family

Chasing Josh

The American record holder in the 50K sits down with PrayFit to chat faith, running JoshJosh Cox is one of the world's best at putting one foot in front of the other for unseemly distances. A native of San Diego (Calif), Cox set the American record in the 50K (31.05 miles) in 2011 with a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 45 seconds, smashing his own previous U.S. record in the process. Over his career, he's encountered adversity both on and off the course, all of it setting him on the path the Lord had in store for him the entire time. Now, this father and husband -- he and his wife welcomed a son, Asher Legend, in 2011 -- dishes on what's made him so successful, both in running and in his walk.

“Jimmy and the PrayFit team embody the words Paul penned to Timothy, ‘For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ (1 Tim. 4:8) Their daily devotional feeds my spirit and inspires my sweat!” --Josh Cox, elite ultramarathoner, American record holder in the 50K

Josh Cox Height: 6'0" Weight: 147–156 Hometown: San Diego, CA Residence: Mammoth Lakes, CA Family: Wife, Carrie; Sons, Asher Legend, Joshua Tristan Armor Race Highlights: 2011: PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, 1st. 2010: Boston Athletic Association 5K, 1st; Comrades Marathon, 180th; Moeben Ultra 25K, 1st; Malibu Half Marathon, 1st; Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, 1st.

PRAYFIT: As one of the world's premier long distance runners, you spend a lot of time running solo. Where does your mind wander during a long run?

JOSH COX: Fortunately, I train with an amazing group, the Mammoth Track Club. I’ve heard it said that we become the average of our five closest friends, so I try to keep fast company! Having workout partners works wonders for accountability. Being surrounded by talented individuals who share a common vision and a common goal always reaps rewards. It’s like what Solomon said, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

With that said, running is a solitary sport, even when training in a group. Growing up, I was a soccer player -- I loved the game but in order to really practice I needed others. With running, all I needed was an alarm clock and open road. I still love that about the sport. Running is my alone time, my thinking time, my praying time, my creative time, my time away from the calls, social networks, and the business of life. Running has always served as my daily reset button. You could say it’s my therapist. And by mile three I usually have amazing clarity.

PF: How has your faith played in to your life as an athlete? How has it affected your perspective?

JC: I’ve been blessed with longevity. I’m now in my 14th year in the sport. My perspective during that time has done a 180. When I qualified for my first Olympic Trials in ‘99 it was all about the teams, titles and records. Sure, I’d thank God after races and talk about Him in interviews but it was mainly words. Don’t get me wrong, I believed what I was saying but what was I really doing? Was giving interviews really God’s big commission for my life?

Then came 2005, a horrible year. If I live a thousand years it will be tough to top my terrible 2005. I experienced spiritual oppression beyond my worst nightmares, I was in a bad relationship, lost $60,000 in an investment...I could have been a case study for Murphy’s Law. As bad as that year was, when November came, things got worse. The doctor delivered the news: my dad had stage four cancer and seven months to live. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My dad and I didn’t have the best relationship; I knew I needed to be by his side.

A month later my brother and I were living in a hotel room next to my dad near MD Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston. Suddenly, running, and everything else in my life, didn’t seem as important as being there for my dad. Talk about a reset button.

My dad had it all: looks, charisma, made millions in business, had a big house, convertible Mercedes, the works. But in the end he had a mountain of regrets: putting work first, not spending more time with the family, failed relationships with his children and his divorce from my mom after 34 years of marriage. My dad opened up and our relationship was restored on this side of eternity. It’s tough to put an old head on young shoulders but those months with my dad did just that. I was holding his hand and looking in his eyes when he took his last breath that July. In the aftermath I did a lot of soul searching. Did running matter? Why was I spending my life trying to lower my time on a clock? What’s the end game? A medal? A contract? A record? A team?

I nearly retired from running and went to seminary full-time; I even took some classes. Being willing to give it up was where God wanted me all along, when I came back to sport in 2007, things were totally different. Sure, I still had the drive to win and set records but I knew their proper place. My performance was no longer the verdict on me. The reality is, titles are forgotten and records are on loan but when we use our platform to do God’s work we impact lives, outlive our life, and leave a lasting legacy. That’s winning.

PF: Lots of people run. Very few people run well. What's your best, most basic advice for achieving a proper stride on a long run?

JC: With regards to form, we want everything going forward and back -- any lateral movement is wasted energy. A midfoot strike is what we’re after because it keeps the body over the foot at impact and allows the knee to act as a shock absorber. Heel striking is braking –- it slows you down and beats the body up. But frankly, for most of us, the issue isn’t form, it’s about having the discipline to get the run in. The key is to lace up the shoes and get out the door. The first step is the best step -- it’s where intent meets action. Some folks workout when they feel like it. The key to success is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like it.

The first step is the best step -- it’s where intent meets action.

PF: Should distance runners only run steady paces for long distances, or is there some value in sprint intervals?

JC: Long slow distance makes long slow runners. If you want to run fast you need to run fast. Every good running program should have three key components each week:

• Intervals (400 meter sprints, with recovery in between): 3-8 miles • Tempo Runs (your goal race pace): 4-18 miles • Long Runs: 12-26 miles

The idea is to get efficient at goal race pace. Faster intervals will allow you to relax at this pace. The tempo run is when you run your goal race pace, and long runs give you the strength. All have their place in training. Run your hard days hard and easy days easy. "Stress + Rest" is the formula.

PF: With such a busy training schedule and a new baby, how do you find time to get into your bible?

JC: I’ve had loads of regrets in my life but I’ve never spent time in the Word or gone for a run and said, "That was a waste of time." It’s just like working out -- if you want to get it in you have to make it an important appointment worth keeping. I also download podcasts, books and sermons to my iPod and listen to them on my easy days.

PF: You do a ton of work for charities. Can you describe your involvement in charity and give us a bit about how people can help out?

JC: Faith is something to be lived, not sat around and talked about. I want my walk to back up my talk. I want my deeds to align with my creeds. I want to live out what I believe. Oftentimes, the church (meaning the believers in the church) is caught up in catering to others in their building, when being a Christian is so much more than going to Sunday School and Bible studies, it’s remembering the poor, remembering the oppressed, helping the widow, being the hands and feet of Christ, these are things we’re called to do.

Faith is something to be lived, not sat around and talked about. I want my walk to back up my talk. I want my deeds to align with my creeds.

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” The way we be like Christ, the way we follow Christ, is to serve as He served. My goal in athletics, and life, is to pursue my passions and use my gifts to serve. Anyone can use a gift for personal gain; the key to success is making your gift valuable to someone else. Asking, "How can I help?" and delivering on that question will open dozens of doors. The more you serve others, the more impact you make. The most influential folks in history –- those with statues and streets bearing their names –- are those who used their gifts and passions to serve mankind. If you want to have long, lasting, real success, find a way to use your aptitudes to serve others. Help someone reach their potential; in helping them reach theirs, you'll reach your own.

I’ve partnered with Team World Vision for years. World Vision is one of the world’s largest NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) -- they empower the indigenous people and give them the tools and support to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. They’re giving folks a fishing pole rather than the fish. No one does more life changing work on the ground. This year we’re partnering with Lopez Lomong, a former Sudanese Lost Boy and U.S. Olympian to bring clean water to his homeland. Fifty dollars provides clean drinking water for one person...for a lifetime. Few things are as rewarding as bringing clean water to a child in need. Folks can get involved or donate here, no amount is too small: Click here to support Josh's efforts for South Sudan

This year I’m beginning a partnership with Stand Up To Cancer. This is passion of mine for obvious reasons. We hope to do some fundraising around an effort of mine in the fall.

>> For more on Josh Cox, visit his official website at www.joshcox.com. You can also join his social networks here: Twitter - JoshCoxRun Facebook - Josh Cox YouTube - JC

 

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)

My Redeemer Lives

"I know my redeemer lives." --Job 19:25

Read: Job 19

In a recent sermon, my good friend Dr. Aaron Tyler said, "The story in the book of Job is a story that tests the foundations of faith." As you know, God allowed Job to be tested beyond belief. His family, wealth and even his health were taken from him. But like Dr. Tyler said, "Job suffered faithfully." And in a remarkable surge of faith Job said, "Etch this in stone...I know my redeemer lives."

Friends, we might be going through all kinds of tests -- from finances, to relationships, to our health. But may we follow Job's example, that even as our lives unravel and our bodies break, our foundation of faith remains. Oh, we may not have books written about us, but our little stories are no less important to God or those around us. And if you happen to be asked why you care for a body that will surely fade and die, just remember Job as you reply, "Because my redeemer lives."

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: The Gideon

This week, you'll target legs with this test. As you may already know, at PrayFit, we're fans of the squat. That's because it hits your entire lower body musculature, making you stronger, leaner and more athletic. In fact, a hard leg day, particularly one that includes the squat, offers 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.

For today's squat-based routine, we're challenging you to record your results online in your very own PrayFit Workout Journal. (Not yet a member? Register here.) This will not only keep you more accountable but it may also pique your inner competitor to grind out a few extra reps or a few extra seconds of work. The routine is as follows.

Warm Up: Jog in place or use a treadmill for 5 minutes. This often overlooked part of your routine elevates body temperature, increases blood flow to working muscles and lubricates your joints for the work ahead.

Jump squats for 30 seconds | Record total jumps Bodyweight squats for 30 seconds | Record total squats Wall Squats for as long as possible | Record total time

>> After reaching failure -- the point at which you can no longer hold this position -- on wall squats, stand and rest for 1-2 minutes.

>> Complete the entire lineup 3-5 times total in one session. Perform 2-3 sessions per week, allowing 1-2 days recovery between workouts.

>> For more exercise descriptions and videos, click here.

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)

 

 

 

 

A MAZE OF GRACE

October 18, 2011Read: Hebrews 13

"So we say with confidence, 'The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?'" --Hebrews 13:6

"On a scale of 1-10, it's probably a 9 (in difficulty)" said Bob Connor, the owner of a Massachusetts corn maze. Last week, his farm became the center of national attention when a couple and their newborn couldn't find their way out as darkness fell. The emergency 911 call recorded their fear, and when it came to pass, it was learned that the trio was only 25 feet from the exit when help arrived.

Sounds simple enough, and the farmer's 15 minutes of fame have come and gone, but the story stuck with me this weekend. When it comes to health, the day's maze gets tough to navigate when darkness falls. If we're not careful, we can easily get lost amid the tall statistics. Before you know it, we're turned around and confused while sickness and disease become real scarecrows in the cornfield of life.

So friends, if you're struggling, take courage. Whatever labyrinth you find yourself in, God is neither bewildered or astonished. He's never slept and knows the way. Although the enemy wants to puzzle you, God simultaneously has your hand and an aerial view. So, don't panic. Mercy is on the way. We're either almost out, or He's almost back. You're lost only in a maze of grace.

--J.P.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

According to NBC News, a new survey from Gallup indicates... >> Only 1 in 7  American workers are at a normal weight without a chronic health issue; >> 86% of American workers are above normal weight or have chronic health issues; >> Health problems can be linked to 450 million missed work days; >> Abnormal weight costs the economy 153 billion in lost productivity.

How have weight-related issues affected your business, your productivity or the work of a colleague? Please leave your experiences in the comments section below.

HIS IDEA

September 26, 2011Read: Psalm 124

God’s strong name is our help.”  Psalm 124:8

Forget the idea that when we're healthy, we're better at work. Try to ignore the fact that when we take care of ourselves, we're better for our families, kids and spouses. Block all that out for a second. Focus on this short and simple command: "Honor God with your body." Vain, you say? Petty? Too temporary? It would be if it were my idea. But it isn't. It's His.

Yesterday at church, we sang praises. We listened to a sermon about the importance of praise. Then we offered Him praise through the giving of our tithes and offerings. All good. All expected. All right. But then the Pastor returned to the podium, rubbed his oversized stomach and jokingly bragged about the oversized meal and game he was about to enjoy.

Now, maybe I'm sensitive. I admit, perhaps my feelings are exposed because my life's work revolves around health as a way to praise God. But friends, listen up. Our best effort at health is not a good idea because of the benefits it brings, it's a good idea because God said it. In the end, we're not loved because we succeed at it, nor because we plead forgiveness if we fail at it. He loves us regardless. But shouldn't we be doing one or the other?

Join us this week as we put our health in perspective; a heavenly perspective.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: TOTAL BODY 10 Train most major muscle groups in less time with this bodyweight-driven workout

Recently, a well-respected fitness coach said that losing weight may not be as simple as "move more, eat less." Rather, he says, we should "train harder, eat smarter." While it's true that attention to energy balance -- the old "move more, eat less" mantra -- has some value and can be effective, it is entirely more productive to simply give your best effort day in and day out while continuing to eat a balanced diet that will support your training.

One way to constantly challenge yourself, and therefore effect change in your body, is to outdo your previous performance. And to do that doesn't require a gym -- just the willingness to push. It should be noted that training at higher intensity is relative -- your max effort is entirely unique to your body -- but this workout allows novices as well as experienced trainers to draw equal benefit, training your upper body, abs and legs in 10 minutes flat.

5 push-ups

10 crunches

15 squats

--Set a timer for 10 minutes. Perform these exercises consecutively with no rest in between moves. Do as many rounds as possible of these exercises in the prescribed order in the set 10 minute period. The total number of rounds you complete is your "score" for the day. Partial rounds may count as thirds -- i.e. if you only get through five rounds and then only complete the five push-ups on the sixth round, you've done 5 1/3 rounds. Rest at least 24 hours between workouts. To allow for better recovery, perform this workout no more than three times in a seven-day period.

Advanced Training: If you can complete 10 rounds in 10 minutes, increase the workout length by one minute. Add a minute to the workout each time your number of completed rounds equals the number of minutes trained for sustained progression.

BECAUSE HE TRAVELED

July 26, 2011Read: Matthew 26

“Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My father if it’s possible, let this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’” –Matthew 26:39

Getting ready for a business trip is no easy task. From the packing and planning, to some unpacking and repacking, it becomes quite the endeavor. Work before work. And while I’m grateful for the opportunities that business travel allows, I always have one thing on my mind. One solitary vision, and the reason I’m up for the fight — getting home. Even before I leave, I find that I’m homesick and still in my living room.

I wonder if Jesus ever got homesick. I mean, if anyone had the right to miss where they were from, He did. But something made Him leave. That something? Our helplessness.

Divine irony: Because He traveled, we’ll get home.

QUESTION: Jesus left Heaven so we would have hope. In the area of health, what are we willing to leave behind as a sacrifice of praise? Will we turn the TV off a few minutes early to walk with family? What about pushing away from the table sooner rather than later? He left Heaven for us, what can we do this week to be more healthy for Him?

--J.P.

PROTEIN PLUS Is protein helping to decrease your blood pressure? Science says 'yes'

In addition to the protein they consume from whole foods like chicken, beef and fish, many active individuals also choose to supplement their diets with protein powders. Doing so ensures more complete recovery from exercise, and works to blunt appetite and increase fat burning. And if you're not using a protein powder to support your training, you may want to start.

Researchers found that milk and soy protein supplements were both associated with a in systolic blood pressure compared with a refined carbohydrate supplement, according to findings of a randomized clinical trial published in Circulation.

"The systolic blood pressure differences we found are small for the individual, but they are important at the population level," said study leader Jiang He, MD, PhD, from Tulane University.

According to previous research, the New Orleans-based scientists note that a 2 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure, which was shown in the study, could lead to 6 percent fewer stroke-related deaths, a 4 percent lower rate of heart disease deaths and a 3 percent reduction in overall deaths among Americans.

For more detail, click here.

RECENT FORUM TOPICS

Getting to church - 13 posts

Questions for the trainer - 32 posts

Got a recipe to share?  - 6 posts

Exercise for seniors - 3 posts

Amy Lynne's Workout Journal - 135 posts

Faith Inspired Training Journal - 22 posts

>> Visit our forums by clicking here. Not a member yet? Register by clicking here and become part of the PrayFit online community today!

CHEER ME UP

July 20, 2011Read: Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses...”-- Hebrews 12:1

I know beyond a doubt that I’m not the first person to see heaven in a marathon, nor will I be the last. But standing among the countless other witnesses along the cement track just begged a comparison.

Maybe it was the blind runner holding on to his guide to get him through the miles. Or perhaps it was each coach strategically placed throughout the trail to encourage and motivate. (Indeed, each warrants a devotional all their own). But for me, it was written on a little girl’s shirt as she anxiously awaited her daddy to come running. It simply said, "Cheer me up." Not "Cheer me on" or "Cheer me through" but... "up." And with every passing group of runners, her shirt would come into view. Not knowing the context, I dismissed it.

But it wasn’t until the race was over, while I was waiting in the designated Family Reunion area, that her shirt made sense. We too are being encouraged each day. By those we know and those we don’t, and even by those we can’t even see. And someday, when our race is over and the good Lord calls us home, we’ll reunite with loved ones and strangers who have been anxiously awaiting our arrival –cheering us up – all along the way.

–J.P.

SO YOU WANNA RUN A MARATHON?

If you answered the above question "yes," PrayFit editorial director Eric Velazquez probably asked "Why?" with a look of confused pain on his face. But if all this talk of running has ignited a spark in your gut about taking on a marathon, we've done half our job. The other half would be for us to help you prepare. For that we look to our friends at Runner's World for some helpful training tips. If you're new to running, today's helpful tidbit is just for you.

BEGINNER: Who, exactly is a "beginner?" Well, if you've run 15 to 20 miles a week for at least six months, completed a 5K or 10K -- perhaps even something longer, you are a beginner. A marathon beginner can run five or six miles without collapsing afterward and want to gradually become a stronger runner with a marathon on the horizon.

>> The Plan. You're going to train just three to four days a week and gradually increase your weekly mileage from around 10-15 to 35-plus miles a week. The biggest key of all will be to gradually increase your mileage, especially that of your weekend long run. "The beginner needs to focus almost entirely on the long run," says anaerobic management coach Jon Sinclair (www.anaerobic.net), "but it's also good to throw in a little hill work and some aerobic intervals on alternate weeks to bolster your stamina and to liven up your training."

Lastly, we're going to have you running two low-key races -- such as a half marathon or 10K --  to get the feel of competition before the big day.

>> TOUGHEST WORKOUT EVER: Well, the contest isn't on anymore but we're still curious -- what was your toughest workout ever? If you continually challenge yourself, there's likely one or two workouts that stand out. Share here on our forums!

 

 

PROMOTED PRISONER

June 21, 2011Read Romans 8 "...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." --Romans 8:39 "Captured U.S Solder Receives Second Promotion in Two Years"

That's the headline that caught my attention this past weekend. While we don't typically turn our heads to promotions and awards, when they're given to someone behind enemy lines, it's a different story.

Bowe Bergadhl was a private first class two years ago and has now been promoted to the rank of sergeant. His family was given the honor this weekend, to which his father closed his remarks to his son with, "Be patient and kind to those around you. You are not forgotten. You are not forgotten."

You know, at times we feel like we're on foreign soil. The thing is, we are. We're definitely not at home. But if we're captured by grace, we've been promoted behind enemy lines. You and I are prisoners of hope. So let's be patient and kind to those around us...we are not forgotten.

--J.P.

STUDY: OBESITY LINKED TO CHRONIC PAIN

Knees hurt? Back sore all the time? Before reaching for another dose of ibuprofen, you might wanna check the scale. A recent study reaffirmed what you might already know -- that carrying around excess weight puts you at much higher risk for chronic pain.

In the study, conducted at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, obese men were almost 21 percent more likely to develop chronic lower back pain than men of normal weight, and 22 percent more likely to develop neck or shoulder pain. Obese women were also 21 percent more likely to develop lower back pain than women of normal weight, and 19 percent more likely to develop neck and shoulder pain.

Based on the results, researchers believe that even moderate physical exercise -- just one hour or more per week -- "can, to some extent, compensate for the adverse effect of being overweight and obese on future risk of chronic pain."

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

>> SHARE: Help us get others on board with this whole “faith and fitness” thing. Use the “Recommend,” “Tweet,” “E-Mail” and “Share” buttons at the top of each day’s entry to get your social network in the know about PrayFit. Also, you can “like” us, “follow” us or “watch” us by clicking the FacebookTwitter and YouTube icons at the bottom of each page.

EXTREME MAKEOVER: HEART EDITION

June 1, 2011Read: 2 Corinthians 5

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come." --2 Corinthians 5:17

Last year, I had the privilege of spending a week on the set of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. When it aired, I remembered the feeling I had when that family first answered the knock at the door, then came back a week later to a brand new house. Talk about gut-wrenching! Someone they never expected (Tyler Perry) came into their world and freely gave them something they couldn't afford on their own. He saw where they lived and said you don't have to live here anymore.

As I stood and watched the process, I couldn't help but think of Jesus. Just like we did for that family, He knocks gently, anxiously awaiting our answer. But rather than calling for a wrecking ball, He does the unthinkable: He moves in. Instead of a hammer, He carries a suitcase. He gives us something we could never afford on our own--Himself--saying we don't have to live here anymore, alone.

--J.P.

COMMUNITY KEEPS WEIGHT OFF

If you're looking for a way to get or stay slim, you're in the right place

A new study is confirming what we've said all along -- that by sharing time with other fit-minded people, you can actually have more success in your quest to reach or stay at your goal weight.

The more people used an interactive weight management website such as PrayFit, the more weight loss they maintained, according to the study. The research showed that consistent website users who logged on and recorded their weight at least once a month for two-and-a-half years maintained the most weight loss.

You can build in extra accountability by keeping a public workout journal, such as those located at our forums.

>> EXERCISE CENTRAL: Find out how to properly perform many of the key exercises presented in our workouts by clicking here.

>> SHOP: Looking for a good Father’s Day gift? Visit PrayFit’s online store to pick up a hat, shirt, wristband or book for the dads in your life!

 

THE REST OF THE STORY

April 7, 2011Read: 1 Kings 10

"Indeed, not even half was told me..." --1 Kings 10:7

I'm likely giving away my age, but I grew up listening to Paul Harvey on the radio. Many of you might remember his opening line, "Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news!" with added emphasis on "news." Others might recognize his classic closing salutation, "Paul Harvey...good day!"

But my favorite part of his legendary broadcast was a frame called, "The Rest of the Story," where we'd wait in wonder as he took us down a historical path on any number of subjects before finally unveiling the surprise at the end.

You know, our lives might be a lot like a Paul Harvey story. After all sorts of twists and turns, pitfalls and mountain tops, breakdowns and breakthroughs, God will unveil Heaven's surprise. And though we've read about streets of gold and those gates made of pearl, we will someday see just how badly words failed. And I like to think that maybe, just maybe, God will look at you and He'll look at me with tear-filled eyes and say, "And now you know, the rest of the story."

--J.P.

UNDERESTIMATED WEIGHT New study shows most moms and kids may not be in touch with the gravity of the problem

If you don't stand on a scale everyday, don't worry. While studies show that those who are dieting have a better chance of keeping on track if they weigh themselves regularly, there are a great many people that don't have the faintest clue how much they weigh. But Columbia University researchers found that most moms and kids who are overweight tend to underestimate their weight -- and each other's.

Just under two-thirds of the mothers were overweight or obese, as were nearly 40% of the children, who ranged in age from 7 to 13, according to the story, which appeared on CNN. The vast majority of the overweight people weighed more than they thought they did -- and the heavier they were, the more likely they were to underestimate their weight.

Eighty-two percent of the obese women underestimated their weight, compared with 43% of overweight and 13% of normal-weight women. Likewise, 86% of overweight or obese children failed to correctly estimate their weight, compared with just 15% of normal-weight children.

"In order to target the obesity epidemic, we need to improve perceptions of body weight and create healthy image goals," says the lead author of the study, Nicole E. Dumas, M.D., an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York. "But how do we change perceptions? That's the big question."

Source: CNN

>> COMING THIS FALL: The front line in the fight for healthier families starts in our homes. This fall, PrayFit will roll out its second print project, PrayFit Family, which provides 28 days of biblically-based devotions, healthy-living tips, recipes and other tools to help build stronger, more faithful families. More info coming soon!

>> ORDER: To order PrayFit's debut book, PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days (Regal Books), which contains two, 28-day, at-home exercise programs and meal plans, click here.

>> SHOP: Get outfitted with the latest PrayFit gear at our online store by clicking here.

 

GOING...UNNOTICED

February 23, 2011Read: John 11

"Jesus wept." --John 11:35

When Mary finally reached Jesus, Lazarus had been dead four days. Perhaps they thought Jesus didn't hurry or didn't notice. Either way, the grief and pain that Mary and the others were feeling moved Jesus to tears. Although Lazarus would soon be having a good laugh, Jesus cried. Why? Their loss was His too, and their pain hurt.

Today I read a story about a woman here in Los Angeles that died at work but wasn't noticed for over a day. Sitting at her desk, in a row of empty cubicles on a practically vacant office floor, she died. Unknown and alone.

Of all the things this story brings to mind, most prominent is an inconsolable Mary comforted by a tear-soaked Jesus. We don't always notice the hurting around us, but He does. He sees, knows and cares. By the way, the lady's name? Rebecca. Means secured. She may have died alone, but her family (and you and I) can rest secure in that what breaks our heart, tears Him apart.

Application: Today, notice the lonely. Someone around you might be dying on the inside. Look them in the eye, smile and offer something perhaps nobody has in a while -- your time.

--J.P.

NUTRITION BYTE

Cold and flu supplements have become a multi-billion dollar business. As the cold weather rolls in each year, consumers fork over a pretty penny for anything that promises to keep them healthy or get them better. Are these supplements all they’re cracked up to be? PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC weighs in.

Q: Is there any benefit from those pills, powders and fizzy drinks that promise to cure or protect you from cold and flu germs?

A: Unfortunately there are no proven cures for these illnesses. Some of the most common supplements are harmless; others you need to watch out for. There are numerous vitamin, mineral and herb concoctions out there. Here are a few of the most common ingredients and what you’ll want to know before picking up a cold and flu supplement.

Echinacea
There’s no solid scientific evidence to prove that this herb can prevent or shorten the duration of a cold. Since the quality of herbal supplements is sometimes questionable due to loose regulations, you’re better off saving your money.

Vitamin C
While no one can discount the benefit of meeting your daily needs for vitamin C , only a small amount of research links the vitamin with shortening the duration of colds. While the anti-inflammatory properties may help to relieve some symptoms, proceed with caution — mega-doses can also cause unpleasant side effects like stomach upset and diarrhea.

Zinc
Zinc does play a role in immune function, but that doesn’t mean that more is better. Excessive amounts can be toxic, causing loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and headaches. It’s pretty tough to eat your way to a zinc toxicity, so stick to zinc from foods like shellfish, pork, beans, nuts and whole grains.

Vitamins A and E
You body relies on vitamins A and E from foods to help keep the immune system running strong. These two vitamins also happen to have cell-protecting antioxidant properties. Again, more is not the answer — large doses from supplements can be toxic.

Bottom Line: Beat germs during the winter months by eating a diet loaded with nutrients and antioxidants from brightly colored fruits and vegetables. If you do come down with an ailment, seek relief from real foods like chicken soup, tea with honey and lemon and orange juice.

HOMEOWNERS MEETING: PART II

November 17, 2010Read: Romans 12

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." --Romans 12:2

Now, where was I? Ah, yes...in the back of the room, cleverly disguised as a concerned homeowner. And though at first I remained rather stoic, I slowly began to think, "This ain't so bad." I actually nodded a couple times, gave my two cents here and there (after all, we could use a new parking lot), and even told a good joke. I had 'em eating out of my hand. Shucks, I even think I heard, "Boy, I sure am glad the new guy showed up! Is there room on the board for one more?" (Okay, maybe not, but that's not the point.) See, all was great. Until...

The next thing I knew the room had turned on me, and I was rolling up my sleeves, getting knee-deep in the thick of where dogs are allowed to be walked and whether or not new keys should be issued to homeowners. Besides, these old keys don't open anything! (Sigh) Yep...I'm not so sure if it was Loretta slowly shaking her head in my general direction, or if it was when she said to me, "I'm sorry sir, what was your name again?" but somewhere along the way I became part of the problem. The issues had become my issue. I lost focus on my focus. I was there to keep an eye on Loretta, but opted to have all eyes on me.

Hours later, sitting in my chair (which is where I should have stayed in the first place), I wondered if that's how the Lord sees us at times, taking our eyes off of Him and onto the crowd. I wonder if He shakes His head at how worked up we "homeowners" get about this temporary home.

--J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Angelo Family French Toast

French toast -- we'll say it -- is a breakfast delicacy. There may be a special place in heaven where thick, egg-battered slices of perfectly prepared French toast are served at every meal. Unfortunately, here on Earth, it is an indulgence best had occasionally...until now. This recipe, prepared by PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, is a healthier alternative to this breakfast favorite.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 3 large eggs ¾ cup lowfat (1%) milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste 8 slices multi-grain bread 4 teaspoon unsalted butter Canola oil cooking spray 100% maple syrup 2 cups fresh seasonal fruit

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with nonstick spray. Melt 1 tsp butter in skillet. Dip 2 slices of bread into milk mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Place bread in skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown (sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired). Repeat with remaining slices of bread. Transfer to a warm oven until ready to serve. Top with maple syrup -- sugar-free if carbs are a concern -- and fruit.

Nutrition info per serving: Calories: 414 Total Fat: 11 grams Saturated Fat: 4 grams Total Carbohydrate: 64 grams Protein: 15 grams Sodium:  473 milligrams Cholesterol: 171 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and nutrition and fitness consultant for international food companies, restaurants and marketing firm. Dana is also the nutrition advisor to The Food Network.

>> NEW! Now, you can easily view past installments of the PrayFit Daily by visiting our new archives. Using this new feature, you can now categorically access over a year's worth of faith and fitness information and inspiration.

FIT CITY

October 25, 2010Read: Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things- Philippians 4:8

What does "fit" look like?

That was the question that came to mind as I delivered a message to Tyler's Fit City Challenge back in Texas this weekend. The great people of Tyler are reaching deep within themselves and are hitting the obesity epidemic head on. Their mission statement says it all: Making Tyler a "Fit City" one step, one bite and one health-conscious decision at a time. Someday, the city of Tyler will be the standard against which the surrounding communities will be judged. Amen, Tyler?

On my way back to the airport, we passed by Bergfeld Park where the challenge was held. And while all the booths, vendors and guest speakers were long gone, there were a couple of families enjoying the park. One family was throwing a ball around, and the other was on the swings. I wondered if it was part of their weekly routine or a brand new tradition; either would be fine with me.

Tyler...may God help us follow your lead in our homes and communities. You're the answer to my question.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 10-Minute Abs & Core

Like we've said before, it's impossible to completely isolate any one portion of the abs or core musculature, but you can emphasize a section over another depending on the exercise. Today's 10-minute workout will hit your upper and lower abs, your obliques as well as your deep transverse abdominis with accuracy. We'll begin by hitting a common weakness, the lower abs. Then we'll move to the obliques and upper abs and close-out today's workout with the plank.

Exercise (emphasis)

Reverse Crunch (lower abs) Crossover Crunch (obliques) Standard Crunch (upper abs) Plank (transverse abdominis/core)

--Do a set to failure of each exercise, moving through the circuit without rest. Repeat the sequence for 10 minutes. Log the number of reps you get on each exercise as well as the number of times you are able to complete the sequence. Try this workout twice per week, aiming to beat the number of reps and total trips through the circuit each time. Remember that consistently challenging yourself to do better than you did last time is the only way to ensure progress -- something to think about if a stronger-looking midsection is your goal.

>> FIT CITY CHALLENGE: Check out the post-event coverage of the Fit City Challenge on the Tyler Paper.