heart

The Body Forgives

"If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge that to my account." --Philemon 1:18

Read: Philemon 1 "Charge that to my account," Paul told his friend Philemon. In our reading today, Philemon had a slave who stole from him and ran away to Rome. When this slave met Paul, Paul showed him how to be saved. Then Paul wrote some amazing words to Philemon. He said that this man who was once "useless to you" is useful now. And upon the slave's return to Philemon, Paul wanted his slate clean; completely forgiven and welcomed home like a brother. From thief to saint, useless to useful.

Reading that story recently got me to thinking about how forgiving the body is. Imagine the rigors of the military or the pounding the body takes during sports; amazing how it recovers and bounces back. He sure knew what He was doing, amen? God knew all the situations we would get ourselves into, and He built us able.

You know what? The body forgives not only damage from effort, but damage from the lack of it. That's right. It doesn't take long for the body to respond to better choices of fitness or food. And when you consider that our health is only a tool -- a vessel to be useful in serving others -- an apologetic lifestyle may be the only response. To think, God nestled forgiveness deep within our bodies. Maybe as a picture of grace for us, maybe not. But aren't we glad that taking care of ourselves is only one way to thank the Lord for only seeing our hearts?

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION BASICS: Whey Protein

In your efforts to start living more healthfully, you may have paid a visit to your local supplement store. On the top of everyone's list for supplemental must-haves is whey protein, and for good reason -- it is crucial for muscle repair and recovery. But do you know how to make the most out of this wonder supp? Click here to learn!

>> For more tips like these, visit our new nutrition page by clicking here.

The Little Jobs

"I know that you can do all things; and no one can stop you." --Job 42:2

Read: Job 42

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA"Jimmy, come help your Daddy." As a little boy, I'd make my way to the garage, and he'd be halfway under his '34 Ford, or welding, hammering or fixing something, whistling the entire time. "Yes sir?" I'd say. Of course, I either had a baseball glove or bat in my hands. But within seconds I'd be holding a light, turning screws he'd practically completed, or he'd hammer a nail almost all the way and then let me finish it. I think back to those days a lot. He gave me the little jobs. And while they were tough, he knew I could handle them. But if I could whisper anything to my younger self, I'd say, "Ask him to show you the tough stuff." See, I'm not the best with my hands like Daddy, and not a day goes by that I don't wish I was. Can anyone relate?

You know, Jesus gives us the little jobs. If Heaven were up to our ability to be good enough or Godly enough, we'd never reach it. So He climbed on the cross to die for our sins so we can spend eternity with Him. A job nobody on earth -- below or above -- could do. He's put us in charge of things that require our effort.

So I take it back. Actually, if I could whisper anything to my younger self, I think I'd say, "Hey, don't hurry outside. He doesn't need your help, he wants your help. He just wants to spend time with you. Whistle with him. He's got the tough stuff. Just stay close."

Oh friends, may you and I -- as we tackle our little jobs on earth -- do just that.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: We can't work our way to Heaven, but God put us in charge of something that requires our effort: this body. What are you doing to be a good helper for the little job He's given you?

HEART HEALTH BULLETIN: What is better for training your most important muscle? Rest or work? The experts weigh in. Click for the full story.

>> Bring this message to your church by contacting us here.

Move With Your Life

"For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." --James 2:26

Read: James 2

How many times have we asked God to move in our lives? I wonder if it even comes close to the number of times He's asked us to move with ours. Follow me through the day: The homeless beggar outside the supermarket; the lonely neighbor nobody ever seems to talk to; the teacher everybody gossips about. How many times a day does God ask us to move with our lives?

Same goes with our bodies. You may find yourself asking the Lord for the strength to stick with better food choices or for motivation to begin an exercise plan. But friends, if you know Him, He's made His move. The real question is whether the miracle He's done in your heart has reached your feet.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Fighter Conditioning

You may not have any interest in the Sweet Science, but the fact remains that boxers are some of the best conditioned athletes on the planet. They have to be. The whole-body demand of jabbing, slipping, bobbing and weaving for any length of time, over time, makes them stronger, leaner and tougher than those who practice other sports. PrayFit partner and endorser Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero boasts a physique that is equal parts form and function from all of his years spent in the gym. But if you don’t have the dough, or desire, to dive headlong into a franchise boxing gym membership, you can use this 12-minute, at-home solution to start building a pugilistic physique.

>> CLICK HERE FOR THE WORKOUT

"Being a big believer in Jesus Christ, PrayFit gets me on track to start my day off in the right direction.  In boxing there is no room for error. You have to be not only be physically prepared but spiritually strong as well." — Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, 6-Time Boxing World Champion

>> Be sure to watch Robert Guerrero take on pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather on May 4! Keep visiting here for more information on the fight, or visit the official fight site here.

The Body Forgives

"If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge that to my account." --Philemon 1:18

Read: Philemon 1 "Charge that to my account," Paul told his friend Philemon. In our reading today, Philemon had a slave who stole from him and ran away to Rome. When this slave met Paul, Paul showed him how to be saved. Then Paul wrote some amazing words to Philemon. He said that this man who was once "useless to you" is useful now. And upon the slave's return to Philemon, Paul wanted his slate clean; completely forgiven and welcomed home like a brother. From thief to saint, useless to useful.

Reading that story recently got me to thinking about how forgiving the body is. Imagine the rigors of the military or the pounding the body takes during sports; amazing how it recovers and bounces back. He sure knew what He was doing, amen? God knew all the situations we would get ourselves into, and He built us able.

You know what? The body forgives not only damage from effort, but damage from the lack of it. That's right. It doesn't take long for the body to respond to better choices of fitness or food. And when you consider that our health is only a tool -- a vessel to be useful in serving others -- an apologetic lifestyle may be the only response. To think, God nestled forgiveness deep within our bodies. Maybe as a picture of grace for us, maybe not. But aren't we glad that taking care of ourselves is only one way to thank the Lord for only seeing our hearts?

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION BASICS: Whey Protein

In your efforts to start living more healthfully, you may have paid a visit to your local supplement store. On the top of everyone's list for supplemental must-haves is whey protein, and for good reason -- it is crucial for muscle repair and recovery. But do you know how to make the most out of this wonder supp? Click here to learn!

>> For more tips like these, visit our new nutrition page by clicking here.

Made In Heaven

"He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control." --Philippians 3:21

Read: Philippians 3

Before your very first day of school, or prior to getting your driver's license, and even before you began the family with which you spend your days...came your body. Not only did God inspire your soul's dream, but He gave you the body necessary to pursue the job. Since God will always equip us with what we need to accomplish His will, we know our bodies were His choice. Can you imagine the moment?

It was as if God said:

"Sweet soul, here is your body. I've carefully woven it together. It has what it takes for you to pursue me and tell others about me. And oh precious body, this is your soul. Of all the matter in the universe, this is what matters most. Carry it where it needs to go. Protect it. Honor it. Now, I want you two to be good to each other. Be friends, not enemies."

So, do me a favor and take a quick glance at your arm or hands. Think for a second that God himself has touched that skin. He was first. In fact, talk to your body. It's okay, go ahead. Maybe you need to thank it? Assure it? Or like me recently, maybe during your dark hour, you need to apologize. Could be for something you've knowingly done or for something out of your control -- an ailment, an accident maybe, or even a disease. But much like any friend going through a tough time, just tell it you're so very sorry. After all, it was God who knitted it and then breathed life into it. Miraculously, He gave your heart a knowledge that there is something more to this life than life. And like it says in our verse, in order to pursue Him and then share Him, He gave you a weak and fragile body. Oh, it may not last this earth, but you can rest assured it was indeed a match made in Heaven.

--Jimmy Peña

NEW MERCH!!! >> Faithfully taking care of the body the Lord made for you is a daily pursuit. So why not dress the part? Visit our redesigned online store to browse our newest offerings and get a jump on your Christmas shopping! Our new, comfort-first apparel choices include thermals, tees and a selection of gym-ready, lightweight running/training hats. While you're there, you can also check out our print and DVD products, complete with workouts and meal plans, all designed to help you bolster your faith and fitness in 2013 and beyond.

Your gracious purchase will help us continue the mission of PrayFit.com. We are very much in your debt and thankful for all you do for us.

>> CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED!

Beating Miracles

"So God created mankind in his own image." --Genesis 1:27

Read: Genesis 1

I sat there on the table, lying back with my shirt open, 12 electrodes connected to my torso. The nurse, sitting beside a monitor, applied a generous helping of gel to my chest. When she began her passes with the ultrasound wand, the monitor sprang to life with flickering images of my heart and speakers bellowed the sounds of my life's blood passing through its four chambers. And though this echocardiogram was just part of a scheduled follow-up, I realized that the simple, constant miracle that is my heartbeat is anything but routine.

Among the things we take for granted on a daily basis, our heartbeat has to be right at the top of the list. This muscle, which is about the size of your fist and sparked into action around 40 days after you were conceived, beats rhythmically in your chest to the tune of 100,000 times per day, carrying oxygen and other nutrients to the rest of your body. Rarely, if ever, do we stop to acknowledge its existence -- we simply count on it to do its job.

Equal parts meticulous and miraculous, our hearts were crafted and set into motion by a loving God whose will it was for us to use them to thrive, to move, to play, to worship, to witness. Isn't it possible that all of these traits are more intimately connected than we may have ever imagined? Without the heart -- or the body for that matter -- what's the soul to do?

--Eric Velazquez

Question: Knowing that God created your heart with both passion and purpose, and that a physically healthy heart can make you more spiritually effective, what will you do today to make it stronger?

RECIPE: ORANGE-CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Ready for dessert? Try this tasty, guilt-minimal recipe from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

Pick A Food Fight

"And everyone who is striving, has self-control in all things." --1 Corinthians 9:25

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

At PrayFit, we place a great deal of emphasis on healthy eating habits in order that you might live more abundant lives. Of course, we believe that this life is vapor-quick and that no matter how many good foods we eat or bad foods we avoid, our days are numbered. Let's face it, food can't save us.

And many say, "Since life is so quick, why not eat up?" We say "Since life is so brief, why not stay the course?" Think about it: Where does God live? He lives inside of us. Our bodies are His dwelling place. How much respect are we showing if we have a willful disregard for what certain foods -- not to mention what certain amounts of foods -- can do to our bodies? Again, this won't translate into long-lasting change unless you see healthy eating as an act of obedience.

Now, we're not saying we can't enjoy food -- even the cheat kind -- but too many of our friends and siblings, parents and kids are struggling in a battle against food-related illness...A battle we were never meant to fight, and one we're sure to lose unless we:

--push away from the table sooner --shop smarter --teach our kids portion control --put up a fight

Besides, God didn't design us to be at the mercy of food. Let's bless His heart by taking care of ours.

--Jimmy Peña

DANA'S HEALTH FOOD QUIZ

PrayFit nutritional consultant Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, is the best in the business when it comes to helping people develop healthy eating habits. A stickler for education, Dana came up with this simple quiz to gauge just how much you know about the difference between processed foods and fresh foods.

1. Which typically contains the most additives and preservatives?

A. Frozen dinners B. Sugary cereals C. Canned tuna

2. Which is lowest in sodium?

A. Frozen pizza B. Frozen vegetables C. Canned soup

3. Which preservative is typically used to add color to hot dogs and lunch meats?

A. Xanthan Gum B. Sodium Nitrite C. Citric Acid

4. On food packaging, "natural" means...

A. Nothing B. The ingredients meet federal requirements C. The ingredients come from nature

RESULTS

Add up your score based on the following points system: 1. A: 5 points; B: 3 points; C: 1 point 2: A: 3 points; B: 5 points; C: 1 point 3: A: 1 point; B: 5 points: C: 3 points 4: A: 5 points; B: 3 points; C: 1 point

Your Score:

15-20 Points: All About Fresh You know better than to mess with frozen pizzas and breakfast sandwiches and instead opt for mostly fresh ingredients and the healthiest of processed foods like frozen veggies, canned tomatoes, dried fruit and whole grain crackers.

10-14 Points: On the Fresh Track While you may not always be making it to farmers’ market or produce aisle, your diet has a healthy balance of fresh and packaged foods.

4-9 Points: Packing in the Preservatives A quick lesson in fresh foods 101 would do you some good. Pay closer attention to those labels and tally up the sodium count, are you getting way more than you need?

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.

He Gets Us

"For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." --Psalm 103:14

Read: Psalm 103

If focusing on creation and how we were wonderfully made has taught me anything, it's that God gets us. He gets why we worry. Why else would He constantly encourage us to have faith? He gets why we suffer. Why else would He urge us not to lean on our own understanding? And yes, He also gets the body.

As He formed us, He set limits. As He encased our soul with flesh, He numbered our days on purpose. See, most sculptors never hope to reunite with their design, but God does. We're all He thinks about! Artists may pour heart and soul into their work, but our heart and soul is His work, and He wants us back. His biggest desire for our lives is that we meet the source of our lives. And if Jesus is in our hearts, He gets us.

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT: WEEK IN REVIEW Revisiting a week's worth of faith-building and healthy living

Faith

BE HEALTHY, QUIETLY: No need to brag...let's let the byproducts of our obedience do the talking

A TRAINING PRAYER: A prayer to take into your next training session...and the one after that

BE STILL AND RUN: Today, kneel, bow your head and run

STILL TIME TO DANCE: It's never too late to start moving more

Fitness

WORKOUT: An at-home workout for bolder shoulders in 10 minutes flat NUTRITION: How soy can help you recover faster, boost health

COOKING TIP: Learning how to make a healthier banana bread

FAT-BURNING TIP: How training hungry can burn more fat

What Do You See, Lord?

"You saw me before I was born." --Psalm 139:16

Read: Psalm 139

Awaiting my turn on a recent TV broadcast, I sat in the green room watching the first hour's guest. A woman -- maybe in her late 50's -- was there sharing her fundraising efforts for the homeless and orphaned. Her reply to the host's last question caught my attention. He asked her why she thought God placed this burden on her heart. Through a flood of tears she said, "I just think God saw something in me I never could have seen for myself."

Wow. It felt like she was accepting an award; honored beyond words. Believe me folks, a child is going to find a home, a meal, or both because of this woman. Her words resonated in my head (and heart) as I took my place on the couch. It was my turn. But honestly, I don't remember the host's first question. I struggled to concentrate. "We're back in 5, 4, 3, 2..."

Sarah, David, Mary Magdalene, Peter. To the rest of the world, outcasts and misfits. Too little, too late. But that's not what God saw.

Is this your prayer? Mine too:

"What do you see Lord? What you can see means more to me than what I can't. So show me. My back is strong. My shoulders are steady. I don't want to be empty-handed. Give me the burden that you see me carrying."

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What has God called you to do? What burden has He laid on your heart? What can we help you pray about today?

FAITH & FELLOWSHIP

You don't have to be in the same room (or gym) with other PrayFit members to meet them. Join in on these discussions, offer encouragement to someone, or start your own thread today!

Certifications - which one is best?

How many calories should I eat each day?

Detox: Worth the hassle?

Questions for the trainer

Fitness helps faith make sense

>> Not yet registered? Sign-up here today.

A FIGHTING SPIRIT

November 21, 2011Read: Matthew 26

"The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." --Matthew 26:41

In my second favorite movie of all-time (Rocky II), Rocky walks to his trainer's apartment in the middle of the night to ask for his locker back; he wants to fight again. Dismissive, Mickey delivers one of the most painful and sad lines I've ever heard: "You got the heart, but you ain't got the tools no more." In other words, the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. As an athlete, that phrase carries serious meaning. I know what it's like to be physically limited from doing what my heart is dying to do. But as a Christian, that line is more than a body blow.

As believers, our souls have work to do. In our passage, when Jesus said to His disciples to stay awake, He literally meant "physically." How many reading this page would agree that you'd would be so much more productive at work, alive with your spouse, able to keep up with the kids or even active in church, if you enjoyed better health? If so, maybe you need your locker back.

You may not want to admit it, but it's time to wake up; there's a fighter in you. If the spirit is willing, your body has no right to hold it back. And if you're reading this page, Mickey was wrong. If you've got the heart, you still got the tools. Your soul just needs a fighting chance.

--Jimmy Peña

WATCH | "You've got the heart but..."

THANKS: PrayFit wants to extend a very special thank you to the wonderful people at Planet Infinity and Breadoflife.org for inviting us to speak and share our mission of faith and fitness this past Saturday. You blessed us beyond belief.

 

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: THE GREAT INDOORS

Want a good dose of intense, indoor cardio to start the week? Here you go. Variety is not only advisable but required to keep your body changing. This workout forces you to adjust your speed, incline, duration and rest all in the same workout, keeping your lungs and limbs guessing. This interval-style scheme promotes speed, power and endurance, all while increasing your total work capacity. If you're looking for a brutal but effective way to shake up your current cardio routine (and burn a few extra calories), then this workout is for you.

SPEED             INCLINE             TIME          REST

5mph               5%                   2min             1min

6mph              6%                   1min                1min

7mph               7%                   1min              1min

8mph               8%                   45sec             1min

9mph               9%                   30sec             1min

10mph             10%                 20sec           1min

9mph               9%                   30sec             1min

8mph               8%                   45sec             1min

7mph               7%                   1min              1min

6mph               6%                   1min              1min

5mph               5%                   2min              1min

>> For more workouts and tips, visit our fitness page.

WHATEVER YOU DO

November 15, 2011 Read: Philippians 3

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 3:14

Marathons by sheer necessity have a way of taking over a city. Streets transform into running lanes; sidewalks into grandstands. And with no cars on the road, signals and signs can be completely ignored. Or so I thought. See, in the days before the race, a friend and avid runner named Juancho Fuentes shook his head as he said to me, "Whatever you do, don't stop." I nodded in obvious agreement, as if I had just been told to keep my elbows off the table.

Well, with Queensboro Bridge about four miles behind me, I did it. Cover your ears Juancho, but I stopped to adjust the wrap around my injury. As I did, both legs simultaneously locked up. Fortunately, I was in the middle of a water station area, where the road was slick, enabling me to shuffle for nearly 100 feet until I could bend my knees.

I winced as I turned the next corner into a business district. And wouldn't you know it, having just survived concrete quicksand, lining the street as far as I could see were the signs: "NO STOPPING ANYTIME." It was too painful for me to enjoy the irony. Visit that avenue today and those signs serve their primary purpose for parked cars and delivery trucks. But for a mile or so, they stood as a constant reminder of the harsh reality that I had to keep moving. If I stopped, I was done.

QUESTION: School getting rough? Keep studying. Unbearable boss? Be thankful for work. Struggling with your weight or failing at the dinner table? The extra mile will be worth your while. Whatever you do, don't stop.

--Jimmy Peña

RUN LONGER BY RUNNING FASTER

Think the only way to become a better distance runner is to run for distance? Think again. While the importance of event-specific training can not be marginalized, there is a growing body of research to suggest that interval training may have value as well.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario (London) found that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week burned twice as much fat as those who jogged for 30-60 minutes at a steady pace. Both groups gained an average of 1% lean mass. But what’s even more interesting is that the endurance markers — time trials in 2000-meter run and VO2 max performance — were similar with both groups.

So while intervals are highly touted for their ability to burn fat, they are also a solid option for decreasing your times on your long runs. Intervals boost your heart's stroke volume, or total blood pumped per beat. That means longer times to fatigue, which is critical for distance runners. So don't feel guilty if you can't make it out for your five-miler today -- 15 minutes worth of high-intensity intervals will provide you with plenty of benefits to take on your next run.

 

NO MORE

November 10, 2011 Read: Ephesians 2

"For by grace you've been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." --Ephesians 2:8

"No more school, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks."

For years, my wife Loretta and I have playfully sung that short tune at the end of each of her college semesters. See, after high school, rather than walk for a diploma, she walked down the aisle. And throughout the years, she's chipped away at her degree at night school, auditioning for the title of graduate. Well, I'm proud to report that today she takes her final final exam. But what's interesting is that, even though she's done with class, the next ceremony isn't until May. So she'll have to wait for her reward, even though she's met her requirement.

Kind of easy to think of Heaven at this point, right? Except, Heaven isn't dependent upon us passing every earthly test. Our days are full of multiple choices, but our performance doesn't chip away at some heavenly quota of credits, and frankly, nobody auditions for grace.

The truth is, someday we'll graduate this life. And like I'll be singing "no more school" to Loretta one last time as she walks through the door tonight, I like to think that we'll hear much the same when we finally meet our requirement, face-to-face.

No more hurt, no more pain. No more struggles, no more strain. All is right, the fight is done. Welcome to Heaven. Your heart, I've won.

--Jimmy Peña

COFFEE & CHOLESTEROL Science explores the connection between your morning java and your heart health

We are a caffeinated nation. Sure, stressful commutes, hectic family lives and TPS reports keep us heading back to the coffee pot multiple times throughout the day but there is also a palate-pleasing allure to a well-brewed cup of java. But while the caffeine gets most of the attention, there are other compounds in coffee to be aware of -- some to be cautious of.

Some worry about coffee's effect on cholesterol because of the presence of certain compounds in the beans. Daily consumption of 10 milligrams of cafestol—the amount in about four 5-ounce cups of French-press coffee—has been shown to raise cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent in four weeks, mostly due to increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some people are affected more than others, and the effects may be greater in those who have higher cholesterol to begin with.

Luckily, most American-style, drip coffee is practically devoid of these types of compounds and coffee's many health benefits, such as its powerful antioxidant content, may outweigh the risks. Read the full report from the University of California (Berkeley) by clicking here.

 

EYES WIDE OPEN

November 4, 2011Read: Ephesians 1

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened." --Ephesians 1:18

As I prayed and waited to board my plane en route to the New York City Marathon yesterday, a scene from one of my all-time favorite shows, Friday Night Lights, came to mind. Before the big game, coach asked his young quarterback if his eyes were closed when he threw last week's touchdown pass. The kid's response: "No sir. My eyes were open. My eyes were wide open."

Well, I suppose that scene came to mind because that was my simple prayer -- that the Lord would open the eyes of my heart this weekend in New York. As a writer, not a runner, I know my purpose at the marathon isn't necessarily to have a fast start or even a strong finish, but rather to listen from start to finish. Indeed, after 26.2 miles, I want to be more focused on my walk than my run. May that be your prayer too. Whatever race lies before you today at work, school, or home, let's just try to see Him. All we want to do is see Him.

--J.P.

P.S. When they announced my flight, I turned and who was standing next to me? Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. We chatted a few minutes, he asked about PrayFit, and I praised what he's doing at Saddleback Church in the area of health. Thank you, Lord. My eyes are open. My eyes are wide open.

PRAYFIT WEEK IN REVIEW Time to cherry-pick from a week's worth of faith and fitness

Faith

>> PURPOSE OVER PROCESS: Know the destination, savor the journey

>> ELLA'S GRIN: The Lord watches over us, pausing on moments too good to pass up

>> REASON FOR THE CALL: We represent Him in how we live, speak and move

>> ROAD WARRIOR: Because He traveled, we will get home

Fitness

>> 3 MILES: How did you fare in this week's fitness challenge?

>> KID ACTIVITY: How much is enough?

>> DEPRESSION: Beat the blues with a few minutes of exercise

>> MARATHON FUN FACT: How close was the closest finish at the NYC Marathon?

PRAYER REQUEST: PrayFit Nation, we ask that you join us in praying for founder Jimmy Pena as he tackles the course at this weekend's New York City Marathon. Please pray that he is kept safe from injury and that with each footfall, he strides with his eyes (and heart) wide open. We're so proud of you for undertaking such a feat, brother!

--Team PrayFit

DEVOTION COSTS

September 19, 2011Read: Luke 10:38-42

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." --Luke 10:41, 42

When I was 19 years old, my college buddies and I would base the week's success on how well we did in the squat rack. "Leg Day" was the focal point of our week, around which everything else rotated. Well one day, someone among us -- someone bigger and stronger -- put leg day on Sunday.

I'll never forget the feeling I had in our campus cafeteria. I sat there drenched in my old T-Michael sweatshirt with traces of chalk still on my hands, when a group of students fresh from church joined us at our table. Having spent practically every Sunday in church since the 8th grade, I knew something was "off" for me. My legs might have been growing, but my heart wasn't. I determined at that point that if I didn't get my training done in six days, it wouldn't get done in seven. I couldn't help it. Someone bigger and stronger had set my schedule. And for the rest of my college days and to this day 20 years later, I've never trained on Sunday.

Friends, I'm not suggesting you never train on Sundays, but I am saying to make sure that you rest. Renew your mind, your heart and your body. Let all three heal, repair and grow. It might mean a sacrifice. It might mean surrendering the dearest things in life. But He's honored by what we're willing to lay down.

--J.P.

Please join us this week as we look at our health as a sacrifice, a means of praise, and what that means for our daily lives.

SCRAMBLED LEGS For those of you who hit the gym frequently, here's a similar workout I wrote when I was with Muscle & Fitness magazine. It's based on a principle I've published and preached for over 10 years, called pre-exhaust. Basically, you destroy the target muscle with isolation moves (which are basically exercises that have one joint moving) before finishing it off compound moves (which are basically multi-joint and multiple muscle moves). Enjoy and hit them hard.

Exercise, sets, reps Rest 1 minute between each set

Leg Extensions (5-6 sets of 6-15 reps) Squat (4 sets of 8-10 reps) Leg Press (4 sets of 10-12 reps) Leg Curl (5-6 sets of 6-15 reps) Romanian Deadlift (4 sets of 8-10 reps) Glute-ham extensions (4 sets of 10-15 reps)

Note: Be sure to utilize a weight that allows you to fail at or within the rep range listed. The lower the rep range, the heavier the weight required to achieve failure. The higher the rep range, the lighter the weights.

>> QUESTIONS FOR THE TRAINER: Unsure on why or how to use a particular exercise or workout principle? Put your question to our experts.

SOWN UP WITH LOVE

September 13, 2011Read: Colossians 1

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." --Colossians 1:17

To imagine God carefully knitting our souls together is, well, tough to imagine. It's easier to picture Him forming mountains than it is to see him fashioning hearts. But nothing in all creation was created with more care. Compared to you, Everest is a mole hill and the Sahara is a single grain of sand. Are the heavens amazing? Absolutely. Does the earth pronounce His splendor? Without a doubt. But only you and I were sown up with one distinguishing trait and something no star above can claim: choice.

And much like an artist puts a signature on his work, God signed us. That's right. In our very cells, God made His mark. But first, remember those goosebumps we talked about yesterday? I think He made them for times like this. This is the actual structure of the protein molecule that binds all of our cells together: Scientists call it laminin, but let's just call it love. --J.P.

Question: Isn't it amazing how we're held together? From Heaven down to earth, it's all about the Cross. What will you do today to protect what protects you?

Laminin source: Louie Giglio's How Great is Our God STRONG SIDE Boost strength instantly by training one limb at a time

While the benefits of using dumbbells are many, there is one that stands out for those looking to get stronger. Research shows that one-limb (unilateral) training allows you to recruit more total muscle fibers, making you approximately 20% stronger on each rep.

For example, if you were able to curl a 50-pound barbell for 10 reps, you could reasonably expect to curl 30-pound dumbbells (or 60 pounds total) for as many reps. As a bonus, if you should fail before that 10th rep, you can use a free hand to spot yourself through a few forced reps.

Unilateral training is also safer, since there is no risk of getting pinned beneath a barbell. Using dumbbells allows you to recruit more total muscle fibers in order to stabilize your body through each rep, which makes for better gains in overall body composition in the long run.

 

I'LL DRIVE

August 25, 2011Read: Psalm 139

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made." --Psalm 139:14

"Jimmy, you drive." Those three innocent words used to cause me serious panic. Well, it wasn't so much what was said, but who said it. Growing up, whenever the family went anywhere, Dad drove. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the number of times he didn't. But on the other hand, when I got old enough to drive, he'd surprise me and want to take my truck.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't so much the driving that worried me, but it was the condition of my truck. See, I wasn't a neat freak. Alright, that's putting it mildly. I was kinda messy. (My mom and Loretta are both nodding and shaking their heads right about now.) And whenever Dad caught me off guard, his disappointment in how I was taking care of the truck he gave me was like a dagger.

See, to Dad, that truck was more than something to get me from here to there. It was a gift that he practically built with his own hands. And my negligence might as well have been a blow to the gut. Speaking of, at PrayFit, we believe that our effort to be healthy, whether it be to lose weight or lower our blood pressure, is a way to show God just how thankful we are for the body He made to get us through life. Hypothetically speaking, if God asked us to take Him from here to there, in what condition would He find us? On second thought, since He lives inside our hearts, that's not all that hypothetical after all.

--J.P.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A LOVE NOTE

August 19, 2011Read: John 13

"Love one another." -- John 13:34

If you can't seem to find me today, chances are good that I'm still at the Hallmark store. Like many a husband, I waited till the last minute to find the one thing that matters most to my wife: a card. (See, today is our anniversary).

Sure, I could come home tonight with chocolate, flowers and diamonds, but if I were to forget the card -- I may as well have forgotten her name. If I've learned anything after 16 years it's that jewelry may reach her hand, but words find her heart. Her reaction says it all.

Friends, God gave us the world, but He didn't stop there. No, He didn't want the world to be the closest we get to Heaven, so He put His love in writing. And what matters most to Him - our reaction - says it all.

--J.P.

WEEK IN REVIEW A short stroll down Memory Lane for the fit and faithful

>> NETWORK: Single clicks to PrayFit's online communities

>> RECIPE: Get quick protein with tuna or chicken salad pockets

>> VITAMINS: What is the most overlooked vitamin in the fight against obesity?

>> RESEARCH: Can sugary foods negatively impact your mood?

BRAVE HEARTS

August 1, 2011Read: Matthew 26

"The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." --Matthew 26:41

I spent the better portion of the weekend reading my good friend Jeff O'Connell's new book, "Sugar Nation." It's an incredible read that looks deep into America's invisible epidemic: Type II diabetes. Jeff, who's dad died of the disease, takes you on an eye-opening journey, and what he discovers along the way is unbelievable.

But one of America's deadliest diseases didn't reach his brilliant pen until it touched his brittle heart. And as I'm learning, the truth isn't bitter until it reaches the tongue and it doesn't walk until it moves your feet. In Jeff's case, both happened.

Friends, because our hearts are most important, it's time we view our health through its eyes. Yes, God designed our bodies to give out eventually, but it doesn't mean we have to give in easily. If our hearts could talk, what would they say about our effort to keep them beating? (Oh, I know the question is borderline silly, but try not to brush over it too quickly.) Simply put, whether you're 17 or 70, we have a lot to do for the Lord. And if you're reading this sentence, your brave heart is still willing. God forbid we have to stop because the body is weak.

--J.P.

Excerpt from "Sugar Nation" by Jeff O'Connell

"Whether I was sitting in an exam room with my doctor, visiting the largest diabetes conferences in the world, reading journal articles or interviewing experts at major universities, I kept coming back to the same realization over and over again. To avoid a long and torturous demise at the hands of diabetes, I'd have to hit the road to figure out this thing on my own. You shouldn't have to do that."

>> Pick up your copy of Sugar Nation today by clicking here.

HOPE FOR HEALTH

July 6, 2011Read: 3 John 1

"I hope all is well with you, and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit." --3 John 1:2

If you missed it like I did, read the verse again. Yep, that's it. In one verse, God has woven permission for a healthy concern of the body. Never at the expense of what's most important, but when was the last time you and I hoped the same for someone? Oh, we often ask how the kids are, how the job is going, and the progress of one's golf game -- but what about their health? Not the casual, "So how you been" or "How you doin?," but rather a real longing to see your friends and family as healthy on the outside as they are on the inside.

Truth is, we may be as timid to ask as we are to be asked. But either way, it's okay. Because we have both permission and an obligation to hope for health.

--J.P.

PERMISSION, OBLIGATION

Sometimes we as believers hide behind the truth that "God looks upon the heart" when it comes to our physical self. But not caring for the body, or disregarding our health because it won't last, is in fact a "heart problem." Do you believe that somewhere between vanity and gluttony lies healthy, abundant living? And whenever possible, should believers be the example of that middle ground? Leave us your comments below.

>> HEALTHY READING: If you're looking to get fitter as you progress in your faith, the suggested reading is just a click away. "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days,"  one of the hottest selling healthy living books on the shelf today, has been endorsed by actor/producer Tyler Perry, actor LL Cool J, TV host Mario Lopez, 2010 American League MVP Josh Hamilton, five-time NFL Pro Bowler Curtis Martin, actress Rachel Cannon and two-time boxing champ Robert Guerrero. This total-person book contains two, 28-day programs, each complete with daily inspiration, progressive, at-home workout programs (no equipment required) and complete meal plans to tie it all together. Find out what all the buzz is about -- get yours today at your local bookstore or by going to Amazon!

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!