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Dad Hands

"So the other disciples told him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see the marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.'"--John 20:25

Read: John 20

The older I get, the more my hands are looking like my dad's. I'll be typing or writing something, and I'll pause to look at my hands and immediately think of his. But unlike my clumsy paws, Dad can actually put his to work. He can fix everything or put anything together. Weld it, untie it, prime it, paint it, dig it...you name it, if we put it in his hands, he's able.

It's funny...despite that knowledge, I've often handed something to Dad for help, and immediately began to tell him how do it or what I think should be done next. To which Dad simply says, "James, am I doing this, or are you?" Gulp!

I think we have the tendency to do the same with the Lord. We pray for His guidance, ask for His help, and we "give it to Him," yet we never really let go of worry, doubt or control. (A show of hands of those who can relate...)

But we need to remember that the very same hands that reached for a sinking Peter on the water, and rubbed mud into the eyes of the blind, are the very same hands that still reach for us today. They assure us in hospital rooms and lead us through the dark times. It's no wonder Thomas wanted to see His hands. He can hold us like a newborn baby in one, while holding off Satan's army with the other. He wants us to bring Him our knots each day. It's what He does. He's got Dad hands, and He is able.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: During this holy week, what about you needs to be in His hands today? Your job? A relationship? Anxiety? Your heart? Whatever it is, He is right there. You can touch Him. You will never be the same.

STUDY: Obesity Linked to Chronic Pain

Knees hurt? Back sore all the time? Before reaching for another dose of ibuprofen, you might wanna check the scale. A recent study reaffirmed what you might already know -- that carrying around excess weight puts you at much higher risk for chronic pain.

>> Click here for the story.

The Hearing Impaired

Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would be without sin. But since you say 'We see', your sin remains." --John 9:41

Read: John 9

"Can you hear my voice?" her Dad asked her. "My voice" he repeated. You may have seen the story yesterday or perhaps you've seen similar videos whereby, through a procedure, people either see or hear their loved ones for the first time. Well, this particular moment made this sentimental fool a mess. Watching Amy Barber hear her family for the first time was enough to make even the Tin Man's heart beat. But it's what Amy said that caused mine to stop. Looking at her dad, she answered his question by saying, "I have to focus, because now I hear everything." Only after she got her hearing did she struggle to hear her dad.

Wow. I'm sure many of you could finish today's entry, but in one deaf sentence, Amy reminds us that we are hearing impaired. We have so much going on, so many voices, so many sounds and distractions coming from all sorts of directions that it's tough to hear Him. Our "hearing" impairs us. And it's because our ears work that we have to focus.

So as we hit the day's agenda, amid the noise that makes its way into our lives, let's finish the exchange as our sweet Father asks: "Can you hear my voice? My voice?"

Actually, I think I will let you finish this one...

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What areas of life do you need to tune out in order to hear Him?

AWARD NEWS: This Friday, PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be honored by his alma mater, UT Tyler, as one of this year's distinguished alumni. Read the story here.

WILLFUL DESTRUCTION A few eye-opening facts about the most troubling health problem in America

--The annual healthcare costs of obesity in this country are $147 billion a year. This could rise to as much as $344 billion by 2018, according to one major study.

--Obesity has become one of the most expensive health problems in America today, surpassing smoking, according to a study in Health Affairs.

--Two-thirds of Americans are overweight although 85% of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat/very healthy.

--Obese employee sick days total approximately 39 million workdays and 63 million doctor visits yearly.

--12 million Americans are considered severely obese, defined as more than 100 pounds overweight.

--Nearly a third of the children in this country are overweight and some experts believe up to one third of children will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

--For the first time in the history of our nation, some medical experts warn that this younger generation may be on track to have a shorter life span than their parents as a direct result of the obesity epidemic.

Source: CNBC's "One Nation, Overweight"

He Just Couldn't

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." --1 Peter 5:10

Read: 1 Peter 5

With yesterday being the start of Lent, I'm reminded about the countless biblical examples of people who had physical reactions to Jesus, either to be near Him or because they had just been with Him. We've said it before, but He just moves us! But there was one person who didn't move a muscle.

The criminal had just been given Heaven. Every sin of his wasted years had been forgiven, his name had just been written in the lamb's book of life, and soon the angels would be teaching him to sing. And yet, despite this gift of grace and mercy, He didn't run to embrace Him. He didn't leap for joy, lift his hands in praise or kneel in worship. Why? Well, he couldn't move. See, the nails were too deep, the pain was too great. If he could've climbed down that cross, he probably would've demonstrated physically what his heart had experienced spiritually.

What about you? You may be 18 or 80, and Lord knows this brief life is not about the body, but if you've been given Heaven, do what the criminal couldn't and tell your body to react. Walk the block, lift some weights, swim a few laps. And by all means, kneel. Don't wait. Celebrate in this life the free gift of the next one.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Are you preparing your heart for the holiest of seasons? Does that preparation involve physical commitments? Perhaps you're trying to be healthier for your spouse or kids? Whatever goals your heart has, don't let your heart stop. Keep going. For the right reasons, strive. What are some of your goals for spring? We'll help you pray.

TROUBLED YOUTH: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.

Playmakers

"The wicked flee though no one is pursuing them but the righteous are as bold as a lion." --Proverbs 28:1

Read: Proverbs 28

As I was watching the Miami Hurricanes dominate Georgia Tech recently in college football, one of the announcers referred to a player as "the playmaker." It gave me pause. What a compliment. What an honor. This player wasn’t just out there to fill in the gaps or run time off the play clock. He was "the playmaker" and everyone knew it. He was the heart of the team. All of those around him looked to him for direction and leadership and for what was coming next. Every single play, eyes on him, things were happening. There was action in the room.

When it comes to our faith, are we the real "playmakers" on the Father's team? Do we make the big plays every time the whistle blows or are we sometimes comfortable simply watching from the sidelines and cheering others on? Are we intentionally seeking to share God’s love and amazing grace with all of those around us, not only on game day, but every day?

I want to be bold. I want to be "the playmaker" for God in my own life and for those who would look to me for direction. Every single play, eyes on Him, there is action in the room.

--Allison Earnst

PrayFit's contributing writer, Allison Earnst, is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can visit her blog by clicking here.

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?

Those Who Have Heard

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" --Romans 10:14

Read: Romans 10

Those of you who periodically stop in at the prayer requests section of the PrayFit forum may know that I struggle mightily with the plight of my younger brother.  At 30, his body is beginning to fail him. He is plagued by intestinal distress, some vision loss, dangerously high blood pressure and numerous other physical ailments, nearly all of which are the result of his own stubborn insistence on living the way he wants.

As both a big brother and someone who has made a career out of fitness, you can imagine how difficult it is for me to watch my brother destroy his body, one Big Gulp, one pack of cigarettes at a time. Over the years, I've discussed the gospel of health with him and have tried to be the kind of fitness witness he can mold himself after. Alas, he has heard the truth and still refuses to believe. Tragically, a slow and willful death is all that awaits. And for what? The comfort and ease of doing what feels good?

Today, there are so many people who have heard and do not believe. There are those who know the consequences of physical inactivity, smoking and poor nutrition yet continue to dishonor their bodies. There are also those who would thumb their noses at news of the resurrection of Christ, forgiveness of sins and the heaven that awaits, all in the name of living a life without moral consequence or conviction. Both roads lead to death. Friends, the One that gives life wants you to choose Him, just as much as He wants for you to thrive physically.

Some people never get the chance to hear the good news. So consider yourself blessed! You have heard. Now what will you do?

--Eric Velazquez

WILLFUL DESTRUCTION A few eye-opening facts about the most troubling health problem in America

--The annual healthcare costs of obesity in this country are $147 billion a year. This could rise to as much as $344 billion by 2018, according to one major study.

--Obesity has become one of the most expensive health problems in America today, surpassing smoking, according to a study in Health Affairs.

--Two-thirds of Americans are overweight although 85% of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat/very healthy.

--Obese employee sick days total approximately 39 million workdays and 63 million doctor visits yearly.

--12 million Americans are considered severely obese, defined as more than 100 pounds overweight.

--Nearly a third of the children in this country are overweight and some experts believe up to one third of children will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

--For the first time in the history of our nation, some medical experts warn that this younger generation may be on track to have a shorter life span than their parents as a direct result of the obesity epidemic.

Source: CNBC's "One Nation, Overweight"

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)

A Dangerous Prayer

"Why did we ever leave Egypt?" --Numbers 11:20

Read: Numbers 11

Did you catch it? They actually missed prison. Not long after the Israelites met freedom, they actually longed for captivity. Behind bars they had no choices. As inmates, they had no responsibility. Even though they were trapped, they were warm, cozy, and full. Their prayer for freedom was a dangerous one. Nothing a generation in the desert couldn't answer.

What about us? When was the last time you and I prayed dangerously? About finances, a relationship...our health? See, once they were set free, the Israelites faced the need for obedience and responsibility; so do we. Folks, our bodies are merely tools, not finished products. Better fitness simply means better equipped. It's tough to visit the poor from the couch, and it's impossible to see the hurting in our own mirror. But we're warm, cozy, and full (even if of ourselves). (Note: this should speak to both the fit and the not-so-fit.)

If God allows us the opportunity for better health, what will we do with it? Will we sit? Focus on ourselves? Will we allow a generation to wander before we see health as a means of praise? If so, why did we ever leave Egypt?

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: HIGHER PROTEIN DIETS BETTER FOR BODY COMPOSITION

A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people who consistently consume more calories than they burn each day will lose lean muscle and accumulate body fat more easily if their diets contain too little protein and too much fat and carbohydrates.

The results of the study suggest that the minimum protein intake federal health officials currently recommend -- 46 grams per day for women and 56 grams per day for men -- may not be enough to maintain muscle mass in some people. The study participants needed to consume at least 78 grams of protein per day to avoid losing muscle.

>> For the full story from CNN, click here.

GEAR UP: Looking for PrayFit books, DVDs or apparel? You're just one click away. Visit the newly-designed PrayFit store by clicking here.

Benchwarmer

"So Sarah laughed to herself." --Genesis 18:12

Read: Genesis 18

Benchwarmer. Not something that sat well with me. But during my sophomore year in high school, I endured it for the first time in my life. See, I was a baseball player, and a good one. But basketball? I probably should've hung up the Air Jordans as a freshmen. Sitting at the end of the bench during a blowout game, I hoped my friends and family would assume I was injured; maybe I twisted an ankle during warm-ups or something. But with a little over a minute on the clock, the unthinkable happened. Coach called my name.

"Reluctant" would be putting it mildly. I literally peeled myself off the chair. I stripped my warm-up off my cold body and joined the otherwise sweaty and necessary group of kids on the court. What's the use, I thought. The clock ran out, we shook hands, and I put my warm-up on as slowly as I had removed it.

Well, leaving the locker room that night to face the awkward "good game" from loved ones, Coach stopped me. He said something that I'd carry the rest of my life. He said, "I wanted to see your reaction when I called for you late in the game. Jimmy, it's never too late to make an impact."

Maybe you're wondering what kind of influence you can have. Perhaps you think it's way too late in the game for God to use you. That family member? Too far gone. That group of friends? Too set in their ways. No way God is calling me from the bench at my age, with my past. 

Folks, God has a way of doing the unexpected. And if He noticed Sarah laughing at the news of her baby on the way, rest assured He sees our reaction. So, take a minute to consider what the Spirit is whispering to your heart. If it's too lofty, too lowly, too late...God just may be looking for our reaction to His call. Carve this into your heart...If God calls for you, it's never too late to make an impact.

--Jimmy Peña

WALKING FOR HEALTH Just an hour of this low-impact activity per day can make you 50% healthier

Watch some TV? No judgement here. We like NCIS: Los Angeles, too. Just make sure you go for a walk after. New research put out by the American Heart Association showed that an hour of walking per day can cut your genetic tendency toward obesity as a result of watching the picture box by half.

"In our study, a brisk one-hour daily walk reduced the genetic influence towards obesity, measured by differences in BMI by half," said Qibin Qi, Ph.D., study author and a post doctorate research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. "On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle marked by watching television four hours a day increased the genetic influence by 50 percent."

The study included 7,740 women and 4,564 men from the Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Researchers collected data on physical activity and TV watching two years prior to assessing BMI.

>> For the full story, click here.

Me and My Drum

Turns out PrayFit has a theme song -- a song that sums up PrayFit perfectly. My wife and friends might guess it's a Rocky montage or the Gladiator theme song but alas, no. I have one better. The Little Drummer Boy. (Pa rum pum pum pum) That's right. Yesterday with my iTunes on shuffle, it played. Christmas in March? Why not? I hope you won't mind either.

"Come they told me, a newborn King to see.  Our finest gifts we bring, to set before the King. Little baby, I am a poor boy too. I have no gift to bring, that's fit to give a King. Shall I play for you on my drum? Then He nodded... I played my drum for Him. I played my best for Him.  Then He smiled at me. Me and my drum."

It might be odd talking Christmas gifts in March, but health isn't seasonal and neither is the news of His birth. What's more, You and I are poor. Like the little boy, we have nothing to bring that's fit to give the King. But He's delighted when we come to Him. And it's music to His ears when we play our life to its fullest. And that's the basis of PrayFit. Giving our best effort to let health be a means of praise. I want to bring a smile to His face, don't you? The very idea of doing so brings one to mine; to me and my drum. Pa rum pum pum...pum.

--Jimmy Peña

STAY LEAN WITH PROTEIN

Carbs taste good. No…they taste great. But it’s the main course on your plate –- that chicken breast, fish cutlet or steak –- that may be doing your body composition the most good. As you work out your family’s menu for the week, make sure that you choose a quality, lean protein as the foundation of each meal. Research published in the journal Physiology & Behavior showed that subjects who consumed a diet rich in protein burned significantly more fat than a control group. What’s more is that they did so without regard to total caloric intake.

Minimum recommended daily allowances for children range between 16-28 grams of protein per day. Healthy male adults should aim for 45-63 grams per day, while females should strive for 46-50 grams. Pregnant? You may need 60 grams per day for your growing baby. Protein requirements vary, of course –- if you workout regularly or at higher intensities, you may need more protein to help rebuild muscle and keep your lean body mass in healthy ranges.

(Sources: Physiology & Behavior, FamilyEducation.com)

26 Grams of protein in a 3-ounce serving of sirloin steak

7 Grams of protein in a 1-ounce serving of peanuts (Source: FamilyEducation.com)

Say Something

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." --Matthew 28:19

Read: Matthew 28

A recent conference call took an interesting turn. See, I was blessed to be the link between my friend (the reason for the call) and a potential group of investors. Compared to the names on the line, I was definitely the little man.

Well, things seemed to be going just fine, but as the meeting was coming to a close, my friend did the unexpected. In his closing remarks to everyone he said, "Jimmy speaks for me." And then he hung up. (Cue the crickets) In one sentence, my role changed. Four little words converted me from little man to middle man. The reason for the call was gone, but I was his voice. Eyes wide, heart pumping. "Say something" I thought to myself. (Cue the life lesson)

Friends, you and I represent the Reason for our call; in how we speak, work, live...and move.

Say something.

--Jimmy Peña

FAST FACT

47 Percentage reduction in symptoms of depression for those who walked 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week.

Source: MedicineNet.com

He's My Brother

"Then I sent Moses and Aaron..." --Joshua 24:5

Read: Joshua 24

A great friend and mogul said to me yesterday, "I believe God puts people in your life to help show you where you're going." His statement couldn't have been more true about the day nearly seven years ago when I met then writer extraordinaire and future PrayFit VP Eric Velazquez. Little did I know that when I shook Eric's hand in the offices of Muscle & Fitness Magazine, God was showing me where I was going.

In the context of PrayFit, if I could humbly assign Eric a biblical counterpart, it would probably be Aaron. If you're thinking, "Aaron! Yes, of course! Aaron...wait...who's Aaron?" well, that helps my point. Aaron was Moses' brother. Often overlooked, but when Moses was in need, God sent Aaron. Moses stuttered, so God delivered. Aaron 'spoke well' and they became a team.

So please allow me to use the comparison to publicly acknowledge Eric and his selfless, often invisible, critical and fantastic work he does day in and out. If it weren't for Eric, there would be no daily message. If he's not writing amazing articles for the biggest fitness magazines in the country, or inspiring people to grow closer to the Lord and healthier in the process, he's smoothing out my stutter. He's my brother, and we're a team.

If you've been following PrayFit for any length of time, please help me in publicly thanking Eric for who he is and what he means to us all.

--Jimmy Peña

HEALTH FACTS, BY THE NUMBERS The AHA's most recent report on obesity and its ties to heart disease

149,300,000 - Number of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are overweight or obese

33.7 - Percentage of U.S. adults (age 20 and older) that are obese

23,600,000 - Number of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are overweight or obese

16.9 - Percentage of U.S. children (age 2 to 19) that are obese

33 - Percentage of U.S. adults that report doing no aerobic leisure-time activity

71 - Percentage of U.S. adults with cardiovascular disease that were overweight or obese

1 in 3- Deaths attributable to cardiovascular disease in the U.S.

Source: American Heart Association Statistical Update on Heart Disease and Strokes (2012)

ELLA'S GRIN

November 1, 2011 Read: Psalm 121

"The Lord watches over you." --Psalm 121:5

Last week, PrayFit co-Founder Eric Velazquez posted this picture of his little girls. What Eric wrote as a caption was something I'm sure only a Father can truly understand, but it hit me. Eric said:

"Does Ella's grin give it away that they're not really asleep? Still, I found them in bed, sharing a blanket and laughing yesterday, and it was just one of those fun, dad moments I wanted to snap. Bonus: Mya is in bed wearing a princess dress. She refused to nap without it."

Hmm...haven't we all slept with Ella's grin? We close our eyes, pretend, and try to fool God under the blanket of the very grace He provides. But the fact is, He knows us. And He loves us despite ourselves. Call me sentimental ('cause I am), but I like to think God watches over us like Eric does his kids, pausing on moments too good to pass up...with a grin of His own.

--J.P.

Lord, we love you. And you're watching. Though we often fall asleep on Your watch, we never lose your blanket of grace. We're so glad You love us and You never, ever... stop being Dad.

Question: How does knowing God is watching over you help you take better care of yourself and your family?

HOW MUCH ACTIVITY?

As the numbers on child obesity climb and favorite after school activities gravitate more toward thumb work than lawn play, do you wonder exactly how much activity is enough for your kids? The more your child runs around, the better. But if you’re looking for a basic guideline to help them follow, look to the experts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children and adolescents need at least 60 minutes per day of activity, including some of the “vigorous” variety three times per week.

>> Commit:

Today, take stock of how much activity your children are getting each day, taking physical education at school and organized sports into account as well. Discuss the importance of regular activity with your child and make today the first day of a scheduled family “workout,” where you spend 15-20 minutes exercising, walking or playing together.

 

(Source: CDC)

 

 

 

 

I GOT IT

October 10, 2011Read: Galatians 6 "Bear one another's burdens." --Galatians 6:2

Growing up the younger of two sons, I used to love it when Dad and I would take a ride in his truck just the two of us. Sitting shotgun of course was not my birthright, so I'd take advantage by rolling the window down, sticking my elbow out, and letting the wind blow. To a baby brother, the front seat was the promised land; a 10-year old's olive branch.

Well, every once in a while, Dad would let his youngest son steer. As we got close to the house, He'd slow up, I'd scoot over, and we'd become partners. And although I couldn't reach the pedals, I'd assure him by saying, "I got it Dad," because I knew he kept a finger on the bottom of the wheel.

Well, last week that same hero drove home the news that he was one of the 79 million people in the U.S diagnosed with pre-diabetes. My wheels fell off.

Friends, do you have loved ones who are struggling with their health? If so, don't just go along for the ride. Get involved. Seek help. Let's keep praying for God's strength and wisdom to personally live abundantly like He intended, but let's not forget that we're not on this road home, alone. Like my Dad, someone you love needs you scoot over real close and say, "I got it."

--J.P.

Workout of the Week: You Call It This one's on you. In the comments section below, tell us what your workout was or will be today. A good walk? Some push-ups? Maybe you're a gym-goer and you have a bodypart-specific routine planned for today. Whatever and however you praise God with your body, share it.

DID YOU KNOW? --25.8 million children and adults in the United States—8.3% of the population—have diabetes --Diagnosed: 18.8 million people --Undiagnosed: 7.0 million people --Prediabetes: 79 million people --New Cases: 1.9 million new cases of diabetes

Source: American Diabetes Association

NO HILL FOR A CLIMBER

June 28, 2011Read John 6

"Then Jesus climbed a mountain..." --John 6:3

A friend of mine, Betty Gutierrez of Fitness on Fire Ministries in Grapevine, Texas, can often be heard telling her class that "Jesus would climb mountains to pray, so we know He was healthy." Her message makes me think...Jesus wasn't healthy for health's sake, but for Heaven's. In order to pray, he climbed. In order to worship, he walked. His body simply got His soul where it needed to go. His health on earth was in direct response to His purpose.

At PrayFit, we believe that our health is not so much about how we want to look, but more about what we need to do. The more fit we are, the better we live, move and serve. Our health should enable our purpose, not get in the way. To think, Jesus was often out of breath for us...when was the last time we were out of breath for Him? But then again...we don't have to climb mountains to pray.

--J.P.

DID YOU KNOW?

According to the CDC, more than 60 percent of U.S. adults do not engage in the recommended amount of activity. And approximately 25 percent of U.S. adults are not active at all.

What are you doing in your home, school, community or church to help improve these daunting statistics? Tell us what works for you. Your fitness testimony could change a life. And if we can help, please let us know. We're here.

OPEN HOUSE

March 22, 2011Read: Isaiah 1

"Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow." --Isaiah 1:18

Walking Josey around the neighborhood this last weekend, I came across an open house sign. The arrow pointed us up the street, so up we went. Interestingly, the closer we got to the house, the nicer things seemed. The manicured lawn looked like the greens of The Masters at Augusta. Smiling neighbors waved at the milkman. Kids played hopscotch. Josey playfully chased cartoon animals across the street while Mr. Bluebird rested upon my shoulder. After all, it was an open house. And everything seems perfect at an open house.

Okay, maybe the cartoon animals were a little much, but as I stood watching the people going in and out, I could relate to the owner who had clearly taken great pains in preparing the house to make a good first impression. Before we let anyone in our lives, we hide the dirt. We sweep regrets under the rug, polish the pain and spit-shine the shame. We don't want anyone to see the proof under the roof.

Isn't it comforting to know that we don't need to clean ourselves up before we let Jesus in? We can stop scrubbing failures from the floor and just open the door. Besides, the asking price for your heart's home is way too high for anyone but Him, and He paid it in full.

--J.P.

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.00 a gallon at the pump this week. But before you go and blame Middle East unrest, market instability or rapid inflation, you might want to consider the following statistic.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine,  nearly one billion gallons of additional fuel per year can be attributed to the average weight gain between 1960 and 2002 of people living in the United States. This represents nearly three times the total amount of fuel consumed by all passenger vehicles each day based on current driving habits, or approximately 0.7% of the total amount of fuel consumed by passenger vehicles annually. Moreover, it is estimated that over 39 million gallons of fuel are consumed annually for every one pound increase in average passenger weight.

In other words, the heavier we get, the harder our cars, trucks, trains and planes have to work to transport us from A to B.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

THERE WILL BE DELAYS

March 16, 2011Read: Matthew 17

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

Thinking about 2011 goals is pretty exciting (and daunting). My heart skips a beat when I think of some of the big mountains my little legs want to climb. Dreams are awesome, aren't they? It's like saying, "That one, God. Yes! Let's conquer that!" And with a little faith, we chase them.

Well, just as soon as we began our road trip home the other day, I saw a sign: DELAYS AHEAD. I didn't give it much thought. A few miles later: EXPECT DELAYS. I looked at my watch. "So far so good," I reasoned. So I shrugged, turned up the radio and set my cruise control. But sure enough the next sign literally read: EXPECT EXTREME DELAYS SOON. They weren't kidding about the "extreme" or "soon" parts. In fact, I knew it was gonna be bad when I saw cars pulling off the highway by any means possible to find a short cut. Our quick five-hour trip had quickly become eight.

You know, as we begin to think about, pray for and jot down faith and fitness goals for the upcoming year, we can expect delays. Even though we might hit the new year at full speed, the chances of a few roadblocks are high. But let's not quit or lose heart. Whatever the next bend brings, the good Lord will get us through. So let's stay on the right road and keep the faith in drive.

--J.P.

Application: As we approach a new season, have you hit any roadblocks or delays on your toward your goals? How's your bible study and prayer time? What about your eating habits and exercise routines? It is time to recalibrate?

FITTER WITH FIDO

If you're a dog owner, you're already at a huge advantage in your quest for a slimmer physique. A study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health found that 61% of dog owners walked their dog for at least 10 minutes at a time, while 27% took the family pet out walking 150 minutes per week or more. The odds of getting 150 minutes of walking per week -- a baseline level of fitness -- were 34% higher for dog walkers compared to non-dog owners and the odds of doing any leisure time physical activity were an astounding 69% higher. The most staggering statistic, perhaps, was the fact that 39% of the respondents in the study didn't walk their dogs at all!  Even our canines are suffering from our ambivalence to exercise.

THAT'S THE ONE

February 24, 2011Read: 1 Samuel 17

"Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the stream." --1 Samuel 17:40

Before David hurled the stone at his giant, I picture him down at the stream, tossing them up one-by-one in his hand. See, I have a feeling he measured a few before finding just the right one for this particular overgrown nuisance. Did you notice the verse? He "chose" five stones. He made decisions based on his needs and abilities. "Too light.” Toss. "Too small." Toss. "That’s the one!” After all, David knew what he was up against and planned accordingly.

What about you? In the area of health, you might be facing some big issues. Is it your diet? Your training consistency? Maybe you can’t find the right routine? Well, whatever the case, take a stroll down to the stream with David. Kneel down with him and gather some ammo. If the pebbles you’ve been flinging at your giant-size goals aren’t making a dent, then reload. You know what you’re up against. The key is to do like David did and find it. Remember, His fight was worth it and so is yours.

--J.P.

THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM What are the main causes of the obesity epidemic?

--Weight gain occurs when people eat too much food and get too little physical activity.

--Societal and community changes have accompanied the rise in obesity.

  • People eat differently:
    • Some Americans have less access to stores and markets that provide healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, especially in rural, minority and lower-income neighborhoods. Restaurants, snack shops, and vending machines provide food that is often higher in calories and fat than food made at home.
    • There is too much sugar in our diet. Six out of 10 adults drink at least 1 sugary drink per day.
    • It is often easier and cheaper to get less healthy foods and beverages.
    • Foods high in sugar, fat, and salt are highly advertised and marketed.
  • Many communities are built in ways that make it difficult or unsafe to be physically active:
    • Access to parks and recreation centers may be difficult or lacking and public transportation may not available.
    • Safe routes for walking or biking to school, work, or play may not exist.Too few students get quality, daily physical education in school.
    • Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

THERE WILL BE DELAYS

December 29, 2010Read: Matthew 17

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

Yesterday we began thinking and praying about next year's goals. Pretty exciting (and daunting). My heart skips a beat when I think of some of the big mountains my little legs want to climb. Dreams are awesome, aren't they? It's like saying, "That one, God. Yes! Let's conquer that!" And with a little faith, we chase them.

Well, just as soon as we began our road trip home the other day, I saw a sign: DELAYS AHEAD. I didn't give it much thought. A few miles later: EXPECT DELAYS. I looked at my watch. "So far so good," I reasoned. So I shrugged, turned up the radio and set my cruise control. But sure enough the next sign literally read: EXPECT EXTREME DELAYS SOON. They weren't kidding about the "extreme" or "soon" parts. In fact, I knew it was gonna be bad when I saw cars pulling off the highway by any means possible to find a short cut. Our quick five-hour trip had quickly become eight.

You know, as we begin to think about, pray for and jot down faith and fitness goals for the upcoming year, we can expect delays. Even though we might hit the new year at full speed, the chances of a few roadblocks are high. But let's not quit or lose heart. Whatever the next bend brings, the good Lord will get us through. So let's stay on the right road and keep the faith in drive.

--J.P.

STAY THE COURSE | Statistics show that commitment to New Year's resolutions wane after the first month, and only 20% maintain the resolutions past Valentine's Day.

FOR DISCUSSION | What are some of the roadblocks you foresee in your goals for 2011? Are there any signs pointing to a slowing of your progress? Share your worries, fears and roadblocks here with like-minded friends in the PrayFit community.

THE CLOSER

October 26, 2010Read: Matthew 24 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” -- Matthew 24:36

Seeing that my baseball season is over, I thought I’d give you another reason why I love America’s pastime: the role of the closer. The closer is someone who specializes in sealing the deal. See, in baseball you play until the game is done. Not the case in other sports. Take basketball for instance. There’s a minute left, you’re up five points and rather than drive to the basket, you run out the clock. In football, you take a knee. Soccer, hockey — you name it. Most major sports have a way to play it safe.

I think we all have the tendency to play it safe on occasion. As Christians, we can get into a mindset of “I’m saved, I can coast, I think I’ll run out the clock today.” But days can turn into weeks and weeks, years. Which reminds me, in baseball, there is no clock. You don’t know how long a life — I mean — a game can last. Thus, the need for a closer. Someone who does his best work at the end.

Recently I read that Billy Graham hopes to preach one more time before the Lord takes him home. Even though he struggles to stand, Billy still wants the ball. Talk about a closer.

Now, granted, we’re no Billy Graham you or I. Nobody’s waiting to hear our last words. Or are they? The fact that we’re reading this sentence means we’re still in the game and the ball is in our hands. So stay warm. We just never know when we’ll be needed to take the hill.

--J.P.

DIABETES: A SCARY SITUATION

No need to look for ghosts and goblins this Halloween. Those in search of a scare need only look at the latest study on diabetes released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Type II diabetes has become one of the greatest health problems facing mankind. An estimated 285 million people have diabetes in the world today. Sadly, because it's a condition that you can live with relatively symptom-free for years, people are failing to see cause for alarm. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may change that. According to the CDC, as many as 1 in 3 Americans could be diabetic by 2050 unless action is taken.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in 2007, and is the leading cause of new cases of blindness among adults under age 75, kidney failure, and non-accident/injury leg and foot amputations among adults. People with diagnosed diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease. The total costs of diabetes are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs. About 24 million Americans have diabetes, and one-quarter of them do not know they have it.

To read the full report by the CDC click here: Diabetes on the Rise

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