study

Our Place in the Son

Saving Mr. BanksThe expression on her face says it all. During the Summer, Loretta and I saw the announcement of Disney's Saving Mr. Banks to hit theaters this December, and well, it's been circled on our calendar ever since. Not only that, but because Mary Poppins and Saving Mr. Banks were filmed at Disney Studios in Burbank, they had a special, exclusive engagement in honor of them both. Trust me. If you want to earn major husband points in my little home, you make arrangements for our names to be on the short list of special guests. And oh friends, what a night. Like I said, the expression on her face says it all.

For only the second time in 90 years, members of the public were allowed to watch a movie in their illustrious theater, where just days earlier, sat Tom Hanks and the cast for the premiere. After the movie, we were given a special tour of the sound stage and other places where Walt Disney, Julie Andrews and eventually Mr. Hanks brought the story to life "in a most delightful way." Not sure who had more fun -- Loretta as she took in each moment, or me watching Loretta as she took in each moment.

But alas, I couldn't elude the specialness for long. As part of the tour, we were led to a photo set where we could stand in the shadow of the main characters themselves. Go ahead and re-read that sentence. Yeah, I wrote this entry long before the photographer told us to smile.

Friends, the world will tell us that we can't shine while standing on someone else's sun. But David, a man who's backdrop was God's own heart, knew exactly where he needed to be when he wrote, "Keep me as the apple of your eye. Hide me in the shadow of your wings. (Psalm 17:8)" Even King David knew that finding shade was the bright thing to do.

Yes indeed. The older I get, the more I'm realizing my job isn't to shine so much as it is to reflect. Try to shine on someone else's sun? No. Just save me a place near the shadow of the Son, and I'll be fine.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: How neat is that picture? Don't you love moments like that? I'm praising the Lord that He allowed me the health to make this event with Letta.

STUDY: A SWEET RISK

While it’s pretty widely known too many sodas can lead to excess calorie consumption, huge swings in energy and cavities, new research is suggesting that such beverages can also be a danger to your heart health.

>> Click here for the news!

The Firefighter

"When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses his face was radiant..." --Exodus 34:30

Read: Exodus 34

Immediately after my walk on Saturday, I was standing outside the condo doing my prescribed stretching when a neighbor's visiting father offered me encouragement on his way to dinner; a tall man, sharp, very put-together and gray-haired. He'd obviously learned I was recovering and he simply told me that he understood what I was going through. As I asked him questions, there was something about his answers. Not so much in the content, but in his conduct. You know those kinds of people who immediately capture your attention? This guy was that kind of guy. A man's man and a gentle giant of sorts.

Long story short, as we spoke, I learned he was a firefighter. Those who know me don't even blink when I admit that I unashamedly interrupted him mid-sentence to shake his hand and thank him for his service. But then you guessed it, just as naturally as could be, he spoke of the Lord as if he had just hung up the phone with him. His thankfulness to God for his health and ability were written all over his face long before it came out of his mouth. It was neat. He didn't know me or Loretta or what we did. He was just walking by, shared the Lord and drove away.

In our passage today, when Moses came down to talk to Aaron and the Israelites, how does the bible describe his face? Radiant, right? You just know when someone has been with the Lord. And nothing, folks -- nothing -- prepares us to meet the world, strangers, neighbors, obstacles or triumphs better than our intimate time with Jesus. You want to honor God with your body? It starts by hitting your knees and spending time with Him. The stranger who strolled by me on Saturday sure does, and it shows on his face. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that before that man puts out any fires, he goes to the well.

--Jimmy Peña

A FIRE FIGHT: We all have fires that need extinguishing today. Jobs, health, healing, family matters, kids' summers, and the list goes on. Amidst it all, how do we expect to live a life God desires if we don't pick up His word and read it? This week, who will commit to spending five minutes alone with the Lord? Not checking the phone, not on the TV or computer -- but quiet time with God. I realize we talk to Him throughout the day, but who's going to find a way for a personal bible study and prayer time? Maybe start with today's chapter if you haven't already. Let's come down from the mountain with an unmistakable glow that only God can give. Let's let the people we encounter say to themselves, "There's something about this one." And then let's tell them Who that is.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: THE RUNNER'S CORE

In an effort to become more efficient runners, people will often train their legs harder. A few more miles per week, a few more lunges in the gym -- legs, legs, legs. But as any experienced runner will tell you, legs are only part of the equation. Core strength and stamina are incredibly important for maintaining proper mechanics, whether you're training for a 5K or running out a double in a softball game.

>> Click here for a running-focused core routine!

ultralite-hat-back-white>> SHOP: Looking for some awesome PrayFit gear to sport on your next run? Visit the PrayFit store today for hot deals on tees, hats, wristbands and more.

Worn-Out Tools

"So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart." --Nehemiah 4:6

Read: Nehemiah 4

Like it was yesterday, I remember walking out of my English professor's office angry, upset and embarrassed. Gritting my teeth and holding back tears I marched, but I didn't get very far. "Excuse me, Mr. Peña!" And Coach Jim Loweree proceeded to alter my life. See, I had poured my heart into a project. Gave it everything I had. I stayed up late, studied early, went the extra mile. That's just what you did at the prestigious Cathedral High School in El Paso, Texas. It was the home of The Fighting Irish -- a place of faith, unparalleled scholastics, sport, and most of all, tradition. But alas, I bombed it. To make matters worse, Coach Loweree was a man I idolized. I wanted nothing more than to maintain a perfect GPA and impress him along the way. And in a matter of seconds, both goals were gone.

Speaking of goals, earlier that year, I successfully recited the famous poem "If" by Rudyard Kipling to Coach Loweree. I never missed a beat when it came to recitations. I loved that part of class. Speeches by President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, all by heart, not one word missed. But a line from "If" has been rolling around my brain lately:

"Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools."

Worn-out tools. Midway through my three-month spinal fusion process, I'm walking steadily and doing my prescribed bends. Yes, to Rocky music, no doubt. We're just praying that the new hardware fuses perfectly with the bones, and that the same success we saw with my neck replacement occurs in my lower back. God's will we pray.

I wonder, have you ever had to rebuild anything? A business or a home? Perhaps another aspect of your life and maybe even your health. Well, rebuilding is a faith issue. Not in our ability to make things as they once were but for Whom we build. Because when things fall apart, when we watch the things we gave our life to break, He's why we stoop.

And remember how I mentioned that Coach changed my life? Well, he did. In the schoolyard that day, he told me that I was going to have to start all over. Yep, he stole a line from Kipling himself. But Coach also told me not to take grades so seriously, to keep working hard, keep honoring my parents and to stand up straight after a test if I did my best, regardless of the grade. Funny, I took his advice. I never made straight A's again. But after six book projects, 15 years of newsstand articles and my highest honor -- this website -- I hope Coach knows his freshman English class and that afternoon talk in the yard changed a kid. So thanks, Coach. I'm still stooping. Still rebuilding. My life's work is my faith and health. Perfect for worn-out tools like mine.

--Jimmy Peña

GYM TIP: There's more than one way to use a treadmill. A recent study found that those who pedaled backward on treadmills and elliptical machines gained greater quadriceps and hamstring strength and had greater aerobic capacity than those who went forward. Click here for more.

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What Do You Say?

"I thank you, Lord, with all my heart." --Psalm 138

Read: Psalm 138

Sitting in a waiting room recently, I filled out paperwork, answering questions, checking this box and that one. Circle where it hurts and on a scale from 1-10, rate this, gauge that. And just as I was about to turn in my clipboard, I watched a daughter taking care of her mother in a wheelchair. When a nurse brought the mother some juice, the daughter gently asked, "What do you say?" Then her elderly mom -- barely able to hold the bottle -- turned and weakly said to the nurse, "Thank you."

With a lump in my throat I thought to myself, "She knows how to say thank you. She's just thirsty." My heart broke on a couple of levels.

But the moment made me wonder if I know how to say thank you. Not sure about you, but I spend a lot of my time listing my life's aches and pains, inconveniences and delays. Much like that paperwork, my daily prayers often go straight to where it hurts, and what I need, and my worry and fear. Like you, I'm so grateful that in no particular order, I can go right to Him with all of it. But if I could, I'd erase my answers and start over. Rather than ask God to heal what hurts, I want to mention to Him the things that don't. I want to circle my blessings. And as I read my list, may I hear that gentle reminder, "What do you say?" And like that sweet women, I know how to say thank you.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What are some ways you can thank the Lord for the blessings you have? If you could thank God right now, what would you list? You can share them with us if you'd like. I'm sure they'll be a blessing to others.

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.

>> Click here to figure out another crucial way protein is helping you keep healthy.

I'll Say, "No"

"Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." --Job 13:15

Read: Job 13

My wife is the runner in the family, so I typically don't read her magazine, but the cover blurb on her Runner's World caught my eye: "The Most Inspiring Runner You've Never Met." And I can tell you that if he's not, he's close. Hit by a car at the age of six, Bret Dunlap spent weeks in a coma. His first word when he woke up? "No." Seems he knew he had more life in him. And while he doesn't remember saying it, the 39 years after the accident simply prove that he meant it.

And while I won't give anything away, there was something his mom said to him that stuck with me. She said, "God never said anything about fair. He said you got a chance." This she said to a boy who suffered brain damage, paralysis, a colostomy, and who's face freezes, and who's mind forgets what he learns; just to name a few of his afflictions. But this she also said to boy who would teach himself several languages, give 12 gallons of blood over the years as a volunteer, play the piano left handed, hold the same job for over 18 years and eventually, run. Oh my friends, he may finish last, but he runs his race; one floppy foot over another. The rest of the story is miraculous, and sad, and gut-wrenching, and funny, and unbelievable and well, convicting.

Have you ever wallowed? Ever thought, "Why me?" or stomped your feet and said, "Not fair!" I know I have. I know I do. But it's stories like that of Bret that help give me perspective. And hope. And courage. And it's stories like that of Bret that always seem to remind me of grace and what Jesus did for me on the cross. Like our verse reminds us today, God's grace really is all I need and want, so whatever else I have in life is a gift. And when the enemy tries to convince me otherwise, when he tries to blind me to blessings, when he tries to discourage my personal calling, when he reminds me that my body is failing, I won't let it steal my joy. I'll just steal a line from Bret and say "No." What about you? What is your answer today?

--Jimmy Peña

Question: What are you doing to show the Lord and everyone around you how grateful you are for the gifts you been given? Is your life a statement that says, "Faith" or a question that wonders, "Why"?

It’s not just a tagline: Milk does do a body good. So do cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese. A new study showed that women who followed a regular exercise program on high-protein, high-dairy diets lost more total fat –- and more from their abdomen –- than those on adequate-protein, medium-dairy and adequate-protein, low-dairy diets.

>> For more detail on the study, click here.

Jimmy Peña's message of "Life is not about the body, but health is a means of praise" is being well-received by congregations around the country. His story-telling approach to how a healthy body can strengthen the body of Christ and inspire abundant living is a message you don't want to miss.

Bring Jimmy to your church this year! Contact us here: info@prayfit.com

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.

Perfect Harmony

"That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." --Romans 10:9

Read: Romans 10

Yesterday at the gym I was listening to a great new soundtrack filled with well-known classics in my headphones. The voices on this one song and the catchy chorus were just too good not to join in. So without hesitation, I began to add a harmony line; something I learned from countless days singing with Mom.

Well, as I walked by, one of the employees nearby raised his eyebrows and looked at me as if to say, "Don't quit your day job, pal." I grinned and chuckled to myself. But it dawned on me. He didn't know I was singing the harmony. See, even if you're in tune, any harmony line doesn't sound right to others if they can't hear the melody.

Folks, our lives, the daily routines and these bodies are merely harmonies. Let's remember that we're out of tune if we're too focused on our minor line, never letting others hear who we're listening to. You know, "I'd like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony," but that can only happen if I'm in unison with God's favorite song of all -- and the only one He lifts His hand for silence to hear -- the song of Jesus.

--Jimmy Peña

TURN UP THE VOLUME

A few years ago, PrayFit co-founder Eric Velazquez, Dr. Jim Stoppani and I formed the Weider Research Group when we worked together at Muscle & Fitness Magazine. One month in particular, we performed a study to determine how music affects strength.

We had a group of trained athletes complete a shoulder workout on two separate occasions. Both sessions consisted of three sets of dumbbell overhead presses, three sets of Smith machine upright rows, and three sets of dumbbell side laterals, all done using their 10-rep max and taking each set to failure. They did one workout while listening to their choice of music on headphones and during the other workout they listened to no music.

We reported at the 2008 annual meeting of the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) that the subjects were able to do an average of one more rep per set when they listened to music as compared to when they did not.

The take-home message from this study is obvious: listen to your preferred music when you train (or during whatever activity you enjoy). Being able to complete one more rep with the same weight, or going that extra 1/4 mile, is what can make all the difference in your physical progression.

WHAT'S ON YOUR PLAYLIST? Some of you (and you know who you are) have told us you're tired of listening to Toby Mac. Nothing against Toby Mac, but hey, what else gets the blood pumping? We want to know the top three songs that are on your playlist. Ready? Go.

Pope Francis

"But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant." --Matthew 20:26

Read: Matthew 20

You don't have to be Catholic to appreciate the election of a new Pope. Before he was named, I joined leaders in praying for whoever it was to be, as well as for the 1.2 billion people who will look to him for leadership and guidance. And like many of you, as the moment came close, I could feel the anticipation as the name was read.

If you watched the coverage, the first thing the experts did was defend his reputation -- who he was, his strengths, what he's done, and why he will make an excellent Pope. And then it hit me...

As chilling and exciting as yesterday was, there will never be more intense anticipation than the day we bow before Jesus. But friends, it won't be His reputation that needs defending, it will be ours. And even if we string together our best moments and grandest days, we won't have anything acceptable. Nothing worthy of Heaven. Not who we are, how we looked, our strengths, or what good we've done. But in divine irony and grace, His reputation will be our defense, as our lives are seen through His blood.

So we want to wish a heartfelt congratulations to our dear Catholic friends. May God bless Pope Francis and give him wisdom and courage. May he teach grace above all. His name was read, and it reminded me that someday ours will be too.

–Jimmy Peña

P.S. You know, of all the traditions the Catholic church has, the use of smoke signals of alerting the world of news (and not modern technology) is one of my favorites. It certainly would be easier to Tweet it or post it on Facebook. Reminds me of something Max Lucado once wrote in the book "God Came Near." He said, "Jesus could have come back as a man in another era when society wasn't so volatile, when religion wasn't so stale, when people would listen better. He could have come back when crosses were out of style."

NUTRITION TIP: Dark Chocolate It may sound like the most counterintuitive performance training advice ever, but having dark chocolate with approximately 70 percent cocoa pre-workout, can actually make your workouts more productive. Click here to learn how.

>> 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.

A Strong Church

"For physical training is of some value, but training in godliness has value now and in the life to come." --1 Timothy 4:8

Read: 1 Timothy 4

Many of you know how much I appreciate Dr. Charles Stanley of First Baptist, Atlanta. And outside of my sweet Brother Henry Powell who led me to Jesus, I consider Dr. Stanley a trusted pastor and mentor. Well, I had the pleasure of visiting his church again last Sunday. His topic: What makes a strong church? I grinned with anticipation in my chair, because I like it when he gets practical. And while I won't list all of the qualities he mentioned, I wanted to share a few.

Doctrinally sound. He said that if the church neglects the Word of God, we're weak.

Faith beneath the surface. He said that every Sunday in a room below the pulpit, a group of men pray for him and for the audience.

Genuine, committed and organized. Genuine love for each member, committed to the purpose of spreading the Gospel, and practically organized to deliver the message.

As he finished preaching, he asked two questions: "What are you doing to contribute to the strength of your church?" and "If others followed your pattern, will the church be strong?"

And now you know why I was grinning. Because I believe that our lives, our bodies and overall health could benefit greatly if we treated them like a church. If you're with me say "Amen." Consider the practical parallels.

1. If we neglect the Word each day, we are absolutely weak. Our might is not in our muscle or bone, but in our spirit. 2. Without faith beneath the surface, there is no service. Pretty is as pretty does. 3. With a genuine, committed and organized approach to honoring the body that God so lovingly designed, we can be even more effective in serving others with our God-given message.

And so humbly, if you would allow me to do as Dr. Stanley did and ask you two questions: What are you doing to contribute to the strength of your church? And if others followed your pattern, would their church be strong?

–Jimmy Peña

Commit: Spend 10 minutes each day reading God's word and praying. Then and only then, pursue physical goals. Will you make this commitment?

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.

Discipline Determines Destiny

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should." --1 Corinthians 9:27

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

>> AUDIO: To hear this entry read by Jimmy Peña, click here. [audio:https://s3.amazonaws.com/PrayfitAudio/Discipline+Determines+Destiny.mp3]

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Charles Stanley with In Touch Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia. He delivered a message entitled, "Discipline Determines Destiny." Of course, he made it clear that he wasn't talking about eternal destiny, but that he wanted to discuss our earthly effectiveness; how we handle our money, our time, our relationships and ohhhh yes, while I was at the edge of my seat, he said it..."how we handle our health."

None of the other topics received much of a reaction (perhaps because they were expected), but when he asked the question, "Who wants to live a long, healthy life?", there was a noticeable murmur. When it became quiet, Dr. Stanley simply asked his congregation how they expected to live abundantly when they're facing avoidable and preventable road blocks of health. Hearing it from me is one thing, but when Dr. Charles Stanley says it, it's another thing altogether.

As he preached, I scribbled. He used words and phrases like,

The value we place on our health will be evident in our diligence... Fulfilling, achieving, orderly, less stressful... Aimless and lethargic versus Godly and confident... Feeling good about yourself...  Nothing to do with age... He still has the best in mind for you... Positive impact on others...health can be a way to witness... Build better health and a better faith...

Folks, go ahead and quiet the murmur in your mind and settle your thoughts on this one: Your health is important to God. Any personal justification you've otherwise convinced yourself with, is false. The call to action this week is a call of discipline. And it doesn't matter what you decide to do.  Just decide and work within your means. Walk the block or the dog. Do some push-ups or lift some weights. Walk away from the dessert menu and step up to the plate of clean eating. Discipline determines destiny, and if you're reading this, yours is still unwritten.

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: A SWEET RISK One of the most common obstacles that people cite in their quest for healthier living is an inability to shake their soda habit. While it's pretty widely known that having these sugar-laden drinks on a regular basis can lead to excess calorie consumption, huge swings in energy and cavities, new research is suggesting that such beverages can also be a danger to your heart health.

>> For the full story, click here.

33 DAYS WITH PRAYFIT

Have you tried the new PrayFit at-home workout DVD? The PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System is a highly-challenging workout that can be done in your living room with some dumbbells and a workout mat and is guaranteed to provide a powerful stimulus for change. Whether you're looking to lose a few inches around the waist or simply shape-up specific bodyparts, this is the DVD for you. Click here to read more or to purchase one for yourself or a friend!

Worthy of a Frame

"I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made." --Psalm 139:14

Read: Psalm 139

Where do you keep your pictures? I’m not talking about fun, random, cell phone snaps or Facebook profile images. I’m talking about the special ones –- those worthy of a frame. That’s where we need to start…the mantle of your heart.

You know, we’ve all heard the statement that if God had a mantle, your picture would be on it. And while I love knowing that, I wonder what you and I would actually look like? At first, that thought might sound a bit weird, awkward or even irrelevant. I suppose it would be if we were talking about the body, but God sees our hearts. And like we’ve said many times, life is not about the body, and our bodies -- these frames -- will most certainly not last heaven.

But if anyone knows our bodies, what they’re capable of, and most importantly, how healthy they were intended to be on earth, it’s Him. So I guess you could say, we’re just pictures of grace; souls He saw worthy...of a frame.

--Jimmy Peña

QUESTION: God loves our souls so much he framed them with bodies. How does knowing that change the way you view the importance of health? Please give us your comments below and please share this with your Facebook and Twitter communities.

DID YOU KNOW? Obesity is threatening national security, according to a new study, because one in four young adults is too overweight to join the military. In some states, as many as 44 percent of young adults, age 18-24, are obese and unfit to serve and protect.

Source: Mission: Readiness

COMMUNITY: Plug yourself into the faith-and-fitness discussion by joining our social networks! FACEBOOK - http://www.facebook.com/officialprayfit TWITTER - http://www.twitter.com/prayfit

Open House

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

Read: Isaiah 1

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 Golf Tournament at Augusta. Smiling neighbors waved at the milkman. Kids played hopscotch. Josey 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 our heart's home is way too high for anyone but Him, and He paid it in full.

--Jimmy Peña

FUEL AND FAT

Like most Americans, you probably paid somewhere near $4.50 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

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 removed my warm-ups from my cold body and joined the otherwise sweaty and necessary group of kids on the court. What's the use, I thought. Well, the clock ran out, we shook hands, and I put my warm-ups 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? 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.

Full Hands In, Full Hands Out

"He told them, 'The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'" --Luke 10:2

Read: Luke 10:2

For anyone who has ever worked in the restaurant industry, you might be familiar with the phrase, "Full hands in, full hands out." This simply means that when you go into the kitchen, you take something from the restaurant floor, maybe empty plates or things that need to be put away. And when you come out of the kitchen, you bring something with you, like food to a table or cups to restock; whatever it is, you come out with full hands. This helps everyone work as a team and keep the ship running smoothly and effectively so that everyone has everything that they need.

I often relate this to my daily spiritual life as well as my physical stewardship. I am surrounded by so many that add to my life and allow me to have “full hands in" -- family support,  church, or a close friend, for example. When we receive, we must also turn around and share that with others. Maybe it’s love, a healthy recipe or tip, or even a life lesson. But I am praying that I am able to be a river and not a reservoir. I want to allow His blessings to flow to me and through me. Full hands in, full hands out.

--Allison Earnst

Question: How can you and I become a river that flows into someone's life today? What blessings have you received that you can now offer to others? Make that part of your day's agenda. And, if possible, be a blessing to someone without them even knowing where it came from.

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.

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.

Runners On Your Mark

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." --Hebrews 12:1

Read: Hebrews 12

Even though we were in a different city with an unfamiliar course, I found my favorite and familiar spot, the finish line. See, long before the runners ever cross the tape and well before the crowds, you can always find me there early to survey the land, to test the angles and find the best views. So just before sunrise, I did my thing, because I didn't want to miss my babe complete a test that began 16 weeks earlier.

Sure, while the official clock started that early morning, anyone who's ever run a marathon knows the big race is run in the small, unseen moments of preparation. Like the other runners on the mark, Loretta started that clock when she accepted the invitation. Everything she did after that was a direct reflection of that commitment. Like I've said before, it's easy to see God in a marathon.

So with my stake claimed and seeing as she wasn't due for a few hours, I got comfortable. And over the next few days, I'll share some of the notes I scribbled as I hunkered down with my heart's eyes open. I hope you'll join us as the runners come in.

--Jimmy Peña

RUN LONGER BY RUNNING FASTER Think the only way to become a better distance runner is to run for distance? Think again. While the importance of event-specific training can not be marginalized, there is a growing body of research to suggest that interval training may have value as well.

Scientists at the University of Western Ontario (London) found that subjects who performed 4-6, 30-second sprints three times per week (with 3-4 minutes of rest between sprints) burned twice as much fat as those who jogged for 30-60 minutes at a steady pace. Both groups gained an average of 1% lean mass. But what’s even more interesting is that the endurance markers — time trials in 2000-meter run and VO2 max performance — were similar with both groups.

So while intervals are highly touted for their ability to burn fat, they are also a solid option for decreasing your times on your long runs. Intervals boost your heart’s stroke volume, or total blood pumped per beat. That means longer times to fatigue, which is critical for distance runners. So don’t feel guilty if you can’t make it out for your five-miler today — 15 minutes worth of high-intensity intervals will provide you with plenty of benefits to take on your next run.

>> BRING THIS MESSAGE TO YOUR CHURCH...

For more info, write us at info@prayfit.com.

But Even If He Doesn't

But even if he doesn't, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. Daniel 3:18

Read: Daniel 3

Dr. Charles Stanley can often be heard saying, "Be obedient and leave the consequences to God." Kinda sums it up doesn't it? Go ahead and apply it to any circumstance you're facing. Trouble in a relationship? Making a decision about money? Need to trust God with a health issue? Be obedient and leave the consequences to God. Stands up, doesn't it?

Speaking of standing up, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego lived it. At the edge of a fiery furnace, they had a decision. Bow to an idol or be thrown in a furnace. They chose faith, believing that God would deliver them from the very fire that tested it. But then they said, "But even if He doesn't." That part of the verse has taken up residence inside my heart this week.

They didn't jump knowing they'd be delivered. They jumped knowing the Deliverer. I'm shaking my head as I type this sentence. I want an "Even if He doesn't" kind of faith. Save me, help me, heal me. But even if He doesn't...

--Jimmy Peña

HYDRATE BETTER, LOSE WEIGHT How water can help you to a slimmer waistline

One of the easiest things you can do to instantly boost your health is to simply drink water. Lots of it. Anecdotally, people who consume more water tend to have more energy throughout the day. But the science on the wet stuff makes your need for it all the more apparent. Check out this quick article on how water can help you burn more fat.

>> WATER: THE ULTIMATE FAT-BURNER

Can I Have This Dance?

I will be your God throughout your lifetime -- until your hair is white with age." --Isaiah 46:4

Read: Isaiah 46

You remember 8th grade dances, right? I sure do. I was the king of holding up the wall. Turn down the lights on a basketball court, add some streamers, some 80s music, and you had yourself a dance. Just...without the dancing. (No way I was crossing the outer marker.)

I thought of those dances this week while on a television interview in the Midwest. Referring to the senior citizens watching her show, the host asked me if it was ever too late to start an exercise program or to improve your health. Instantly I was transported to those last ten minutes of my 8th grade dance. Knowing my dad would be pulling up any minute to get me, I knew I didn't have another minute to spare. So I took a deep breath, swallowed any last drop of moisture left in my throat (gulp), and I defied 8th grade logic. I walked across the three-point line and asked the first girl I saw to dance. Best 10 minutes of the year for me.

And that's my answer to the host's question. Our life and our health are precious at any age. So if it's been a while since you've exercised or even if you've never crossed the outer marker, consider each sunrise the upbeat He's playing for you. So get crazy. Defy logic and move those arms and legs. Even if Daddy (Abba) says it's almost time to go, it's not too late to ask, "Can I have this dance, for the rest of my life?"

--Jimmy Peña

FAT-BURNING TIP: Train Hungry

Regardless of how long you've been exercising you have probably heard about the concept of "empty-stomach cardio." But it's not just lip service. Training while hungry -- ideally before breakfast -- can help you lose more fat when training. Researchers at Kansas State University found that exercisers who fasted before a low-intensity workout oxidized 94.3 more calories from fat, on average, than groups who had a meal 30, 60 or 90 minutes before exercise.

As you sleep, your body uses stored carbs (glycogen) to run your brain's motor, so in the morning, your body is in a carb-deprived state. This means that fat will be burned for fuel sooner during a workout.

As the study suggests, this approach is best done before low-intensity training because high-intensity training, such as sprinting, requires more carbohydrate for performance. What's "low" intensity? The most universal and leisurely low-intensity exercise is walking. So if losing bodyfat is one of your training goals, try putting your feet to the pavement before you put fork to mouth each morning.

BONUS TIP: The same logic applies to doing cardio after weights. Since weight training uses stored carbs for fuel, doing cardio after will help decrease the time it takes to start burning calories from fat.

DVD: Click here to get started on the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge.

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.

Are You Reaching?

"She thought, 'If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.'" --Matthew 9:21

Read: Matthew 21

She did what a suffering Job couldn't. Jacob, David -- them, too. Run through the bible and find as many people as possible who hurt physically, and one woman did exactly what each of them would have done in an instant. Having suffered for years with an issue that condemned her as an unwanted and unclean outcast, doctors couldn't heal her and family disowned her. She was out of choices, so she got up. She mustered strength of heart and elbowed her way through the crowd. She said to herself, "If I can just touch the hem of his garment." Now, the bible says many people were pressing against Jesus when He asked, "Who touched me?" (Mark 5:30)

Maybe you can relate. Are you hurting physically? Perhaps you've been dealing with pain unknown to most, but like the woman in our story, something has privately clouded your life. Or maybe you're apparently healthy and able, and yet you've willfully and knowingly neglected your body as a fearfully woven gift. Whoever you are and whatever your needs, make no mistake...Jesus knows your hurt and your heart. There's no pain or scar He won't understand, so bring it all. And remember, while many people actually touched Jesus on the road that day, only one truly reached.

--Jimmy Peña

STUDY: EXERCISE ACUTELY IMPAIRS COGNITIVE FUNCTION You may want to do those TPS reports before your next tough workout

How well do you recall things or process complicated problems immediately after exercise? If you just finished a workout, then maybe you need to read that sentence again. We'll wait...

If you really think about it, and are honest with yourself, you likely have more difficulty focusing on anything more complicated than mixing your protein shake. A new study shows that those who took cognitive function tests immediately after a workout had significantly slower response times than a group that rested.

>> Click here for the study abstract.

"Research shows that exercise can boost brain power over the long haul," says Jim Stoppani, PhD, co-author of "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." "However, the immediate effects of exercise may have detrimental effects on your brain function, as this new study shows. So for the students who train, either train after your tests or give yourself a few hours between your workout and your tests to prevent the fatigue of the workout from impairing your performance on the test."

It Took a Funeral

"The one who believes in me will live, even though they die." --John 11:25

Read: John 11

If anyone had the right to claim credit for the phrase "Today is the first day of the rest of my life" it was Lazarus. Four days gone. Entombed. Lazarus was dead. Then he wasn't. If any day felt like the first to him, this was the one. But it took a funeral to make him feel alive.

You and I are no different. Well, we don't cheat graves, but we are called to die each day...to ourselves. But we can't talk about death without including every aspect of life. Our minds: how we think. Our motives: selfish and proud. And our bodies: how we nourish His temple on earth. If we strive to be obedient in everything including, say, our approach to food, we live better. Conquering our daily life of health requires a daily death of self.

It's tough to live in a grave. Just ask Lazarus. His best day was his first day, and so is yours. And it begins at a funeral.

--Jimmy Peña

THE IMPORTANCE OF "PRAY" IN PRAYFIT Research reinforcing the connection between physical and spiritual health The name "PrayFit" isn't an accident. We believe that a deeper connection with the Lord -- which is achieved through daily reading, prayer and fellowship -- is central to your ongoing quest for a healthier body. A recent story lends credence -- actual lab-coat-and-bar-graphs kinda credence -- to this fundamental truth.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that individuals who prayed daily were 40 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who didn't pray regularly. And a 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma found that those with regular prayer lives exhibited fewer and less severe symptoms.

But the floodgate of research showing the correlation of spiritual and physical health doesn't stop there. Read the full story from the Huffington Post by clicking the link below.

>> HUFF POST: Why People Who Pray Are Healthier Than Those Who Don't

PRAY: Click here to pray with and for other members of the PrayFit community!

HOT TOPIC: Does God call us to be fit? What's your take?