love

You Know The Story, Part II

"So he got up and went to his father." --Luke 15:20

Read: Luke 15

We had a rule growing up. If my brother and I got in trouble for doing something wrong, we weren't allowed to keep pouting about it. No sir. Once it was done, and my brother got what he deserved, it was over. Finished. Like it never happened. Well okay, we suffered consequences, yes, but it wasn't held over our heads. In fact, if I was pouting about it later on, you guessed it, I got in trouble for pouting. You know what that taught me? Trust. I trusted my parents. I knew what to expect. Periodically reprimanded, constantly loved.

Although he came back with memories of deeds as stinky as his pig-slopped clothes, yesterday's prodigal couldn't stray beyond his father's love. Before he knew it, a robe replaced his rags, a ring dressed his hand and a feast filled his belly. And while you and I may not have mud on our shoes, there's not a person reading this sentence who doesn't need that kind of grace from a grace-giving God.

You know, many of us have treated our bodies -- our inherited health -- much like the prodigal treated his promised pay. We've over spent and wasted it. But something tells me the prodigal son took better care of the things he was given after he got home. And so can we. For some, there's a family waiting for you, too; waiting for you to start eating better, to stop smoking, to start exercising. They're waiting to celebrate you. Who's coming home, been home, staying home? You're the life of their party. It doesn't begin without you.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Knowing that God sees our hearts, not our waistline, should invigorate and empower us to be better stewards of health. We're constantly loved. Doesn't that fire you up to live your entire life to its fullest? Let's see a few "YES" comments. We ask again: Who's coming home, been home, staying home?

NUTRITION TIP: Eat in Balance for Sustained Health

With all the fad diets out there that promise to help you lose weight for good, the best one may have been under your nose this whole time. Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the body responded best to a diet that was split equally among the three macronutrients — carbs, protein and fat.

>> Click here for more on the study!

#nofilter

"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." --John 13:35

Read: John 13

Have you ever taken a picture that was so good, so clear, so perfect that when you shared it, you needed everyone to know that you didn't use a filter? Why? Because you wanted others to know that you had nothing to do with it. It was that good. You were just happy to pull back the curtain. Speaking of pictures, I'm rather a novice at Instagram (@prayfit), but you'd be surprised at how good of a photographer I think I am after a few nifty filters. A shade here, a little darker there. Oh yeah. Now it's ready to be shared.

Curious, but have you ever wondered to yourself, "What kind of a filter am I for Christ?" The bible says in John 13, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." I guess you could say that love is the bible's version of a filter. But we use our own, don't we? We gloss ourselves up. "Surely people will know that I'm a believer based on my physical and mental strength. I'm absolutely positive that the world needs to experience God through my charisma. And since I'm supposed to be strong and courageous -- in case you want to get run over -- I'm coming through in Jesus' name!" But really, the filter we should be using is a filter of love. Otherwise, we're just blocking the view.

Boy, aren't we so thankful that we wear Jesus on our hearts? Like we said last week, when God looks at us, we're seen filtered through the blood of Jesus Himself. And we had nothing to do with it. That's love. And it's all ready to be shared.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Are you delivering your message at work, school, social media, or in your community with love? Do this today: Before you press send, post, call or offer any advice to anyone, whisper, "Lord, is this your will? And am I showing your love with my words and deeds?"

RECIPE: Chicken or Tuna Salad Pockets

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

>> Click here for the recipe.

You Changed My Life

"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love." --John 15:9

Read: John 15

"You changed my life," I told Mya, with a kiss, as I put her back to bed. "You changed mine," she whispered in reply before slipping back into a deep sleep. I closed her door walked back to my room with a wry smile, my eyes welled up with tears of gratitude. For this fatigued father, sleepy words had begotten a swelled heart.

Half asleep and scarcely able to comprehend the magnitude of such a statement, Mya will probably never remember that she uttered it. But it brought me untold joy nonetheless. You see, every expression of love that she musters -- every squeeze, every crinkle-nosed grin, every barely-perceptible midnight utterance of affection -- impacts me deeply and profoundly. Not a single, loving gesture is too slight.

When I finally laid my head to my pillow, like Mya, I did some whispering of my own: "Lord, You changed my life." The words, I thought, fell short. Despite His divinity, I speculated, He can't possibly understand how much I love Him and how fortunate I feel to be numbered among His flock. Then, it occurred to me. He didn't just change my life, He gave it. And for a Father, even when the words miss the mark, they never miss the heart.

--Eric Velazquez

>> COMMUNITY & FELLOWSHIP: Our family has grown by leaps and bounds in five years. Interact with fellow faith-and-fitness devotees by joining our forums today. Here, you can share successes and struggles, swap recipes, pray for one another or just catch up with like-minded friends. Already a member? Sign in here.

WORKING OUT AT HOME

Convenience of exercise is one of the greatest determining factors in program adherence. In other words, the easier a workout is to get in, the less likely you will be to skip it. For a great many people, home workouts are best. Team PrayFit's two workout DVDs provide challenging, results-driven, at-home workouts that are guaranteed to help you build a stronger, healthier body -- without having to venture out to a franchise gym. So far, the reviews on our latest DVD -- the PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System -- are outstanding! Click here to read what others are saying! For a sneak peek at what you can expect in our newest offering, click the video player below. To order now, click here.

He Moves In

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come." --2 Corinthians 5:17

Read: 2 Corinthians 5

Last year, I had the privilege of spending a week on the set of ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. When it aired, I remembered the feeling I had when that family first answered the knock at the door, then came back a week later to a brand new house. Talk about gut-wrenching! Someone they never expected came into their world and freely gave them something they couldn't afford on their own. He saw where they lived and said you don't have to live here anymore.

As I stood and watched the process, I couldn't help but think of Jesus. Just like we did for that family, He knocks gently, anxiously awaiting our answer. But rather than calling for a wrecking ball, He does the unthinkable: He moves in. Instead of a hammer, He carries a suitcase. He gives us something we could never afford on our own -- Himself -- saying we don't have to live here anymore, alone.

–-Jimmy Peña

TRIVIA RESPONSE

Yesterday we had a question for runners: What burns a greater percentage of fat calories? High-intensity intervals or low-intensity/long runs? Today, we answer.

At a low intensity, the body will burn more fat relative to the total number of calories burned, so percentage-wise, low-intensity activity burns a higher percentage of fat calories. But take that same person and have him/her train at a high intensity, and they'll burn more total fat calories, even though as a percentage of the total, it's less.

And so it was Kelly who said it first and best when she commented, "I am a runner and the low-intensity, long runs are the fat burners as far as greater % of fat burned. However, at higher intensities you burn more total calories -- and more fat calories overall -- than you do at lower intensities."

Congrats, Kelly. Go ahead and email sales@prayfit.com and let us know what store item you'd like. Be sure to please indicate RUNNING TRIVIA in the subject line. And thank you to everyone for being on PrayFit each day and week. You bless us.

Think or Swim

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." --Proverbs 3:5

Read: Proverbs 3

Armed with new floaties, towels and toys, we made our way to the condo pool for the second time this summer. My preschoolers clamored for the water, wiggling with impatience as I slathered them with sunscreen. Excited to join the pool-step floaty gang, they splashed and played with toys while their feet remained planted on the ground. My four-year-old rejected my requests for her to swim in my arms afraid that, despite massive bundles of air around her arms, chest and back and my ability to carry her, she would sink.

When she finally worked up the courage to trust me, or was just sick of being confined to the steps, she jumped from the deck into my arms. I was so happy to have her with me that I poured kisses on her face and exclaimed, "I love you so much!" She grinned with pride and I slowly toured her around the pool. Gradually, I released my grip on her until she was floating in the pool on her own, something she hadn't thought possible. She spent the next joyful hour in the pool exploring the depths, the sides and the ladder, and never stopped smiling.

What is it that keeps you and me on the "steps?" The Lord wants to gather us up in his arms, rain love on us and show us the amazing feats we're capable of –- if only we would trust him.

--Kristi Valentini

When not kissing boo-boos or playing dolls with her two little beauties, Kristi Valentini can be found writing parenting and lifestyle articles for the Huffington Post, Milkshake Kids and Momtastic, and sharing her mothering shortcuts at her own site, MommyCribNotes.com. RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Angelo Family French Toast

French toast -- we'll say it -- is a breakfast delicacy. There may be a special place in heaven where thick, egg-battered slices of perfectly prepared French toast are served at every meal. Unfortunately, here on Earth, it is an indulgence best had occasionally...until now. This recipe, prepared by PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, is a healthier alternative to this breakfast favorite.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 3 large eggs ¾ cup lowfat (1%) milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste 8 slices multi-grain bread 4 teaspoon unsalted butter Canola oil cooking spray 100% maple syrup 2 cups fresh seasonal fruit

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with nonstick spray. Melt 1 tsp butter in skillet. Dip 2 slices of bread into milk mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Place bread in skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown (sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired). Repeat with remaining slices of bread. Transfer to a warm oven until ready to serve. Top with maple syrup -- sugar-free if carbs are a concern -- and fruit.

Nutrition info per serving: Calories: 414 Total Fat: 11 grams Saturated Fat: 4 grams Total Carbohydrate: 64 grams Protein: 15 grams Sodium:  473 milligrams Cholesterol: 171 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and nutrition and fitness consultant for international food companies, restaurants and marketing firm. Dana is also the nutrition advisor to The Food Network.

>> NEW! Now, you can easily view past installments of the PrayFit Daily by visiting our new archives. Using this new feature, you can now categorically access years' worth of faith and fitness information and inspiration.

It's a Run/Walk

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us." --Ephesians 5:2

Read: Ephesians 5

An author, speaker and member of the 1972 Olympic team, Jeff Galloway is a world-class runner. He broke the U.S. 10-mile record in 1973, and among his victories are the Honolulu, Atlanta and Boston Marathons. What's his best tip? Walk. That's right. In fact, Jeff says, "Thousands of time-goal-oriented veterans have improved by 10, 20, and over 30 minutes in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often to reach their goal in the race. You can easily spot these folks. They're the ones who are picking up speed during the last few miles when everyone else is slowing down."

Seventeen years ago, I stood in the middle of a rain-soaked football field in Austin, Texas and watched Jeff's theory being tested. For weeks she'd verbalize her goal: "One time around the track without stopping." What did she do when she didn't make it? She walked. And when she caught her breath, she'd run again. Turns out that long before my wife Loretta ever read a book by Jeff Galloway or listened to any of his seminars, she practiced what he preached. And I'll never forget the day she made it. We shouted for joy. (She eventually turned that one lap into 26.2 miles without stopping, several times a year.)

One time around the day. You may have just entered your cubicle, dropped the kids off at school or you're about to exercise. Whatever the case, the bible says we're to run the race and walk in love. So no matter what the world has stacked against you -- be encouraged -- it's a run/walk.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. You know, it was pretty neat for me to see Loretta meet her hero of the track. Do you see him giving her instruction? The moment made me think that when it comes to the faith, you and I have an opportunity to follow some heroes and maybe lead as one. So today, as you run your race, make it a point to stand in the middle of someone else's lap and shout for joy.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Shoulders & Legs

Many of our workouts are geared for the living room, but for those of you that are gym-goers, this one's for you. An odd combo you may not be used to involves training legs with shoulders. But we think you'll enjoy it as much as we do. You're going to hit legs first then attack shoulders. The top-to-bottom approach is so satisfying we think it just might become one of your go-to routines for two areas of your body that are important for different reasons.

With your shoulders, greater muscle tone goes a long way toward defining your torso's silhouette, giving the appearance of a smaller waist. But regular training of your shoulders is also a great way to bolster your resistance against injuries that can spring up suddenly with these complex, yet delicate joints. And training your legs intensely not only has tremendous athletic benefits -- those who are stronger on the squat tend to perform better on sprint and agility drills -- but these large muscles help your body to burn more total calories, both during and after your workouts.

Try this routine and post your responses in the comments below or at our forums.

Legs Squat (Smith or free-weight) - 4 x 6,8,10,12 Leg Press - 4 x 8,10,12,15 Romanian Deadlift - 4 x 10,12,15,20 Jump Squats - 4 x 20

Shoulders Overhead Press - 4 x 6,8,10,12 Upright Row - 4 x 8,10,12,15 Dumbbell Lateral Raise - 4 x 10,12,15,20

--Prior to training, perform a dynamic warm-up to raise your internal body temperature and to prepare your joints for the work ahead. Try 5-10 minutes of running in place, jumping jacks and jump rope, for example. Then, do a few light sets of the first exercise for each bodypart before your "working" sets.

NOTE: You'll notice that, on most exercises, the target number oreps increase with each successive set. This is called a reverse pyramid. This allows you to lift the heaviest weight early in the set, when your strength levels are highest. Then, as you fatigue, you can lower the weight to allow for more reps, which recruit additional muscle fibers and provide additional blood flow. This also adds volume to the workout, meaning more calories burned during your time in the gym. For each rep range listed, select a weight that brings about failure at that number. Failure is the point at which you can no longer complete clean repetitions on your own.

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS: To see some of these moves in action, visit exrx.net, one of the web's largest resources for exercise demos.

Sizzle Reel of Life

"You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do." --2 Corinthians 10:7

Read: 2 Corinthians 10

Yesterday I was blessed to spend the day in some incredible circles and meetings. In fact, this entry was written during one of them. Sitting with the amazing creative group at Bagg Street Productions, we brainstormed and discussed how we were going to package PrayFit to send to churches and groups across the country. We took material of past speaking engagements, headlines and some of our quotes, all in an effort to distill the PrayFit message down to a three-minute reel. Only three minutes? Better choose only my best.

I sat excited. They'll omit my mistakes, delete my stutters and polish my presentation. After all, they don't call it a sizzle reel for nothin'. But it was at that moment that I gave a noticeable pause to mentally write this entry (the team there no doubt noticed).

Isn't that what we do in life? We want the world to see only the good stuff. Put on the good face and step with the right foot. Nothing wrong with me (smile)! Accept me, follow me, love me. But God really knows us, doesn't He? And He accepts us, follows us and loves us despite ourselves. He sees the best of us, but He wants the rest of us. And when it comes to our minds, our jobs and our health, let's do just that. In the end, when our lives are distilled down, it's only Jesus we want others to see.

--Jimmy Peña

8 WAYS TO EAT BETTER...FOREVER

Sometimes, the best information available is best digested in small, wisdom-packed bits. The following eight healthy eating tips from PrayFit nutritionist Dana Angelo White can help you start making smarter choices for your body. Use this handy guide to eat better…forever!

>> Click here for the list!

>> HEALTHY CHURCHES: If you think that your church could benefit by refocusing its attention on God's call to physical stewardship, click here to find out how to get Jimmy Peña and the PrayFit team to come and visit!

>> PRESS/MEDIA: To find out what the national media buzz is on PrayFit, click here.

He Remembers

"For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." --Hebrews 8:12

A documentary recently left me drenched in a flood of tears. Hosted by Maria Shriver, the short movie was a touching look at Alzheimer's, and the devastating effects the disease has on the sufferer as well as the family. From grandchildren, to children, to spouses, the idea of forgetting and being forgotten is nothing short of a nightmare. As the credits rolled, I found myself calling my wife and mother. Please don't forget I love you, was the only thought I had as I dialed.

And then I found myself thinking of the Lord. Friends, aren't we so glad He remembers? Affectionally, He remembers when He made us. Faithfully, He remembers when we first spoke His name, and thankfully He remembers ours. The only thing He doesn't remember is our sin.

That -- gracefully -- He remembers to forget.

--Jimmy Peña

SLEEP & ALZHEIMER'S New research reveals startling risk of being underslept

How well you sleep at night may be an indicator of you risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. A new study out of the American Academy of Neurology showed that those who spent less than 85% of the time in bed asleep were more likely to have Alzheimer’s. While it’s important to note that about half of the subjects had Alzheimer’s somewhere in their family tree, the risk remains alarming.

Need more motivation to get your z's? Disrupted sleep can interfere with muscle recovery and the regulation of hormones that are critical for muscle-building, fat-burning and metabolism. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep per night to reduce risk of Alzheimer’s and to keep your fitness goals on track.

>> For the full story from Medical News Today, click here.

A Dangerous Prayer

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

Read: Numbers 11

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

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

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

Jimmy Peña

STUDY: HIGHER PROTEIN DIETS BETTER FOR BODY COMPOSITION

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

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

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

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

CHRISTMAS PRESENCE

"So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger."&mdas; Luke 2:16

"What do you give to someone who has everything?" That's a common question asked year after year by a countless number of people.  But what do you give someone who is everything? Well, that original question was uttered only once by a small group of eyewitnesses. Maybe the Shepherds asked each other that very thing as "they hurried off "(v. 16).

Wait, did you notice that? Long before Jesus gave the lame the strength to walk, He had shepherds running. After the angel told them the news, I doubt they hung around the fields, or grabbed a bite to catch up on the latest herder's gossip. No, the news of Jesus had these shepherds high-stepping with hearts pumping. Were they unsure of what to give God? Perhaps. But they were ironclad-certain about doing their best just to get there. Showing up out of love, out of excuses and out of breath. What they lacked in presents, they made up with their presence.

–Jimmy Peña

ACTION! Yesterday, we reminded each other that "go" is still an action verb. Here are six more that will continue to help us build the PrayFit Nation

>> WATCH: To start PrayFit's new at-home DVD, click here. (Click here for the trailer)

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A CRY AT THE DOOR

November 6, 2011Read: Joshua 1

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." --Joshua 1:5

As a new dad, one of the toughest things to do was to leave my daughters. Each morning, when I would head out into the garage to depart for work, I'd have to endure the heart-wrenching sound of their screams from behind the kitchen door. They were so distraught that I was leaving that my wife's explanations of my eventual return seemed to do little good. But that was then. Older and more confident that I'll always come back, they hardly notice my departures now. Whether I'm heading to the store for milk, or dropping them off at grandma's for the weekend, I'm lucky to get a second look when I'm heading out.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them missing me so much. I know they love their daddy but part of me wishes that they were always a little more aware of my absence, a bit more hungry for my presence -- anything to make for a more dramatic, lasting embrace when I return!

At times, it may feel as if we've been left alone -- like our desperation has us crying at door for a father that is ambivalent to our desperation. But our heavenly Father never leaves our sides. We are His work so while there's never occasion for such a conspicuous exit -- at least there hasn't been in 2,000 years -- just know that He still loves it when we hunger for His presence and that our eventual reunion with Him will be all the more sweet as a result.

--Eric Velazquez Co-Founder, Prayfit

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: RUNNER'S CORE

In an effort to become more efficient runners, people will often train their legs harder. A few more miles per week, a few more lunges in the gym -- legs, legs, legs. But as any experienced runner will tell you, legs are only part of the equation. Core strength and stamina are incredibly important for maintaining proper mechanics, whether you're training for a 5K or running out a double in a softball game. Muscles in your abdomen, such as rectus abdominis, obliques and deep transverse abdominis, help to keep the torso stable when running, allowing the legs to do what they need to. But simple crunches won't suffice. Your core needs deep and dynamic work in order to strengthen your stride. If you're a runner, or just someone looking for a more athletic core, this routine will come in handy.

Plank - 30 sec. Side plank - 30 sec. (each side) Ab rollout - 10-12 reps Bicycle crunch - 30 sec. Mountain climber - 30 sec. Medicine ball twist - 30 sec.

>> Perform all exercises as a circuit with little to no rest between moves. Do the entire circuit 2-3 times total, 2-3 times per week on non-running days. If you must perform your core work and runs on the same day, go running first -- doing your abdominal work first could compromise your running form, putting you at risk for injury.

>> SHOP: Looking for some awesome PrayFit gear to sport on your next run? Visit the PrayFit store today for hot deals on tees, hats, wristbands and more.

HE FOUND YOU

September 29, 2011Read: Luke 5

"Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."--Luke 5:5

Smelly, dirty, grimy -- these are just a few of the ways to describe Peter and his buddies. After all, they spent their days baiting hooks and cleaning fish. I'm smiling as I picture Jesus 'the Recruiter' walking up to this motley crew. Did He pause and grin, crouching down to watch and listen to them work? Maybe after a few minutes, He looked skyward with a smile as if to say, "I found them."

I'm not sure, but I like to wonder what happened in that moment just before the call. What we do know is that of all the fishermen that came off the water, this bunch caught God's attention. And not long after Christ borrowed Peter's boat, the two were catching fish in water too deep for the nets to reach; Peter's preview to the depths of His love.

Friends, remember. You have God's attention. So as we start our cars, open our offices, enter our cubicles or prepare for housework, let's do what Peter did and abandon control. Let's just imagine Him saying with a grin, "I found them," and this is that moment just before the call.

--J.P.

RECIPE: BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA Use this recipe to enjoy a healthier, homemade pizza

If you are easily tempted by the lure of buttery crust, bubbling cheese and a "supreme" piling of toppings, well you're not alone. But as tasty as pizza is, it is generally not the healthiest food on the planet. Sure, a slice or two isn't going to have you flooding over your belt line but indulging more than that (or more often) is a -- dare we say? -- recipe for disaster. This alternative from Dana White, MS, RD, ATC, a writer for the Food Network and contributing nutritionist for PrayFit, helps save calories with healthier ingredients, taking the guilt out of your next pizza night.

>> BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

NEW!!! Read up on PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge, the newest home exercise DVD from Lionsgate Entertainment, due out December 6. (Available for pre-order now on Amazon)

HIS IDEA

September 26, 2011Read: Psalm 124

God’s strong name is our help.”  Psalm 124:8

Forget the idea that when we're healthy, we're better at work. Try to ignore the fact that when we take care of ourselves, we're better for our families, kids and spouses. Block all that out for a second. Focus on this short and simple command: "Honor God with your body." Vain, you say? Petty? Too temporary? It would be if it were my idea. But it isn't. It's His.

Yesterday at church, we sang praises. We listened to a sermon about the importance of praise. Then we offered Him praise through the giving of our tithes and offerings. All good. All expected. All right. But then the Pastor returned to the podium, rubbed his oversized stomach and jokingly bragged about the oversized meal and game he was about to enjoy.

Now, maybe I'm sensitive. I admit, perhaps my feelings are exposed because my life's work revolves around health as a way to praise God. But friends, listen up. Our best effort at health is not a good idea because of the benefits it brings, it's a good idea because God said it. In the end, we're not loved because we succeed at it, nor because we plead forgiveness if we fail at it. He loves us regardless. But shouldn't we be doing one or the other?

Join us this week as we put our health in perspective; a heavenly perspective.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: TOTAL BODY 10 Train most major muscle groups in less time with this bodyweight-driven workout

Recently, a well-respected fitness coach said that losing weight may not be as simple as "move more, eat less." Rather, he says, we should "train harder, eat smarter." While it's true that attention to energy balance -- the old "move more, eat less" mantra -- has some value and can be effective, it is entirely more productive to simply give your best effort day in and day out while continuing to eat a balanced diet that will support your training.

One way to constantly challenge yourself, and therefore effect change in your body, is to outdo your previous performance. And to do that doesn't require a gym -- just the willingness to push. It should be noted that training at higher intensity is relative -- your max effort is entirely unique to your body -- but this workout allows novices as well as experienced trainers to draw equal benefit, training your upper body, abs and legs in 10 minutes flat.

5 push-ups

10 crunches

15 squats

--Set a timer for 10 minutes. Perform these exercises consecutively with no rest in between moves. Do as many rounds as possible of these exercises in the prescribed order in the set 10 minute period. The total number of rounds you complete is your "score" for the day. Partial rounds may count as thirds -- i.e. if you only get through five rounds and then only complete the five push-ups on the sixth round, you've done 5 1/3 rounds. Rest at least 24 hours between workouts. To allow for better recovery, perform this workout no more than three times in a seven-day period.

Advanced Training: If you can complete 10 rounds in 10 minutes, increase the workout length by one minute. Add a minute to the workout each time your number of completed rounds equals the number of minutes trained for sustained progression.

DIAGNOSIS: MIRACLE

September 20, 2011Read:  Luke 7

"But say the word, and my servant will be healed." --Luke 7:7

Last night as I sat to write today's entry, I had an unexpected guest. But wait, let me back up. Two weeks ago, while sitting in the same spot, I heard a faint knock at my door. The kind of knock where you're really not sure, so you pause and wait to see? Well, sure enough, another knock. Opening my front door, I bore witness to my dear friend, Alan.

A neighbor and colleague -- pale, sweating, and collapsing in my arms. Minutes later, sitting in the ambulance with him, he was sure it was a kidney stone. Later that night, the doctors were sure it was cancer. A sizable tumor had taken his kidney captive, and he was bleeding internally. His surgery to remove both his kidney and tumor was yesterday. Or so we thought.

Last night as I sat in my spot to continue our look at health and devotion, walking across the parking lot was my unexpected guest...Alan. With his arms up, his first words were, "What tumor?" Three doctors from the most prestigious medical institution in Los Angeles couldn't find today what all three of them saw the day before. Alan recalls, "I was being wheeled to the operating room, and I heard a doctor say, 'We can't find the tumor'."

What some might call a misdiagnosis, Alan is calling a miracle. In fact, his primary physician says that in over 35 years of performing surgery, he's never seen anything like it. And oh, I should also report that minutes before he was taken to the operating room, Alan got on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes.

God, thank you for being the unexpected guest in our storms of life. You walk on water and into hospital rooms. Help anyone reading these words say 'yes' when you knock. Amen.

--J.P.

EQUAL PROPORTIONS, BETTER HEALTH How simple balance can help you live longer

With all the fad diets out there that promise to help you lose weight for good, the best one may have been under your nose this whole time. Scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that the body responded best to a diet that was split equally among the three macronutrients -- carbs, protein and fat. Their research pointed out that this type of diet limited inflammation as well as certain type of cancers by acting favorably on key genes.

Ironically, this is the dietary approach advocated by Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." Says Stoppani: "This not only makes the diet easy to remember, but it ensures that you are taking in a well-balanced diet that provides adequate amounts of quality protein for repair and regeneration of tissues, healthy sources of carbohydrates for energy, and healthy fats for proper brain function, cardiovascular health and joint function. When these three macronutrients are eaten in equal quantities (and in proper amounts), fat loss is optimized, while important muscle tissue is spared. In addition, research shows that when protein and carbs are eaten in equal amounts, brain function is optimized, allowing you to be more efficient at work and on all cognitive tasks – such as your daily devotionals!"

>> For the full PrayFit diet, pick up a copy of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days" from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

>> For the details on the Norwegian study, click here.

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?

HE KNOWS YOU BEST

August 3, 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 familiar 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? You know, over the course of my career, I've met some pretty big stars, but I bet not one of them can actually look up and count them.

"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 thought, to the ones we wish to forget, He knows us best.

"He who knows us best, 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 today. How 'bout you?

--J.P.

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Protein-Packed Crustless Spinach Quiche

Getting enough protein is critical for building or maintaining muscle and burning more bodyfat. But in your quest to get enough of the stuff -- avid exercisers can aim for 0.75-1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day -- do you find yourself running out of good, high-protein ideas? Try adding this one in.

"This is a crowd-pleaser every time I serve it, and it even satisfies meat lovers even though it’s vegetarian!" says PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD. "It’s great for breakfast, lunch, or dinner."

Ingredients:

4 eggs

16 ounces low-fat cottage cheese, no salt/sodium added

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon dried oregano

10 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of all excess water

Choose as many add-ins as you’d like, adding up to two cups of them: chopped bell peppers, chopped tomatoes, roasted peppers, artichokes, mushrooms

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350ºF and spray a standard pie plate with cooking spray. Lightly beat eggs in a large mixing bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Make sure that you squeeze as much water as possible out of the spinach before adding it to the mixing bowl. Pour mixture into pie plate and bake for approximately 45-60 minutes. The quiche is done when the top is golden brown and the middle is set. Let sit approximately 10 minutes before serving. Serves 6-8.

NUTRITION FACTS:  (based on 6 servings and addition of 1 cup tomatoes) 200 calories, 10 g fat (5g saturated), 276 mg sodium, 6g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 22g protein

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

THE VERY IDEA

July 18, 2011 Read 1 Corinthians 9

"No, I beat my body and make it my slave." --1 Corinthians 9:27

Last week I had the unique opportunity to be interviewed by The L.A Times on the subject of faith and fitness. Whether or not my input makes the article, I'm not sure, but it was an honor to be asked to participate. During the course of the conversation, the subject fell upon "why." Why the recent surge in the church toward taking care of the body? First the government, then schools and now the church. Together we named famous pastors that are now leading their congregations toward abundant health, and it dawned on me: We shouldn't even be having this conversation. Healthy living is not a new concept.

Long before PrayFit wrote its first devotion, and well before Rick Warren committed to losing weight, the very idea of taking care of the body that carries the soul was God's. It was His plan all along. We have no right, no stake to claim, and no sense of ownership to the idea that something so fearfully and wonderfully made deserves better attention and upkeep. Sure, Abe Lincoln might have been honest, but he didn't invent the truth. Mother Teresa gave to the poor, but she didn't design love. Our bodies were given to us so that we can serve God in all we do. The fact that the church is just now paying attention to the idea doesn't make us leaders, it makes us late.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: BOXING

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.

Why 12 minutes? Well, here, each minute will represent one "round" -- and high-profile, championship fights are always 12 rounds.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Crunches - 1 min.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Bicycle crunch - 1 min.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Plank - 1 min.

Using a stopwatch or timer (www.gymboss.com), go through this workout circuit-style, taking little to no rest between moves. After the final move, stand up and get right into the entire circuit once more, for a total of 12 rounds. Perform this workout three times per week for max results.

Straight punches: A series of jabs and crosses (lefts and rights) delivered at eye level at an imaginary target at arms length. Throw as many punches as you can with good form in the scheduled minute of work. For more detail on boxing punches, click here.

ADVANCED OPTION: Finish off your workout with three sets of push-ups (any style) to failure, resting no longer than a minute between sets. Tally your number and try to beat it next time out.

DID YOU KNOW?: High-intensity boxing workouts can burn 750-1000 calories in one hour. Find a gym near you at www.boxinggyms.com.

Robert Guerrero handling Michael Katsidis in his HBO Pay-Per-View televised bout back in April. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions. (www.hoganphotos.com)

 

MIRACLE GROW

June 23, 2011Read: Luke 19

"'I tell you,' he replied, 'If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." --Luke 19:40

I know I'm getting older and much more sentimental, because few things in life nowadays are as great as overhearing my wife talking to her plants. Can you relate? Her voice changes in pitch as she compliments and encourages. She apologizes to those not getting enough sun and to those getting too much. Supplying all that love simply brings her pleasure.

I like to think about how sentimental God must be. He cares for us, talks to us, feeds us and protects us. We're alive simply for His pleasure, and He loves to watch us grow. But the cool thing is, we're the part of His creation designed to thank and praise Him in return. And friends, the way we care for our health is one way to do just that. After all, if we find fulfillment when the things we love respond, just imagine God, seeing us do the same.

--J.P.

TIP OF THE DAY: Visualize to Maximize

Monday, our workout of the week targeted your back. But a few of the moves are easy to get wrong if you don't make one simple adjustment.

Pulling exercises are multijoint moves, meaning that movement occurs at more than one joint. In the case of rows, pulldowns and pull-ups, your elbows and shoulders are both working to execute each rep. But the tendency with many back movements is to let your biceps dominate -- flexion at the elbow takes center stage, giving your back a bit of a break and thereby minimizing the effectiveness of the exercise.

One way you can reduce -- not eliminate -- the assistance provided by your biceps is to use your imagination. On movements such as the lat pulldown, imagine you have strings attached to your elbows that pull them straight down toward the ground. This will help you initiate the pull with your elbows instead of your biceps, which will engage your lats harder. The concept is similar with seated rows, only your elbows should pull straight back to start each rep.

By making this simple mental adjustment, you'll be able to get your brain to "speak" more effectively to the muscles in your back during each workout.

Bonus Tip: To work your back muscles even more thoroughly, allow your shoulder blades to spread fully at the "top" of every movement. This will provide a longer stretch on each rep. Then, be sure to squeeze your shoulder blades together for a count at the bottom of each rep. This extends your range of motion on both ends, providing greater stimulus for strength and tone in these hard-to-reach muscles.

TIME TO BOARD

June 7, 2011 Read: James 4

"What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes." --James 4:14

Last week, while on my way to do an interview with Guideposts Magazine in New York, I found myself stranded at the airport. No flights coming or going, I settled into my corner of the gate area and watched others do the same. Turns out, airports are to a writer what open car windows are to my chocolate lab Josey; an overload on the senses.

As I sat there, I watched my fellow travelers as they took ownership of their waiting space. One lady turned a few open seats into a makeshift office. Another man used the floor for a picnic. I thought I'd seen it all until a young couple installed a mailbox and rolled-out a welcome home mat. Their address: 2 Behereforever Lane.

Okay, so maybe the young couple didn't exactly make the waiting area their front porch, but you and I sure do. We claim what's ours, deadbolt our belongings, and even though we're not, we make ourselves at home.

Truth is, we're not here to stay and our wait isn't all that long. But instead of seeing the brevity of life as encouragement to stay strong and healthy, we rationalize since it's not gonna last, why bother? But we have to remind ourselves that we don't do good things in order to be loved, we do them because we are. (If only we saw our health that way.)

So, after a five-hour delay, it was finally time to board. I began packing up my things when a little girl holding her father's hand walked by and asked, "Daddy, will there be someone waiting for us?" And while I didn't hear the father's reply, I do know the answer. And because of that, I think the best we can do is wait and live abundantly like God intended...and be ready when it's finally time to board.

--J.P.

TREADMILL: BACKWARDS PROGRESS? How a new study is redefining how to use this staple piece of gym equipment

While most of us would just as soon ignore the treadmill, it is still one of the most basic and essential pieces of gym equipment around. But are we using it optimally?

A new study, released at the American College of Sports Medicine's (ACSM) annual meeting, found that those who pedaled backward on treadmills and elliptical machines gained greater quadriceps and hamstring strength and had greater aerobic capacity than those who went forward.

The study will require larger samples to measure but the results are encouraging for those rehabilitating injuries as well as those returning from a long layoff that need to build strength and endurance quickly. The most obvious caveat is that backwards walking, at least in the beginning, should be done using the provided safety handles until you are more sure-footed with the chosen equipment.

For the full story, click here.

>> SHOP: Looking for a good Father’s Day gift? Visit PrayFit’s online store to pick up a hat, shirt, wristband or book for the dads in your life!

 

LOVE STEPPED IN

May 9th, 2011Read: Romans 3

"It comes freely unto us, but Christ bought it and paid the price." --Romans 3:22

This last Saturday night, the much-anticipated fight between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosely came and went with the expected outcome. But there was another fight that night that caught my attention. In one of the undercard bouts, a fighter in the late rounds was taking too many blows, unable to defend himself. His corner didn't wait for the ref to stop it, but threw in the towel knowing their fighter had enough. Come to find out, the fighter's cornerman was also his dad. As one announcer said, "Love stepped in." He just couldn't bear to see his son endure such a beating.

In the fight for our future, Jesus went the distance. While He could have stopped the fight, God knew we could never defend ourselves, so He let the battle rage. I guess you could say, "love stepped in," until our fight was over.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Dumbbell Complex

So many of us have to take our workout time where we can get it -- before work, at lunch or after work. There's a reason they call it "rush hour" at the gym. Unfortunately, time efficiency can be difficult during these times and a good, full-body workout that takes you from one station to the next might just be out of the question (unless you have two hours to spare).  No problem. This week's workout is right up your alley, as it has you working the entire body, in one spot, at the same time.

The complex, which can be performed with dumbbells or a barbell, allows you to train multiple muscle groups in succession without adjusting the weight. The order of the exercises can be altered to suit particular training goals. Your goal here? A solid, full-body workout that helps you build or maintain strength, while also keeping your fat-fighting furnace adequately stoked.

What you're going to do is pick a light-to-moderate set of dumbbells -- one that allows you to do around 20 reps on most isolation moves like lateral raises and curls. The reason we're going lighter is because we're going to begin each round of exercises with isolation moves. After we've hit certain bodyparts with laser-like accuracy, we'll move to a few exercises that require multiple joints and muscle groups, which allows you to raise the intensity without increasing the weight. By the end of the set, what once felt light will actually feel heavy.

Don't let lack of space or time ever stand in your way for a tough, proven workout.

For this workout, do 20 reps of each exercise, resting only as long as it takes to get into position for the next move. At the end of the last exercise, rest 1-2 minutes and repeat the sequence. Three total trips through the complex, 2-3 times per week is plenty. You'll have trained your entire body in a fraction of the time it would have taken otherwise.

Bent-Over Lateral Raise | Target: Shoulders (emphasis: rear delts) Lateral Raise | Target: Shoulders (emphasis: middle delts) Standing Dumbbell Overhead Press | Target: Shoulders (emphases: front, middle delts) Bent-Over Dumbbell Row (two-hand) | Target: Back (emphasis: lower lats) Biceps Curl (simultaneously) | Target: Biceps Dumbbell Squat | Target: Legs (emphases: quads, glutes, hamstrings)

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