freedom

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.

FREE TO GO

August 16, 2011Read: John 8

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." --John 8:32

This last weekend, a Sacramento man was arrested for breaking into prison. (Yes, I had to read it twice as well). But indeed, a man for reasons yet to be revealed, was found trying to sneak back into a prison from which he had already been paroled.

Oh we scoff, but if you're like me, you've broken back into your share. Old habits, old routines, old worries. And though they don't have locks and iron bars, they do hold us captive.

Well, when it comes to your health, you're free. Free from guilt of the past, and free from any fear of tomorrow. Our prisons are no match for the one whose cross stamped pardoned on our hearts. So today, let freedom echo down the halls of your day in how you eat, train and live. After all, we're prisoners of hope -- bound only by grace -- and we're free to go.

--J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Chicken or Tuna Salad Pockets

Selecting the proper protein to build a dinner around can be fun -- unless you're crunched for time. If you need a speedy solution that's healthy and palate-pleasing, try this recipe from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD.

"It’s also easy to vary the ingredients based on personal preference," she says. "The yogurt is a healthier, lower-calorie filler than mayonnaise and provides a creamy consistency, although a small amount of mayonnaise is used. Add a piece of fruit to round out the meal."

Ingredients:

One (6-ounce) can tuna or chicken, packed in water, without salt

3 ribs celery, diced

½ cup cut-up fruit, such as sliced grapes, diced apples, or mandarin oranges

2 tablespoons reduced-fat canola-oil based mayonnaise

½ cup nonfat plain yogurt (may use more or less in order to get the desired consistency)

Optional add-ins: 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds, or ½ teaspoon curry powder

2 whole-grain pita pockets, cut in half

Directions:

Drain the tuna/chicken and mix with the rest of the ingredients. Add optional ingredients, if desired. Spoon into pita pocket halves. Serves 2.

NUTRITION FACTS (per serving): 367 calories, 9g fat (2g saturated fat), 555mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 29g protein.

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.

IN...DEPENDENCE

July 1, 2011 Read: 1 Peter 3

"So he went and preached to the spirits in prison." --1 Peter 3:19

This weekend we celebrate freedom. As a nation, we proudly hail the day we loosened the chains of tyranny from Great Britain. At PrayFit we want to salute the men and women who never lived to enjoy the freedom they fought to protect. Their memory is a reminder both in celebration and memoriam, that freedom is never free.

As believers, we too celebrate freedom; from our past, today's worry and fear of tomorrow. Those prisons have no key, but the cross stamps pardon on our hearts and the doors open. We're meant to live free indeed.

Friends, when it comes to our health, many of us have a burning desire to be free; from guilt, from diets, and from sedentary lifestyles. But no "how-to" guide or fitness guru is more able to help you achieve abundant health than the one who breathed it into our lungs in the first place. Because of His broad stripes, He's the only one we'll need when our health loses its final perilous fight with pain. Surely, we can trust Him with it in the meantime.

--J.P.

HEART HEALTH BULLETIN

Your heart is a muscle. And just like the rest of the muscles in your body, it responds positively to exercise. So it should come as no surprise that doctors are starting to turn away from long-held "rest and relaxation" approaches to heart health and rehabilitation, instead urging patients to train harder than ever. A more efficient heart, they rationalize, is better at delivering blood and oxygen to working muscles for everything from a walk to your car after work to a no-holds barred weight workout. This can fortify you against cardiovascular disease, help you recover from a heart incident and maintain a healthier overall weight.

>> ABC News delivers the details here.

>> RELATED: An introduction to high-intensity interval cardio

>> SHOP: Be sure to check out our newly-upgraded tees for men and women and take advantage of our clearance sale on selected apparel at the PrayFit store!

CAPTIVE AUDIENCE

February 2, 2011Read: Isaiah 40

"They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They shall mount up on wings as eagles." --Isaiah 40:31

For a couple weeks now, the Orange County Zoo has had a special guest come to visit. Every day, a wild bald eagle has been seen perched on a tree overlooking the eagle exhibit. And each time he draws near the enclosure, he can be heard vocalizing with the birds below. Imagine, a majestic bald eagle, free and able to go anywhere in the world, is most content near the captive. Why? Simple. He's in love. Experts say the wild eagle has an infatuation with a female eagle inside the enclosure, even though the two will likely never meet.

Makes me think...In all His majesty and freedom, nothing captures God's attention like you and me. He shows up in our days, loves to talk with us, and He never leaves our sides. Why? Simple. He's in love. The object of His affection? Us. And like it says in Isaiah, although at times we feel trapped, if we wait on Him, we'll do just like that eagle...and fly.

--J.P.

HEALTH, ON THE SIDE Side dishes are supposed to be an accompaniment, but many favorites can jam in more calories than you want for an entire meal. Lighten up your plate with these healthy (but still delicious) substitutions.

Instead of: French fries Choose: Oven-baked fries The Payoff: At least 30 percent less fat

Instead of: Mac and Cheese Choose: Rice Pilaf or 5-Ingredient Cheesy Rice The Payoff: A healthy reduction in fat, cholesterol and calories.

(If it’s mac and cheese or bust, try our tips for lightening up your favorite recipe.)

Instead of: Mashed potatoes Choose: A baked sweet potato or sweet potato oven fries The Payoff: Half the calories and piles of vitamin A

Instead of: Butter-drenched vegetables Choose: Roasted seasonal veggies The Payoff: Big flavor for a fraction of the fat and calories

Instead of: Creamy salad dressing Choose: Vinaigrette The Payoff: Healthier fats and 40 calories less per tablespoon

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.

YOU'RE FREE TO GO

January 7, 2011Read: Hebrews 9

"Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin." --Hebrews 9:22

If you blinked, you missed this story. Earlier this week, a man was released from a Texas prison after spending 30 years behind bars for something he didn't do. Thirty years! I was eight when he began his sentence. This week, based on the evidence, a judge admitted the mistake, and set him free. Unbelievable.

He said he didn't quite know how to respond when the judge said, "You're free to go." I suppose if you've lived trapped your whole life, the reality of living free would be foreign.

But what the judge said to the prisoner, God says to us each day. We may not be in jail, per se, but we often feel imprisoned -- shackled by burdens and trapped by mistakes. Thankfully, God sees all the evidence -- Jesus -- and sets us free. Unbelievable.

--J.P.

SOUP FOR YOU Keep out the winter chill with this healthy broth From Dana Angelo White

Ingredients

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup whole-wheat pasta recommended (rotelle or other small shaped pasta recommended)

1 cup frozen green peas

2 cups baby spinach

3/4 cup mushrooms, quartered

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons shredded Parmesean

Directions

Bring chicken broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling add pasta and cook for 5 to 6 minutes Add peas, spinach and mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Serve topped with Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition analysis per serving: Calories: 120; Total fat: 2g; Saturated fat: 1g; Carbohydrate: 18g; Protein: 9g; Sodium: 360mg

>> NUTRITION: For more healthy recipes and nutrition tips, visit our nutrition page.

>> WIN!: For a chance to win one of 25 free PrayFit books courtesy of NBC's EXTRA, click here.

>> ORDER: Pick up a copy of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" from Amazon or Barnes & Noble today!