marathon

26.2 (The Finish)

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." --1 Corinthians 9:24

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

Loretta's half-marathon in D.C. last week brought back memories of her first-ever 26.2 race. Hope you enjoy my memories.

Twenty-six miles. Well, 26.2 to be exact. Driving back from San Diego, Loretta checked the online results for her first marathon. The four hours and 14 minutes it took her to run a little over 26 miles represented the culmination of countless days and weeks of preparation and sacrifice. And for a non-runner like her husband, it represented four hours and 14 minutes of pride and excitement.

Finding my perfect place on the course, I hunkered down. With camera in hand, I anxiously awaited the love of my life to turn the corner and head for home. And as I waited, I took some notes, some of which I'll share with you this week. It just so happens that a marathon is to a fitness writer what a farmer's market is to a chef; plenty of ingredients from which to choose.

Oh, and yes, Loretta turned the corner indeed. Just like I knew she would. With a flushed face, she put one foot in front of the other and ran right to me. Well, she finished the race (of course), but I took her home. All things being equal, somehow I think God understands the marathon.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Yesterday, we celebrated our smallness. What does it mean to you that while you and I run our little race, He has His eye on us, caring for us, rooting for us! He understands our short marathon! Maybe tomorrow I'll share with you an old entry from my one and only race but the thought of the Lord cheering me on as I run the vapor-quick life He gave me just helps me put one foot in front of the other. Love to know your thoughts.

PRAYFIT-HAT-BLACK-26FOR THE RUNNERS: Are you a runner? Marathoner? Half-marathoner? Hope to be? Well, whatever your experience level, please visit the store for some of our latest items in our black and white collection (and share with your running friends). We have new hat selections, new tanks and tees and other resources you need to run your race! Thank you for supporting our ministry. Be blessed. And keep running.

Final Prayfit Diet CoverA 33-DAY MAKEOVER

The simplicity of The PrayFit Diet -- perfect caloric balance with protein, fat and carbs -- can help you get incredibly healthy and find your motivation for a lifetime to stay that way. Here are a few of the more frequently asked questions about this effective eating plan

Q: Is the PrayFit Diet a diet?

A: The PrayFit Diet is only a diet in name. It is more accurately described as a lifestyle adjustment that addresses our relationship with food. It is a 33-day program that calls for balanced caloric intake from the three macronutrients (protein, fat, carbohydrates). Research shows that when food is eaten in these proportions, health is maximized, fat loss is optimized and inflammation is minimized.

Q: Why is it 33 days?

A: The PrayFit Diet was built out as a 33-day plan because it pays tribute to the 33 years Jesus gave us and because a month-long plan is proven to by research to be highly effective time frame to create change within the body and to develop positive eating habits.

Q: How much weight can I lose on the PrayFit Diet?

A: This is perhaps the most asked question when it comes to any nutrition book. Those who follow the program to the letter, particularly those with more weight to lose, can lose up to 20 pounds in 33 days in combination with regular activity. But this book goes so far beyond the pounds and inches that you stand to lose this month. Because we don't ask you to eliminate any macros, as is the case with some "diets," you are not left feeling deprived. You will be getting enough carbs to fuel workouts and daily activity, enough protein to repair and build muscle and enough fat to cushion joints and bolster heart health. Because of this, the PrayFit Diet is utterly sustainable. No need to cycle off and come back to it. By following the principles outlined in these pages, you'll have the only manual you need to feed yourself and your family healthy, wholesome meals, day in and day out, forever.

>> To order a copy of The PrayFit Diet for yourself or someone else, click here!

The Race With Grace

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3

At The WallHer face said it all. As Loretta finished the Nike Women's Half Marathon this weekend, exhaustion met joy and mission met accomplishment. Now, I don't mean to over-dramatize the moment, but I think Paul was on to something when he talked about the Christian life as a race -- a race that believers are called to run with endurance and never aimlessly. Over the last few years, we've written entries after marathons, many of which are among my favorites. And with the week's race being almost over, I thought it appropriate for today.

For some of you, the week was steep. The phone never rang, the e-mail didn't arrive, or your health didn't cooperate. For others, everything was downhill, and you could do no wrong. Either way, I think our dear friend Sandie Powell said it best when she said, "The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish." And she's right. Did Loretta win the D.C. Half Marathon last weekend? Well, maybe only in my eyes, but my eyes are the only ones that mattered. She wasn't the fastest, but she gave it all she had and there was no doubt where she was headed...straight to me.

I want to live like that, don't you? I want everything I do and say, how I treat my health and how I love others to show the world that I'm on a road that leads to the only One that matters. From start to finish, I'm in this race with grace. And after the uphills, the downhills and even the pitfalls, when mission meets accomplishment -- not ours, His -- I want my face to say it all.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Fresh off the D.C. Half Marathon, there may be a couple of race-themed entries next week. In the pic above, Letta has just found her name on the Nike wall. Neat moment...

"The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish." --Sandie Powell

PRAYFIT DIET: CARB SWAPS Making simple switches can help you to slow down digestion and boost your health

When it comes to the age-old struggle between white rice and brown rice, which one comes out on top? In The PrayFit Diet, we take to answering this question and others like it.

While white rice is not necessarily bad for you, it can be higher on the glycemic index -- meaning a higher spike in blood sugar -- which is not ideal for weight loss. But provided you are not dousing it in butter and other calorie-rich sauces, you're not doing too bad for yourself. However, since eating two servings or more per week of brown rice has been shown to decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 16 percent or more, brown rice holds the edge.

>> To get more healthy-living carb swaps like this, pick up a copy of The PrayFit Diet today!

Chasing Josh

The American record holder in the 50K sits down with PrayFit to chat faith, running JoshJosh Cox is one of the world's best at putting one foot in front of the other for unseemly distances. A native of San Diego (Calif), Cox set the American record in the 50K (31.05 miles) in 2011 with a time of 2 hours, 43 minutes and 45 seconds, smashing his own previous U.S. record in the process. Over his career, he's encountered adversity both on and off the course, all of it setting him on the path the Lord had in store for him the entire time. Now, this father and husband -- he and his wife welcomed a son, Asher Legend, in 2011 -- dishes on what's made him so successful, both in running and in his walk.

“Jimmy and the PrayFit team embody the words Paul penned to Timothy, ‘For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.’ (1 Tim. 4:8) Their daily devotional feeds my spirit and inspires my sweat!” --Josh Cox, elite ultramarathoner, American record holder in the 50K

Josh Cox Height: 6'0" Weight: 147–156 Hometown: San Diego, CA Residence: Mammoth Lakes, CA Family: Wife, Carrie; Sons, Asher Legend, Joshua Tristan Armor Race Highlights: 2011: PF Chang's Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, 1st. 2010: Boston Athletic Association 5K, 1st; Comrades Marathon, 180th; Moeben Ultra 25K, 1st; Malibu Half Marathon, 1st; Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, 1st.

PRAYFIT: As one of the world's premier long distance runners, you spend a lot of time running solo. Where does your mind wander during a long run?

JOSH COX: Fortunately, I train with an amazing group, the Mammoth Track Club. I’ve heard it said that we become the average of our five closest friends, so I try to keep fast company! Having workout partners works wonders for accountability. Being surrounded by talented individuals who share a common vision and a common goal always reaps rewards. It’s like what Solomon said, “As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17)

With that said, running is a solitary sport, even when training in a group. Growing up, I was a soccer player -- I loved the game but in order to really practice I needed others. With running, all I needed was an alarm clock and open road. I still love that about the sport. Running is my alone time, my thinking time, my praying time, my creative time, my time away from the calls, social networks, and the business of life. Running has always served as my daily reset button. You could say it’s my therapist. And by mile three I usually have amazing clarity.

PF: How has your faith played in to your life as an athlete? How has it affected your perspective?

JC: I’ve been blessed with longevity. I’m now in my 14th year in the sport. My perspective during that time has done a 180. When I qualified for my first Olympic Trials in ‘99 it was all about the teams, titles and records. Sure, I’d thank God after races and talk about Him in interviews but it was mainly words. Don’t get me wrong, I believed what I was saying but what was I really doing? Was giving interviews really God’s big commission for my life?

Then came 2005, a horrible year. If I live a thousand years it will be tough to top my terrible 2005. I experienced spiritual oppression beyond my worst nightmares, I was in a bad relationship, lost $60,000 in an investment...I could have been a case study for Murphy’s Law. As bad as that year was, when November came, things got worse. The doctor delivered the news: my dad had stage four cancer and seven months to live. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. My dad and I didn’t have the best relationship; I knew I needed to be by his side.

A month later my brother and I were living in a hotel room next to my dad near MD Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston. Suddenly, running, and everything else in my life, didn’t seem as important as being there for my dad. Talk about a reset button.

My dad had it all: looks, charisma, made millions in business, had a big house, convertible Mercedes, the works. But in the end he had a mountain of regrets: putting work first, not spending more time with the family, failed relationships with his children and his divorce from my mom after 34 years of marriage. My dad opened up and our relationship was restored on this side of eternity. It’s tough to put an old head on young shoulders but those months with my dad did just that. I was holding his hand and looking in his eyes when he took his last breath that July. In the aftermath I did a lot of soul searching. Did running matter? Why was I spending my life trying to lower my time on a clock? What’s the end game? A medal? A contract? A record? A team?

I nearly retired from running and went to seminary full-time; I even took some classes. Being willing to give it up was where God wanted me all along, when I came back to sport in 2007, things were totally different. Sure, I still had the drive to win and set records but I knew their proper place. My performance was no longer the verdict on me. The reality is, titles are forgotten and records are on loan but when we use our platform to do God’s work we impact lives, outlive our life, and leave a lasting legacy. That’s winning.

PF: Lots of people run. Very few people run well. What's your best, most basic advice for achieving a proper stride on a long run?

JC: With regards to form, we want everything going forward and back -- any lateral movement is wasted energy. A midfoot strike is what we’re after because it keeps the body over the foot at impact and allows the knee to act as a shock absorber. Heel striking is braking –- it slows you down and beats the body up. But frankly, for most of us, the issue isn’t form, it’s about having the discipline to get the run in. The key is to lace up the shoes and get out the door. The first step is the best step -- it’s where intent meets action. Some folks workout when they feel like it. The key to success is doing what needs to be done even when you don’t feel like it.

The first step is the best step -- it’s where intent meets action.

PF: Should distance runners only run steady paces for long distances, or is there some value in sprint intervals?

JC: Long slow distance makes long slow runners. If you want to run fast you need to run fast. Every good running program should have three key components each week:

• Intervals (400 meter sprints, with recovery in between): 3-8 miles • Tempo Runs (your goal race pace): 4-18 miles • Long Runs: 12-26 miles

The idea is to get efficient at goal race pace. Faster intervals will allow you to relax at this pace. The tempo run is when you run your goal race pace, and long runs give you the strength. All have their place in training. Run your hard days hard and easy days easy. "Stress + Rest" is the formula.

PF: With such a busy training schedule and a new baby, how do you find time to get into your bible?

JC: I’ve had loads of regrets in my life but I’ve never spent time in the Word or gone for a run and said, "That was a waste of time." It’s just like working out -- if you want to get it in you have to make it an important appointment worth keeping. I also download podcasts, books and sermons to my iPod and listen to them on my easy days.

PF: You do a ton of work for charities. Can you describe your involvement in charity and give us a bit about how people can help out?

JC: Faith is something to be lived, not sat around and talked about. I want my walk to back up my talk. I want my deeds to align with my creeds. I want to live out what I believe. Oftentimes, the church (meaning the believers in the church) is caught up in catering to others in their building, when being a Christian is so much more than going to Sunday School and Bible studies, it’s remembering the poor, remembering the oppressed, helping the widow, being the hands and feet of Christ, these are things we’re called to do.

Faith is something to be lived, not sat around and talked about. I want my walk to back up my talk. I want my deeds to align with my creeds.

Ghandi said, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” The way we be like Christ, the way we follow Christ, is to serve as He served. My goal in athletics, and life, is to pursue my passions and use my gifts to serve. Anyone can use a gift for personal gain; the key to success is making your gift valuable to someone else. Asking, "How can I help?" and delivering on that question will open dozens of doors. The more you serve others, the more impact you make. The most influential folks in history –- those with statues and streets bearing their names –- are those who used their gifts and passions to serve mankind. If you want to have long, lasting, real success, find a way to use your aptitudes to serve others. Help someone reach their potential; in helping them reach theirs, you'll reach your own.

I’ve partnered with Team World Vision for years. World Vision is one of the world’s largest NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) -- they empower the indigenous people and give them the tools and support to pull themselves out of extreme poverty. They’re giving folks a fishing pole rather than the fish. No one does more life changing work on the ground. This year we’re partnering with Lopez Lomong, a former Sudanese Lost Boy and U.S. Olympian to bring clean water to his homeland. Fifty dollars provides clean drinking water for one person...for a lifetime. Few things are as rewarding as bringing clean water to a child in need. Folks can get involved or donate here, no amount is too small: Click here to support Josh's efforts for South Sudan

This year I’m beginning a partnership with Stand Up To Cancer. This is passion of mine for obvious reasons. We hope to do some fundraising around an effort of mine in the fall.

>> For more on Josh Cox, visit his official website at www.joshcox.com. You can also join his social networks here: Twitter - JoshCoxRun Facebook - Josh Cox YouTube - JC

 

Distance Yourself

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but he who walks with fools suffers harm." --Proverbs 13:20

Read: Proverbs 13

Leading up to her third marathon, my wife had a simple plan: find her pacer and stay close to him or her no matter what. See, most marathon organizations provide the runners with all sorts of tools and techniques to help them through the grueling course -- from seminars on stride, tactics for tackling hills, and perhaps most notably, they offer the runners a pacer.

A pacer is a man or woman capable of finishing the race at an exact time. And when I say exact, I mean exactly that. Kevin (pictured here) ran through the finish line at three hours and 35 minutes -- just what he was asked he'd do. Now, Kevin didn't know who was counting on his pace. All he knew was that someone would be relying on his experience, strength and endurance to help them along their way toward their goal.

In our daily pursuit of spiritual and physical stewardship, we all need pacesetters. People who God places in our lives to help us stay the course. Not only that but God may, in fact, bless us with the privilege of being that for someone else, and it's an honor we can't take lightly. Like Kevin, we may or may not know who is, but someone is depending on us to know the way and show the way. So let's take inventory. Who are we running with? And more importantly, who's setting the pace? Is he or she helping us make Godly choices when it comes to our life and health? Are we helping them with theirs?

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Kevin was a little surprised when I asked him for a photo. Perhaps it's typical for the pacers to be invisible after a race. But I had to ask him to stop, especially when I read the back of his shirt. "Distance Yourself" it said. Wow. Perfect for our verse of the day. Thanks for inspiring us Kevin. We want to keep up.

TWITTER QUESTION: Yoga

Yesterday on Twitter I was asked if I thought yoga was a conducive form of exercise for the Christian. It's not the first time I've been asked the question, but I've never addressed it here. So, for the fitness section today, we're talking yoga.

My first true experience with yoga came not too long ago. I wanted to improve my core strength, flexibility as well as pelvic floor issues in the weeks and months leading up to my spine surgery. Now, mind you, this is a former heavy-lifting, chalk-flying, barbell-hoisting (you get the picture) kind of guy, so I definitely felt like a fish out of water.

I started at home with a beginner's DVD on core and flexibility. It was good, tough and I felt like I was getting stronger. So I decided to take it up a notch and buy a membership to a local studio. With mat in hand, I marched myself into class. My first class. And here's where my thoughts on yoga kinda begin.

The first thing the instructor did after we were all in place was to begin a chant. I'm not sure what language it was in -- I really didn't care. all I know is that I started talking to the Lord; and fast. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this, but it was offending my spirit. The instructor continued to chant and I remember going so far as to say the Our Father. True story. Anything I could say to the Lord in my mind to help me drown out what I knew wasn't being said to Him. Alas, before the chant was over, I quietly and discreetly rolled up my mat and left. They didn't miss me.

Now, I tried a few other classes that month, the ones without any hint of chanting, and I enjoyed the instructors and classes and I know I was improving physically. Then came the surgery and almost three months later, here we are.

All of that to say this: The Lord sees the heart, and if something’s not right, you know it. He knows it. Trust me, there’s enough going on in weight rooms to fill a dozen entries, so I’m not trying to single out yoga as something that nobody should do. I think the physical benefits of yoga are outstanding! But me, personally, I would rather do yoga with other Christians and listening to Christian music if I have the choice. Speaking of, I do know of some amazing and wonderful Christian yoga experts, some of which I’ll be speaking alongside in September at the International Christian Wellness Conference, and I’m thrilled.

And it’s not to say that I won’t try yoga classes in a limited way as I recover from surgery, but here it is: Any teachings intended to infect the heart and mind that aren’t biblical shouldn’t be anywhere near the Christian. And if I can avoid those situations, I will. I know that sounds narrow-minded, but we’re on a narrow road. My health is a means of praise and my center is Jesus.

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Ready. Set...

"But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble." --Psalm 59:16

Read: Psalm 59 In honor of Boston, the London Marathon demonstrated the most appropriate gesture on Sunday. Did you see it? Tens of thousands of runners lined the streets. Shoes laced, bibs pinned, gear on. Then, at the sound of the whistle, they didn't move. Though eager to tackle the course, they stood still. Pausing, they offered 30 seconds of silent prayer in honor of those whose lives were lost and for a city in pain. The most important 30 seconds of the race came before they took one step.

That picture is what we encourage you to do each day before you begin yours. We know you're eager to tackle the course but first spend a few moments talking to the Lord, reading His word, seeking His will, laying down burdens, and lifting up friends and family -- just be with Him. We believe it's the most important time of the day.

You know, countless runners wore shirts, hats or banners revealing they were running for the people of Boston. First they prayed for them, then they ran for them. The most appropriate gesture.

--Jimmy Peña

FALSE START Did you hear about that one runner who ignored the honor and just started running? Wanting to get a head start, he dashed. His actions said, "I'm running for myself. I'll rely on my own ability. My tenacity is enough. Maybe I'll pause later." (Ok, maybe that didn't really happen). But I actually saw his face in my mirror this morning. Maybe you saw him in yours. Did you start your day without a quiet time? If so, you can begin again. False starts don't disqualify us from the race. Ready, set...

KEYS TO HEALTHY WEIGHT GAIN

While weight loss is a popular theme here at PrayFit and other fitness websites, there is a population on the other end of the scale that needs help achieving a healthy weight. Those who are underweight are subject to a different set of problems including suppressed immunity, athletic performance deficiency and osteoporosis. In women, it can be an even greater concern since being underweight can result in the absence of menstruation, infertility or complications during pregnancy. In fact, mortality rates in underweight individuals is similar to that seen in morbidly obese populations. PrayFit contributing nutritionist, Christie Menna, MS, RD, says that there are a few easy strategies for those who struggle to gain weight or maintain a healthy weight.

>> Click here for the strategies!

Run With Me

"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." --Hebrews 12:1

Read: Hebrews 12

As you may have read on some of the posts, I love to run. And while I’m no elite runner, I simply enjoy competing against myself and always try to beat my best times. Before my last race (a half marathon), I told Jimmy, “Even if I beat it by one second I’ll be happy.” Well, on mile No. 9, I began to fatigue and I knew by my watch that I was at risk of not running my best race. At that moment, someone ran up beside me and asked me what time I was shooting for. I told him I wanted to beat 1:57. He said “Okay let’s do it. That's the pace I want to keep."

We pushed each other through miles 10, 11 and 12. At mile 13, I yelled to my new friend “Let’s go, we’re almost there!” As I crossed the finish, I heard Jimmy call my name and first thing I asked him was, “What was my time?” Jimmy was set up to receive texts alerts so he knew right away. He looked up at me and said with a smile, "1:56!" I was so happy. I beat my time, and yes, it was by one second! At that very moment, my new friend and running partner ran up to me and gave me a big, sweaty hug. He told me this was his first race ever, and he simply wanted to get under the two-hour mark. He was ecstatic that he was able to do it.

You know, I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. He picked me (of all the other runners) to help him in his first race. And in doing so, he helped me with mine. Maybe it's Jimmy rubbing off on me, but it was neat for a "run" to remind me of my "walk." In today’s verse it reads, “and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Well that’s my heart's desire. I hope in everything I say and do I’m running in such a way as to be like Christ, just in case someone wants to run with me.

–-Loretta Peña

Loretta is a graduate of California Lutheran University and lives in Woodland Hills with her husband -- PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña -- and their two pups, The Outlaw Ms. Josey Whales and Queen Madeline. She loves the Lord, enjoys running, watching her beloved New York Yankees, all things Disney and sings a mean karaoke. 

Josh-snow3 TIPS TO A BETTER STRIDE

Looking for a more efficient, pain-free stride as you pursue your own running goals in 2013? Run down this no-nonsense checklist to start logging better runs today and feel free to share your own running tips in the comments section below.

RELATED: PrayFit endorser and American 50k record holder Josh Cox talks about life, running and faith. Click here for more.

Life is 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."

Almost 18 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. As it turns out, 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. Just look at her sweet face. 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.

SUNDAY SERVICE WITH PRAYFIT

The subject of physical stewardship is not a message you're likely to hear in this Sunday's sermon. But perhaps it should be. With an increasing number of our fellow congregants and family members struggling with obesity-related health issues, it's worth noting that the Lord desires abundant health for us and that even though He looks at the heart, failing to take care of the bodies He created in His image amounts to a heart issue. PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña has spoken at churches across the country, imparting the message of our health as a means of praise. Could your service be next? Check out the video below, share it with your church leaders then contact us to find out how you can bring this message to your congregation!

>> Can't wait for a church visit? Why not start a small group? Click here to get your hands on PrayFit DVDs and books and use them as your curriculum!

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.

The Race with Grace

"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." --Colossians 3:23-24

Read: Colossians 3

Her face says it all. Exhaustion meets joy and mission meets accomplishment. Now, I don't mean to over-dramatize the moment but I think Paul was on to something when he talked about the Christian life as a race -- a race that believers are called to run with endurance, never aimlessly. Over the last few years, we've written entries after marathons, many of which are among my favorites. But this picture, taken mere seconds before she saw me, pretty much sums it up. And with the week's race being almost over, I thought it appropriate for today.

For some of you, the week was steep. The phone never rang, the e-mail didn't arrive, or your health didn't cooperate. For others, everything was downhill, and you could do no wrong. Either way, I think our dear friend Sandie Powell said it best in the comment section yesterday when she said, "The amazing thing is that He is as proud of our attempt (to run) as he is in our finish." And she's right. Did Loretta win the marathon? Well, maybe only in my eyes, but my eyes are the only ones that mattered. She wasn't the fastest, but she gave it all she had, and there was no doubt where she was headed.

I want to live like that, don't you? I want everything I do and say, how I treat my health and how I love others to show the world that I'm on a road that leads to the only One that matters. From start to finish, I'm in this race with grace. And after the uphills, the downhills and even the pitfalls, when mission meets accomplishment -- not ours, His -- I want my face to say it all.

--Jimmy Peña

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Worth the Hurt

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." --Philippians 1:21

Read: Philippians 1

Standing amidst the growing crowd at the finish line, you could feel the anticipation as runners began coming in. The elite were sprinting through in record time, while the majority of warriors were still battling the elements along the course. A lot of the people I stood near weren't real sure when to expect their loved ones, but because of my Master's degree, I was confident I could predict Loretta's pace and arrival time. (Well, that and because of my nifty marathon GPS that Loretta installed on my iPhone.)

It was awesome. I knew where she started, her pace, her location and when to expect her. Not only did I have the best seat in the house, but I was locked in on her, and she knew it and ran with confidence.

Isn't it comforting to know that the good Lord knows our beginning, our today and our tomorrow? Like so many of us, are you struggling in business, with your health or at school? Let's remind each other that each step is one closer. Each step is gain. He's got the best seat in the house and He's locked in on us. And did you see the bottom of my marathon GPS? Our race is worth the hurt; especially when we consider who we're running to and for.

--Jimmy Peña

WRITE THIS WAY

Learning the finer points of effective journaling can make the difference in reaching your fitness goals

Accountability -- a singular concept that can define  you as a person. It can also determine just how healthy and fit you can become, which is why keeping a detailed fitness journal is a must. And while there are no hard-and-fast rules for journaling, there are a few things that you can and should keep track of in order to maximize your progress.

1 EXERCISES/ACTIVITIES: If you have taken the time to dedicate yourself to an exercise program, it should have some structure. Keep a careful and consistent list of which exercises or activities you are performing on a workout-to-workout basis so that you can have a gauge on what is and is not working for you. If you're in the gym, scribble down the exercises you perform. If you're hitting the trail, note the route you took. Swimming? What stroke did you work on today?

2 VOLUME/INTENSITY: Think distance, sets, reps, time and weight. Dutifully charting each of these variables will not only give you a baseline by which to set future goals but it can also prevent overtraining.

3 FEEL: It's important for you to journal how you feel, both at the start and conclusion of physical activity. How good  (or bad) you feel can point you to other key factors, such as what you've eaten, how you've slept or other emotional stresses that can play into your progress (or lack thereof).

Again, workout journaling can be very subjective. For a look at how some other PrayFit members are building accountability, visit our forums by clicking here.

NEW JOURNALS Here's a look at some of our newest members keeping journals >> Hoopcoach

>> Amosqueda66

>> Mikkirobinson

Distance Yourself

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but he who walks with fools suffers harm." --Proverbs 13:20

Read: Proverbs 13

Leading up to her third marathon, my wife had a simple plan: find her pacer and stay close to him or her no matter what. See, most marathon organizations provide the runners with all sorts of tools and techniques to help them through the grueling course -- from seminars on stride, tactics for tackling hills, and perhaps most notably, they offer the runners a pacer.

A pacer is a man or woman capable of finishing the race at an exact time. And when I say exact, I mean exactly that. Kevin (pictured here) ran through the finish line at 3 hours and 35 minutes -- just what he was asked he'd do. Now, Kevin didn't know who was counting on his pace. All he knew was that someone would be relying on his experience, strength and endurance to help them along their way toward their goal.

In our daily pursuit of spiritual and physical stewardship, we all need pacesetters. People who God places in our lives to help us stay the course. Not only that but God may, in fact, bless us with the privilege of being that for someone else, and it's an honor we can't take lightly. Like Kevin, we may or may not know who is, but someone is depending on us to know the way and show the way. So let's take inventory. Who are we running with? And more importantly, who's setting the pace? Is he or she helping us make Godly choices when it comes to our life and health? Are we helping them with theirs?

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Kevin was a little surprised when I asked him for a photo. Perhaps it's typical for the pacers to be invisible after a race. But I had to ask him to stop, especially when I read the back of his shirt. "Distance Yourself" it said. Wow. Perfect for our verse of the day. Thanks for inspiring us Kevin. We want to keep up.

WORKOUT: RUNNER'S RESOURCES

Some may think that running is simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. To others, no performance tip is insignificant. In either case, running is an activity that can be improved upon, provided that you have the proper coaching. Build a stronger stride, better endurance, a leaner physique and a runner's heart by bookmarking some of these trusted resources on the web. Enjoy your runs this week and remember to post your distances to your workout journal on the PrayFit forums.

MarathonRookie.com: Tips for novices looking to enter half- or full-distance marathons

Runner's World Magazine: From shoe selection to race day decorum, the authoritative source for all things running

Jeff Galloway.com: Practical training tips from one of the industry's top coaches

Mapmyrun.com: Track your distance runs with this easy-to-use mapping tool

Josh Cox: Christian ultramarathon runner, TV personality, author and believer

Runners On Your Mark

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." --Hebrews 12:1

Read: Hebrews 12

Even though we were in a different city with an unfamiliar course, I found my favorite and familiar spot, the finish line. See, long before the runners ever cross the tape and well before the crowds, you can always find me there early to survey the land, to test the angles and find the best views. So just before sunrise, I did my thing, because I didn't want to miss my babe complete a test that began 16 weeks earlier.

Sure, while the official clock started that early morning, anyone who's ever run a marathon knows the big race is run in the small, unseen moments of preparation. Like the other runners on the mark, Loretta started that clock when she accepted the invitation. Everything she did after that was a direct reflection of that commitment. Like I've said before, it's easy to see God in a marathon.

So with my stake claimed and seeing as she wasn't due for a few hours, I got comfortable. And over the next few days, I'll share some of the notes I scribbled as I hunkered down with my heart's eyes open. I hope you'll join us as the runners come in.

--Jimmy Peña

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

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario (London) found that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week (with 3-4 minutes of rest between sprints) burned twice as much fat as those who jogged for 30-60 minutes at a steady pace. Both groups gained an average of 1% lean mass. But what’s even more interesting is that the endurance markers — time trials in 2000-meter run and VO2 max performance — were similar with both groups.

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

>> BRING THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR CHURCH...

For more info, write us at info@prayfit.com.

Deciding to Run

"So we all agreed to choose men...who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." --Acts 15:25-26

Read: Acts 15

A 1996 study found that the risk of having a fatal heart attack during, or in the 24 hours following a marathon, was 1 in 50,000 -- a statistic researchers dismissed as insignificant. A full 13% of runners completing the 2002 Boston Marathon were found to be hyponatremic, a blood sodium deficiency that can result in vomiting, seizures or death. Long-distance runners regularly battle soft-tissue injuries such as plantar fasciitis, patellar tendonitis and shin splints. So why, exactly, do people commit to such a stressful, perilous feat?

Well, everyone has their reasons. PrayFit endorser Josh Cox, who holds the American record in the 50K, enjoys the catharsis that running offers. For others, it's simply motivation to train -- a quantifiable, physical goal with a discernible finish. Some just savor the challenge of testing their ability and measuring their will, one footfall at a time.

Despite the rationale, and considering the inherent dangers of distance running, it would seem foolhearted or, at the very least, ill-advised to commit to running 26.2 miles. But regardless of what takes marathoners to the starting line or what carries them through to the finish, the act of running the race is not, in and of itself, of great consequence. What is more remarkable is that these intrepid few, despite the risk, have decided to run at all.

--Eric Velazquez

Questions: Can you remember the moment you chose to follow Jesus? Was it an unpopular decision with family or friends? Have you ever felt like your faith is exercised at some risk? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Congratulations to the First Lady of PrayFit, Loretta Pena, for finishing this weekend's San Francisco Marathon with a time of 4:20:25, putting her among the top third of her age group!

DID YOU KNOW? In 2011, over 518,000 individuals started and completed marathons in the U.S. With a population of just over 311 million, that means 0.1 percent of the population has logged 26.2 miles on a competitive course.

>> 3 WAYS TO BE A BETTER RUNNER: Click here to learn the three main components you should have in your weekly running program, courtesy of elite ultramarathoner Josh Cox.

>> SIGN-UP: Join the nearly 10,000 others that receive the PrayFit Daily direct to their inboxes each morning. Click here to sign-up, or if you're already subscribed, help us continuing building the PrayFit Nation by sending the link to family and friends!

HE UNDERSTANDS

November 18, 2011 Read: Hebrews 12

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." -- Hebrews 12:1

I think God understands the marathon. Many people will tell you that a marathon is all about the journey, the memories. Well, yes and no. While the memories have their moments, what awaits us at the end is really what it's all about. I mean, I loved the music at mile 12, but I didn't hang around for an entire song. It played, not so much that I would enjoy, but more so that I would endure.

When I began the race, I had a running partner as well as a dedicated pacer (the pacer's name was Paul, by the way.) But as you learned this week, a little over midway through the race, my body started to fail me. And when the partner and pacer ran ahead, I had to slow down. But had that not happened, I would have missed the blind man with his guide, and the woman in the wheelchair with no legs. And yes, I would have missed the two men who led me my last few miles of the race. Two men wearing identical shirts; bright yellow jerseys with black letters. Unmistakable to me. Not so much for the color combo, but for the words on their backs. On one shirt, "Father", and on the other, "Son". Oddly enough, the only comfort I could muster at the time was written on the back of two strangers.

The journey is one thing. But while our bodies fail us, friends leave us, and pacers lose us, the only real comfort is who we follow to the finish. I think God understands the marathon.

P.S. At dinner that night, I watched a lady limping her way through a restaurant. As she passed our table, I said, "Congratulations". Surprised, she thanked me. Hmm. You can always tell the runners. You can see it in their walk.

--Jimmy Pena

WEEK IN REVIEW

Faith

>> FOREVER ROAD: Each step is worth it when we remember who awaits us in the end

>> WHATEVER YOU DO: No matter how painful the pace, keep going

>> TRACKING NUMBERS: Following the steps of the one who's already won the race

>> TIRED OF RUNNING: His favorite place to run is to our rescue

Fitness

>> RUNNER'S RESOURCES: Our favorite digital haunts for running advice

>> SPEED TRICK: A surprising benefit of running sprint intervals

>> MASS FRUIT: How apples contribute to greater muscle gain

>> RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Spicy pulled pork

TRACKING NUMBERS

November 16, 2011 Read: Isaiah 43

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you." --Isaiah 43:1

Bib No. 18-164 wasn't tracking. Even though race officials, sponsors and loved ones knew bib No. 18-164 started the race, nobody knew where he was on the course. See, bib numbers have bar codes that tell everyone your pace, stage and whereabouts. Without a functioning bib, you might as well be invisible.

Can you relate? In the course of your day, have you ever felt as if nobody knows just exactly where you are? Oh sure, you're at your cubicle or at home with your kids. But is anyone really watching what you're going through, let alone loving you through it? Your hurt is real. Your pain is deep. And walking away would be much easier than running this rat race. But we're more than tracked, and our steps are better than traced. Hope isn't lost and neither are you. God finds us and loves us from start-to-finish.

And as far as bib No. 18-164, he officially finished in just over five hours. And while his time didn't warrant interviews or draw a crowd, he did receive his medal. But he wasn't alone in this achievement -- the prize went to anyone who accepted the invitation to finish the race. Friends, God invites us to accept Jesus into our hearts and lives. When we do, we join a race He's already won on our behalf. Our job is to trace His steps and help others do the same. See you at the finish.

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION TIP: Apples for Size

"I commonly advise people to eat an apple preworkout," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." "Apples contain polyphenols that have been shown to increase muscle strength, endurance and fat loss."

A recent study affirms those benefits, showing that one of the polyphenols in apples, ursolic acid, also increases muscle growth and fat loss. For the scientific speak on the topic, click here.

>> PRAYFIT IN YOUR HOME: PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, comes to your living room this December with the release of the "PrayFit: 33-Day Total Body Challenge" DVD. Learn more and reserve your copy today by clicking here.

 

WHATEVER YOU DO

November 15, 2011 Read: Philippians 3

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

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

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

RUN LONGER BY RUNNING FASTER

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

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

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

 

FOREVER ROAD

November 14, 2011 Read: James 1

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." --James 1:12

Queensboro Bridge. Halfway through the New York City Marathon is both where this entry was written, and where my race actually began. Nearly two months of ultrasound and countless hours of therapy weren't enough to convalesce my troubled hamstring. And with 12 miles -- or roughly 24,000 steps left to go -- the grand, lofty notion of taking just one more was in question. So I wrote this entry.

In as much time as it took a thousand runners to pass me by, I wrapped my leg in a makeshift tourniquet using stored gauze, and as many white flags as I could find in my heart. If there's one thing this most novice of runners quickly realized on that bridge, was that the next step was as necessary as the eventual stride that would be needed to cross the finish line. So this week, we'll run the Boroughs together. If you recall, in the days before the race I asked God to open the eyes of my heart, and I promised you I'd write down what He showed me. Well, He kept His promise, and I wasn't about to break mine.

Friends, life is simply a bridge. Work, school, money, health...all mere mile markers that remind us that we're in a race. And while we don't compete against one another, I think sometimes the most daunting of life's fights occurs when we're surrounded by fellow runners. Fellow runners who are - by nature - each hamstrung by something, and fighting to turn another corner down Forever Road. Let's remember that each step is worth it if we know Who awaits us in the end. --Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT: RUNNER'S RESOURCES

Some may think that running is simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. To others, no performance tip is insignificant. In either case, running is an activity that can be improved upon, provided that you have the proper coaching. Build a stronger stride, better endurance, a leaner physique and a runner's heart by bookmarking some of these trusted resources on the web. Enjoy your runs this week and remember to post your distances to your workout journal on the PrayFit forums.

MarathonRookie.com: Tips for novices looking to enter half- or full-distance marathons

Runner's World Magazine: From shoe selection to race day decorum, the authoritative source for all things running

Jeff Galloway.com: Practical training tips from one of the industry's top coaches

Mapmyrun.com: Track your distance runs with this easy-to-use mapping tool

Josh Cox: Christian ultramarathon runner, TV personality, author and believer

ROAD. WARRIOR.

November 3, 2011Read: Matthew 26

"Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My father if it's possible, let this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.'" --Matthew 26:39

Getting ready to run a marathon is no easy task. From the packing and planning, to some unpacking and repacking, it becomes quite the endeavor. Work before work. And while I'm grateful for the opportunity to represent PrayFit at the 2011 New York City Marathon, I have one thing on my mind...one solitary vision and mission, and the reason I'm up for the fight: getting home. Even before I leave, I find that I'm already homesick and still in my living room.

I wonder if Jesus ever got homesick. I mean, if anyone had the right to miss where they were from, He did. But something kept him going. Someone kept him away. That something? Helplessness. That someone? You and me. Divine irony: Because he traveled, we'll get home.

--J.P.

Final Thought: Isn't He Amazing? He's not only leading the way, but he's been in our shoes. How else could we put one foot in front of the other?

NYC MARATHON FUN FACT

Whether you're an avid runner or not, it's hard to wrap your head around the feat: 26.2 miles. Consecutively. On foot. Yet over 40,000 distance running enthusiasts, including our own Jimmy Pena, will rumble through the streets of New York this weekend with that goal in mind. Most start at the sound of the gun simply hoping to finish. But for the world's elite marathoners, this weekend is about winning.

And while leads change plenty over 26.2 miles, the winner is often decided in the last mile or two. Rarely, however, is it decided in the final few meters. In 2005, Kenyan runner Paul Tergat out-kicked reigning champ Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa down the stretch to cross the tape first -- by one second. The thrilling finish was the closest in the history of the NYC Marathon, with Tergat posting a time of 2:09:29.90 to Ramaala's 2:09:30.22. Over 26 miles and victory came down to a second.

 

 

PURPOSE OVER PROCESS

October 31, 2011Read: 2 Corinthians 4

"What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever." --2 Corinthians 4:18

There’s an old story about a pharaoh whose young wife died far too soon. In his grief, he ordered his wife’s tomb to be built lavishly. No expense was too great for the monument. Each time he’d survey the construction site, he’d order more jewels and more gold - - "Bigger! Higher!" His wife’s tomb became his obsession.

One day, as he proudly surveyed his masterpiece, the pharaoh tripped over a box along the perimeter. Embarrassed, he ordered the removal of all the trash. What he didn’t realize was that along with all the rubbish, he’d ordered the removal of his wife’s coffin. See, he was so caught up in the process that he forgot about the purpose.

I was reminded of that story while watching the movie “Up in the Air.” George Clooney played a man whose life was all about the journey. He lived for the process. Flight status boards, frequent flyer miles and hotel key cards were the trophies of his trade. Link enough of yesterday’s trips together with tomorrow’s, and sooner or later, you’ve got yourself a life.

But this week, let’s focus less on our man-made monuments and more on the One who matters. Our lives gain meaning when our purpose is revealed. Remember, Jesus is our destination. Everything else is just a first-class ticket to nowhere.

–J.P.

Firm Believer: How can you add true meaning to your life in the area of health? What will you commit to the Lord this week in honor of your purpose on earth?

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 3 MILES Time to hit the road (or treadmill). Whether you choose to slow walk, fast walk, jog or run,  three miles is the goal. This could be the start of a new habit or you have a time to beat, keep good track of your time. In a couple of days, your goal will be to do the same three-mile route in slightly less time. Simple. Effective. Go the distance, literally.

PRAYFIT NEWS: Three miles is a great place to start but in a little less than a week, PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena will be among the field of over 40,000 runners toeing the start line at the ING New York City Marathon. Though it's his first foray into distance running, his goal as he snakes his way through the five boroughs will be the same as it is every time he sets foot in the gym: to honor the One who gave him the ability to do it in the first place. Visit next week for a first-person recap of Pena's first-ever 26.2.

NATURALLY

September 7, 2011Read: 1 Corinthians 6

"You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies." –1 Corinthians 6:20

Running up the first steep hill of her half-marathon this weekend, Loretta came up behind a man going maybe half her speed. But since hills are hills, they struggled up together, each at their own pace -- two warriors needing the same air to answer the call of the hill. Halfway up, Loretta passed him, but not before they gave each other verbal encouragement.

You know, we've received a number of heartfelt emails and messages lately from many of you in dire need of encouragement to exercise. You've expressed that, for whatever reason, you just don't feel motivated. Well friends, we're praying for you. But at the same time, truthfully, not feeling motivated to honor the body is like saying you're not motivated to be honest. Remember, just because something doesn't come naturally to you doesn't mean you're not called to do it.

So please be encouraged. And do what God has mandated by respecting your body as one of His valuable tools. And oh, yes, the man Loretta was running with on the hill? He had no legs. Using his arms alone, he slowly turned the wheels of his chair over and over and over. Why did he climb? Well he probably had a few good reasons, but the fact that it came naturally, probably wasn't one of them. But no matter what (or why), like you and me, He was simply in the race and the hill was in the way. Answering the call of the hill isn't easy, but because Jesus said yes to His, you can say yes to yours.

--J.P.

HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS Reality-show rapid may not be realistic, or sustainable

A generation of crash diets and miracle fitness programs have fed into our collective and undeniable need for instant gratification. The good news and bad news is that some of these gimmicks work -- if only for a time -- keeping our eyes fixed attentively on the scale. No decrease in weight today? Take heart. The small print says it all: "Results not typical." Healthy, sustained weight loss may not be as rapid as you'd like, despite whatever conceptions NBC's "The Biggest Loser" may have created.

"Usually when people lose a lot of weight quickly, it’s mostly water weight," says PrayFit contributing nutritionist Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD. And once the water weight is gone, the frustration tends to set in, she says. "The early weight loss creates false expectations about the rate of subsequent future weight loss. A weight loss rate of 0.5-2.0 pounds per week is more likely to mean that your weight loss is from fat tissue. It also usually means that the weight loss is more likely to be maintained over time.

If you're striving to lose a few pounds, commit to making solid, sustainable lifestyle changes that can help you be a better steward of the body you have been given.

>> 8 WAYS TO EAT BETTER...FOREVER: What changes should you make if you're struggling to lose weight? Here are eight simple strategies anyone can start using today to start melting away inches and pounds.

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.