motivation

I Run...

We needed a little good news in the Peña home and last night we got some. Loretta, the runner in the family, got a much-anticipated e-mail from the New York City Marathon Organizing Committee. They wrote simply, "Congratulations, Loretta! You're in." Indeed, come November, my wife will be running the five boroughs. And I, of course, will be perched at my usual spot, the finish line. Neat thing, along with her email, she was given the chance to claim her "I Run" badge. Some of the options are:

I Run...For Life. I Run...Because I can. I Run...For the love of it. I Run...For the race of a lifetime. I Run...For everyone who can't.

If there were a badge for all of the above, I think she'd wear it.

Well if you're like me, you may not be planning on running the NYC Marathon, but you walk your block, you lift weights, or maybe you swim laps, all in order to keep yourself in the race -- a race that Paul urged us to run with persistence and endurance. Guys, the Biblical truth is that you can do everything God wants you to do. I wonder if they could fit that on a badge.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Whether you're an avid runner or not, what does your badge say? Talk to me. And if you can guess what my badge would say, I'll send you a complimentary signed copy of my new book.

PRAYFIT PRAYER JpegBOOKS & BONUSES: As you read here on Monday, we're excited to be rolling out our second book, "The PrayFit Diet," on April 8. But for those that pick up a copy early, spoils await. Order here before the official release date and receive a pair of bonus downloads:

Starter's Guide: Featuring a breakdown of the perfectly balanced 33-day PrayFit Diet, this guide also includes your first week's shopping list and seven days of detailed meal plans.

The PrayFit Prayer: One of the most widely shared posts in PrayFit history is now available as a downloadable, high-res PDF poster. The PrayFit Prayer, seen here, reminds us of our ultimate motivations for health.

Order your copy today and share the link with your social media networks!

With Your Health In Mind

"Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, 'Why couldn't we drive it out?' --Matthew 17:19

Read: Matthew 17

When the disciples asked the Lord why they couldn't do certain things, notice He didn't say, "If only you had more self-confidence. If only you felt inspired, motivated, thought positively. If only you really wanted it." No, and aren't we blessed He didn't say any of those things? Because after all, some days those resources are plentiful and other days pitiful. But He talked of faith. The only thing that can accept grace. And if we accept grace through faith, we've conquered the world through Christ; not by anything we've done, can do or will do. And when inspiration sputters and motivation wanes, our faith in Christ and the truth that our lives are covered in grace just soothes.

Speaking of soothing, it's Friday. How was the week? Any mountain-top moments? What are we celebrating? Any pitfalls or valleys? What are we conquering? As I glance back on the week on PrayFit, we talked about how our health is unearned. And then about how we as prodigals came home to take care of our inherited health. And yesterday we used worn-out tools to rebuild for the cause of Christ. If it's been some week, say "Amen."

And with that, I would just like to take a second and thank you for spending these few minutes with us each day. If there's a place where you can go knowing that the message was written with your life and health in mind, I hope you know it's here. Much love to you all. I think that puts the button on the week, don't you?

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT ON THE ROAD THIS FALL: IS YOUR CHURCH ON THE TOUR?

Jimmy Peña's message of "Life is not about the body, but health is a means of praise" is being well-received by congregations around the country. His story-telling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss.

For speaking appearances, ministry assistance or media inquiries, write us today at info@prayfit.com!

Life's Greatest Pleasure

"People will be lovers of themselves." --2 Timothy 3:2

Read: 2 Timothy 3

I happened to run across one of those motivational posters this weekend. You know, the kind with those powerful statements meant to inspire you to be all you can be. Well, even though it wasn't exactly new to me, this one caught my attention nonetheless. It said, "The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you can't." Evidently, people agreed because it had about a million "likes" underneath it. And why not? Who doesn't want to show the world? But then it dawned on me: How many times someone has actually said to me, "Jimmy, I don't think you can do that." How 'bout you?

You know, if there's one thing I've noticed about the fitness industry it's that there's a self-placed chip on its shoulder and the delusion that someone is daring to knock it off. For whatever reason, Godly confidence has been replaced with a harsh, in-your-face tone, backed up with visuals. That topic demands a week's worth of devotions, but let me take it further. Even if it was true -- even if the world placed bets against one's "ability" to be do something, in fitness or otherwise -- is proving the world wrong life's greatest pleasure?

The correct answer brings me a long way to this point, and one that we try and get across at PrayFit. Let's not take so much pleasure in doing what others say we can't. Let's take pleasure in doing what God says we can. If they intersect, great. If they don't, even better. Besides, if man says I can't, and God says I shouldn't, I'd rather show Him than show them.

--Jimmy Peña

Discussion: Can you spend so much time in the gym or counting calories trying to "prove" the world wrong (whoever that is) that you actually miss what God is calling you to do with the health you're building? What if the world said, "Believer, I bet you can't invite a perfect stranger to church. I bet you can't give to the homeless person on the corner. I bet you can't be modest." If that's what the world said we couldn't do, I wonder if we'd try to prove it wrong. Would it help us if we realized those things are God's will already? Share your thoughts below.

STUDY: DIABETES ON THE RISE Just exactly how prevalent is this disease and what can it lead to? A new study highlights a few grim truths.

>> Click here for the full report.

>> For one of the best written books on the diabetes epidemic, pick up Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell.

Move With Your Life

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

Read: James 2

How many times have we asked God to move in our lives? I wonder if it even comes close to the number of times He's asked us to move "with" our lives. Follow me through the day: The homeless beggar outside the supermarket. The lonely neighbor who will be alone again on Thanksgiving. The teacher everybody gossips about. How many times a day does God ask us to move with our lives?

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

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Mango-Almond Muesli

Protein for muscle repair and upkeep. Slow-digesting carbs for fuel. Cinnamon to regulate blood sugar levels. Calcium for bone health. Add a potent dose of Vitamin C and this shapes up to be pretty close to perfection when it comes to snack foods. This eight-serving recipe stores well and is ideal for a grab-and-go breakfast or a high-protein snack.

Ingredients: 1/3 cup old-fashioned oats 1 cup plain non-fat yogurt ½ cup chopped mango 12 almonds, chopped ½ teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl or food storage container. Refrigerate overnight. Cut into 8 equal squares.

Nutrition Facts: 374 calories, 55g carbohydrate, 21g protein, 9g fat (1g saturated), 192mg sodium, 5mg cholesterol, 6g fiber. Also an excellent source of calcium and Vitamin C.

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.

"I'm Still Here. I Can Fight."

"I have fought the good fight." --2 Timothy 4:7

Read: 2 Timothy 4

Weeks before his HBO Pay-Per-View fight against top contender Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao made a profession. Not a prediction, a profession. Proclaiming Jesus Christ as his Savior and rededicating himself to his family, Manny said he is a brand new man. So much so that he said he "hates the old Manny." In a profession where so many adhere to a strict philosophy of force, Manny had made a profession of faith. And in the days leading up to the bout, the naysayers grew louder. He's soft now. His faith has blunted his edge. Manny's warrior instinct has been replaced with bible verses and gospel hymns.

But it didn't take Manny 12 rounds of completely dominating his opponent to quiet the doubters. It was how he handled himself when the decision came down from the judges. See, although Manny beat him, he didn't win. Then after giving Christ glory, a winded, humble Manny said, "The best attitude is respect and professionalism. I did my best. I'm still here. I can fight."

Folks, the world may disagree with your profession of faith, but being obedient has never proven to be popular or easy – just effective. Beset by the unyielding flurries that life has to throw at us – be they health, faith, work or family – we are often left with a simple choice: to surrender to the call of the canvas, or to fight boldly in a manner befitting a warrior. Because you are still here. And you can fight.

--Jimmy Peña & Eric Velazquez

Question: What are you facing this week? Are you or someone you love hurting physically, or emotionally? Are you struggling for motivation to be healthy? Perhaps you've neglected your prayer life. How can you use today to get back on track? Leave your comments in the field below.

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. (VIDEO)

Straight punches - 1 min.

Bicycle crunch - 1 min.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Plank - 1 min.

>> For additional exercises and videos, click here.

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.

Pre-Game

"For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." --2 Timothy 1:7

Read: 2 Timothy 1

Imagine a coach before a big football game. The team has taken a knee and their helmets are off as they await the last few words of encouragement from their leader. The coach stands before them, clears his throat and says, "Now listen up, boys. We got here as a team and we'll finish as one. I believe in you. But...I gotta admit, I think the other coach is smarter than me, and the other kids? Well, they're a lot bigger than you. But hey, it was a fun season. Try not to get hurt. Now, let's go!"

Not much confidence in those words, right? Aren't we glad that's not how God sends us off into the world to tackle our biggest foes -- foes of financial hardships, health issues, relationship battles and good old fear and doubt? On the contrary, if God had a blackboard, He'd outline our daily route...straight to the cross on every play, every day. His pre-game speech might be brief: "Be strong and courageous, for I am with you wherever you go" (Joshua 1:9). What else do we need to hear?

Question: The bible is full of wonderful, motivational verses that remind us of God's power and strength. What's your favorite? Tell us in the comments section below.

--Jimmy Peña

JIMMY PENA TO SPEAK AT MOM'S SQUAD MOTHER'S DAY CELEBRATION IN CLEVELAND

In less than two weeks (May 5), PrayFit Founder Jimmy Peña will join Grammy and Dove Award Winning sensation Point of Grace at the Mom's Squad Mother's Day Celebration in Ohio, hosted by Cleveland's 95.5 THE FISH.

"It's such a blessing to be included in such an important event, to be speaking to so many influential women and to be sharing the day with the amazing women of Point of Grace!" Peña says.

Do you want Jimmy and the PrayFit team to come to your church or business to share his motivational story of health as a means of praise? Using biblical characters and motivational scenarios, Jimmy will help motivate and inspire you and your congregation to view health differently than ever before. E-mail us at info@prayfit.com for more details!

Health Doesn't Come Naturally

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

Read: 1 Corinthians 6

Running up the first steep hill of her half-marathon recently, my wife 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 e-mails 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.

--Jimmy Peña

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.

IT TOOK A LIFETIME

August 8, 2011 Read: Deuteronomy 2

"The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands." --Deuteronomy 2:7

On Friday, Prayfit VP Eric Velazquez gave us a great reminder of God's faithfulness. We learned that although the Israelites wandered, they weren't lost. But in the end, what should have been an 11-day journey eventually took 40 years.

When it comes to your health and fitness, does it feel like you're wandering? Perhaps today, you're looking around thinking, "This looks so familiar. I just know I've been down this road before." (Not making time to exercise, diet is less than clean, motivation needs a jump-start, etc).

Well friends, take heart. Eventually the Israelites stood on the edge of the land they walked so far to see. And though they still had the river to cross and the walls to crumble, they made it. Picture them as they stood there; eyes wide, deep breaths, staring down their goal. What they saw took a lifetime. Your health does, too.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK

Not a lot of time before work to workout? Find some empty space in your living room, garage, or backyard for this brief but effective total-body routine. In just a few minutes, this strength-and-power building routine will have provided you with more energy for the day ahead and set your metabolic fire ablaze.

Walk in place for 1 minute Jog in place for 1 minute High-knee run in place for 1 min Standard push-up to failure Jump Squat (20 reps or to failure) Rest 20-30 seconds

--Repeat the entire sequence 3-5 times. Try this workout two times this week, allowing 48-72 hours between sessions. If you're more experienced, aim for five total go-throughs with it, three times per week (or every other day).

KEY TERM Failure: the point at which you can no longer complete reps with good form on your own.

>> EXERCISE: For text and video descriptions of many of the exercises you find in these workouts, click here.

>> ABOUT US: Learn more about the dedicated team at PrayFit.

KEEPING HOUSE

May 3, 2011 Read: Mark 13

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back." --Mark 13:35

My wife Wendy and I live in a house of toddlers which means that at any given moment, our little home can look like hurricane-force winds blew through, tossing about everything that isn't nailed down. Toys are scattered, clothes are strewn over the furniture and...is that string cheese ground into our rug? We try, sometimes to no avail, to keep up with the cyclical mess.

However, once I get word that my mother-in-law is coming to visit, a new side of me emerges -- an unrelenting, super-cleaning alter ego that is intent on spot-shining the house into model-home glory. You see, not only did her and my father-in-law help us buy this place, but Ethelmarie keeps a pretty tidy household. And while she may not be bothered by the mountainous pile of juice cups in my sink, I still don't want her to see it. But my inner Mr. Clean -- the one that speedily washes fingerprints from windows and mops floors -- really only comes out when I know she's stopping by. And while her visits are usually announced, we love that she will occasionally just stop by. As a result, Wendy and I are now doing our best to keep the house Ethel-ready (as much as Mya and Ella will allow, that is) at all times.

We all have houses to keep -- both brick-and-mortar and flesh-and-blood. And you never really know when company's coming.

Lord, we are so grateful for the bodies that house our souls and do not take lightly that we were made in your image. Please help us find the daily motivation to be faithful stewards of the physical gifts we've been given. Amen.

--E.V.

ON TARGET: LUNGES FOR HAMSTRINGS The workout of the week may not target the muscle groups you think it is

When most people think of lunges, they think of sore quads. Sure, lunges work your quadriceps -- the large muscles that cover the front of your thighs -- but new research indicates that this functional exercise may primarily target their antagonist (opposite) muscle group.

Swedish researchers had competitive soccer players perform four sets of 12 reps of the walking lunge twice a week for six weeks. And when they tested the subjects at the end of the study, they found that the athletes had gained a 35% increase in hamstrings strength. Their average increase in quad strength, meanwhile, was zero which indicates that the lunge may be more of a hammie move than you thought.

The catch is that the study included walking lunges. This week's workout included the stationary version of the lunge. Both varieties are effective for targeting hamstrings, although the stationary lunge may provide a small amount of additional work for the quads because of the step back to the start position.

Source: Jim Stoppani, PhD

SHOP: Get yourself outfitted in some new faith-and-fitness gear, or pick up a copy of PrayFit in print. Click here to head over to the PrayFit store.

JOURNAL: You keeping a journal of your workouts? Studies indicate that those who keep records of their exercise may enjoy better long-term success. Additional research confirms that those who participate in online accountability forums, like those here at PrayFit, find that results come easier than those who don't. Sign-up and start your own PrayFit workout journal today by clicking here.

FEATURED JOURNALS

dmoorer: On the PrayFit program

PF El Paso: Group PrayFitters still going strong in Texas

JeffYoung: Starting fresh

Smerge: Losing weight, PrayFit style

>> Wanna help breed accountability with these members? Click "share" or "recommend" at the top to get others in the know, or simply head over to their journal and offer some feedback.

POWER AND STRENGTH

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

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

WE'RE PACKED AND READY

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

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

BY THE NUMBERS

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

Source: American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM)