heart disease

Agreement Isn't Enough

"But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?'"  --Exodus 3:11

Read: Exodus 3

I wonder if Moses ever went back to the place of the burning bush. Oh, I know it's doubtful, but for one of the pillars of our faith, that spot was a pivotal point in his life (not to mention for yours and mine). But Moses didn't just agree there. He didn't concur with some sophisticated nod like he was looking at some priceless work of art. "Hmm, yes indeed." No, his body had to get him where his soul had to go. A simple agreement wasn't enough. And so with ash still on his sandals, he marched through Pharaoh's front door to prove it.

What about you? Do you remember when you were called to your task? For me, my soul was called in the eighth grade, then again in 2007 to create PrayFit. For you, maybe it was 10 years ago, or maybe even 10 minutes. But regardless, agreement isn't enough, especially when it comes to our health. Like it was for Moses, agreement is just the opportunity to prove it. So go back with him. Get close to the flame. Hear it crackle. Rub your hands together and get warm. You have your own Pharaohs to face. Obesity? Heart disease? A better example for your kids? Perhaps for your congregation? Pharaohs all. And as you march through those doors, let the ash on your sandals be a reminder that agreement isn't enough.

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION: The Perfect Breakfast

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Strengthen Your Message

"But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength." --2 Timothy 4:17

Read: 2 Timothy 4

Yesterday we touched on what's most important: our daily time with the good Lord. But you may already have that part down pat. While yesterday's entry was extremely well-written and uncommonly clever (this is where you just nod in agreement), it wasn't for you. Let's face it, you can set clocks by your prayer and reading rituals. You wrote the book on quiet times. And if so, we're glad you're back, because today we're talking about what fewer and fewer believers are doing once they get up off their knees.

Dr. Charles Stanley recently said that adversity can either be a burden or a bridge. When I look back at my year, I know beyond a doubt that when adversity weakened my muscle, God strengthened my message. What about you? Do you see health as a burden or a bridge? Perhaps you have self-inflicted infirmities or maybe you were blindsided. Distinguishing between the two isn't always easy, is it? But let me be as much of an encourager as I am a tough reminder that our bodies have so much to accomplish for the kingdom. Many of the things God calls us to do as believers require a stewardship-type outlook of the body. Not in vain, but practically speaking. If you're a believer who finds himself or herself unknowingly hiding behind the truth that God only sees the heart -- with all due respect -- a "willful" neglect of the body is a heart issue.

But trust me, I know the battle is tough. I know it's daily. And I know how despair feels. But ask the Lord for wisdom and strength on how to be a better steward in this area. Determine today that only the limits God sets for your life will slow you down. Not anything man-made or self-made. When you close that bible and rise to your feet, tell the Lord your body is at His service now. And if that means adversity, or healthier food choices and fitness-type activities, see it all as an opportunity to strengthen your message.

--Jimmy Peña


Think you're consuming too much salt? A review published in the American Journal of Medicine found that people who consumed less than the recommended 2,300 mg of sodium per day actually had a 37% increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease than those who ingested more. So trying to go cold turkey, or letting your spouse take that salt shaker away from you every night at dinner time may not be the best approach.

Still, there are some who need to be careful not to overdo the salt because they have high blood pressure or a history of heart disease. To reduce your levels of sodium, try these simple tips from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD.

• Instead of a lot of salt, use herbs, spices, flavored vinegars, citrus juices, or wine to flavor food • Taste your food before salting it • Buy fresh, frozen, or canned "no salt added" veggies, and add a little salt at the table • Rinse canned beans and other canned veggies to remove sodium • Cook rice, pasta, and hot cereal without salt • Read labels: look for "low-sodium," "reduced-sodium," "no salt added," and foods that have less than 200 mg per serving

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.

Lord, Do You See Yourself in Me?

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

Read: 1 Samuel 16

When PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez described seeing his resemblance in his daughter's faces, this weeping writer fought back tears. He said, "Jimmy, it's one thing to know they're your own flesh and blood, but when you start to see yourself, it's simply amazing. I'm at a loss for words." That says a lot coming from Eric, arguably one of the best writers in the country.

But you know, I want to be like Mya and Ella. Not that I want to look like Eric (handsome as he is), but the only thing I want more than being a dad one day is to be a child that resembles the Father.

Friends, we hope that's the message you've heard here at PrayFit. Some enjoy the fitness tips, others the recipes. But don't miss this: Nothing matters unless we have Jesus in our hearts. If we're at a loss for words, our approach to wellness merely serves as a back-up to A) praise Him with our lives and B) help spread the gospel. Despite our highest highs and lowest lows, when He looks at us, it's His own reflection He longs to see.

--Jimmy Peña

"Lord, we love you. Our utmost desire is for you to live in our hearts. We seek your resemblance. See yourself, we pray. Amen."


Good friend, best-selling author of "Sugar Nation" and editor at Bodybuilding.com Mr. Jeff O'Connell (@J_O_Connell) Tweets...

Sugar Nation point: surplus sugar rots gums, threatens heart. Remove sugar, improve both. “Experts” who miss obvious -- REPORT: No Proof Gum Disease Causes Heart Disease

He's My Brother

"Then I sent Moses and Aaron..." --Joshua 24:5

Read: Joshua 24

A great friend and mogul said to me yesterday, "I believe God puts people in your life to help show you where you're going." His statement couldn't have been more true about the day nearly seven years ago when I met then writer extraordinaire and future PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez. Little did I know that when I shook Eric's hand in the offices of Muscle & Fitness Magazine, God was showing me where I was going.

In the context of PrayFit, if I could humbly assign Eric a biblical counterpart, it would probably be Aaron. If you're thinking, "Aaron! Yes, of course! Aaron...wait...who's Aaron?" well, that helps my point. Aaron was Moses' brother. Often overlooked, but when Moses was in need, God sent Aaron. Moses stuttered, so God delivered. Aaron 'spoke well' and they became a team.

So please allow me to use the comparison to publicly acknowledge Eric and his selfless, often invisible, critical and fantastic work he does day in and out. If it weren't for Eric, there would be no daily message. If he's not writing amazing articles for the biggest fitness magazines in the country, or inspiring people to grow closer to the Lord and healthier in the process, he's smoothing out my stutter. He's my brother, and we're a team.

If you've been following PrayFit for any length of time, please help me in publicly thanking Eric for who he is and what he means to us all.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH FACTS, BY THE NUMBERS The AHA's most recent report on obesity and its ties to heart disease

149,300,000 - Number of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are overweight or obese

33.7 - Percentage of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are obese

23,600,000 - Number of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are overweight or obese

16.9 - Percentage of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are obese

33 - Percentage of U.S. adults that report doing no aerobic leisure-time activity

71 - Percentage of U.S. adults with cardiovascular disease that were overweight or obese

1 in 3- Deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the U.S.

Source: American Heart Association Statistical Update on Heart Disease and Strokes (2012)


August 4, 2011Read: Philippians 4

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 4:7

We are capable defenders. We put locks on our doors at home and security systems in our cars. We spam proof our e-mails and put passwords on our phones. We stand at the gates of the most important elements in life.

But when it comes to health, we're much less protective. Although we're armed with knowledge, that guard is fast asleep outside our door. We've offered diabetes, heart disease, and obesity the keys to their favorite rooms as they check in, and we validate with shortened lives and lost limbs.

But folks, we are capable defenders. When God said to honor our bodies, we became guardians of health. Our eternity is His responsibility; we can't earn it. Fortunately for us, He put us in charge of something that requires our effort.


DID YOU KNOW? >> For the first time in history, the overweight outnumber the malnourished. (Source: "Sugar Nation" by Jeff O'Connell)


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June 29, 2011Read: Ephesians 6

"Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground." -- Ephesians 6:13

Looking at today's passage more closely, you'll notice something great. Of all the armor Paul talks about, not one item is mentioned to protect us from behind. From the breastplate of righteousness to the shield of faith, God teaches us that we're in for a frontal attack. We'll never be surprised or blindsided. In other words, He's got our backs.

When it comes to our crusade for greater health, most of our fights are frontal. The battle comes straight ahead. Whether it be with choices on the lunch menu, to setting the alarm early for a morning workout, the blows are before us and in plain sight. Today, decide that your health is worth protecting. If you see can see it coming, pick a fight. When attacked, go to war. After all, it's not the health battles we lose that should bother us...it's those we don't suit up for.


STUDY: DIABETES ON THE RISE Deemed a “silent killer,” diabetes gaining foothold in heavier, older populations

The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980, with almost 350 million now affected, according to a new study published in The Lancet medical journal. Scientists from Imperial College London and Harvard University analyzed the blood sugar of 2.7 million people aged 25 and over across the world and used the results to estimate diabetes prevalence. The number of adults with diabetes more than doubled from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008, according to the study.

Diabetes is caused by poor blood sugar control and can lead to heart disease and stroke and can damage the kidneys, nerves and eyes. High blood sugar levels and diabetes kill three million people across the world each year.

The researchers said two of the strongest factors in the rising diabetes rate were increasing life span and body weight, especially among women.

>> For the full story on Yahoo! Health News, click here.

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March 29th, 2011Read: Matthew 9

"She said to herself, "'If I can just touch the hem of his garment, I will be whole.'" --Matthew 9:21

If you've spent any time here on PrayFit, you've realized by now that we love America's pastime. We agree with Babe Ruth when he said, "Baseball is the greatest game God ever saw fit to let man invent."  And with opening day around the corner, we thought we'd give you another reason why we love it even more. Ever notice that the managers wear the same uniform as the players? Think about it. There's not another sport like it. Ever see a football coach with a helmet? Or a basketball coach wearing a tank-top and shorts? No, baseball is the only sport where its managers blend in with the team.

I think Jesus could relate, because he chose to relate. Rather than standout among us, he blended in with us. Though He created the universe, His appearance was universal. He became our up-close-and-personal savior. In order to reach us, He let us touch Him.


SLEEP LESS, EAT MORE Failing to get a good night's sleep can lead to overeating

One of the most important keys to achieving and maintaining a healthy body composition is to exercise regularly. But it's also important to rest and new research is showing that a failure to do so can result in weight gain. How?

Researchers at Columbia University's New York Research Obesity Center found that those who were sleep deprived ate more during the day. Women, on average, consumed 329 calories more when sleep deprived while men had 263 more when under-slept.  Regularly consuming 300 calories more than usual can lead to 30 pounds of weight gain over a year, researchers say, putting you at significantly greater risk of obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

Read more on the study here: CNN Health

Source: CNN