to the host's question. Our life and our health are precious at any age. So if it's been a while since you've exercised or even if you've never crossed the outer marker, consider each sunrise the upbeat He's playing for you. So get crazy. Defy logic and move those arms and legs. Even if Daddy (Abba) says it's almost time to go, it's not too late to ask, "Can I have this dance, for the rest of my life?"

--Jimmy Peña

FAT-BURNING TIP: Train Hungry

Regardless of how long you've been exercising you have probably heard about the concept of "empty-stomach cardio." But it's not just lip service. Training while hungry -- ideally before breakfast -- can help you lose more fat when training. Researchers at Kansas State University found that exercisers who fasted before a low-intensity workout oxidized 94.3 more calories from fat, on average, than groups who had a meal 30, 60 or 90 minutes before exercise.

As you sleep, your body uses stored carbs (glycogen) to run your brain's motor, so in the morning, your body is in a carb-deprived state. This means that fat will be burned for fuel sooner during a workout.

As the study suggests, this approach is best done before low-intensity training because high-intensity training, such as sprinting, requires more carbohydrate for performance. What's "low" intensity? The most universal and leisurely low-intensity exercise is walking. So if losing bodyfat is one of your training goals, try putting your feet to the pavement before you put fork to mouth each morning.

BONUS TIP: The same logic applies to doing cardio after weights. Since weight training uses stored carbs for fuel, doing cardio after will help decrease the time it takes to start burning calories from fat.

DVD: Click here to get started on the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge.

Do You See Yourself?

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

Read: 1 Samuel 16

Last week when PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez described seeing his resemblance in his daughter's faces, this weeping writer fought back tears. He said, "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, 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 his Father.

Friends, as we end this work week, 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."

WEEK IN REVIEW 

FAITH >> CUT TO THE CHASE: Let's follow Him so close that we're covered in His dust >> BREATHLESS: When we breathe it all out, He breathes it all in

>> WHAT CAN I BRING?: The One who matters most is the one that doesn't count

>> A DANGEROUS PRAYER: What will you do with the opportunity to live more healthfully?

FITNESS >> WORKOUT: Use this home-based routine to start the year with a sweat

>> EXERCISE: An in-depth look at one of the best exercises for your core

>> NUTRITION TIP: How to sneak more fruits and veggies in your diet

>> HEALTH: How higher protein diets help you stay lean  

A CRY AT THE DOOR

November 6, 2011Read: Joshua 1

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

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

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

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

--Eric Velazquez Co-Founder, Prayfit

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: RUNNER'S CORE

In an effort to become more efficient runners, people will often train their legs harder. A few more miles per week, a few more lunges in the gym -- legs, legs, legs. But as any experienced runner will tell you, legs are only part of the equation. Core strength and stamina are incredibly important for maintaining proper mechanics, whether you're training for a 5K or running out a double in a softball game. Muscles in your abdomen, such as rectus abdominis, obliques and deep transverse abdominis, help to keep the torso stable when running, allowing the legs to do what they need to. But simple crunches won't suffice. Your core needs deep and dynamic work in order to strengthen your stride. If you're a runner, or just someone looking for a more athletic core, this routine will come in handy.

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

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

>> SHOP: Looking for some awesome PrayFit gear to sport on your next run? Visit the PrayFit store today for hot deals on tees, hats, wristbands and more.

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)

 

 

 

 

I'LL DRIVE

August 25, 2011Read: 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, since He lives inside our hearts, that's not all that hypothetical after all.

--J.P.

Q&A: FRUIT'S FINAL DESTINATION A healthy solution for overripe produce

Q: I often end up with a lot of fruit going bad around my house. It's not because I don't eat it -- it's because I don't eat it fast enough. Should I just buy less?

A: "A blender or food processor is a great destination for surplus fruit or fruit that is overripe but not yet spoiled," says PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD. "Many people tell me that they hesitate to buy too much fresh produce because they cannot use it quickly enough before it goes bad, but you can make a delicious, healthy smoothie out of those surplus berries or those bananas that are getting soft."

Here's Miller's fix: "Combine one cup of plain, non-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt with 1-2 cups of fruit, a few ice cubes, and blend to the consistency you desire. You may freeze the fruit first and choose to omit the ice. Boost the nutrients in your drink by adding 1-2 tablespoons of toasted wheat germ or flaxseeds, or 1 tablespoon of nut butter. Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves lend flavor as well."

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.

>> "PRAYER" FIT: Stop by the prayer requests forum to share issues that are heavy on your heart, or simply to read up and pray for others.

 

 

I'LL DRIVE

March 3, 2011Read: 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.

DAIRY-FREE HEALTH A look at five alternatives to your traditional glass of milk

Whether it’s because of allergies or other personal or dietary reasons, many folks choose to avoid cow’s milk. For a while, soy was the only option at many stores – not anymore! We tested five types of milk alternatives for taste and nutrition.

The Criteria

For our taste tests, we typically sample the same product from various brand names, like peanut butter or nonfat vanilla yogurt. Since the most popular cow’s milk alternatives are made from very different ingredients, we are testing the five most common: rice, hemp, almond, coconut and soy. Each beverage was ranked using our 5-point scale (5 being the highest) and judged based on taste and nutrition information. Since many of the brands offer a variety of options like low fat, vanilla flavored and unsweetened, we chose the “original” version of each brand. We found that all were best served (very) chilled.

Rice Dream Organic Rice Drink Rating: 4.5 Cost: $1.99 (per quart) Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 120 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 1 gram protein

Our Take: An overall great option if you’re used to skim milk. It’s surprisingly sweet even though it contains no added sweeteners. A watery consistency (just like skim milk) with some fat added from organic vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower and canola). It’s also very low in protein but fortified with calcium and vitamin D in similar amounts as cow’s milk.

Recommended Uses: Drinking plain or over cold cereal. You can also cook with it – there was a yummy-looking recipe for polenta on the box.

Pacific Hemp Milk Rating: 2 Cost: $3.99 (per quart)

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 140 calories; 5 grams fat; 3 grams protein

Our Take: We weren’t fans of this dairy-free option. It was thick and chalky with a sour, nutty aftertaste. It was sweetened with brown rice syrup and was fortified with 50 percent of the daily recommended amounts of calcium as well as hefty doses of vitamins D and B12. It was the most expensive and among the highest in fat, though the fat came mostly from the heart-healthy polyunsaturated kind.

Recommended Use: Smoothies

Pacific Organic Almond Milk Rating: 4.5 Cost: $1.69 (per quart)

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 60 calories; 2.5 grams fat; 1 gram protein

Our Take: A much more pleasing nutty flavor than the hemp milk with an easily drinkable consistency. It does have a strong almond flavor, which is fine if you like almonds. It was sweetened with evaporated cane juice and fortified with riboflavin, and vitamins A and D, but no calcium.

Recommended Uses: Chocolate milk, over whole-grain cereal, soups, pancake batter

So Delicious Coconut Milk Beverage Rating: 4 Cost: $2.00 (per quart)

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 80 calories; 5 grams fat; 1 gram protein

Our Take: Thick (almost too thick) and creamy with a mild sweetness from added dried cane syrup. There was really no noticeable coconut flavor, but since it’s made from the fruit, most of the 5 grams of fat per serving comes from the less healthy saturated kind. Added nutrients included calcium and vitamins A, D and B12.

Recommended Uses: In coffee or tea, smoothies, or frozen into ice cream and popsicles

EdenSoy Extra Organic Soymilk Rating: 4 Cost: $2.99

Nutrition Info per 8 fluid-ounces: 130 calories, 4 grams fat;, 11 grams protein

Our Take: Like all soy milk, this had a distinctive flavor and slight aftertaste. It did score some points for having far more protein than any of the others, but it did contain some added sweetener. Fortified nutrients included calcium and vitamins E, D, B-12 and beta-carotene.

Recommended Uses: Great for baking due to its high protein content – these banana muffins are proof.

TELL US: What’s your favorite variety of dairy-free milk? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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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

WAVING OVER WALLS

September 9, 2010Read: Psalm 145 "The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call on Him in truth." -- Psalm 145:18

As a young boy, watching my dad leave for work was more than a habit or tradition -- it was a son's ritual. We'd say bye to him at the door, then I'd run to my room and watch for him from my window. I remember we had a big rock wall, over which I could barely see the top of his truck. As he drove down the street he'd wave goodbye out his window and I'd be waving from mine. And all was right with my world.

But boy, oh boy, if I happened to miss his truck, you'd think the sky had fallen. I still remember the anxiety. "Did I miss him? Did I look down or turn away? As much as I wanted to watch him wave, I needed him to know I was there waving back. And if I thought he didn't see me, I was a mess. Mom would get me on the phone with Dad, and he'd calm me down. He'd assure me that he sees me waving, even if I can't see him.

I don't know when I grew out of that, but we'll never outgrow the need to see the Lord.

God, we're at the window. We've run here to watch you go to work in our world. We're on our tiptoes, and our little eyes are looking for you over the walls of fear and doubt that we ourselves have built. Even if we look down or turn away, you're there. You see us waving, even if we can't always see you.

--J.P.

NEW BENEFITS BREWING WITH COFFEE Coffee is more than a morning jolt -- it is fortifying your DNA

Coffee, America's favorite pick-me-up, has drawn great headlines in recent months and years with research linking it to reduced risk of diabetes, and improved liver health. But a new studies are showing that it may help on a much deeper level, boosting your health all the way down to your DNA.

Researchers from the University of Vienna, Nestlé, and the University of Belgrade report that paper-filtered coffee – the most widely consumed form in Central Europe and the US – may protect against oxidative DNA-damage. Subjects were assigned to drink either 800 ml coffee or water daily for five days. At the end of the study, a reduction in DNA damage was shown in the java drinkers.

Though researchers admit that the findings are "casual," they say that the results are promising.

To read the full story at Nutraingredients.com, click here.

>> PREORDER PRAYFIT: Click here to order "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and A Stronger Faith in 28 Days," due out in December!

DAD HANDS

August 13, 2010Read: John 20

"So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.'" --John 20:25

The older I get, the more my hands are looking like my dad's. I'll be typing or writing something, and I'll pause to look at my hands and immediately think of his. But unlike my clumsy paws, Dad can actually put his to work. He can fix everything or put anything together. Weld it, untie it, prime it, paint it, dig it...you name it, if we put it in his hands, he's able.

It's funny...despite that knowledge, I've often handed something to Dad for help, and immediately began to tell him how do it or what I think should be done next. To which Dad simply says, "James, am I doing this, or are you?" Gulp!

I think we have the tendency to do the same with the Lord. We pray for His guidance, ask for His help, and we "give it to Him," yet we never really let go of worry, doubt or control. (A show of hands of those who can relate...)

But we need to remember that the very same hands that reached for a sinking Peter on the water, assured a doubting Thomas in the upper room and rubbed mud into the eyes of the blind, are the very same hands that still reach for us today. They assure us in hospital rooms and lead us through the dark times. He can hold us like a newborn baby in one hand, while holding off Satan's army with the other. He wants us to bring Him our knots each day. It's what He does. After all, He's got Dad hands, and He is able.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT NUTRITION: PROTEIN RECOMMENDATIONS Make sure you're getting enough each day to reach your goals

So how did everyone do yesterday with their goal of having protein at every meal, even snacks? Easy? Not so much? Well, that was sort of a can't-miss, broad strokes recommendation. Today, we'll discuss exactly how much you should be getting on a daily basis.

Although the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is less than half a gram per pound of bodyweight per day, research shows that athletes need roughly double that amount, or about 1 gram per pound of bodyweight per day. Put another way, a 150-pound athlete should get roughly 150 grams of protein in a day. If you were getting about 20 grams of protein six times per day, that puts you at 140 grams -- pretty close. This amount may seem high, but if you're a hard-training individual, flooding your muscles with this much protein is critical for rebuilding muscle and recovering for your next session.

Beginners can benefit from a slightly higher uptake -- about 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day.

Protein choices should come mainly from animal sources such as chicken, turkey, lean beef, fish, eggs and dairy. These are the most complete sources, meaning they provide your body with every essential amino acid -- those your body cannot manufacture on its own.

Complete protein: A complete protein is composed of 20 different amino acids. Some are more critical than others. At the top of the list are the BCAAs (branched chain amino acids), that include leucine, isoleucine and valine. Arginine is crucial for helping production of nitric oxide (NO),which dilates blood vessels, taking more nutrients to muscles during workouts. Glutamine is also high on the list because it keeps muscle protein synthesis high and breakdown low and helps to boost your immune system.

>> WAIT...WHAT? Got another question about protein or nutrition in general? Head to the fitness forum and ask the trainer!