praise

All Things New

"Good luck, Jimmy." And after a handshake on Friday, I walked out of physical therapy for the last time. Time flies right? After six months, the surgical site and surrounding tissues are as healed as can be. Doctors say they're not worried about the artificial disks or fusions, but they're more concerned about preserving and sparing the disks I have left. As far as therapy, I soaked up every minute. Of course, as I left I wanted them to be standing at the door waving and shouting, "You're as good as new kid, now go and conquer!" Instead, with one hand I got a long, exhaustive list of Do's and Don'ts, and with the other I got, "Good luck, Jimmy."

Aren't we glad that when Jesus heals the sinner's heart, He doesn't send us off with a list of Do's and Don'ts? He doesn't fix our problem and wish us luck with all the rest. No, He makes all things new. So new, in fact, that when God looks on our lives, He sees the life of His Son. Completely healed. Whole again. Restored. Yesterday we talked about how the chains of daily life get lighter the closer we get to the ground, but when it comes to the weight of our sin, He doesn't just make it light, He blots it white.

Your back may not be broken in pieces or held together with pins, but sometimes your life feels shattered and you feel like you're hanging on by a thread. Scars don't remind you of your weakness...but overdue bills do. So do rejection letters, pink slips and the doctor's diagnosis. Everywhere we turn we face daily, constant reminders of our need of a Savior. A Savior who makes all things new.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: Thought you'd like to know the status of my back. Help me praise the Lord that I'm through PT and can begin a new stage of rehab. We often ask for prayer requests, but what praises and celebrations do YOU have to report? For what can we help you praise the Lord? Let us share your excitement! Let's give God the glory together.

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" faith and fitness at your leisure. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter Instagram YouTube

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 complimentary service already, simply click the links provided 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 -- if you want to help us continue our faith-and-fitness revival -- you can do so by sending friends this link:

SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/cSd8tp

Behind The Scenes

"When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it — quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." --Matthew 6:2-4

Read: Matthew 6

Yesterday, Eric sent me some behind-the-scenes footage from our DVD series; specifically, various things that went on the day we shot the "Prayfit Minutes" portion of the discs. Wow, I had never seen any of it. Great memories. (We've posted a quick 10 seconds from that day for you to see below.) But I spent the better part of yesterday afternoon watching what was going on before and after the cameras rolled. And you know, everything you saw on the DVD was the result of dozens of people doing their finest work. I couldn't tell you their names but countless people across the country have heard our message of health and praise all because of what these pros did off-camera.

In Matthew, we learn the importance of doing things for others without being seen; void of any credit and in the absence of praise. In fact, you and I are never to do good things so that others can see us. “Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding." (Matthew 6:1 The Msg) The passage goes on to say that when we tell others what good we've done, we've lost the blessing in Heaven.

Giving, praying, doing. So much of who we are should happen when nobody sees it. That fires me up. The gospel done in secret. In fact, that's how God works. "When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out." (Matthew 6:2-4)

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: When the offering plate comes around in church, you don't tell everyone what you give. That would not only be absurd, but you'd lose the blessing in Heaven. How can our health be a private offering to the Lord? Are you in the habit of showing off your physical gifts from God for the praise of others? Let's work this week to pray in private, give to the needy in private, do for the Lord just for the Lord, even when it comes to our health. And when we do, He knows it. And that's enough.

"THAT'S A WRAP!": What a great day this was. We are still so honored by the countless people from Lionsgate Entertainment who did such an amazing job on set. And while we won't show you too much of all the footage, we thought we'd show you the minute they told Jimmy we were wrapped. (He gets excited)...

It's Not In Our DNA

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” --Luke 17:15-16

Read: Luke 17

DNAOur DNA is remarkable. Our microscopic fingerprint. A double-helix with 25,000 regions of genes that tell the body how to build itself. And we’re getting better at reading it. Want to know if your child has the genetics of an all-pro athlete? There’s a gene for that. Or maybe even more impressive, there’s a gene that determines motivation to become an all-pro athlete. One’s genetic make-up can tell us so much about our future. The smarter we get, the better we’ll be at predicting all sorts of things from the likelihood of certain illnesses to athletic potential.

Aren’t we glad that Heaven isn’t determined by our DNA? When ability falls short and capability fails miserably, Jesus touches our hearts and leaves a permanent imprint of a nail-scarred hand; the only statistically significant indicator of one’s destiny.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: As believers, we have to employ healthy habits in our lives. The goal of abundant life needs to become part of our DNA. If it wasn't something that we have to consciously do, God wouldn't have reminded us. Some things don't come naturally, whether it be motivation, athletic ability, coordination. But none of that matters. God sees the heart, so don't spend time critiquing the mirror or applauding it. Get moving in order to reflect Him. Serve others, be an example to kids, help neighbors, get active in church. When we say health is a means of praise, we don't mean for ourselves.

WORKING OUT AT HOME

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

It Just Wouldn't Be Sunday...

"Why do you seek the living among the dead?" --Luke 24:5

Read Luke 24

Run away. Just run away. Prayfit contributing writer Allison Earnst can often be heard urging people to run away from bad food choices. Simply put, sometimes you have to just physically remove yourself from situations. Can anyone relate?

You know that reminds me, a few weeks ago, we celebrated Easter, and one of the stories of the Resurrection comes to mind today. When the women saw that the tomb was empty, what did they do? They ran to tell the others. They ran away from what was empty. In fact, what were they asked? "Why do you seek the living among the dead?"

Reminds me, on Saturday I wrote on Twitter:

"Donuts aren't the cause of the church's failing health, but whether we continue or discontinue, I'm afraid we'll lose members far too soon."

And wouldn't you know it, the next day the leader of the elder board at church said to the congregation, "It just wouldn't be Sunday without a donut." I turned and asked Loretta, "Did that really just happen?" To which she replied, "You're squeezing my hand." I'm chuckling as I type this sentence, because folks, I know donuts aren't the problem, but our heart toward food might be. Because of that, I think Allison is right when she urges people to do the unthinkable. And in many ways, we need to follow Mary's example and turn from what is empty. Plainly said, if believers are going to be the example in this country for a heart toward health, I think Sunday just might be the best day to start. Don't you?

--Jimmy Peña

TRENDING IN...HEALTH

When was the last time you checked in on the rising epidemic of obesity in this country? If it's been a while, here's a heavy, disheartening update. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 35.7 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese. And, if the trend continues, every state will see 44 percent of its population hit the obese category by 2030. Several states will hit 60 percent.

Despite the many causes of weight gain, the solutions are always simple: an increase an activity and changes to diet. A preponderance of resources on exercise and nutrition in the marketplace have failed to stem the rising tide of obesity and weight-related disease. Perhaps it's time for us to stop focusing so much on "the how" and start focusing more on "the why"?

By focusing on our health as a means of praise and seeing the need to be better stewards of our physical gifts, we can commit to serious, long-term change, honoring the One that created us.

"We don't strive to be healthy to be loved by God," says PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. "We strive to be healthy because we are."

For Discussion: Are you struggling with your own weight? What are the roadblocks to a healthier lifestyle? Do you think the Lord is pleased with the care that you have shown the body He gave you? Why or why not? Have you ever thought of your body as a divine gift that requires better upkeep?

For Those Who Can't, Stand

"...Cheer up! On your feet! He's calling you." --Mark 10:49

Read: Mark 10

Yesterday on Facebook, I posted something I witnessed on Sunday:

"I sat behind a man in church on Sunday, paralyzed from the neck down. It was interesting to me that when the choir director asked the congregation to stand and sing, you could feel the reluctance and see the slow-moving crowd rise to their feet. I thought to myself, I wonder how fast this sweet man would stand if he could. The next song we sang was 'Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name.' You know what? This man's voice was the loudest one around me. Plainly said, when we were asked to stand, he already was. Folks, life is not about the body, so if you have health and ability, use it as a means of praise. And believer, if you're called to stand and sing -- and you can stand up and sing -- stand up and sing."

The responses to our post had us in tears and awe. We wanted to share a few of them with you.

Renee Foster: "We have a young boy in our church who has been wheelchair bound his whole life and yet, when we sing he raises his one hand by just bending it at the wrist from his wheelchair armrest. It's all he can do so he does it. Imagine what an example that is for us."

Tricia Weaver Cross: "Thank you so much...I have a 13 yr old daughter that is wheelchair bound with a brain injury. I know that if she could stand and sing she would, with hands raised in praise. One day...one day!"

Isabelle Kafarela: "My father is paralyzed. What he wouldn't give to have the use of his legs! We thank GOD every day for my father's spirit as he lives with pain daily! Lord, please give my father Niko Kafarela strength in spirit to live Your Purpose daily!"

Bud Krueger: "The next time I stand, guess who will be there in front of me...Jesus, God, Holy Ghost. Amen"

No words, right? Well, I have a few for us. "Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy name." And for those who can't, stand.

--Jimmy Peña

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Chicken Sausage & Pepper Flatbread

Looking for something that tastes way worse for you than it really is? Try this savory recipe from PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC.

>> Recipe - Click here

For more PrayFit recipes and healthy eating tips, visit our nutrition page.

Misfits Seldom Do

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

Read: 1 Corinthians 1

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

TRAINING TIP: Rest Right, Blast Fat

If you're spending time in the gym and your goal is to get a little bit leaner, don't just go through the motions. The time you are taking between sets of exercise may be limiting how much fat you can burn. Here's how to use rest to lean up faster!

>> Click here to start burning more bodyfat today!

>> READ: For quick-hit, healthy living resources, visit our dedicated fitness and nutrition pages, which are updated with new content each week.

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

>> SOCIAL NETWORKS: Now you can "like," "join," "tweet" and "watch" PrayFit. Click the links below to get plugged in with the rest of the PrayFit community. Facebook HeavenUp Twitter YouTube

Lord, Do You See Yourself In Me?

"The Lord looks at the heart..." --1 Samuel 16:7

Read: 1 Samuel 16

When Prayfit VP Eric Velazquez describes seeing his resemblance in his daughter's faces, this weeping writer fights back tears. He says, "Jimmy, it's one thing to know they're your own flesh and blood, but when you start to see yourself, it's simply amazing. I'm at a loss for words." (That says a lot coming from Eric, arguably one of the best writers in the country.)

But you know what? I want to be like Mya and Ella. Not that I want to look like Eric (handsome as he is), but the only thing I want more than being a dad one day is to be a child that resembles the Father.

Friends, we hope that's the message you've heard here at PrayFit. Some enjoy the fitness tips, others the recipes. But don't miss this: Nothing matters unless we have Jesus in our hearts. If we're at a loss for words, our approach to wellness merely serves as a back-up to A) praise Him with our lives and B) help spread the gospel. Despite our highest highs and lowest lows, when He looks at us, it's His own reflection He longs to see.

--Jimmy Peña

Lord, we love you. Our utmost desire is for you to live in our hearts. We seek your resemblance. See yourself, we pray. Amen.

DISCUSS: Are you a believer who feels compelled to take better care of yourself? Are you a fitness enthusiast who feels compelled to demonstrate more modesty? Whoever you are and whatever you feel called to do, we're here to support, motivate, and inspire to you to stay that course. It's our life's work to help your lives work with a deeper faith and better health.

EXERCISE IN DEPTH: The Plank

Today we take a closer look at one of the simplest, most effective exercises you can do for your core: the plank. This exercise has no movement whatsoever but has plenty going on. The plank primarily works the muscle called the transverse abdominis -- the muscle most responsible when we breathe out air. Try it, as you read this sentence, take a deep breath and then blow out as much as possible. Keep going....keep breathing out....feel that? Well, that muscle ache deep in your gut is exactly that, deep in your gut. In fact, the transverse abdominis is highly responsible for the strength of your spine and helps prevent low back pain. The stronger the transverse abdominis, the better your posture and the more likely you are to enjoy abundant low back health. Try it. Each day, shoot for a longer plank time. Here's how to get it right:

PLANK | Focus: Core, abs, lower back Lie facedown on the floor with your body straight and forearms resting on the floor. Slowly press your body up off the floor onto your forearms and toes. Keep your abs pulled in tight and your back flat while holding this position.

>> Does God call us to be fit? Let us know what you think by offering your comments on this discussion, either below in the comments section, or by clicking here to leave your thoughts at our forum.

FORUMS ACCESS: Login or Register

#jumpingjacksforjesus

"I am not ashamed of the gospel." --Romans 1:16

Read: Romans 1, 14

The day before yesterday I came across a tweet from SELF Magazine's senior writer Erin Bried (@niftybutton) joking about our new DVD she received from my publicist. Former magazine guys ourselves, Eric and I would often get books and products on our desks from hopeful artists just like us, so we've been in her shoes. But that's where our similarities evidently cease. Because after her good laugh, she and some others exchanged jokes, then she posted a pic of me, adding a hashtag: #jumpingjacksforjesus

Now, my first thought was to drop her my resume, name some of the books I'd written, reveal the celebrities I've served and list the thousands of articles I've written on newsstands. But then it hit me: she knows enough. She knows I'm completely unashamed of the gospel. And just like the shepherds who sprinted to the see the newborn King and John the Baptist leaping in his mom's womb, there's something about Jesus that moves people. And now she knows He moves me too. So yes, I'm afraid I do jumping jacks for Jesus. That and much, much more. So I simply retweeted her and told her that it was my life's work. And that I hope she checks it out. After all, like Spurgeon said, "Defending the gospel is like defending a lion. All you have to do is let it out of its cage, and it will defend itself."

You know friends, it boils down to this. If it's awkward to do things for Jesus, be it praise, write, speak or even jump around, it's gonna feel real awkward when we're kneeling. So for all of those unashamed athletes, the line-crossers, the limb-walkers and ridicule takers, I salute you. Whether you run, lift, swim, walk or otherwise, all because your health is a means of praise, I'm in your debt and I'm at your feet. I am one of you. Save me some room out on that limb. #InJesusNameWeTrain

--Jimmy Peña

>> You can follow us on Twitter by clicking here. (@prayfit) In Honor of it all, here is the DVD God inspired me to create. Hope you order one for yourself and a few for those you love. This follow-up to our first DVD is extremely challenging, targeting each bodypart including the legs, glutes, arms, chest, back, shoulders, cardio, and flexibility. All of that infused with biblical stories and motivational minutes to encourage you to keep going. Like I've always said, we don't strive to be healthy in order to be loved by God, we strive to be healthy because we are.

>> To order your DVD now, click here!

>> NEW!!! To check out other PrayFit products including books, DVDs and our all new line of faith-and-fitness apparel, click here!

Breathless

"Weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head..." -Luke 7:38

Read: Luke 7

Back in graduate school, we had our share of underwater weighing assignments. Underwater weighing is regarded as the most valuable tool at determining body composition. However, in order for the subject to be seen accurately, it takes an extreme amount of effort and courage on the part of the person being tested. See, as you're lowered into the water, you have to empty your lungs, breathing out every drop of air possible.

The woman in Luke 7 defied ridicule and disregarded the rules to do one thing: to pour everything she had at His feet. Broken, she just had to break free and nothing was going to stop her from seeing her Lord. After her tears cleaned His feet and her hair dried them, she courageously emptied her alabaster bottle of valuable perfume for Jesus to breathe in.

Friends, don't miss it today. When we're empty, we allow Him to see us. When we breathe it all out, He breathes it all in. If only for today, let's pour our health at His feet like perfume and tears. Lord, here is all our praise, expressed from the top of our lungs.

--Jimmy Peña

EXERCISE IN DEPTH: The Plank

Appropriate for today is our exercise of choice: the plank. This exercise has no movement whatsoever but has plenty going on. The plank primarily works the muscle called the transverse abdominis -- the muscle most responsible when we breathe out air. Try it, as you read this sentence, take a deep breath and then blow out as much as possible. Keep going....keep breathing out....feel that? Well, that muscle ache deep in your gut is exactly that, deep in your gut. In fact, the transverse abdominis is highly responsible for the strength of your spine and helps prevent low back pain. The stronger the transverse abdominis, the better your posture and the more likely you are to enjoy abundant low back health. Try it. Each day, shoot for a longer plank time. Here's how to get it right:

PLANK | Focus: Core, abs, lower back Lie facedown on the floor with your body straight and forearms resting on the floor. Slowly press your body up off the floor onto your forearms and toes. Keep your abs pulled in tight and your back flat while holding this position.

>> Does God call us to be fit? Let us know what you think by offering your comments on this discussion, either below in the comments section, or by clicking here to leave your thoughts at our forum.

FORUMS ACCESS: Login or Register

Here I Am To Worship

"I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138:1

Read: Psalm 138

Here I am to worship. If it's been a while since you've been to the gym, whisper it to the Lord as you open that door. If you're starting to walk after work with your spouse, pray it together as you take that step. Maybe you're about to take a swim, go for a jog or start your at-home DVD. Whatever the case, say it: Here I am to worship.

And as you do, remember -- it's not about the mirror, or lower bodyfat, or the muscle. Those things may happen, they may not. If they do, consider them gifts of obedience and blessings of diligence. But we believe it warms God's heart when we take care of ours. So go ahead. Lift, run, walk, swim, stretch. Have church. After all, you are a temple.

--Jimmy Peña

MENU MAKEOVER: Bread Pudding By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

With the kiddos being back in school, those after school snacks are back in business. And soaked in sugar, eggs and half-and-half, bread pudding is decadent to say the least. Good news: it’s possible to cozy up with a tasty version of this comfort food for less calories.

Nutrition Facts Classic bread pudding recipes can have over 600 calories and 30 grams of fat per serving. If you’re using doughnuts and buttery croissants instead of bread, you’d be lucky to keep things under 1000 calories.

The basic recipe is simple, combine bread with custard and bake. To lighten things up, you can use smarter ingredients at each stage of the recipe and keep portions to about ½ cup per person.

Bread Dense or sweetened breads will undoubtedly have more calories and monster portions just aren’t necessary. Consider using whole-grain bread for tummy-filling fiber and figure on 4 to 5 cups of cubed bread for 8 servings.

Custard Replacing half-and-half with low fat milk saves 200 calories and 25 grams of fat per cup. Don’t worry about the thinner consistency of the milk -- eggs help thicken the mixture and allow it to bake without separating. For every 2 cups of liquid, add 2 eggs and ½ to ¾ cup of sugar.

Extras Boost flavor (sensibly) with any of these embellishments: • Add 2 cups of fresh fruit or ½ cup of dried fruit • Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking • Mix in ¼ cup dark chocolate chips • Add 2 tablespoons of rum or orange liqueur to the custard

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

A Stone and a Sling

"So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine." --1 Samuel 17:50

Read: 1 Samuel

For whatever reason, I've thought a lot lately about the young David. In fact, I've sent a few Tweets this week as I've considered the day he floored the giant. Not sure why, but in my mind I find myself with a sling in one hand, while rolling a stone between my thumb and index finger in the other. I want to pick a fight.

A week removed from a funeral and arguably one of my life's most difficult times, you'll forgive that I'm kinda reflective; taking a lot of deep breaths. Please excuse the imagery but words of wisdom echo down the corridors of my brain while tamed courage paces back and forth within my self-imposed and carefully designed cages. Friends...it seems my health, my faith, my income, stewardship, prayer life, and my thought life all deserve and require a glance down at my stone and sling. What am I waiting on? What are you?

I think it's time to say, "Goodbye, comfort zones" and "So long, easy." In fact, in the time that it's taken me to write today's entry, I've realized that I don't have to pick a fight. The fight is waiting for me. It's raging. I gotta get in it. Do you?

What battles did you avoid this week? Was your pride bruised? Did vanity get the better of you? Did self-control actually lose it? Well, with mercy new each day and Jesus in our hearts, who do we have to fear? I have my stone and sling. Got yours? If the world needs proof that grace changes people, here we come.

--Jimmy Peña

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!

He's the 'Why'

"No one can serve two masters." --Matthew 6:24

Read: Matthew 6

Speaking in churches across the country, the crux of our message is the fact that living an abundant life is not about food choices or exercise routines. It's not about making a daily or weekly plan to conquer your fitness or weight-loss goals. In fact, it's not about what our reflection reveals whatsoever. The PrayFit theme is and will always be, "Life is not about the body, but our health is a means of praise." It's easy to say. Rolls off the tongue. But our motto is more than a line in a speech.

It's more than a Tweet or a Facebook status update. The reason I can say that is because if you take away food, exercise and the mirror, it would still be true. Results neither determine nor deter the meaning of the mission; a mission only life's final war with pain can exhaust.

If I asked whether or not your health would be important to you if nobody saw what you looked like, would you work as hard as you do to keep it in shape? (You may be asking, "Why else would we try?") Whatever your answer, just remember the fact that byproducts of the effort don't determine the worth of the effort. What determines the worth of our objective to live healthier lives for our spouses, kids, or work isn't whether or not we succeed at it. What determines our worth is who we have inside our hearts.

Friends, Jesus gives our lives meaning. He's the point of the story, and the point of our health we don't want to miss. And for that reason, and that reason alone, we place our trust, time, our money, our precious loved ones, and yes, these bodies. If you're thinking about rearranging your priority list, let today's verse be the only reason why.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: STRENGTH & SWEAT How much time do you need to get an effective, total-body workout? Some will say an hour. Others may say 30 minutes is good enough. We contend that the proper blend of exercises performed at the right pace can get you a fantastic workout in ten minutes flat.

>> Click here for this week's workout!

The Sufficiency of Grace

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me." --2 Corinthians 12:8

Read: 2 Corinthians 12

Yesterday morning I was a guest on Moody Bible Radio out of Chicago -- my second week in a row to help support their faith and fitness initiative. Well, one caller in particular came to mind as I sat down to write this entry. See, she struggles with a physical ailment; one she can't shake. Lord only knows how many times she's gone to the foot of the cross for healing. The sleepless nights, the prescriptions that don't help, the brokenness untold. Perhaps she asks Heaven if this is how she'll have to endure earth. Maybe you can relate because you've whispered similar on your own tear-stained pillow.

Paul could. We don't know for sure what Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was but we do know he was soul-stricken by it. Whether it was physical or spiritual, Paul begged God to remove it. God's response? Let's hear it from Paul:

"But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

Paul mentions that God said, "No" in order to prevent him from becoming conceited. And yes, it's only God who knows what He's protecting you and me from or, like Paul, what God is enabling us to do in an even better way when the answer is no.

Today, if you're like me, you may be searching for the answer to the question Why? If so, rather than strain to see clearly through that prism of uncertainty, shut your eyes and pray for God to be seen through you instead. Though many of us are hurting, be encouraged. If your body is failing, He won't. If your limbs have stopped working, He hasn't. Let's stand close to Paul and let our pain be bathed in that same promise..."My grace is sufficient for you."

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH TIP: TAKE IT OUTSIDE Do you workout in a gym? In your home? Well, if you are finding it tough to reach your fitness goals or if you're looking to rejuvenate your program, you may want to take it outside. Research offers some positive research on just how important a little Vitamin Sunshine can be for your training this summer.

>> For the full story, click here.

Moved to Move

"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever." --Psalm 30:10-12

Read: Psalm 30

This morning, during worship service at church, I fell victim to the rhythm. Without making a conscious decision to do so, I found myself air-drumming the bench in front of me, tapping my foot to the beat and gently bobbing my head as I sang along with the choir. Sometimes, a song -- whether by melody, message or miracle -- just takes hold of your body and compels you to move. Isn't it as amazing that something as simple as a song can inspire you to the point where God's love within you is left with no choice but to expressed through movement?

But long after we're dismissed from service, our bodies are still crying out to move for the Lord -- to run, jump, lift, climb and ride in perfect step to a song that He so meticulously composed on our hearts so long ago. All we have to do is tune in and listen and let the music do its work. This Master's magnum opus was written to evoke a particular response -- to move you to move.

--Eric Velazquez

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Arms This week's workout focuses on your biceps and triceps. Contrary to what some may think, training your arms is not simply a matter of vanity. Strong bi's aid on all pulling activities and well-trained triceps generate more force on all your pushes. Though smaller by comparison, these muscles play a crucial role in how much weight you can lift on other exercises such as bench presses and rows. So training them regularly does more than just help you look better in sleeveless tees. This routine requires the use of dumbbells and can be done at home or the gym.

This is a form of training known as German Volume Training, or GVT, and simply calls you on you to perform 10 sets of a single exercise in order to fully and effectively target the muscles. The quick-training wrinkle? You'll be supersetting, or alternating between biceps and triceps exercises. And because you'll be targeting arms, you can keep rest periods short -- biceps and triceps recover fairly quickly -- to keep the intensity level high. Choose a weight that you can safely complete 20 reps with but perform only 10. Continue alternating exercises until you have performed 10 sets of each exercise.

Exercise Sets/Reps Dumbbell Curl 10/10 -superset with- Lying Dumbbell Extension --Rest only 30-60 seconds between supersets. --Perform this routine at least once per week and no more than twice. If you train arms twice, allow at least 3-4 days between sessions for recovery. --Perform a few light sets of curls and extensions before beginning your 10 working sets.

NEWS: PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena spent some time this weekend meeting with fans and signing DVDs in Southern California. Check out the pics here!

Be Healthy, Quietly

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” --Matthew 6:1

Read: Matthew 6

We’ve been talking a lot lately about the importance of our physical health as a means of praise, and if that has reached your heart, we’re so blessed. If the mere prospect of a new day is reason enough to praise God with smarter choices at the dinner table, then great. Because you’re right…it’s not about the body.

With that said, perhaps the challenge is to be healthy, quietly. In truth, if our health is praise, there’s no need for a declaration of independence from a sedentary lifestyle, and no need to sound the alarm against a less-than-stellar diet. No speeches, no “look at what I’m doing for God” announcements. Practice modesty. We’re called to take care of the body that carries the soul, period. So let’s allow the byproducts of our obedience do the talking.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Bolder Shoulders in 10

People’s motivations for exercise may vary but the desire for stronger, better looking or just plain healthier shoulders is pretty universal. This complex joint possesses of the most delicate and amazing musculature in the entire body, which is to our benefit because that allows for a variety of ways in which they can be trained. For this quickie shoulder routine, which will walks the line between strength and endurance, grab some light dumbbells or even a pair of soup cans. Trust us, this won’t take much weight. If you need a shoulder smash — a new challenge to set the foundation for a remade set of deltoids — then this week’s 10-minute workout is just for you.

A good warm-up is always important but it could be argued that it is most important on shoulder day. The wide range of motion with you shoulders is maintained by several small muscles that can injure easily if not properly prepared for the work ahead. For this, or any other shoulder routine, follow the prescribed warm-up as the bare minimum of your training prep.

Warm-up | Raise your arms out to your sides until they’re parallel with the floor. Make small circles with your arms for 1-2 minutes. Without rest, go right to into this routine. Rest as little as possible as you go from one exercise to the next.

Using your soup cans or light dumbbells: Lateral raises for 1 minute Alternating straight punches for 1 minute Front raises for 1 minute Alternating straight punches for 1 minute Bent-over lateral raises for 1 minutes Alternating straight punches for 1 minute Overhead presses for 1 minute Alternating straight punches for 1 minute

–To keep your alternating straight punches effective, simply focus on punching to full extension at eye level or just above.

>> DVD: have you committed to taking the 33-Day Total Body Challenge? Learn more by clicking here.

Misfits Seldom Do

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

Read: 1 Corinthians 1

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

THE POWER OF THE JOURNAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Start a journal - Click Here

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

PRAYFIT NEWS: PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be appearing on FOX's Good Day Atlanta this Wednesday, February 8, between 9:00 am and 9:45 am EST. For the full story, click here.

Who Wants the Ball?

"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. The coach stands before them 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 health issues, financial hardships, 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. His pre-game words would be the same today as they were yesterday: "Be strong and courageous, for I am with you wherever you go" (Josh 1:9) and "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).

Who wants the ball?

Question: The Bible is full of wonderful verses that remind us of God's strength, love and guidance. What is your favorite?

--Jimmy Peña

51 FAT-BURNING TIPS

You can find plenty of ways to fight bodyfat everyday here at PrayFit.com but this list, put out by Health.com and picked up by CNN, is easy one-stop shopping for those looking to get a little leaner in 2012. The full list, which includes tips on everything from rep pace to nutritional supplements, can be found by clicking here.

>> NEW! Have you visited the redesigned PrayFit Store? Click here to shop for books, DVDs, apparel and more with our retooled, user-friendly shopping cart.

>> GUEST SPEAKING: Want PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena to come to your church in 2012 to help lay the groundwork for your fitness ministry? E-mail us at info@prayfit.com for more details!

HIS IDEA

September 26, 2011Read: Psalm 124

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

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

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

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

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

--J.P.

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

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

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

5 push-ups

10 crunches

15 squats

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

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

CAN'T BE SILENT

September 16, 2011Read: Luke 19:28-40

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

The song of creation. Can you hear it? You and I are God's special guests in a masterpiece performed in His honor that He conducts. Not only that, He's given us "first chair." In orchestra speak, first chair is reserved for the one who is both most capable and responsible, regardless of the instrument they play. You and I are active participants in a grand arrangement entitled, 'Creation'.

When the Pharisees demanded Jesus to quiet the praise of His disciples, He assured them that if the disciples hush, they would literally hear rock music. But the idea of God's people being quiet is probably as sad a commentary as I've ever read...like a father who comes home to a silent family oblivious to his presence, or a mom who has never heard her children say, "I love you". Friends, the God of wonder, who has a beyond-concievable love and unbelievable future for us is worthy to be praised with everything we have -- our minds, our money, our time, and yes, our bodies.

The song of creation. Are you playing it? It's your life. Your cue! You can't be silent. He gave you the music. You are the music. Just read the notes and watch the Master. You're in the first chair. Be amazed...and play.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT: A WEEK IN REVIEW

Monday >> YOU, HE KNITTED: From the vastness of space to the intricacies of your body, He created you with care >> ALSO: A workout to help you build strength and burn fat in just minutes

Tuesday >> SOWN UP WITH LOVE: The ultimate symbol of sacrifice is imprinted on our hearts -- literally and figuratively >> ALSO: How to boost strength instantly by 20%

Wednesday >> HE KNEW: He carefully constructed us, knowing that what the world would reject, Christ would accept. >> ALSO: How to select a cereal that's healthier for your breakfast table

Thursday >> HE GETS US: Sculpted in His image and by His own hand, we know He understands us >> ALSO: How interval training turns up your ability to burn fat

BECAUSE HE TRAVELED

July 26, 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 for a business trip 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 opportunities that business travel allows, I always have one thing on my mind. One solitary vision, and the reason I’m up for the fight — getting home. Even before I leave, I find that I’m 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 made Him leave. That something? Our helplessness.

Divine irony: Because He traveled, we’ll get home.

QUESTION: Jesus left Heaven so we would have hope. In the area of health, what are we willing to leave behind as a sacrifice of praise? Will we turn the TV off a few minutes early to walk with family? What about pushing away from the table sooner rather than later? He left Heaven for us, what can we do this week to be more healthy for Him?

--J.P.

PROTEIN PLUS Is protein helping to decrease your blood pressure? Science says 'yes'

In addition to the protein they consume from whole foods like chicken, beef and fish, many active individuals also choose to supplement their diets with protein powders. Doing so ensures more complete recovery from exercise, and works to blunt appetite and increase fat burning. And if you're not using a protein powder to support your training, you may want to start.

Researchers found that milk and soy protein supplements were both associated with a in systolic blood pressure compared with a refined carbohydrate supplement, according to findings of a randomized clinical trial published in Circulation.

"The systolic blood pressure differences we found are small for the individual, but they are important at the population level," said study leader Jiang He, MD, PhD, from Tulane University.

According to previous research, the New Orleans-based scientists note that a 2 mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure, which was shown in the study, could lead to 6 percent fewer stroke-related deaths, a 4 percent lower rate of heart disease deaths and a 3 percent reduction in overall deaths among Americans.

For more detail, click here.

RECENT FORUM TOPICS

Getting to church - 13 posts

Questions for the trainer - 32 posts

Got a recipe to share?  - 6 posts

Exercise for seniors - 3 posts

Amy Lynne's Workout Journal - 135 posts

Faith Inspired Training Journal - 22 posts

>> Visit our forums by clicking here. Not a member yet? Register by clicking here and become part of the PrayFit online community today!