nutrition

The Temptation of Pride

"Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this?" --Acts 3:11

Read: Acts 3

When Peter and John came across the lame man at the temple gate, Peter said to him, "Look at us." When the lame man fixed his eyes on them, Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." (Acts 3:6) And as you'll see later in the passage, all the people later saw the man walking, leaping and praising God, and they ran to Peter and John in awe.

But what Peter said to them should rock our world. Peter said, "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we made this man walk?" (v.12) Peter wanted nothing to do with credit. He wanted out of the way. Any praise was deflected before it was uttered. The last thing he wanted was for the people to miss the point of the miracle.

The temptation of pride. Tough for many Christians in the fitness industry. Torn, because the most difficult battle for the gifted Christian athlete isn't the work it takes in the gym, but in the aftermath of pride. Ironic isn't it? Peter and John told the lame man to look at them, but they didn't want to be seen.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: If Christians aren't promoting humility, modesty and meekness in the fitness industry, who will? If not you, who? Are we desperate for others to "look at us" in order to be seen or for them to see Christ? What changes do you need to make in order to be seen less? Knowing that God opposes the proud, in what ways can you follow Peter's example? We know it's odd for a fitness company to NOT be about the body, but then again, our health was important to God long before the fitness industry; an industry that needs revolutionaries to rock its world. Revolutionaries who don't want the crowd to miss the point of the miracle. Will you be one this week?

REVIEW US: We've heard lots of great, early feedback from you all about The PrayFit Diet on our Facebook page and Twitter. Now, we're asking you to share your views on Amazon so that others can see what you like about the book and how it's helping you find biblical balance with your nutrition. Click here to leave a short review for future Amazon shoppers!

4 IMPORTANT FACTS ABOUT CARBS FROM THE PRAYFIT DIET

1 Carbs are the body's preferred source of energy but not all carbs are created equal.

2 Choosing slower-digesting carbs provides better, longer-lasting energy and greater benefits for body composition.

3 Fiber reduces the impact of carbs, aids digestion and helps keep weight off.

4 Carb timing counts. Having carb-heavy foods upon waking and after working out are less likely to be stored as fat.

>> For more info on how carbs, fat and protein work together to improve our health, pick up The PrayFit Diet today!

Hope Does Not Disappoint

"Hope does not disappoint." --Romans 5:5

Read: Romans 5

I've always loved today's verse. Read it again. I've purposefully held out the surrounding verses, because I want to focus on this phrase for a second. See, when the world mentions the word "hope," its tone is usually one of question or doubt. I hope I get an "A". I hope she likes me. I hope nobody notices. I hope....

Well, the Bible says that strength comes to those who hope in the Lord. No question there. No sign of doubts. It's a done deal. Why? God...will...come...through...for...us. How do we know? He died for us. That's why Paul said in Romans 15, "May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace." Look up and read the verse again out loud.

Are you in need of a sure thing? When dreams allude us and people fall short, and all we want is a glimmer:

"We know that suffering produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." --Romans 5:3-5

It's the ultimate catch-22. If we invite the God of hope into our hearts, He delivers it on impact.

And you know what they say about hope.

--Jimmy Peña

DID YOU KNOW? There are two times of the day when simple (fast-digesting) carbs, such as white bread and sugars, are less likely to impact your waistline: first thing in the morning and after a hard workout. During sleep and exercise, your body burns through stored sugars, leaving you in something of a carb deficit. At most other times of the day, excess carbs or fast-burning carbs are more likely to result in stored body fat.

(Page 59, The PrayFit Diet)

WORKOUT: PRAYFIT 33

We've been talking a lot about nutrition lately and we hope that you are all enjoying the abundance set forth in The PrayFit Diet. But if you're looking for workouts that can truly send your results off the charts, we've got just the thing. Either of PrayFit's two at-home workout DVDs can help you build strength and burn body fat, taking greater advantage of the food prescriptions we lay out in The PrayFit Diet. Try this sample workout, led by Jimmy, then pick up your DVDs to help accelerate your results by clicking here.

Shackles and Heavy Burdens

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went to a solitary place, where he prayed. --Mark 1:35

Read: Mark 1

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWay back in the day, I would often incorporate various tools and tactics into my training in order to become stronger, better. One of my favorites was the use of big, heavy-linked chains. Yes, chains. Boy how times have changed. Seen rarely, and often only in shipyards, these chains were massive. Popeye would be so proud. Well, depending on the exercise, you attach them to the ends of the bar (which already have free weights on them) and perform the exercise.

I got to thinking about those old chains recently. See, chains provide a unique value to training. As you raise the bar higher and higher, the bar actually gets heavier. Why? As you lift the bar up, more links of the chain leave the ground. As you lower the weight toward the floor, one-by-one, the links begin piling up and the load you're carrying gets lighter. Simply put, the load is lightest the closer you get to the floor.

What are you lifting? What burden are you carrying? In many ways, our obligations and daily demands -- linked together -- create a pretty heavy load. Family, work, bills, deadlines, grades, health, illness, link, link...link. Even if you love the calling and the work, the occasional rest is necessary.

Friends, why do we stress quiet times? Because burdens get lighter the closer we get to the floor. If the day were a heavy set of deadlifts, then the quiet, prayerful rest periods do a soul good. Matter of fact, back in the weight room, it's proven that short periods of rest help the lifter sustain the workload with greater success. Beat that with a stick. I just knew those old chains would come in handy someday.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. For the old-school among us, sing with me some Gaither Music...

"Shackled by a heavy burden. 'Neath a load of guilt and shame. Then the hand of Jesus touched me. And now, I am no longer the same.

He touched me. Oh, He touched me. And oh the joy that floods my soul. Something happened, and now I know, He touched me and made me whole."

EATING IN BALANCE

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, where you get 33 percent of each day's calories from these three sources, limited inflammation as well as certain type of cancers by acting favorably on key genes. In addition, this type of eating provides enough healthy dietary fat to support joint and heart function, enough protein to support muscle repair and metabolism and enough carbs to power your daily activities.

What else can this type of balance do for you? Find out here!

Great Pretenders

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness.'" --Matthew 25:21

Read: Matthew 25

This last week marked the end of "awards season" here in Los Angeles, including the Golden Globes, the SAGs, People's Choice and of course the Oscars. Many of these special shows have their own version of a Lifetime Achievement Award, where a peer is recognized and celebrated for just what the title suggests -- a lifelong body of work and the ultimate achievement in show business. What's interesting is that this person is someone who has dedicated their lives to either pretending to be someone he or she isn't or helping others do the same. Great pretenders. 

And when they make their way to the stage, they're greeted with a long embrace from a worthy peer and a standing ovation which seems to last forever. And while there are usually dozens of roles they've played, there's usually one for which they're most remembered.

As believers, we don't earn our reward, we follow Him. Fact is, if someone were to roll tape of our greatest hits and most celebrated performances, they'd all have one main character: Jesus. There's nothing good in us, but Him. And if we act as if there is, we're not only pretending for others but we're fooling ourselves. And make no mistake, when our life is through and He welcomes us home with a lifetime achievement embrace, there will be applause that lasts forever...from us.

--Jimmy Peña

TRUTH: When it comes to our lives as believers, we don't want to pretend. Authentic Christianity is one of our utmost objectives, amen? Sharing Christ, living abundantly, modestly and humbly, working to spread the Gospel each day. Let's have a good week. Be blessed.

READ + LISTEN

If you're looking for additional inspiration, you can listen to PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña reading through an exclusive selection of devotionals right here on the site. So if you have a few additional moments, click here, open your ears and your heart and give a listen. Or, click below for one of our faves.

[audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Marching+Orders.mp3]

Marching Orders

"Let Us Use Them"

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them." --Romans 12:6

Read: Romans 12

If you have any classical music at the ready, go ahead and cue it up. (This reads better with it.) Ready? Now, imagine him. With only a candle to light the room, Mozart furiously scribbles with one hand while playing the piano with the other. His fingers can't keep up. Face buried in the music, he puts the finishing touches on a masterpiece. Although he's alone, he can hear every instrument lending its unique sound to the opus. Before a soul ever hears a note, he raises is head, closes his eyes and then...he's conducting.

Mozart left us his sheet music to follow, but if we play it out of key, it not only sounds wrong -- making dissonance out of harmony -- but it's not what the composer had intended. God -- the body's builder -- gave us the instructions on how we should build our lives and how these bodies support that purpose. Are we being worthy craftsmen, fulfilling His intentions? He certainly didn't intend for us to worship ourselves in the mirror, but we also weren't designed to sit idle in front our TVs.

No, some of us are the hands -- the reachers and the helpers. Others are the feet -- the seekers and doers. You may be the ears, the good listener or the tongue, a fine speaker. But whether yours is the back that carries, or you have the shoulders that bear burdens, we are the body. And like the bible says in Romans 12, "Let us use them."

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION: THE PERFECT BREAKFAST

There are a lot of strong options for your breakfast table in the morning. But when it comes to starting your day, you don’t want to tinker with anything that is less-than-effective at fueling you up right. This breakfast combo works incredibly well by providing starving muscles with the amino acids they need, while also topping off your fuel stores for whatever the day has in store for you. Powerful protein and long-burning energy, with great taste to boot. This is pretty close to perfect.

>> You're one click away from breakfast...

Happy Birthday, PrayFit.com

"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." --Philippians 1:6

Read: Philippians 1

IMG_0020For those who may not know the story, after graduate school I held some wonderful positions of leadership as well as some remarkable writing roles. Over the course of a few short years I was honored to contribute to some well-known celebrity books, with one of my co-author titles blessing me with a New York Times Bestseller credit. But as a Christian in the fitness industry, I knew then what I know now -- that life was not about the body.

And I knew that no matter how smart or how polished a fitness expert I was becoming, God was calling me to teach health as a means of praise -- to help people seek greater health with modesty and obedience. And so naturally I felt a strange hollowness and emptiness about my career. I think it was likely an appropriate response for someone doing one thing when he was clearly meant to be doing something else. Over the years, I'd pray for the Lord to show me the right doors, and well, He answered my prayer when He included me in a massive layoff at a popular magazine. He closed that door six years ago yesterday.

Six years ago today, we started PrayFit.com and never looked back. The message? Still the same. Money will burn and muscle will atrophy but the soul? The soul will last forever. Why do we ground this fitness ministry in grace and not measurements? Because Jesus in the life of a Christian consumes every aspect of our lives, including and most practically our bodies.

Was being healthy and fit a prerequisite of the disciples He chose? I'm not sure, but I know it was a byproduct. A byproduct they didn't earn and never boasted about. It was a byproduct they just simply used; role models. Wrap your heart around that phrase for a moment.

So, faithful reader, this one's for you. You're the reason we're here. It's your health and love for the Lord that drives us each and every day. It's our genuine hope that you're drawn closer to God and to better health by the devotions you read. All we ask is that you keep praying for us.

So with that...Happy Birthday, PrayFit. Thank you for the meaning that you've brought to my life and for becoming my life's work. May God bless you and help you rise in 2014. You've got a lot of people to serve.

–Jimmy Peña

 

Bring Me To Life

"But about the day or the hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father knows." --Matthew 24:36

Read: Matthew 24

Goofing off with Loretta in the truck outside of Trader Joe's this weekend, we were asking Siri (the male voice) some questions on our phones. Have you ever done that? Well, from updates on football scores, weather and traffic, he had all the answers. And then in jest, I asked him something nobody knows the answer to. I inquired, "When's the end of the world?" His answer hushed the truck.

Suri pic

Loretta and I sat silent, staring at each other with wide-mouthed grins. Typically, Siri will check the internet or offer some type of helpful pathway for most questions. But instead, he made a wish.

Now I admit, the sentimental side of me could have easily formed a lump in my throat, but I assure you, I pulled it together. It's just a computer after all! But his sense of urgency to enjoy life was something to take to heart. Amen? Even though he didn't know the answer, he gave us one.

Bring me to life for one glorious day. Wow. Is that your heart's desire? What do you burn inside to do? Share Christ, celebrate health, spend time with family, make a difference, run on the beach? I'm guessing all of the above and more. Well, me too. And yeah, maybe with a little ice cream.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: The nightly newscast is full of stories of pain and loss, even recently with car accidents and train derailments. Our hearts ache for those who are suffering. Like Siri, you and I don't have the answers about the end of the world or the end of the day for that matter. But sometimes they share the same date. That's why we have to choose now. To accept Christ, to share Christ, to serve Him. Along with that comes all the rest, including the need for health. What can we pray about with you today? List it below or simply say, "Unspoken" and we promise to lift you up. We don't have the answers, but we know Who does. Let's ask Him for one more glorious day.

deuteronomy 88cookies 001RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Deuteronomy 8:8 Cookies

A cookie recipe? Here? You betcha. A delicious, too-good-to-be-true cookie recipe that you can whip up in no time flat. But this delightful, fresh-from-the-oven treat doesn't fall into the same category as other waist-widening delectable desserts. Read on to find out why.

>> Click here for the recipe!

Lead Us To Victory

With my head bowed and eyes closed, I heard an honest and sincere prayer for victory last week in Waco. With a strong, southern accent and pure heart, a Baylor executive led a small group of us over lunch praying, "Lord, you know our hearts and you know what's on our minds. Forgive us if it's selfish, but I just pray for a victory tonight against Oklahoma." I grinned with a nod as I opened my eyes to join the amen.

Praying for victory. Isn't it neat that we can go to the Lord with our desires, needs and dreams? As he addressed us following his prayer, in so many words, he reasoned, "God knows my heart and He knows we'll give Him the glory, as well as, do what's right with whatever blessings arise from a win like this. I figure I'd just come out and ask Him." Powerful stuff. Can you sense the smile on my face as you read this sentence?

Are you praying for a victory today? Victories come in all shapes and sizes, you know. Do you need one over physical pain? What about over a habit? Maybe your child is struggling in a subject at school and there's a big test today. Perhaps the competition at work is pretty fierce and you need that new account, the new client, the new chance.

Much like they do on college game days, if we were all in the same room right now, I'd ask everyone to grab someone's hand. After all, the only level playing field is at the foot of the cross and this game of life is best played when we take a knee together. No matter what, Christ died and rose again so that we'd have an abundant life. A victorious life through Him. So Lord, you know our hearts and what we're facing. If it be your will, please lead us to victory today. For thine is the kingdom, the power, the glory, now and forever. Amen.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. I like to think the Lord would enjoy a good game, eat my food and fall asleep on my couch. Isn't it good to know He's our personal Savior?

Secret Shopper Poll: I wanted to thank everyone for your answers and input to yesterday's secret shopper poll. Turns out your heart and desires meet our hearts and desires. That's a win-win.

NUTRITION NEWS: Low Sodium Isn't Always Best

If you struggle with high blood pressure, or are just a little more health conscious than most, you probably try to shake conservatively when it comes to your salt. But the scare over salt may have had some unintended consequences, as this report from CNN Health reveals.

>> Click here to read about the dangers of low-sodium diets.

Yes, I'm Still Listening

Working and writing from home, I tend to keep the place filled with music. When I'm reflective, I've been known to go a little old-school (ya know, 90's Christian). If I'm researching, it's classical Beethoven or Tchaikovsky. For me, music just seems to help me focus on the mission at hand. One of the programs I often use is Pandora, a free music service that serves up all my favorites. I can create channels with my favorite genre, artists and songs. Before I know it, I've written volumes.

However, and some of you may be familiar with this, if you listen to Pandora long enough, it goes quiet, completely silent. If I'm consumed by a topic, deep in thought or finishing a paragraph, I may not actually notice it right away. But after a few minutes, when you finally click on it, a simple question appears: Are You Still Listening? That question always makes me pause. I like that it gives me the opportunity to click the button that says, Yes, I'm still listening.

Many of us have the week planned. The necessary routine is pretty much set. But as we schedule excellence each day, let's not forget to plan those precious moments alone with the Lord. We need to take our Bibles, read a passage, talk to Him, and listen to Him. We need to hit our knees and give Him our undivided attention. Because from the moment our little feet hit the floor, our lives are filled with so much noise. Indeed, from social media to social demands, life is a non-stop soundtrack. But in truth, some of it -- much of it -- should really only be background noise for the God-given mission at hand. Through it all, let's be sure to watch and listen for the question. It's a question that's always being asked. And when the moment comes, when the noise finally goes away, just take a deep breath and sigh, close your eyes, smile and say, "Yes, Lord. Yes, I'm still listening."

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Much like our physical muscle, spiritual muscle can atrophy. Our hearts need to be trained. However, most of the time, silence needs to be planned. Are you having quiet times? Are you being as disciplined about that aspect of life as you are about your workout? Let this week be that kind of week. Who's in?

Team PrayFit Heads to Baylor: PrayFit founders Jimmy and Loretta Peña head to Baylor University later this week. As special guests of faculty, Jimmy and Loretta will be attending the Baylor vs. Oklahoma football game on Thursday night, gratefully watching the action from the President's Box. Jimmy has also been asked to speak to a few classes in both the Health and Human Performance and Religion departments. More details to come, but please be praying for their trip and the his message to students.

fall hike appleraisin 007RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Morgan's Apple & Raisin Salad

Song of Songs says, "Strengthen me with raisins, refresh me with apples." This fall recipe from newly-minted PrayFit contributor Kimberlee Bush does just that. Crunchy, crispy, tangy and -- wait for it -- healthy. The best part? This recipe was developed with the input of a four-year-old. True story.

>> Click here for the recipe!

 

Serious Courage

Jesus takes our fears seriously. In fact, he takes our fears more seriously than we do. Imagine that for a second. Before He left earth, He left no doubt about it. More than any other command, Jesus urged us to not fear. Of everything we know the Lord said to us while dwelling among us, "fear not" topped the list. If you think about it, what stops us from sharing our faith with strangers? What hinders us from loving the unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable or attempting the impossible? Fear, fear and more fear. It's no wonder He encouraged courage.

Fear paralyzes us. Bringing up the rear of the group on Saturday night, I was able to see things as they happened. And the one constant that fear forced the group to do was stop. Stop walking. Stop moving. Stopped cold and frozen. Predictably, at the stop sign of fear, we slam on the breaks.

Fear fools us. In one of the mazes, we were asked to wear 3-D glasses. Things appeared to be coming straight for us and fast. Better duck or get gobbled! But halfway through that maze, I took my glasses off. Turns out that things were actually much further away than they appeared. What a difference it was to see the source of fear with clear eyes.

Dear friends, Jesus takes our fears more seriously than we do. At a stop sign of fear? Run it. Blinded and confused? Try it with clear eyes. In the face of today's fear, let's take Him seriously, allowing courage to be our default reaction.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What has fear stopped you in pursuing today? Will courage be your default reaction? Friends, prayer is the key. What do you need courage for today? Whether for health-related issues or otherwise, list them below or simply say, "Unspoken...serious courage needed."

5-STEP FRIDGE MAKEOVER Use these strategies to clean up your diet for healthier eating and faster weight loss

If you're looking to get your nutritional house in order, you need to first make some simple swaps. Our contributing nutritionist, Dana Angelo White, offers up five of her favorite -- and least painful -- ways to make your fridge a waistline-friendly environment.

>> Tip No. 1 - Click here

MORE NUTRITION NEWS & NOTES

>> NEED A TREAT?: You can indulge without going overboard. Try this fall recipe for orange-chocolate cookies!

>> COMPLETE THE CLEAN-UP: After your fridge makeover, try these eight tips to start eating better, forever!

>> WHEY PROTEIN TUTORIAL: Learn how this supplement can help aid recovery, build strength and burn fat.

Strong Community

"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

Read: Luke 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. Like that little bird reminded us yesterday, you and I have God's attention. So as we start our cars, open our offices, enter our cubicles, prepare for housework or hit the exercise routine, 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.

--Jimmy Peña

STRENGTH IN YOUR NUMBERS Pastor Randy Frazee of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio once wrote, “The experience of authentic community is one of the purposes God intends to be fulfilled by the church. The writings of Scripture lead one to conclude that God intends the church, not to be one more bolt on the wheel of activity in our lives, but the very hub at the center of one’s life…" Are you plugged into a good church community or small group?

PRAYFIT NEWS: Team PrayFit Gets Stronger From a Team PrayFit standpoint, we grew in strength yesterday. Details to come but we added to our team in a mighty way in terms of representation and management. We're so grateful to the Lord for allowing it. We'll unveil soon, but we're praising God for answered prayer. Join us!

EGGS FOR MUSCLE How did the incredible egg earn its nickname?

Many of you may think that eggs are just a simple breakfast food — something that’s been on your plate every morning since you can remember. But it is so much more, particularly if you’re looking to gain muscle, says Jim Stoppani co-author of “PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days”(Regal Books). Researchers found that subjects who ate three whole eggs per day gained twice as much muscle in 12 weeks as those who only had one egg per day.

EGG FACTS: One whole egg contains 72 calories, 6 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of fat. But don’t worry — about 80% of that fat is monounsaturated and saturated fat, which actually aids in the muscle-building process.

Bring On The Crew

"He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." --John 15:2

Read: John 15

IMG_8120Shall we? Let's go this way. I have a friend I'd like you to meet. See, just down this street -- not too far away from that palm we talked about recently -- is a row of trees. And for years I've watched pruning crews pull up and do their work. I admit, it's painful to watch. Cut, snip, snap, buzzzz. And just like that, the crew cleans up the rubble and off they go, leaving nothing but a seemingly empty, barren-looking tree. And here we are. A couple of weeks ago, I took the picture on the left. To the right: the same tree today.

Now, I'm not the first person to see Heaven in a pruning process, and I won't be the last, but I've learned a few simple things. 1) The pruning process helps keep trees healthy. 2) Trees will eventually bear more branches and fruit. 3) Pruning allows more light and oxygen to reach the center of the tree. And 4) pruning trains a tree to take the shape the owner desires.

I probably don't have to say another word, but as long as we're walking, it leaves me no choice. In the area of faith, health, fitness, food, what do we need to prune? Perhaps, for starters, instead of grabbing the cell phone or logging on each morning, we instead reach for God's word or Godly devotional (cut). We can rid the pantry of unhealthy food choices and fill it with natural, healthy alternatives (cut, snip). We can park away from the mall's entrance, take the stairs, walk the block with spouses, play outside with kids. (cut, snip, buzzzz, TIMBER!!).

And when the rubble at our feet is cleared away, we're left with more time for the Lord, healthier options to eat and better alternatives to spark metabolism. Yep, I'm not the first person to see Heaven in a pruning process, but if you and I can get healthy, bear more fruit, and allow His light to hit us deeply so that we take the shape spiritually and physically that He desires, I say, "Bring on the crew."

Thanks for the walk. This is my stop.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: BBQ Chicken Pizza

Forget delivery. Stay on track with this healthy alternative to a guilty favorite.

>> Click here for the recipe!

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The Palm and the Cedar

"The righteous will flourish like the palm tree, they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon." --Psalm 92:12

Read: Psalm 92

IMG_9712Many of you know by now that Loretta and I walk each night. Not so much for the exercise -- it's simply a time to share the day. So I'd say it's more like a three-mile mosey. Anyway, a few weeks ago, I noticed a crew caring intently for a tree on our street. A few days went by and there they were, still climbing and manicuring. I admit, I was so impressed with the finished product, I snapped this pic, hoping to share it with you at some point. I think today is a perfect day for it.

In Psalm 92, the Bible says, "The righteous will flourish like the palm tree, they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon." Of all the trees the psalmist could have used to describe the righteous, he chose these two. First, the palm tree can tower as high as 70-90 feet, and its root system is so incredibly strong, it can withstand storms without equal. And what's more? It produces a lot of fruit. And as for the cedar, this symbol of strength has a trunk that's more than eight feet wide. And what's more? It's impervious to not only weather, but also termites; tough to get to this one from within or without.

Sounds about right, doesn't it? The palm and cedar. God wants us to be deeply rooted, nourished by His word so we can withstand the storms of life. And He wants us to grow, to flourish, and to be fruitful all the while.

I'm so glad I watched that crew go to work. They can't take credit for its deep root system. They didn't design and fashion the fruit. And they certainly aren't responsible for its strength during storms. But the fact that they took the time to care for it, we're reading about the One who is.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How can we be more like the palm tree or cedar? In what ways can our health help us stay fruitful? And how - like the crew - can our humble care for our health point others to the God we serve?

 

Mango Lime Chicken SaladRECIPE OF THE WEEK: Mango Lime Chicken Salad

Pretty much every word in the title of this recipe by PrayFit contributor Kimberly Fuller says "health." But remember -- "health" doesn't have to mean "bland." This full-flavored lunch-or-dinner dish packs a punch heavy on vitamins and muscle-building protein.

>> Click here for the recipe!

The Athlete

Where were we? Oh, yes. Under the light of the lamp; mid-letter. As we look over his shoulder, we find Paul telling the people of Corinth about the need for self-discipline. Not in order to earn salvation, but for the eternal rewards of reflecting the Lord in life. "I discipline my body like an athlete..."

In the book of Hebrews, Paul writes, "For they (earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness." Paul knew that God wants us to live holy lives, and because we fall and fail, we need to be disciplined like children. And here, what we find Paul proclaiming -- and eventually carving into our hearts -- is a preemptive strike upon his own. As the sports-minded or health-conscious person may appreciate, Paul uses the analogy of an athlete who perseveres through training. He allowed the athlete's life of sacrifice to describe how he lives the sacrificial life of a Christ-follower.

At first glance, it's an incredible parallel drawn by the most influential man the world has ever known this side of Christ. But even more amazing when you consider that the man who wrote these words would be given 39 lashes five times, beaten with rods five times, pelted with stones, shipwrecked three times, and who would go without sleep, food and clothing; all because of his heart for churches, people and the message of Jesus.

In sports or fitness, it's tough for an athlete to go without food or sleep, but this most amazing man of God didn't seek to look like, win medals like, or get adored like an athlete. No, the man we find under the lamp trained his life like one. And when he finishes this sentence, we'll find out why.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What is your definition of a Christian athlete?

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Country Baked FrittataRECIPE OF THE WEEK: Country Baked Frittata

"I can't call this a true frittata or a true quiche," says PrayFit contributor Kimberly Fuller, NASM-CPT, CES. "It's a mish-mash of both -- the ingredients of a frittata, but baked like a quiche. You can call it whatever you want, I'll just call it good and healthy!"

>> Click here for the mouthwatering recipe!

The Gospel of Peace

"..and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace." --Ephesians 6:15

Read: Ephesians 6

We've all been fitted for shoes at one time or another, and if you're flat-footed like me, you know immediately whether a shoe is gonna work or not. As kids, it was important for them to measure our feet with that little foot-measuring thing, remember? But it wasn't until your mom or dad found your big toe and you walked around a little that you and everyone else had a peace about them. A peace? Well, walk with me.

Consider the athlete. Most major sports -- from baseball, basketball to football -- have shoes that fit the game. It's simple, right? The athlete needs to be sure-footed for the surface. Sure-footed. At peace. Think of a golfer swinging a club on slick wet grass or a sprinter getting into the blocks. There's a peace in knowing you're firmly planted.

Consider Paul. When he described the full armor of God, he didn't forget the feet. In biblical times, Roman sandals had thick spikes on the soles to ensure that the warrior was grounded, anchored, and less likely to slip. It's no wonder Paul urged for our feet to be "fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace."

Wow. Athletes wear the shoe that best meets the needs of their sport. Ancient warriors dressed for battle. Amazing to think that for every believer, one shoe fits. So let's just consider God fitting His children with the gospel of peace. Peace...from head to (big) toe.

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION OVERHAUL IN 8 EASY STEPS

Eight steps. Finding your body's ideal weight is that easy. No miracle pills, no back-breaking deprivation -- cleaner, more sensible eating can be boiled down to these easy strategies.

>> 8 WAYS TO EAT BETTER...FOREVER

6710-Grey>> SHOP: Looking for some awesome PrayFit gear to sport on your next run or trip to the gym? Visit the PrayFit store today for hot deals on tees, hats, wristbands and more. While you're there, pick up some resources to speed you on your way to a healthier body -- books and DVDs can help you get fit from home and come equipped with your usual helping of PrayFit-themed devotionals.

Pick Up Your Bed

"I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." --Mark 2:11

Read: Mark 2 It took four men to get him near Jesus. Four men who wouldn't stop until they made a breakthrough, literally. The bible says that "when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying." Reading this story a few weeks ago, some things dawned on me. First, the breakthrough -- the realization that there was no other option; no Plan B. Jesus was in the healing business and their friend was buying.

Then, before Jesus does for the paralytic what the man thought he needed most, Jesus says, "Your sins are forgiven you." (Wait, what? His sins? Why not first heal his legs?, I wondered.) Then Jesus answered my question when He asked the scribes, "Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, 'Your sins are forgiven you,' or to say, 'Arise, take up your bed and walk?'"

In case there was any doubt of His ability to forgive sins, Jesus went ahead and said to the paralytic, "I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house." A paralyzed man carrying his prison back home is enough to quiet the doubters. And here's my last thought...he carried his bed home. Jesus put him to work. He didn't say, "Tell others what I did for you," or "Show off your legs." No, carrying his bed said it all.

You'll forgive the long entry, but as I'm recovering this summer, all I want to do is carry my bed. Our blessing of health is an opportunity to go to work; for family, friends, those less fortunate, our health is a means of praise. Someone you know needs a breakthrough. I did. And I'm betting the healed man in our story lifted other people's burdens from that day forward, wouldn't you agree? If you do, pick up your bed. Let's go to work.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Who are you in today's story? Are you in need of a breakthrough? Dealing with an illness, infirmity or other struggle? Perhaps you're a friend, helping someone through the roof by praying for them, listening to them? Maybe you feel like you're one of the crowd, the onlookers, not really engaged either way, be it with your health or the health of someone else. Well, we know who we are NOT in this story, so let's go. Who needs prayer? Let's lift someone through the roof. Let's place someone you know and love as close the healer as we know how to. As always, simply say "Unspoken" and the team and readers will pray for you.

4 TIPS FOR BETTER MORNING CEREAL

Do you love to start off your morning with a bowl of cereal? That's not necessarily bad...if you're making the right choices. PrayFit contributing nutritionist Christie Menna, MS, RD helps us sort out the business of better breakfast.

>> Click here for the tips! SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY!

Nearly 10,000 people have chosen to receive the PrayFit Daily in their inboxes each morning. If you haven't signed up for this free service already, simply go to our homepage and look for the box pictured here. Click, type, send -- it could be the most rewarding 30 seconds you spend on the computer this morning! And if you want to help us go viral with this sign-up drive, you can do so by sending friends this link:

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Agreement Isn't Enough

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

Read: Exodus 3

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

NUTRITION: The Perfect Breakfast

There are a lot of strong options for your breakfast table in the morning. But when it comes to starting your day, you don’t want to tinker with anything that is less-than-effective at fueling you up right.

>> Click here for the perfect morning combo!

Strengthen Your Message

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

Read: 2 Timothy 4

Yesterday we touched on what's most important: our daily time with the good Lord. (How is everyone doing on their 5-minute commitment?) But you may already have that part down pat. While yesterday's entry was extremely well-written and uncommonly clever (this is where you just nod in agreement), it wasn't for you. Let's face it, you can set clocks by your prayer and reading rituals. You wrote the book on quiet times. And if so, we're glad you're back, because today we're talking about what fewer and fewer believers are doing once they get up off their knees.

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT IN PREVENTION, ON MSN: After you've polished off that basket of fries, praying for skinniness may be futile. But across the country, weight loss programs are combining the typical tools of diet, exercise and community support with one more: The power of belief. "The Bible is full of stories of men and women who have conquered obstacles in their life through faith," says Jimmy Peña, who founded the Bible-based program PrayFit. [click here for more]

SODIUM: NOT TOO MUCH, NOT TOO LITTLE

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

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

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

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

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!

It's The Stuff

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." --Hebrews 11:1

Read: Hebrews 11

You know the feeling. I do too. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, and your favorite batter hits one deep. You stand, your eyes widen, your mouth opens! It's going, GOING...caught. That's the ball game, your team loses. But for a few short seconds, the thrill of what could have been did a tap dance on your heart. And it felt great while it lasted. Really great.

I had that feeling yesterday. Opening an email that had been forwarded to me from my team, I lived the whole "home run" scene. In my mind, I was rounding third base in slow motion as the sound of trumpets and the crashing of cymbals rang in my ears. That is, until I realized I didn't read page two. Thud. The tap dance was over, the music had stopped. And I was out. But boy, when you get a glimmer, it's like...there's hope. You have a pulse! Boom, boom. Just typing the memory of the moment brings it back to the surface.

You know, I wonder how many times Noah peeked out the window? While he hoped for land, he was in the boat because of faith. Fast forward a few thousand years and there's the centurion. While desperately hoping his servant would live, Jesus healed him because of what? His faith. I think that's why I love the first part of our day's verse. "Faith is the substance." The substance! Folks, it's the stuff. It's the matter. It's the stuff that matters.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What are you waiting for in faith? Just like the olive branch meant land for Noah, you too may be waiting for God's divine intervention. What can we be praying for in faith for you? Let us know. If you'd like, as always, simply say "unspoken" and we promise to lift you up. You know friends, someday, that eye-popping, jaw-dropping thrill will never end, and the music will never stop. That's what faith is for. Let's pray together.

Banana Blueberry Pancakes1RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Banana Blueberry Pancakes

Breakfast recipes two weeks in a row? You betcha. This first meal is critical for success the rest of the day. It breaks your overnight fast, provides much-needed fuel to your brain and muscles and, if you do it right, sets the dietary "tone" for the rest of the day -- eat healthy, and you're bound to do so for the rest of the day. Kimberly Fuller's fruity pancake recipe will provide a welcome addition to your breakfast menu.

>> Click here for the recipe!