life

Start Pulling

I'll never forget it. I was 19; the newest member of a very small band of brothers. We weren't an official group on the Baylor University campus, by any means, these "Russell Rats." We had no membership roster, no board of directors or rules and regulations to speak of, but we were very exclusive. And although we weren't organized, we did pay our dues -- dues of a different kind that were collected daily. As far as acceptance into the group, well, it just happened. Call it a nonverbal recognition of pure heart. If you had it, you were in. And rather than Greek letters across our chest, we had chalk and sweat across our backs. There was no mistaking our crew.

In the late 80s, a small family of guys came one by one into the best (and only) fitness center on campus, Russell Gymnasium. The gym itself was actually a corner hole-in-the-wall within a bigger auditorium of basketball courts, with a two-tone, green concrete wall separating the outdated Universal equipment and rusty dumbbells from the courts next door.

Well, one sunny Waco afternoon, at a campus-wide celebration called Diadeloso (Day of the Bear), the group decided to enter itself into the annual tug-of-war competition. We wanted nothing more than to show the fraternities what real strength felt like. After a lot of hooplah, we marched -- in slow motion if I recall -- onto the sand. We could hear the audible gasp from the opposition. We nodded to one another with pre-victory smiles. After all, not only were we obviously strong, we had ourselves a plan. We reasoned that because we outweighed the competition, only half the team would pull when the whistle blew. And when one of us gave the signal, the rest of us would begin pulling. Trust me. We had it covered.

Well, we found our grip as our competition found theirs. I remember they were a preppy bunch. Handsome. But no doubt mismatched. We did our best not to giggle. The referee raised his hand to alert the start of the match and the whistle blew. And?!.....We got crushed. Within 20 seconds, we were pulled across the line. It honestly felt as if the rope was somehow cleverly tied to an F-150. What happened you ask? Well, a couple things actually. First, they had seven guys and we had six. Completely fair because the only limit was total weight, but an extra pair of arms pays off come to find out. But I think we lost miserably because we were overly confident and planned poorly.

Why the long stroll down memory lane? Well, I'll be a special guest at Baylor University this November, speaking to students and greeting faculty. And if I learned anything that day as I lay face down, swallowing dirt and pride, it's that we can never underestimate the enemy in life, and we can't wait to start pulling. Plainly said, we have to give it all we have, never saving anything for the second half, the second set, the climb down, or the swim back. We can't wait to share Christ, visit the widow, give to the needy. The fact that you're reading and I'm typing means we're knee deep in sand and it's quick.

Friends, we have to be humble constantly and plan wisely. In every area of life, be it with quiet times, workouts, relationships, school, work...a humble heart and wisdom will please God every time. So hang on tight. And when the sun comes up and you've given God your day, just start pulling.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Four years later, I led a team of seven onto the sand. We won every match but the last one; to a team of eight.

For Discussion: Are you waiting to pull with your life? Your quiet times with the Lord? Your health? If I can help you start pulling, talk to me. I want to help. And if you have similar memories where you were humbled, please share!

RECOVER WITH R.I.C.E. When you start a workout program or return to activity after a long layoff, it's not uncommon to suffer a few aches and pains. Muscles strain, ligaments groan and pain springs up in places that you wouldn't expect. In most cases, these injuries are minor and can be treated at home with a few easy steps. So before you go schedule an appointment with your general health practitioner, take stock of this four-step process.

>> 4 Ways to Treat Soft-Tissue Injuries at Home

I'm His Resume

"By this all men will know that you're my disciples, that you have love for one another." --John 13:35

Read: John 13

Yesterday I worked on a resume. Some of you may know, but trying to put a life of work on a sheet of paper is no easy task. The objective, the history, the qualifications, all to make sure your best foot is forward and in view. Here I am! This is what I've done! But as I was working on it, I knew it didn't even come close to capturing his worth. See, it wasn't my resume, it was my Dad's.

And while his job history in the Navy and then in private business is impressive, I'm his resume. My brother is his resume. My mom, his wife of almost 50 years is his resume. I wish I could call prospective employers and tell them that we are who we are today because of who he is and what he's done. What a conviction to try and convince someone to give your sweet Dad a chance.

You know, our lives say a lot to the world about our Father. I know you feel the same, but I want nothing more than to be a living resume for my Jesus. You and I may be the only Jesus someone ever sees; the only believers someone will ever come into contact with. They may be famous, popular or simply a next door neighbor, searching for the truth. The truth is, Jesus died and rose again so that you and I may have an abundant life and eternity with Him. Because of that, I want the way I talk, think, act and live to be such a strong testimony to those around me that they have no other choice than to take a good, long look at this Jesus we call the Savior. And when they see us, hear us, and watch us, may they pause long enough to give Him a chance.

--Jimmy Peña

TRAINING TIP: Compound Moves

The three most popular, widely-used lifts in the gym are the bench press, deadlift and squat. Referred to as “The Big Three,” these moves fall into a category of exercises called compound, or multi-joint, lifts. These exercises require movement at more than one joint, which means that more total muscles have to get involved to complete each rep. And the more muscle you work, the more muscle and strength you stand to gain. As a bonus, the more muscle you recruit on a given exercise, the more calories you burn. Finally, any measure of muscle gain will improve your metabolism since muscle is calorie-eating tissue.

>> Learn how compound moves can be your ticket to a healthier body.

Misfits Seldom Do

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." --1 Corinthians 1:27

Read: 1 Corinthians 1

If he were your neighbor, you'd move. If choosing teams, he'd be the one last picked. Without a doubt, on the island of misfits he'd be king. But he didn't care. More bold than beautiful, John knew the act to follow was really the act to follow. So he used whatever God gave him to get his message across to a world in need.

Friends, our bodies are merely tools. In the end, they simply get us from life's A to B. But our short trip was so important that Jesus made His. So this week, let's add how we eat and exercise to the list of strange ways God makes Himself known to those around us. Will you be popular? Maybe not. Regarded or rewarded? It's doubtful. But then again, the only attention that's really important is the attention you're paying to the body God designed for you. So go ahead. Be the last one standing. In a world that disregards the body as a means of praise, you'll be in good company when you don't fit in. Misfits seldom do.

--Jimmy Peña

THE POWER OF THE JOURNAL

Keeping a consistent workout journal is one of the best ways to keep yourself accountable. Here are some of the key things to note in your daily journal:

1 Exercises, sets and reps: Consider this the workout blueprint. Jotting all this down is a good way to ensure that your workouts have structure and that you have a clear plan of what work there is to get done each day.

2 Weight used: Whether it's your own bodyweight or a heavy barbell, keeping track of the resistance you're using serves as a mental note to consistently add more. Whether your trying to add muscle or just get stronger, gradual increases in weight are crucial.

3 Rest periods: How long did you take between sets? The shorter the rest periods, the more intense the workout. If you are lifting heavier, then longer rest periods may be helpful. In either case, keep a careful eye on the clock between sets.

4 Intensity techniques: Did you use drop sets today? Did you have your spotter help you through a few forced reps? Knowing which intensity techniques you're using to make your workouts more challenging will help you continue making gains. Knowing when and how often you're pushing it will also help you keep from overtraining.

>> What else do you keep track of in your journal? Let us know in the comments below, or on the PrayFit forums today.

>> Start a journal - Click Here

>> Got a journal already? Update it today, or just view other PrayFit workout journals, by clicking here!

Just Run

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." --1 Peter 5:7

Read: 1 Peter 5

Depending on when you open this entry, I'm doing one of many things. Check your watch. If it's early, and the sun is rising, be assured I'm dodging traffic and anticipating yellow lights. If it's mid morning, I'm tapping my toes with my face plastered against the airplane window. And if it's around noon, I'm sprinting. I've let go of my baggage, thrown my head back and my arms are wide open. After weeks of touring, speaking and serving...I'm almost home.

Friends, life is a quick trip; a short but often brutal bridge. On it we sometimes get trampled. Being Friday, maybe you can relate. Have you been overlooked this week? Ignored rather than recognized? Maybe you're struggling to cope with a troubled teen, financial hardships or health concerns. Whatever your recent trip of life has you burdened with, do what I am doing today. Drop the baggage and throw your head back. The One who knows you best, loves you most. So just run.

--Jimmy Peña

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

Faith

MY REDEEMER LIVES: Why do we care for bodies that are destined to wither?

MAKE BELIEVE: How do our lives help build the body of Christ?

HE REMEMBERS: When it comes to our sin, gracefully, He remembers to forget

AGREEMENT ISN'T ENOUGH: When it comes to our health, you need to go a bit further

Fitness

WORKOUT: Blast your legs into submission with our workout of the week NEWS: How childhood obesity is affecting manufacturing in the U.S.

VIDEO: Text and video tips on getting this fundamental exercise right

NEWS: Research shows Alzheimer's may be connected to sleeplessness

It Took a Funeral

"The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." --John 11:25

Read: John 11

If anyone had the right to claim credit for the phrase "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" it was Lazarus. Four days gone. Entombed. Lazarus was dead. Then he wasn't. If any day felt like the first to him, this was the one. But it took a funeral to make him feel alive.

You and I are no different. Well, we don't cheat graves, but we are called to die each day, to ourselves. But we can't talk about death without including every aspect of life. Our minds: how we think. Our motives: selfish and proud. And our bodies: how we nourish His temple on earth. If we strive to be obedient in everything including, say, our approach to food, we live better. Conquering our daily life of health requires a daily death of self.

It's tough to live in a grave. Ask Lazarus. His best day was his first day, and so is yours. And it begins at a funeral.

--Jimmy Peña

THE IMPORTANCE OF "PRAY" IN PRAYFIT Research reinforcing the connection between physical and spiritual health The name "PrayFit" isn't an accident. We believe that a deeper connection with the Lord -- which is achieved through daily reading, prayer and fellowship -- is central to your ongoing quest for a healthier body. A recent story lends credence -- actual lab-coat-and-bar-graphs kinda credence -- to this fundamental truth.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that individuals who prayed daily were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who didn't pray regularly. And a 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma found that those with regular prayer lives exhibited fewer and less severe symptoms.

But the floodgate of research showing the correlation of spiritual and physical health doesn't stop there. Read the full story from the Huffington Post by clicking the link below.

>> HUFF POST: Why People Who Pray Are Healthier Than Those Who Don't

Cut to the Chase

"Come. Follow me." —Matthew 4:19

The phrase "cut to the chase" originated in scripts during the silent film era. After dramatic story lines, these mute motion pictures would routinely end in chase sequences on dusty roads. Today, the phrase has come to mean "get to the point." Fittingly, with our first entry of 2012, that's exactly what we intend to do.

At PrayFit, we believe that a pursuit of health is all about enabling us to follow Christ with reckless abandon. Frankly, everything we have should help us chase Him; our money, our time, and yes, our bodies. The more fit we are, the better we serve Him—not for health's sake, but for heaven's. So let's get to the point.

This year, our health should do nothing less than assist us in our pursuit of Him. Like it's been said, let's follow so close that we're "covered in His dust." He's calling for us. And our story lines of life will become motion pictures of grace the sooner we cut to the chase.

Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Home-Based Start-Up Get your body moving this week with this 10-minute routine

Jumping jacks - 1 minute Jog in place - 1 minute Push-up - 33 seconds Plank - 33 seconds --Repeat sequence for 10 minutes

While we note the importance of pursuing health with reckless abandon in 2012, it should be noted that we are referring to the big picture. Think of it more of a year-long pursuit than a blind charge out of the gate. If you've been to your gym already in 2012, you've likely seen throngs of gym newbies and returners attacking their fitness goals with a Rocky movie montage-like determination. But you can't undo all of 2011 in the first month of 2012. Getting fit and staying fit is a matter of building consistency and a rocket start could see you fizzle fast.

This workout is measured, both in its aim and its intensity. The goal? Get moving. That's it. This head-to-toe lineup of exercises allows you to use all your major muscle groups, without going to the gym, in a way that won't overtrain you too soon. Try this routine 2-3 times this week, or beyond, to start increasing your baseline fitness levels for whatever routine you'd like to try next.

>> WHAT'S NEXT?: If you're ready for something more challenging, you can try the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge, by Lionsgate. This at-home program, led by PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, helps you push your training to the limit while using only your bodyweight. Click here for more info or to order!

WORKING BACKWARDS

November 29, 2011Read: Matthew 6

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you." --Matthew 6:33

Losing stuff is easy. It's finding it again that takes a little work. But what do we do? We work backwards. Be it car keys, a book, maybe a wallet -- we retrace our steps until...ahh, the lost is found.

You know, I think that's the way God intended us to live. He said to Seek first His Kingdom because He wants us to secure our future, and sing "Blessed Assurance" for a reason. When you look at it that way, you and I are just working backwards. After all, why would He ensure our final step, only for us to be unsure of our next one?

So if you're facing tough times, do just that: work backwards. Misplaced your courage? Lost your will for a healthy life? You'll find both what you've lost and what you're looking for, if you re-trace His steps and stop at the cross.

--Jimmy Peña

THE SECRET LIFE OF PROTEIN

Almost universally, higher-protein diets are associated with greater muscle mass. While it's true that hard-training individuals should consume more protein to maximize muscle recovery and growth, protein also helps you to stay lean. A recent study published by the American Society of Nutrition showed that dietary protein stimulated thermogenesis (fat-burning) and promoted satiety more than high carbohydrate meals. While casein and soy protein were found to be more filling, fat-burning was higher after consuming whey.

Researchers at Skidmore College also found that when subjects followed a high-protein diet for eight weeks they lost significantly more body fat, particularly abdominal fat, than those following a low-carb/high-fat diet.

Minimum recommended daily allowances for children range between 16-28 grams per day. Healthy male adults should aim for 45-63 grams per day, while females should strive for 46-50 grams. Pregnant? You may need 60 grams per day for your growing baby. Protein requirements vary, of course. If you workout regularly or at higher intensities, you may need more protein -- up to 1-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day -- to help rebuild muscle and keep your lean body mass in healthy ranges.

>> SHOP: In need of the perfect stocking stuffer for your loved ones? Visit the PrayFit store for faith-and-fitness inspired clothing, books, wristbands and more!

STANDING UP STRAIGHT

November 28, 2011 Read: Psalm 84

"No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly." --Psalm 84:11

Isn't it interesting that at the mere mention of the words 'good posture', we automatically pull our shoulders back? (Admit it, you just sat up a little taller in your chair as you read that sentence.) Well, if it helps, I sat up as I wrote it. Many of you don't know, but a little over a year ago, I had spine surgery; a couple of fusions and an artificial disk were all my neck needed. Okay, basically I have a brand new neck. And of the many rehab mandatories, a lifetime of maintaining good posture is at the top of the list. That's why I'm constantly asking my wife to remind me of it.

Good posture. Physically and spiritually. Isn't that the goal each day? Am I eating right? Am I reading my Bible? Am I walking uprightly in my pursuit of abundant living? When it comes to my very small, brief life, there's a lot I think I need, but I want nothing more than a backbone for Christ, while protecting the frame He designed around it.

I just want to stand up straight.

Have a good week everyone. In Jesus' name, we train.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: BACK ISSUES

Speaking of good posture, a strong back can help. Next time you're at your gym, try this workout. It'll help target all the major muscles of your back.

Lat Pulldown: 3 sets x 10-15 The lat pulldown is great as a warm-up as well as the start of your working sets. Do a few light warm-up sets with very light weight before reaching failure at the designated rep range. The lat pulldown targets the upper part of the lats, the wide, wing-shaped muscles that extend from your armpit down to your lower back.

Wide-Grip Seated Row: 3 sets of 8-12 Close-Grip Seated Row: 3 sets x 8-12 The wide-grip seated row will zero-in on your upper lats, while also hitting your middle back (rhomboids, middle traps). When you switch to the narrow grip, you shift the focus to the lower lats.

Pull-Up: 4 sets x To Failure Close-Grip Pull-Up: 4 sets x To Failure Finish your quick yet effective back workout with pull-ups and chin-ups, to failure, four sets each. Do as many wide-grip pull-ups as possible then finish with the underhand chin. Your biceps, which come into play more with this grip, will help you tax every remaining fiber in your back.

--Rest 60-90 seconds between sets and exercises. --Perform this workout once per week, preferably as one of the first in your schedule of workouts. --Do 5-10 minutes of general warm-up work, such as jogging or jumping jacks, in order to increase blood flow and elevate your core temperature. Follow each workout with a few minutes of back stretches to maintain flexibility in these crucial postural muscles.

COMING SOON!: December 6 marks the official release of PrayFit's first DVD, now available for pre-order on Amazon and other retail websites.

 

THE MOMENT AT HAND

October 26, 2011Read: Philippians 1

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” –Philippians 1:12

You’ve no doubt seen the cartoon depicting a frog in the rain being swallowed by a pelican. Upon closer inspection, you may notice the frog choking the bird on the way down. I love it. The caption reads: “Never Give Up.” From the frog’s perspective, he had the pelican right where he wanted him.

Rain or shine, Paul kept a tight grip on the higher purpose of spreading the good news. Though deep in the belly of prison, Paul figured, “Good, a captive audience.” Can't you just picture him cracking his knuckles and clearing his throat? “Ahem, fellas…glad you’re here.

Turning circumstances into platforms, Paul saw the storms of life as mere downpours of holy water. Let’s find courage in his example today, physically and spiritually. Oh, you may not be in prison, but are you being tested in some way? Perhaps you're behind bars of doubt and discouragement. If so, let's remember Paul and never quit. I say we crack our knuckles, clear our throats and make the most of the moment at hand.

--J.P.

NUTRITION TIP: Smarter Soup

Soup is good comfort food. But it is also a terrific way to get more veggies, so load up your chowder with aromatics like celery, carrots, onions and leeks. To help thicken the soup, sprinkle the veggies with flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes before adding liquid. Starchy add-ins like potatoes, corn and beans will add texture, while their natural starches will also help thicken the soup.

If your favorite recipe calls for butter, swap half of it for canola or olive oil – you’ll still get the buttery flavor and a boost of the more heart-healthy kinds of fats. Shrink down the portion of bacon or make the switch to turkey bacon and you’ll shave off more calories from saturated fats.

Broth-based chowders have considerably less calories than ones made with cream. But if your moto is like mine -- “go creamy or go home” -- using half-and-half  instead of heavy cream will save 500 calories and 60 grams of fat per cup. Since lighter dairy products (like milk and half and half) don’t stand up to high heat as well as cream, it’s best to add them towards the end of cooking to prevent them from separating and making the soup grainy.

PrayFit contributing nutritionist 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 KNEW

September 14, 2011 Read: John 14

Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” --John 14:9

When God the creator put the finishing touches on our unique souls, He knew. He knew we'd scrape our shins, disobey parents and upset friends. He knew our kids would reject us, enemies would haunt us and our memory would fail us; and all before losing life's final war with pain. He knew, but that didn't stop Him.

He proceeded to count hairs on heads then fingers and toes. He added color to eyes, dimples on chins and swivels to hips. Why didn't He stop? He knew that what life rejects, Christ accepts. Someday, you and I will see what became of us the day we believed...what the Maker knew.

--J.P.

CEREAL SOLUTIONS What to look for in your breakfast bowl
We all love a good bowl of cereal, whether it's for breakfast or a late-night comfort snack. But not all cereals are created equal. PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez grew up with what he calls an "undiagnosed addiction to Cap'n Crunch," but is now wise to what makes a good, healthy cereal (hint: it's not a prize at the bottom of the box).
PrayFit contributing nutritionist Christie Menna, MS, RD, offers these following label readings to look for when selecting your next box of cereal to augment your healthy lifestyle.
>> 150-200 calories per serving (usually a serving is 1 cup)
>> Less than 6 grams of sugar per serving
>> At least 5 grams of fiber per serving
>> Look for cereals made with whole grains and that contain less than 1.5g saturated fat
Christie's Top Picks: Kashi Go Lean®, Multi-Grain Cheerios®, Kashi Sunshine®, Shredded Wheat®, Honey Bunches of Oats®, Bran Flakes®, Wheaties®
Christie Menna, MS, RD, is a consumer safety officer with the Food and Drug Administration and personal nutrition coach based in Long Island, New York. For more on Christie, visit her at www.activeeatingnutrition.com.

RIGHTING LESSONS

June 27, 2011Read: Acts 2

"You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence." --Acts 2:27-28

Yesterday, in our tiny cul-de-sac, I spent some time trying to teach my youngest daughter how to ride a tricycle. After helping her place her feet on the pedals, I gave the back of her seat a gentle but sustained nudge to show her how pedaling should feel. For Ella, watching her tiny, sandaled feet make their revolutions was more exciting than monitoring the road ahead. We had to stop several times because she'd start an inadvertent turn into the curb or gutter, only to have me pull her back at the last second. As we went on, she got more comfortable. She seemed to catch on quickly to the fact that we'd only go as fast as I was willing to push and that if danger loomed, I'd be there to help her right her course.

Our Father guides us through life in similar fashion. Only by walking (or riding) with Him do we sustain a safe pace and a steady course. And when we do veer off the path, He's always there to pull us back to safety to continue the journey...together.

--E.V.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Static Strength

In breaking from the more dynamic, high-energy workouts that usually appear here on Mondays, this week's workout is a bit static...literally. We're going to take one exercise which doesn't allow you to move whatsoever. The stationary wall squat is an isometric (or static) exercise that works to strengthen your entire lower body (quads, glutes, hamstrings), all without movement.

The execution is simple: lean against the wall with your legs bent at 90-degree angles (or close to it) for as long as possible. Be sure to time yourself so the next time you try this move you can beat your time to failure. The thing about isometric exercises is that they're angle-specific, meaning you gain strength at only the angle you're working. So for that reason, when you reach fatigue at one angle, and after a brief rest period, you change the angle.

Try this: Place your feet 2-3 feet from a stable wall and lean your back against it. Make sure you back is fully supported from your hips to your head. Gently slide down the wall until your legs are bent at 90-degree angles. Keeping your feet flat on the floor, hold that position for as long as possible and note the time. Rest about 30 seconds and repeat. As you find you can't hold the low position for quite as long, straighten your legs to raise your body up the wall a few inches and repeat the hold. Continue to work your way up the wall until you're almost to a standing position. The key is to work as many different angles as possible so you gain strength throughout the sitting-standing range of motion

>> BOOKS & GEAR: Structured workouts, detailed meal plans and 56 daily devotionals highlight our book “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days.” Order yours at our online store today, or pick up a hat, shirt or wristband for your faith-and-fitness minded loved ones.

 

LIVE TO SELL IT

May 26, 2011Read: 1 Corinthians 6

"Honor God with your body." --1 Corinthians 6

During a radio interview yesterday, while thundering away about PrayFit -- probably using 20 words when ten would have sufficed -- the radio host said, "Jimmy, I like to tell my listeners that I want to live until the day I die." What she said made me lose my train of thought. Many of you know how I like to capture moments and phrases, well, this one just so happened to hit me during a live radio interview.

In one sentence, a voice I had never heard with a face I hadn't seen summed things up perfectly. What's funny, although I was invited to her show to talk about my book, she was the one selling it.

Fittingly, last night I caught an early round match of the French Open tennis championships, where an underdog opponent was losing two sets to zip and down five games in the final set. And while nobody would have blamed him if he quit trying, the man was diving for the ball and fighting for every point as if it were the first game of the match. The crowd noticed, and so did his opponent, with applause.

Isn't that the way you and I should be living, working and training? Like it's the first game of the first set? We should live until we die. After all, a voice we've never heard and a face we haven't yet seen has a book, and by taking care of our health, we can sell it.

--J.P.

CRUNCHING, THE NUMBERS

PrayFit contributing dietitian and advisor to the Food Network shares some ways that are proven to help burn off unwanted/extra calories.

"Calories in and calories out — the calories you eat from food are expended with physical activity. When eating outweighs what you’re burning, you can pack on the pounds. High-cal foods take more exercise to get rid of, and sometimes it makes it more real to visualize just how much moving you’d have to do to shed those decadent calories."

(The values below are average based on a 155-pound person.)

Dessert Damage 2 small scoops of chocolate ice cream = 1 hour 20 minutes of tennis 1 medium strawberry milkshake = 1 hour 30 minutes of high intensity aerobics 1 slice cheesecake (restaurant portion) =  1 hour 10 minutes on the elliptical trainer

Fast Food Frenzy A large order of French fries = 1 hour of swimming laps Bacon cheeseburger = 1 hour of fast running  at 8 mph Fried chicken sandwich = 45 minutes hiking

Takeout Trouble 1 slice pepperoni pizza = 30 minutes of medium-paced jogging Medium-sized movie popcorn with butter = 1 hour 20 minutes of downhill skiing 1 order General Tso’s chicken = 2 hours on the stair-climber

Snacking A candy bar = 1 hour of  brisk walking at 3.75 mph A (12-fluid ounce) can of soda = 30 minutes of volleyball A 1-ounce bag of potato chips (15 chips) = 45 minutes of weight-lifting

Damage Control We aren’t suggesting banishing these foods from your diet forever, but if you want to indulge a little more sensibly, consider:

Serving up smaller portions Indulging only on occasion Increase your calorie burn by getting out there and exercising more often

TELL US: How do you like to burn those extra calories?

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian and is currently a nutrition expert for the Food Network, and has worked as a media spokesperson for Cooking Light Magazine. She has appeared on Good Day Street Talk, Food Network.com, Access Hollywood and GMA Health. Visit her at Dana White Nutrition. You can also visit her blog for more recipes at http://blog.foodnetwork.com/healthyeats/.

EMPTY AND READY

May 20, 2011Read: 1 Chronicles 29

"Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name." --1 Chronicles 29:13

He wipes the sweat from his brow as he sweeps an empty body shop. Every few seconds, his eyes rise to see if any customers have stumbled in, but none do. His wife takes care of the office, the phones, and the plant on the window sill.  "Please Lord, bring us a customer." They'd poured out their life's savings. So as he continues to sweep a spotless floor, she straightens the OPEN FOR BUSINESS sign on the front window. It's a good shop. Empty and ready.

Certain things that happened this week reminded me of that story. Some days it feels like I'm sweeping an empty body shop, whispering to the Lord to see things through. You know, it's when we empty ourselves that the Lord does His work. But if we're full of ourselves or anything else, we leave no room for Him.

So Lord, we give you all that we do and say. We love you and we thank you in advance for what you will do in the days, weeks and months ahead. We're empty and ready.

(Oh, and thank you for sending a customer to my mom and dad so many years ago. In many ways, because you filled their empty shop, I can fill up this page with your good word.)

Have a blessed weekend everyone. In Jesus' name, we train.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT: WEEK IN REVIEW

>> WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: A 10-minute push-ups and planks circuit for the ages

>> PREWORKOUT FOOD: How dark chocolate can power your routine

>> RECIPE: Chicken sausage & pepper flatbread

>> CAUSE AND EFFECT: What is behind America's obesity epidemic?

>> PRAYFIT IN PRINT: Looking for a great way to get your faith and health back on track? “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days” includes two 28-day, at-home workout programs, detailed meal plans and daily inspiration to nourish your faith. Find out what Tyler Perry, LL Cool J, Mario Lopez and so many more are talking about!

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

RUNNING TO WATER

May 2, 2011Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

"Rejoice always,  pray continually,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today was baptism day at church. If you've never been to one of these services, you should know -- it's not just the baptized that need towels. Fully immersed believers up front and tear-soaked pews throughout mean that everyone is leaving wet.

But for one family, there wouldn't be any dunking. They explained to us that their daughter was being baptized differently -- with a few sprinkles of water instead of the complete immersion -- because she had a rare and dangerous skin disorder that makes her particularly vulnerable to injury. A pat on the back, an unexpected stumble or an overzealous hug from someone who doesn't know any better could literally pull the delicate skin from her 10-year-old body.

Yet there she stood, proud and determined, ready to publicly declare her love for the Lord.

With my two, healthy, rambunctious daughters causing mayhem just a few doors away in Sunday school, I quietly reflected on what this family must have endured to come to this day. Hospital visits, constant anxiety, sleepless nights and enough tears to fill the baptismal they now stood beside. In a desert of hopelessness, when most would surrender to the sand, this family ran to the water that gives life.

--E.V.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 100 LUNGES

The lunge is a fantastic exercise for just about any part of the fitness demographic. Those looking to boost athleticism can enhance balance and improve overall leg strength. Those concerned with aesthetics can burn a ton of calories while shaping their entire lower-body musculature. Even seniors and those coming back from injury can use the lunge to improve stability and coordination. The message is clear: this all-purpose movement should be a staple of your exercise routine.

First, let us revisit the basics of the lunge:

Lunge | Focus: Quads, glutes,  hamstrings | (VIDEO)

Stand with your feet together, abs tight and eyes focused forward. Step forward with one foot. Bend both knees to lower yourself, making sure your front knee doesn’t pass your toes on your front foot. Stop just short of your rear knee touching the floor and reverse directions, driving through the heel of your forward foot to return to the start. Alternate legs for reps.

This week, your goal is to complete 100 lunges. Yes, that's 50 per foot. Advanced trainees won't get off easy, though. Here are our week's guidelines. Choose a workout challenge, based on your experience level.

Beginner: Perform 100 lunges before Friday. If it's 10 lunges at a time, twice a day, each day this week, then that's fine. Just make sure that you reach 100 by Friday.

Intermediate: Perform 100 lunges for time today. Mark your time. Thursday, perform 100 lunges again and strive to beat Monday's time. Use Thursday's time as your benchmark for next week's workouts.

Advanced: Perform 100 lunges each day this week for time. If you beat your time by more than 10 seconds in any workout, use 10-pound dumbbells (or heavier) for the next. Your goal is still to beat Monday's time each workout. Carry this process into next week's workouts.

>> GEAR UP: If you're faithful and into fitness, it's time to start dressing the part. Head over to our online store to pick up some of our newly-redesigned PrayFit gear. If you're looking for a structured fitness and nutrition plan, pick up a copy of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days."

>> EXERCISE CENTRAL: If you need more guidance on PrayFit's core exercises, click here.

 

 

UNDERCOVER BOSS

February 25, 2011Read: John 1

"...and He dwelt among us." --John 1:14

I recently saw an advertisement for the show Undercover Boss, where the CEO of a very large company puts on a staff uniform and secretly joins his own working class. From the boardroom to the mail room, the one in charge becomes the one in line. Great concept. What better way to relate to his people than to live among them?

Wait, I think I've read that somewhere before...

--J.P.

WEEK IN REVIEW

>> WORKOUT: Lunge for better legs, glutes

>> HEALTH: Are cold and flu medications really worth it?

>> STUDY: What are the root causes of obesity?

NEW!!! At the top of each day's entry, you'll be able to share pages you like with your social networks. Click "Recommend," "Tweet," "Share" and/or "E-mail" to get your friends and family in the PrayFit loop!

VIDEO: If you haven't checked it out already, be sure to visit PrayFit's YouTube channel for exercise videos, messages from the founder and more.

STRONG FOR THE WEEK

February 18, 2011Read: Ecclesiastes 7

“Finishing is better than starting.”Ecclesiastes 7:8

So here we are. The end of another week. Fridays are always a good time to look back and survey the efforts of the previous few days. Instinctively, we focus on things that we’ve done or tasks that we’ve completed, marking them off one by one like to-do items on some kind of mental Post-It note. But for each item we “cross off” the list, our brains, gearing up for the weekend, may start drifting into reward mode which is why Friday can sometimes be the least productive day of the week.

On Fridays, our focus on the things that matter most – including our faith and our fitness – can become obscured.

We may marginalize our time spent on our knees so that we can run full speed into the weekend. Or we might shrug off the day’s workout and wander from our healthy eating habits knowing Monday's workout is right around the corner.

Let's face it, no one is immune to the occasional case of the “Fridays,” but we’d be wise to remember that how we finish the week is just as important as how we start it – not just for us, but for those who would learn from our example.

--E.V.

START TO FINISH

Since we are waxing philosophical about strong finishes, it’s probably a good time to remember where you started. What brought you to PrayFit in the first place? Click here for a video refresher of what PrayFit is all about.

VIDEO: WELCOME TO PRAYFIT

>> Visit our newly updated fitness and nutrition pages for even more workouts, exercise tips, and recipes!

FITNESS | EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS & VIDEOS | NUTRITION

POWER AND STRENGTH

January 26, 2011 "We can be tired, weary and emotionally distraught, but after spending time alone with God, we find that He injects into our bodies energy, power and strength." --Dr. Charles Stanley

In "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days," we advocate spending a few minutes each day working on faith and fitness. No matter what time of day you choose to do this, life can make it difficult to muster the motivation to work on either. Long work days, kids running you ragged, all-night study sessions, brutal commutes, bad sleep -- even amidst the status of a life lived well, cracking open your bible and then working up a sweat may seem such an extraneous and wholly dispensable chore. But by making that time and keeping that morning meeting with the Lord, you will be amazed at what you are able to accomplish, not just for the workout that follows, but for the day ahead. Energy, power and strength -- byproducts of a commitment to faith and fitness. Dr. Stanley was on to something.

WE'RE PACKED AND READY

During a recent interview about the book, we were asked if we traveled to churches and groups to discuss faith and fitness. And our answer was a resounding "Yes." And so we'd like to share the same with you. Please talk to your Pastor or church leaders. Give them a book and reach out to us to discuss the Prayfit Team visiting your community. We're packed and ready to help you and yours take back your health for the Lord. Remember, something so fearfully made deserves more attention and upkeep than what we as a nation of believers are giving. And we want to help.

>> PRAYFIT JETSETTERS: To invite PrayFit to your church, or for help setting up your own PrayFit ministry, contact us at info@prayfit.com.

BY THE NUMBERS

215: Number of calories burned in 30 minutes of rigorous weight training.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)

NAME DROPPER

January 14, 2011Read: Mark 9

"I tell you the truth, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Christ, will certainly not lose his reward." --Mark 9:41

All week long, I've had this thought running through my mind: He who knows us best, loves us most. I'd like to break it down, if I may.

"He who knows us." Have you ever considered that God actually knows you? If someone famous knew you, how would that make you feel? You'd likely want to do a little name-dropping now and then, huh? Come to think of it,  over the last few years, I've met some pretty big stars, but I bet not one of them can actually glance up at the sky and count them. But God can.

"He who knows us best." We all have close friends, spouses, parents, and siblings. Some of us even have twins! But nobody -- and I mean nobody -- under the sun knows you better than the Son Himself. From thoughts we haven't even thought to the ones we wish to forget, He knows us best.

"He loves us most." Here's the kicker. He actually loves us. He doesn't like us or tolerate us. He doesn't excuse us or simply endure us.  He loves us. More than you love your kids, your husband or grandmother. Imagine?

You know,  it's really not a matter of how far we'll go in this life, but more about where we'd be without Him.

I feel like name-dropping. How 'bout you?

--J.P.

DID YOU KNOW? Consider the Cost

Three hundred billion dollars. That's a "3" followed by 11 zeros. Forgive the food reference, but that's a lot of cheddar. Sadly, this number now represents the amount of money that the U.S. and Canada combine to spend each year on obesity and weight-related problems. And since we insist on being better whenever possible, it's worth noting that $270 billion of that price tag rests with the U.S.

The $300 billion total cost in the United States and Canada is the result of: increased need for medical care ($127 billion); loss of worker productivity due to higher rates of death ($49 billion); loss of productivity due to disability of active workers ($43 billion); and loss of productivity due to total disability ($72 billion), said the Society of Actuaries (SOA).

This number, while staggering, should serve to motivate you in 2011. Let's strive to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

Source: Business Week

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