fat

His Work

"But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound." --Romans 5:20

Read: Romans 5 Jimmy-backDon't bend, twist or lift more than 10 pounds. Avoid slipping and falling. Those were my instructions 120 days ago. See, by sticking to those rules, the odds were in my favor for solid fusion between the new hardware and bones. Simply, the surgery needed to take. No pressure. The doctor did his thing, but now it was up to me. Stick to the rules, and I won't ruin his work.

I can't tell you how many times over the summer I wondered if I messed things up. Did I twist too much at the waist? Bend down too far? And yes, despite us rearranging the furniture, I stumbled a time or two. Oh the fear that set in. I wanted to go back to the surgery date and start over. This time with no mistakes, no tumbles, no wrong turns.

Have you ever wondered if grace took? After a mistake, a tumble, a stumble, have you ever thought, "Surely God can't forgive me again" or "When I got saved, did I mean it enough? Like, enough enough?" After my slip and fall, the first thing I imagined was that I ruined the doctor's work. He gave me a brand new chance and I blew it. But you know the good news by now. When the doctor looked inside, he saw fusion, healing, progress.

Aren't we glad that God gives us a brand new heart, His. And thankfully, gracefully, when God sees your life and mine, He doesn't see our sin, He sees the blood of His son. He doesn't see a heart held together by a very thin thread; as if one more fall would sever the relationship. No, when you and I accept Him as Lord, there is perfect, permanent fusion; based not on our ability to stick to the rules, but all because of what He did at Calvary. We try to avoid slipping and falling, yes. But there is peace in knowing that grace took. We can't ruin His work.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: I think the fact that our health is our responsibility is a healthy reminder that we can't earn grace. A show of hands of those who feel motivated to take better care of themselves physically because of what God did for you spiritually? Is there a better reason to take care of ourselves? I guarantee there isn't.

 

Loretta-gear

NEW GEAR!

Your health -- what you choose to eat, how often you choose to move -- tells a story. But sometimes, good old fashioned words will do the trick. Our newest offering of PrayFit apparel (as seen on Mrs. Loretta Peña following her recent Disney 1/2 Marathon) spells out, authoritatively, that your health doesn't just matter to you...it matters to Him. Browse the new selections here and pick up shirts, tanks and hats for you and your like-minded friends and family!

NUTRITION NEWS

While most people choose to focus on carbohydrates in their weight loss programs, it's important not to lose sight of protein intake. Protein, which comes in at only 4 calories per gram, is helpful in shedding unwanted pounds. Research has shown that high-protein diets are great for enhancing satiety, elevating metabolism, building muscle and burning fat. The good news is that the type of protein you choose to build your diet around may not matter all that much. A new study conducted by scientists at Laval University in Canada seems to indicate that both plant- and animal-based proteins are equally effective at aiding in weight loss.

>> Get the full story from NutraIngredients by clicking here.

A Thankful List

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

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

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

ASK THE NUTRITIONIST with Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

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

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

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, D.C.-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the D.C. area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

Open House

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." --Isaiah 1:18

Read: Isaiah 1

Walking Josey around the neighborhood this last weekend, I came across an open house sign. The arrow pointed us up the street, so...up we went. Interestingly, the closer we got to the house, the nicer things seemed. The manicured lawn looked like the greens of The Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta. Smiling neighbors waved at the milkman. Kids played hopscotch. Josey chased cartoon animals across the street while Mr. Bluebird rested upon my shoulder. After all, it was an open house. And everything seems perfect at an open house.

Okay, maybe the cartoon animals were a little much, but as I stood watching the people going in and out, I could relate to the owner who had clearly taken great pains in preparing the house to make a good first impression. Before we let anyone in our lives, we hide the dirt. We sweep regrets under the rug, polish the pain and spit-shine the shame. We don't want anyone to see the proof under the roof.

Isn't it comforting to know that we don't need to clean ourselves up before we let Jesus in? We can stop scrubbing failures from the floor and just open the door. Besides, the asking price for our heart's home is way too high for anyone but Him, and He paid it in full.

--Jimmy Peña

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.50 a gallon at the pump this week. But before you go and blame Middle East unrest, market instability or rapid inflation, you might want to consider the following statistic.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine,  nearly one billion gallons of additional fuel per year can be attributed to the average weight gain between 1960 and 2002 of people living in the United States. This represents nearly three times the total amount of fuel consumed by all passenger vehicles each day based on current driving habits, or approximately 0.7% of the total amount of fuel consumed by passenger vehicles annually. Moreover, it is estimated that over 39 million gallons of fuel are consumed annually for every one pound increase in average passenger weight.

In other words, the heavier we get, the harder our cars, trucks, trains and planes have to work to transport us from A to B.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

But Even If He Doesn't

But even if he doesn't, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:18

Read: Daniel 3

Dr. Charles Stanley can often be heard saying, "Be obedient and leave the consequences to God." Kinda sums it up doesn't it? Go ahead and apply it to any circumstance you're facing. Trouble in a relationship? Making a decision about money? Need to trust God with a health issue? Be obedient and leave the consequences to God. Stands up, doesn't it?

Speaking of standing up, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego lived it. At the edge of a fiery furnace, they had a decision. Bow to an idol or be thrown in a furnace. They chose faith, believing that God would deliver them from the very fire that tested it. But then they said, "But even if He doesn't." That part of the verse has taken up residence inside my heart this week.

They didn't jump knowing they'd be delivered. They jumped knowing the Deliverer. I'm shaking my head as I type this sentence. I want an "Even if He doesn't" kind of faith. Save me, help me, heal me. But even if He doesn't...

--Jimmy Peña

HYDRATE BETTER, LOSE WEIGHT How water can help you to a slimmer waistline

One of the easiest things you can do to instantly boost your health is to simply drink water. Lots of it. Anecdotally, people who consume more water tend to have more energy throughout the day. But the science on the wet stuff makes your need for it all the more apparent. Check out this quick article on how water can help you burn more fat.

>> WATER: THE ULTIMATE FAT-BURNER

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!

A Dangerous Prayer

"Why did we ever leave Egypt?" --Numbers 11:20

Read: Numbers 11

Did you catch it? They actually missed prison. Not long after the Israelites met freedom, they actually longed for captivity. Behind bars they had no choices. As inmates, they had no responsibility. Even though they were trapped, they were warm, cozy, and full. Their prayer for freedom was a dangerous one. Nothing a generation in the desert couldn't answer.

What about us? When was the last time you and I prayed dangerously? About finances, a relationship...our health? See, once they were set free, the Israelites faced the need for obedience and responsibility; so do we. Folks, our bodies are merely tools, not finished products. Better fitness simply means better equipped. It's tough to visit the poor from the couch, and it's impossible to see the hurting in our own mirror. But we're warm, cozy, and full (even if of ourselves). (Note: this should speak to both the fit and the not-so-fit.)

If God allows us the opportunity for better health, what will we do with it? Will we sit? Focus on ourselves? Will we allow a generation to wander before we see health as a means of praise? If so, why did we ever leave Egypt?

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: HIGHER PROTEIN DIETS BETTER FOR BODY COMPOSITION

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who consistently consume more calories than they burn each day will lose lean muscle and accumulate body fat more easily if their diets contain too little protein and too much fat and carbohydrates.

The results of the study suggest that the minimum protein intake federal health officials currently recommend -- 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men -- may not be enough to maintain muscle mass in some people. The study participants needed to consume at least 78 grams of protein per day to avoid losing muscle.

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

GEAR UP: Looking for PrayFit books, DVDs or apparel? You're just one click away. Visit the newly-designed PrayFit store by clicking here.

Make Believe

"So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing." --1 Corinthians 9:26

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

As I was leaving Gio's Boxing Gym in Burbank (Calif.), amid the familiar cadence of speed bags and jump ropes, something a cornerman yelled to his boxer caught my attention. "Stop trying to look like a fighter and be a fighter!" he said. I literally stopped in my tracks. What a powerful statement. Just how powerful, I'd realize just moments later.

Walking toward my truck, I came upon a film crew about to shoot a documentary -- a boxing documentary, no doubt. Lights, cameras and make-up. I stood for what seemed like years and watched a make-up artist applying shades of purple, black and blue to an actor's face and under his eyes. Boxing gloves? Check. Legitimate shorts? Those too. But he wasn't dressed for - nor returning from - a real battle. "Stop trying to look like a fighter and be a fighter," ironically echoed in my head.

I wonder about my faith. And maybe you wonder about yours. Am I a make-believer in life? Or do I help make believers with my life? Like the verse above, I don't want to shadowbox. I want purpose. Give me somethin' to hit.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: In what area of your life, spiritually or physically, do you need to stand to fight? How can the Prayfit community pray for you? List your battles below or simply list them as "unspoken request(s)".

REPORT: CHILDREN OBESITY SPILLING INTO MANUFACTURING

A CNN report recently called attention to the latest casualty in the childhood obesity epidemic: school furniture manufacturers. Because of the expanding waistlines of children -- a full 15 to 17% of all kids are over 95th percentile for obesity -- manufacturers are forced to develop desks that can accommodate them. Child car seat manufacturers are also having to adjust with new designs to keep heavier kids safe.

"Childhood obesity affects their safety in matters beyond child seats and ill-fitting school furniture," the report says. "Obese kids are more likely to get heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure and are more prone to diabetes, bone and joint problems. Their health problems are also more likely to follow into adulthood."

>> For the full report from CNN, click here.

ACTION PLAN: Let's be part of the solution. 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.

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.

CHARACTER. FLAWS.

November 22, 2011Read: Psalm 32

"You are my hiding place." --Psalm 32:7

A friend of mine recently asked her fans and followers if they could relate to any particular character in the Bible. I never get tired of that question. If you're like me, you don't know where to start. Pick one. The disobedience of Adam? That's me, hiding in the bushes. Insecurity of Moses? Yep, I'm a carrier. What about Sarah's idea of the impossible, versus God's idea of the inevitable? Regretfully, Sarah and I would share a good, brief laugh.

Indeed, find a character in the bible and you'll find your character flaw. But of all the things I'm thankful for this week, it's not about who I can relate to, but Who chose to relate to me. To think, I can identify with so many of the bible's lowest moments, yet Christ identifies Himself with me.

What are you thankful for today?

-Jimmy Peña

CRAVINGS: BRAIN GAMES Science shows that impulse control may have to do with your blood sugar

Think back on the last time you were hungry for something really bad. When that craving for high-sugar, high-fat and/or high-calorie food hit you like a freight train, how long had it been since your last good meal? Brain imaging scans show that when glucose (blood sugar) levels drop, an area of the brain known to regulate emotions and impulses loses the ability to dampen desire for high-calorie food, according to the study published online in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Your brain runs on glucose, so in a state of deprivation -- which can occur if you go too long between meals -- it may send signals that trigger these cravings. In order to avoid said cravings, your best bet is to have 4-7 small, healthy, whole-food meals and snacks throughout the day. This constant influx of fuel prevents your brain from going into panic mode and keeps you on the right track for healthful, abundant living.

>> For the full story on Science Daily, click here.

 

OUR DAD ROCKS

October 19, 2011Read: Revelation 21

God will take away all their tears. There will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All the old things have passed away.”  --Revelation 21:4

Recent business took my husband half way around the world to Hong Kong and Singapore, and after two weeks, my three young children missed their daddy. While he was gone, it was business as usual -- homework, projects, bath times and bedtimes -- but there was a huge part that felt empty. Though we were doing our best, I knew the kids missed those special moments that only a father can provide and I missed the comfort and security I feel when I lay in bed with him at my side. We had a few incidents including, but not limited to, rain storms, tornado warnings, power outages, falling from a tree and crashing a bicycle. Part of our well-oiled machine was missing, and we felt it.

The day finally came to pick up dad at the airport. Two full weeks of stumbles and bumbles and he was finally home to put us back together. The kids made signs saying, “Our Dad Rocks” to make sure anyone and everyone knew that our dad, in fact, rocks.  My daughter even had her favorite stuffed animals to help greet him as he arrived. I told them before we left, “Now, when you see your father, don’t drop everything and run. Give him a minute to get through the doors.”  But as we looked down the corridor and finally spied his blonde hair walking swiftly toward us, all three kids dropped everything and took off at lightening speed to tackle him. Home at last. Hugs, kisses and tears of celebration. In a moment, all was right again.

I wonder if that's how we'll be when we finally get to meet our Heavenly Father.  I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that we will drop all of the things we carry -- all the stuff that seemed so important -- in a millisecond and run with wild abandon to embrace Him. In that moment, all will be right (for good). After all, He not only keeps us from falling apart, but He's the only one who can put us back together. So, while we await His return, may our lives be a sign that says to anyone and everyone, "Our Dad (our Abba) Rocks."

--Allison King Earnst

PrayFit's newest executive team member is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act."

PRAYFIT NUTRITION TIP by Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

A salad before dinner is a great way to fit one or more servings of vegetables into your day. Try using bagged coleslaw mix (it usually contains shredded green and red cabbage and carrots) or broccoli slaw as an alternative to bagged lettuces. Cabbage and broccoli are packed with nutrients, provide a satisfying crunchy texture and are almost always cheaper than the bagged lettuce mixes -- you can often get the same amount of coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw for half the price of the bagged lettuces! Some of my favorite add-ins are chopped tomatoes, a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, and 1-2 tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette, which contains plenty of healthy fats.

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.

WHAT CAN I BRING?

September 21, 2011Read: Mark 6

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

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

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

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

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

-J.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OPEN HOUSE

August, 11, 2011Read: Isaiah 1

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." --Isaiah 1:18

Walking Josey around the neighborhood this last weekend, I came across an open house sign. The arrow pointed us up the street, so...up we went. Interestingly, the closer we got to the house, the nicer things seemed. The manicured lawn looked like the greens of The Masters Golf Tournament at Augusta. Smiling neighbors waved at the milkman. Kids played hopscotch. Josey chased cartoon animals across the street while Mr. Bluebird rested upon my shoulder. After all, it was an open house. And everything seems perfect at an open house.

Okay, maybe the cartoon animals were a little much, but as I stood watching the people going in and out, I could relate to the owner who had clearly taken great pains in preparing the house to make a good first impression. Before we let anyone in our lives, we hide the dirt. We sweep regrets under the rug, polish the pain and spit-shine the shame. We don't want anyone to see the proof under the roof.

Isn't it comforting to know that we don't need to clean ourselves up before we let Jesus in? We can stop scrubbing failures from the floor and just open the door. Besides, the asking price for our heart's home is way too high for anyone but Him, and He paid it in full.

--J.P.

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.00 a gallon at the pump this week. But before you go and blame Middle East unrest, market instability or rapid inflation, you might want to consider the following statistic.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine,  nearly one billion gallons of additional fuel per year can be attributed to the average weight gain between 1960 and 2002 of people living in the United States. This represents nearly three times the total amount of fuel consumed by all passenger vehicles each day based on current driving habits, or approximately 0.7% of the total amount of fuel consumed by passenger vehicles annually. Moreover, it is estimated that over 39 million gallons of fuel are consumed annually for every one pound increase in average passenger weight.

In other words, the heavier we get, the harder our cars, trucks, trains and planes have to work to transport us from A to B.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

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.

 

TOTAL LOSS

December 14, 2010Read: Psalm 139 "For you formed my inward parts." --Psalm 139:13

"My frame was not hidden from you." --Psalm 139:15

As a little boy, I spent many a summer day sweeping floors and washing cars at my dad's body shop. I felt right at home amidst the bondo dust and paint fumes, even though I could often be found asleep in dad's office. But while I didn't pursue the family business, little did I know that the body shop was a great place to learn about grace.

Each day, customers would come in to either pick up their cars or schedule a drop off, but then there were those who came in just for an estimate. They'd wrecked their car or truck, and all they wanted to know was whether their vehicle still had value. Sometimes dad would have to tell them it was totaled; their car wasn't worth anything. A total loss meant the insurance company wouldn't touch it, and they'd have to pay for it all by themselves.

We've all wrecked our lives in one way or another, but even a total loss is no match for the cross. What the world gives no value, He gives grace.

--J.P.

MALL FAT? Don't let holiday shopping  derail your healthy-living goals

"It’s the heart of the holiday shopping season: Malls are flooded, parking lots are jam-packed, and your inbox is overflowing with e-coupons," says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, PrayFit's resident healthy-eating expert. "Whether you’re hitting up the food court or doing your shopping online, keep these tips in mind."

Don’t…

...munch on free samples. The calories can add up fast.

...shop hungry. Eat a sensible meal before you head out to the store or sit at the computer.

...swig liquid calories. Large sodas and full-fat peppermint lattes can have as many calories as a meal.

...go overboard on holiday goodies. Just because you can buy a 10-pound bar of chocolate shaped like a Christmas tree doesn’t mean that you should.

Do…

...resist the wafting smells from the pretzel and cookie stands. Save those calories for holiday parties.

...pack power snacks. Granola bars, fresh fruit, peanut butter crackers, and trail mix are good options.

...keep your mouth occupied. If you find yourself mindlessly snacking, chew sugarless gum or sip on a  calorie-free drink.

...wash your hands before you eat, especially after a day of shopping.

>> For more healthy holiday tips, visit Dana's Healthy Eats blog on the Food Network.

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

WHAT PLAN B?

December 3, 2010Read: Joshua 1

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." --Joshua 1:9

Chances are good that you've heard the expression, "Burn the boats!" They say Cortez was the first to make that announcement when he arrived in the new world. Upon reaching land, setting the ships ablaze sent a message to his men and his enemies that retreat never was an option -- that whatever the odds, a fight was coming.

Do you believe Christians should be the example of honesty in the workplace? Of course. Would you also agree that Christians should be best at showing love to neighbors? Without a doubt. So why are we so reluctant to take a stand on the subject of better health? Shouldn't Christians strive to be some of the most health conscious people on earth? Some might argue, "Well, Jimmy, the Lord looks at the heart." True, but doesn't that mean it's the effort that matters? And to be honest, not caring for the body that carries the soul just might be a heart issue after all.

So if this is an uncomfortable subject, mark it down. Because this will become an increasingly sensitive topic the bigger and bigger we get. But I believe it's the church's responsibility to lead the fight. A fight that we are losing. Where's Cortez when you need him?

Lord, we love you. Help us as believers become better stewards of our bodies. Help us learn to make better choices in what we eat and what we do. Help us commit to taking care of ourselves, not only so we can serve you better, but to be examples for the rest of the world. Amen.

--J.P.

FIT IT IN A few things to ask yourself as you work toward a healthier you

In what ways are you making positive change in the area of food choices? How have you been able to modify your meals to accommodate your goals? What are some ways that you're not winning the battle? Any specific struggles? What time of day is the most convenient for you to train? Are you making it a habit to fill that time with exercise? What's most important to you, eating right or exercising? If you could only do one, which would you do?

DID YOU KNOW? Eating late at night won't automatically make you gain weight. If you have not exceeded your recommended daily caloric intake and you've kept your daily expenditure high, eating right before bed will not cause weight gain.

>> NEW! Check out our new fitness and nutrition pages, then be on the lookout for more updates to our homepage this weekend.

THE CROWD IS...US

November 23, 2010Read: Mark 10

“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him.’ So they called to the blind man, ‘Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you!’ Throwing his cloak aside, he leaped to his feet and came to Jesus.”Mark 10:49-50

No need to adjust your computer screen, that’s indeed the same verse as yesterday’s entry. But I just had to go back to it. Ever since we posted last night, I haven’t been able to get a particular thought out of my head: The crowd knew something. Read the verse again.

Typically, we focus on either the blind man, Bartimaeus, or of course, Jesus. But the crowd’s response has bugged me for nearly 24 hours. The crowd is…us. Why? Because they knew something. They knew what Jesus had the power to do in the blind man’s life. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have reacted as if the beggar had just won the lottery!

Read it again. Of all the thousand voices that were clamoring for Jesus to hear, that of a blind beggar behind all the others sitting on the side of the road found the ear of Jesus, and the crowd knew what that meant. Can’t you just see the pause, the wide eyes, open mouths, and then their whiplash reactions as they run to the one who’s number had just been called?

You and I stand among those who need to heed the call. Read the verse again (last time, I promise). Isn’t Jesus calling everyone? Didn’t He die for all the world? And if we’ve been saved and healed…aren’t we the crowd who knows?

–J.P.

FUN FACT: THE INCREDIBLE EGG

Many of you may think that eggs are just a simple breakfast food -- something that's been on your plate every morning since you can remember. But it is so much more, particularly if you're looking to gain muscle, says Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" (Regal Books). Researchers found that subjects who ate three whole eggs per day gained twice as much muscle in 12 weeks as those who only had one egg per day.

EGG FACTS: One whole egg contains 72 calories, 6 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fat. But don't worry -- about 80% of that fat is monounsaturated and saturated fat, which actually aids in the muscle-building process.

Source: www.jimstoppani.com