protection

Stand Your Ground

"Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground." --Ephesians 6:13

Read: Ephesians 6

Looking at today's passage more closely, you'll notice something great. Of all the armor Paul talks about, not one item is mentioned to protect us from behind. From the breastplate of righteousness to the shield of faith, God teaches us that we're in for a frontal attack. We'll never be surprised or blindsided. In other words, He's got our backs.

When it comes to our crusade for greater health, most of our fights are frontal. The battle comes straight ahead. Whether it be with choices on the lunch menu, to setting the alarm early for a morning workout, the blows are before us and in plain sight. Today, decide that your health is worth protecting. If you can see it coming, pick a fight. When attacked, go to war. After all, it's not the health battles we lose that should bother us...it's those we don't suit up for.

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: DIABETES ON THE RISE Deemed a “silent killer,” diabetes gaining foothold in heavier, older populations

The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled since 1980, with almost 350 million now affected, according to a new study published in The Lancet medical journal. Scientists from Imperial College London and Harvard University analyzed the blood sugar of 2.7 million people aged 25 and over across the world and used the results to estimate diabetes prevalence. The number of adults with diabetes more than doubled from 153 million in 1980 to 347 million in 2008, according to the study.

Diabetes is caused by poor blood sugar control and can lead to heart disease and stroke and can damage the kidneys, nerves and eyes. High blood sugar levels and diabetes kill three million people across the world each year.

The researchers said two of the strongest factors in the rising diabetes rate were increasing life span and body weight, especially among women.

>> For an even more revealing look at the diabetes epidemic, pick up Sugar Nation by Jeff O'Connell. (click here)

BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR CHURCH: Is your church in need of a faith and fitness revival? We can help. Watch the video below and contact us at info@prayfit.com for more information!

Honoring our Veterans

Today, we pause to humbly offer our gratitude to those who have served or are currently in uniform for the cause of freedom at home and abroad. The dangers you face and the sacrifices you and your families make are gestures that are not lost on us.

If you know a veteran, reach out to say thanks. If you see one, take the time to offer a word of encouragement. If you are one, then we hope that you are blessed today. Join us in prayers of protection for those who so dutifully protect us or leave a few words of affirmation in the comments section below.

Vets, today we honor you. But as far as we're concerned, each day we get to fly Old Glory is Veterans Day. Thank you for your service.

--Team PrayFit

>> MILITARY FORUM: If you are a member of our armed forces, we hope that you’ll share your thoughts on faith and fitness with the PrayFit family in our Homeland Defenders forum. If you know a faithful serviceman or woman, we hope that you’ll refer them there so that we can all benefit from their experiences.

Not registered for our forums yet? Click here to get started.

>> Need workout ideas for the week? Click here to visit our fitness page.

Follow the Leader

"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown." --Revelation 2:10

Read: Revelation 2

After President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, the men of the Secret Service were left reeling. Plagued by doubt and overwhelmed by a sense of failure, they still had a job to do. The new president needed to be protected and their fallen leader had to be laid to rest. And a decision by the widowed First Lady would put them back to work in an even more precarious situation.

When given the option between burying her husband with family in his home state of Massachusetts and Arlington National Cemetery, Jackie opted for the latter. When the route of funeral procession was determined, Secret Service agents pleaded with the First Lady to ride in a vehicle where she could be better protected. She refused, opting instead to march in the procession close behind the casket of her slain husband. The gesture inspired Lyndon Johnson and visiting heads of state, including the French President and British Prime Minister, to do the same despite the inherent risks of walking in such an exposed, vulnerable environment. The Secret Service, stretched to its limit, could not guarantee their protection.

We march, exposed and vulnerable to attacks, in the wake of our Leader. On this procession, the threats are persistent and the adversary is determined. But while our faith may become battered and bruised, we are securely protected beneath (and within) the shield of the One we follow.

--Eric Velazquez

Question: How does knowing that we are completely protected as we follow our Leader compel you to pursue a healthy, abundant life? Are you vocal to others about who you're following? Do you remain in secret service or is the Holy Spirit leading you to boldly declare your faith?

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"We don't strive to be healthy to be loved by God. We strive to be healthy because we are." --Jimmy Pena

Safe and Sound

"Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." --Psalm 23:4

Read: Psalm 23

Late last night, the sleepy, ambient hum of our household was disturbed by the distinctive sound of frightened whimpering. Before the light taps at the door could disturb Wendy, I sprung from my sheets and entered the dimly-lit hallway. It was my daughter, Mya. She'd had a nightmare -- one that had set her into the type of frantics that can only be calmed by the embrace of her daddy.

I carried Mya back to her bed and set about getting her wound down again. Yawning but still fearful of what lurked just on the other side of her slumber, Mya was reluctant to let me leave her side. Battling the sting of my still-dry contact lenses, I reached into my old bag of tricks. Tenderly, if amelodically, I launched into Matthew West's "Safe and Sound." Almost without fail, this song would soothe my girls back to sleep when they were babies -- and last night, it proved effective once more.

Perhaps it was Matthew West's fatherly, reassuring lyrics that did the trick. But more likely it was just the proximity of my voice that eased her fears. Knowing that the Father is just a heartbeat's distance away and resting in the breath of His words is sometimes all that's needed to set our minds at rest. Under His protection, we -- like Mya -- can sleep well knowing that we are safe and sound.

--Eric Velazquez

EGGS PROMOTE SATIETY New research lending to credence to eggs' "superfood" billing

Eggs are a fantastic protein source and have been proven to help curb overeating. A new study is revealing even more about how eggs can fit into a healthy lifestyle. Research presented at the European Congress on Obesity showed that those who ate eggs, which contain all 10 essential amino acids, for breakfast ended up consuming less calories later in the day.

>> Get the full story at Nutraingredients-USA here.

RELATED: Eggs and Cholesterol Eggs: Muscle Food

Shepherds In Suits: Part II

"For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways." --Psalm 91:11

Read: Psalm 91

So yes, Part II. I didn't plan to write about those Shepherds in Suits again, but what happened Sunday just begged it. Sitting in an intimate gathering to celebrate the life of a fitness publisher who recently passed away, I listened as men and women shared their memories. The room was full of familiar faces. Writers, photographers, publishers and editors that I've worked with for over 14 years; a bit of a reunion. But one familiar face I didn't expect to see, was a face nobody recognized or even noticed.

Wouldn't you know it, standing against the wall a few feet from the guest speaker was one of my shepherds from across the world over three years ago. Same suit of armor, same focus, same purpose. This particular shepherd had the previous honor of protecting one of our former Presidents on Marine One. So to say the speaker was in good hands on this day is an understatement. In that moment, I squeezed Loretta close to me. I couldn't help but think of the angels that God has sent to protect me and my family. We can't see them, but I know they're there.

Max Lucado once wrote, "God sends his best troops to oversee your life. Imagine the President assigning his Secret Service to protect you, telling his agents to motorcade your car through traffic and safeguard you through crowds. How will you sleep knowing heaven's finest are doing just that? You are not alone. Heaven's mighty angels watch over you." Someday as we celebrate Heaven and honor Jesus, we too will have a reunion. Loved ones who went before us, and strangers who are no longer strangers will all be there. And so will our angels. I hope I get to thank mine. You know, we are safe to pursue an abundant life. We're watched. How bold does that make you feel as you tackle your day knowing you're flanked by God's army? Let's show them.

--Jimmy Peña

1.5 - Hours of leisurely walking per week shown to improve cognitive function among women, compared to those who walked less than 40 minutes (Source: MedicineNet.com)

Shepherds In Suits: Part I

"And even the very hairs on your head are numbered." --Matthew 10:30

Read: Matthew 10

Back in 2009, I wrote about a small group of soldiers-turned-bodyguards. Once brave on the battlefield for our country, these men now stand in the gap between danger and their client, with no regard for self. On watch and on guard, for the sake of their call.

As it so happens, I was asked to advise their client with training and nutrition as he prepared for a movie, so I had a rare, bird's eye view of their excellence.  And what I witnessed was nothing short of perfection. Selfless, stealthy. Shepherds in suits. I say shepherds because shepherds are fierce protectors; they can handle themselves, no problem. And yet shepherds are as caring for their sheep as nurses with newborns. And because I stayed close to the client, I shared his shield. I was safe, not because of who I was, but because of who he was. One call from the client, and you got the calvary.

So I suppose it's no wonder the bible refers to Jesus as the Great Shepherd. He watches over us night and day, and would go through hell to keep us safe. As a matter of fact, He did.

One call to Him? Calvary.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: How does knowing Jesus watches us so closely help you strive for better health or achieve modesty in how your portray yourself? Does it make a difference?

EGGS & CHOLESTEROL Are eggs bad for you? Hardly. Researchers have 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 and that those who ate eggs at breakfast stayed fuller longer. And despite long-held beliefs, eggs really pose no danger to your heart when part of a balanced diet.

>> To read about how eggs affect cholesterol, click here. 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.

Crusaders

"Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?" --Isaiah 40:26

Read: Isaiah 40

What would your super power be? I know, it's kid's stuff, but somehow that question still makes it to the grown-up table. So let's pretend. Would you travel through time? Gain super strength? Or maybe my favorite -- you'd fly. C'mon, how many of us have ever wanted to swoop down and save the day?

But we can't. We can't find the car keys let alone leap tall buildings. Saving the day will just have to wait. But we should remember that while we're not caped, we are crusaders -- crusaders flanked by angels, sent to protect the only thing that will eventually fight gravity and win: our souls.

So if you're feeling grounded and restless, that's okay. This isn't home. You and I were meant for a land far, far away. All we need to do is wait for our Hero to say the day. And guess what? We'll rise up with renewed strength and fly.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Speaking of heroes, I'd like to share with you that my dad, Jerry Peña, has lost 40 lbs over the last 5 months. He's done it simply by eating less and walking a little more. And if he strolls by you, just know, there goes my hero on earth. Way to go Pop. I love you.

NUTRITION TIP: A Little White Lie? By Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD

A number of people I have counseled in nutrition are confused about the differences between brown sugar and white sugar. Some believe that brown sugar is healthier, using the logic that brown (whole grain) bread, rice, and pasta is better than the white (refined) versions of those products.

Actually, brown sugar is virtually equal to white sugar in calories and nutrient content. The only difference is that molasses has been added to brown sugar, which gives it its color and distinct taste. They key to maintaining a healthy weight is to use both types of sugar in moderation.

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, DC-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 Washington, DC area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

PRAYFIT 33: Have you committed to take the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge? Order your DVD today to start this home-based, body-and-soul makeover, led by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. Then, keep up with the rest of the community, or just share your daily progress, at the PrayFit forums. "In just 33 minutes a day for 33 days, we can honor the one who gave us 33 years," Jimmy says.

MIRACLE GROW

June 23, 2011Read: Luke 19

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

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

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

--J.P.

TIP OF THE DAY: Visualize to Maximize

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

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

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

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

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