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Hearts That Hustle

"Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might." --Ecclesiastes 9:10

Read: Ecclesiastes 9 It's interesting that of the blessings, trophies and awards I've been humbled to receive throughout my life, one stands out as my most cherished. When I was a kid, my coaches gave me the "Hustle" award. Ironically, it was for a sport that I wasn't particularly great at. Try and imagine running the 100 meter hurdles wearing swim fins. Got the visual? That's me playing basketball. And even that might be gracious. But while I didn't run the offense very well, or lead the team in rebounds, and although I was never the game's high scorer, I was never out-hustled. For whatever reason -- whether it be practice or a game -- something inside my heart just would not let me be out-worked.

You know, they don't give hustle awards when you grow up. But think about it. When you're the only one in the office unwilling to gossip? That's hustle. When you get up extra early each day to make sure your kids eat a balanced breakfast, that's hustle. And when you lace up those running shoes minutes after taking off the work ones, that's hustle.

As believers, we have faith in Christ. And that faith is not only the greatest tool God gave us to tackle the issues of life, it's also the reason to tackle the issues of life. Regardless of the situation, let's not be out-worked. When someone wonders what makes the difference in us, why we're not like the crowd at school or going with the flow at work, it's because Jesus is in our hearts. Hearts that beat. Hearts that hustle.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What will you hustle for today? You may not be diving for loose basketballs, but the game of life is calling you. Share your game plan with us.

Josh-snowTHE BEST WAY TO BURN EXCESS BODYFAT

If your primary training goal is to lose a few inches or pounds, you may want to give more consideration to your preferred training method to maximize results. There's an overwhelming amount of research pointing to this can't-miss fat-burning protocol.

>> Click here for the secret.

Worth the Hurt

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

Read: Philippians 1

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

WRITE THIS WAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>> Amosqueda66

>> Mikkirobinson

BORN IN US

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy."— Matthew 2:10

If you missed "Christmas Presence" last week, we talked about the shepherds and their efforts to see the newborn King. We agreed that their best was all they had to offer Him; our pacesetters if you will, and they made it. Can't you just see their cold breath and chests rising as they arrive? But today, let's focus on the one who didn't run. Though she trembled, Mary waited for the promise.

As I write this, a song by Francesca Battistelli called Born In Me is ringing in my ears. The chorus:

I'll hold you in the beginning, you will hold me in the end. Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem, be born in me.

Isn't that what we want? For our hearts to be His Bethlehem? Born in us? When you and I walk into work or school, when we make dinner for the kids or visit a neighbor, we hold Him. We're His home on earth. Mary offered to God what she was denied at the inn; a vacancy. The shepherds offered to God the only thing they could; an audience.

As Christmas nears, let the ones who ran to Him, and the one who didn't run from Him, give us courage to do both.

–Jimmy Peña

PRAYFIT IN THE NEWS

>> PRAYFIT ON ITUNES: Yes, you can find PrayFit's 33-Day Total Body Challenge DVD on Amazon but did you know that you can also download it on iTunes? Now, you can sweat with PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena anywhere you can take your iPad.

>> ASSIST NEWS: Prayfit 33-Day Total Body Challenge Debuts in Time for New Year‘s Resolutions by Janey DeMeo

>> CHRISTIAN POST: Jimmy Pena Talks 'PrayFit,' Healthy Holiday Tips

>> CROSSROAD MAG: PrayFit Stepping into Living Rooms This Winter

FOREVER ROAD

November 14, 2011 Read: James 1

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

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

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

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

WORKOUT: RUNNER'S RESOURCES

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO MORE

November 10, 2011 Read: Ephesians 2

"For by grace you've been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God." --Ephesians 2:8

"No more school, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks."

For years, my wife Loretta and I have playfully sung that short tune at the end of each of her college semesters. See, after high school, rather than walk for a diploma, she walked down the aisle. And throughout the years, she's chipped away at her degree at night school, auditioning for the title of graduate. Well, I'm proud to report that today she takes her final final exam. But what's interesting is that, even though she's done with class, the next ceremony isn't until May. So she'll have to wait for her reward, even though she's met her requirement.

Kind of easy to think of Heaven at this point, right? Except, Heaven isn't dependent upon us passing every earthly test. Our days are full of multiple choices, but our performance doesn't chip away at some heavenly quota of credits, and frankly, nobody auditions for grace.

The truth is, someday we'll graduate this life. And like I'll be singing "no more school" to Loretta one last time as she walks through the door tonight, I like to think that we'll hear much the same when we finally meet our requirement, face-to-face.

No more hurt, no more pain. No more struggles, no more strain. All is right, the fight is done. Welcome to Heaven. Your heart, I've won.

--Jimmy Peña

COFFEE & CHOLESTEROL Science explores the connection between your morning java and your heart health

We are a caffeinated nation. Sure, stressful commutes, hectic family lives and TPS reports keep us heading back to the coffee pot multiple times throughout the day but there is also a palate-pleasing allure to a well-brewed cup of java. But while the caffeine gets most of the attention, there are other compounds in coffee to be aware of -- some to be cautious of.

Some worry about coffee's effect on cholesterol because of the presence of certain compounds in the beans. Daily consumption of 10 milligrams of cafestol—the amount in about four 5-ounce cups of French-press coffee—has been shown to raise cholesterol by 8 to 10 percent in four weeks, mostly due to increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol. Some people are affected more than others, and the effects may be greater in those who have higher cholesterol to begin with.

Luckily, most American-style, drip coffee is practically devoid of these types of compounds and coffee's many health benefits, such as its powerful antioxidant content, may outweigh the risks. Read the full report from the University of California (Berkeley) by clicking here.

 

EYES WIDE OPEN

November 4, 2011Read: Ephesians 1

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened." --Ephesians 1:18

As I prayed and waited to board my plane en route to the New York City Marathon yesterday, a scene from one of my all-time favorite shows, Friday Night Lights, came to mind. Before the big game, coach asked his young quarterback if his eyes were closed when he threw last week's touchdown pass. The kid's response: "No sir. My eyes were open. My eyes were wide open."

Well, I suppose that scene came to mind because that was my simple prayer -- that the Lord would open the eyes of my heart this weekend in New York. As a writer, not a runner, I know my purpose at the marathon isn't necessarily to have a fast start or even a strong finish, but rather to listen from start to finish. Indeed, after 26.2 miles, I want to be more focused on my walk than my run. May that be your prayer too. Whatever race lies before you today at work, school, or home, let's just try to see Him. All we want to do is see Him.

--J.P.

P.S. When they announced my flight, I turned and who was standing next to me? Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. We chatted a few minutes, he asked about PrayFit, and I praised what he's doing at Saddleback Church in the area of health. Thank you, Lord. My eyes are open. My eyes are wide open.

PRAYFIT WEEK IN REVIEW Time to cherry-pick from a week's worth of faith and fitness

Faith

>> PURPOSE OVER PROCESS: Know the destination, savor the journey

>> ELLA'S GRIN: The Lord watches over us, pausing on moments too good to pass up

>> REASON FOR THE CALL: We represent Him in how we live, speak and move

>> ROAD WARRIOR: Because He traveled, we will get home

Fitness

>> 3 MILES: How did you fare in this week's fitness challenge?

>> KID ACTIVITY: How much is enough?

>> DEPRESSION: Beat the blues with a few minutes of exercise

>> MARATHON FUN FACT: How close was the closest finish at the NYC Marathon?

PRAYER REQUEST: PrayFit Nation, we ask that you join us in praying for founder Jimmy Pena as he tackles the course at this weekend's New York City Marathon. Please pray that he is kept safe from injury and that with each footfall, he strides with his eyes (and heart) wide open. We're so proud of you for undertaking such a feat, brother!

--Team PrayFit

THE VERY IDEA

July 18, 2011 Read 1 Corinthians 9

"No, I beat my body and make it my slave." --1 Corinthians 9:27

Last week I had the unique opportunity to be interviewed by The L.A Times on the subject of faith and fitness. Whether or not my input makes the article, I'm not sure, but it was an honor to be asked to participate. During the course of the conversation, the subject fell upon "why." Why the recent surge in the church toward taking care of the body? First the government, then schools and now the church. Together we named famous pastors that are now leading their congregations toward abundant health, and it dawned on me: We shouldn't even be having this conversation. Healthy living is not a new concept.

Long before PrayFit wrote its first devotion, and well before Rick Warren committed to losing weight, the very idea of taking care of the body that carries the soul was God's. It was His plan all along. We have no right, no stake to claim, and no sense of ownership to the idea that something so fearfully and wonderfully made deserves better attention and upkeep. Sure, Abe Lincoln might have been honest, but he didn't invent the truth. Mother Teresa gave to the poor, but she didn't design love. Our bodies were given to us so that we can serve God in all we do. The fact that the church is just now paying attention to the idea doesn't make us leaders, it makes us late.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: BOXING

You may not have any interest in the Sweet Science, but the fact remains that boxers are some of the best conditioned athletes on the planet. They have to be. The whole-body demand of jabbing, slipping, bobbing and weaving for any length of time, over time, makes them stronger, leaner and tougher than those who practice other sports. PrayFit partner and endorser Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero boasts a physique that is equal parts form and function from all of his years spent in the gym. But if you don't have the dough, or desire, to dive headlong into a franchise boxing gym membership, you can use this 12-minute, at-home solution to start building a pugilistic physique.

Why 12 minutes? Well, here, each minute will represent one "round" -- and high-profile, championship fights are always 12 rounds.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Crunches - 1 min.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Bicycle crunch - 1 min.

Straight punches - 1 min.

Plank - 1 min.

Using a stopwatch or timer (www.gymboss.com), go through this workout circuit-style, taking little to no rest between moves. After the final move, stand up and get right into the entire circuit once more, for a total of 12 rounds. Perform this workout three times per week for max results.

Straight punches: A series of jabs and crosses (lefts and rights) delivered at eye level at an imaginary target at arms length. Throw as many punches as you can with good form in the scheduled minute of work. For more detail on boxing punches, click here.

ADVANCED OPTION: Finish off your workout with three sets of push-ups (any style) to failure, resting no longer than a minute between sets. Tally your number and try to beat it next time out.

DID YOU KNOW?: High-intensity boxing workouts can burn 750-1000 calories in one hour. Find a gym near you at www.boxinggyms.com.

Robert Guerrero handling Michael Katsidis in his HBO Pay-Per-View televised bout back in April. Photo by Tom Hogan – Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions. (www.hoganphotos.com)

 

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

April 6, 2011Read: Mark 12

"Love thy neighbor as yourself." --Mark 12:31

Sitting on our little porch, I'm watching Loretta add potting mix, dirt and water to plants and shrubs. The smell of barbecue from a nearby condo fills the air. Somebody's cookin' out. The neighborhood seems alive tonight. Sun-filled cheeks on neighborhood kids is evidence of a fast-approaching summer. It seems God has dropped me in an episode of Leave it to Beaver. Somehow you'd expect Wally to come strollin' by. But I know better. This is no Pine Street.

I know better because I know myself better. When was the last time we visited a new neighbor? Or went to see the widow down the street? Or invited the single dad to church? Not sure if you can relate, but we have more in common with Mrs. Kravitz than we do June Cleaver. In reality, however, our homes, apartments and condos are as much an opportunity to witness as gyms, offices and schools. Let's make it a point this week to do something in Jesus' name for those we live around.

--J.P.

VIDEO: SPEEDY SOUP

If you're looking for a hearty, healthy soup, look no further than the kitchen of PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC. In this clip, Dana shows you how to make what she refers to as the "perfect" bowl of soup -- low sodium and loaded with nutrients. So click away and get cookin' -- a quick and nutritious dish awaits!

VIDEO: IN THE KITCHEN WITH DANA ANGELO WHITE

>> FIGHT NIGHT: Don't forget to check out PrayFit athlete Robert Guerrero as he takes on Michael Katsidis for the WBO and WBC interim lightweight boxing titles, live from Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View this Saturday (April 9). Guerrero will be wearing PrayFit.com across his trunks when he steps into the ring! For more info, visit HBO Boxing.

>> GEAR UP: Make sure you're outfitted for your fight night party. Pick up our newly designed PrayFit hats and t-shirts at the PrayFit Store.

 

STRONG FOR THE WEEK

February 18, 2011Read: Ecclesiastes 7

“Finishing is better than starting.”Ecclesiastes 7:8

So here we are. The end of another week. Fridays are always a good time to look back and survey the efforts of the previous few days. Instinctively, we focus on things that we’ve done or tasks that we’ve completed, marking them off one by one like to-do items on some kind of mental Post-It note. But for each item we “cross off” the list, our brains, gearing up for the weekend, may start drifting into reward mode which is why Friday can sometimes be the least productive day of the week.

On Fridays, our focus on the things that matter most – including our faith and our fitness – can become obscured.

We may marginalize our time spent on our knees so that we can run full speed into the weekend. Or we might shrug off the day’s workout and wander from our healthy eating habits knowing Monday's workout is right around the corner.

Let's face it, no one is immune to the occasional case of the “Fridays,” but we’d be wise to remember that how we finish the week is just as important as how we start it – not just for us, but for those who would learn from our example.

--E.V.

START TO FINISH

Since we are waxing philosophical about strong finishes, it’s probably a good time to remember where you started. What brought you to PrayFit in the first place? Click here for a video refresher of what PrayFit is all about.

VIDEO: WELCOME TO PRAYFIT

>> Visit our newly updated fitness and nutrition pages for even more workouts, exercise tips, and recipes!

FITNESS | EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS & VIDEOS | NUTRITION

HE RULES THE SCHOOL

August 2, 2010Read: Psalm 23 "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me." --Psalm 23: 4

I used to dread 5th period math. Oh, I was fine with the subject matter, but it was the getting to class that had me shaking in my little boots. Each day that semester, a small group of bullies would hang out by my locker, calculating ways to torment me. Until one day, I got smart and asked Bubba to walk me to class.  Little did they know that the skinniest kid in school was the younger brother of the toughest. They did the math.

Mondays can push us around sometimes. The mere thought brings a collective sigh at my house -- a show of hands for those who had the Sunday night blues -- but there aren't enough problems waiting around today's corner that can add up or stand up to the One you bring with you. And when you think of it that way, the day doesn't seem so tough after all. So, Monday...we meet again.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Shouldering the Load

The shoulder is a pretty dynamic bodypart. It is a ball and socket joint, similar to the hip, though not nearly as stable. It's important to warm-up extremely well, working your shoulder in all sorts of directions with very light weight before moving on to anything heavy. And remember, stretching does not warm-up your shoulders. The best warm-up is a light mock of the exercises to come.

Today's workout is what we call a pre-exhaust routine, where you work the shoulder using isolation (single joint) exercises (lateral raises, front raises and rear delt raises) to exhaustion, before moving onto an overhead press (a compound exercise involving more than one joint). The overhead press allows more than just the shoulder joint to participate in the move after the shoulders have been pre-fatigued by the isolation moves. It's a simple routine, but tried and true.

Exercise                                             Sets     Reps* Dumbbell bent-over lateral raise    3          12-15 Dumbbell lateral raise                      3           12-15 Dumbbell front raise                          3           12-15 Dumbbell Overhead Press               4           10 * Be sure to reach failure or close to failure at the rep range listed.

>> FACEBOOK: Be sure to "like" our new home on Facebook to continue receiving the latest news, posts and updates from Team PrayFit! And do us a favor...once you "like" us, "share" our page with others to spread your love of all things faith and fitness.