sugar

A Powerful Statement

"Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord." --Isaiah 2:5

Read: Isaiah 2

Walking is a powerful statement. We've spent a few days this week on the subject, but there are a few biblical faces I wish I could see as they put one foot in front of the other. Try to imagine Abraham's anguished face as he walked with Isaac toward the altar; a wide-eyed Moses when his feet touched the Red Sea's floor; a groggy Lazarus coming out of the tomb; a soon-to-be-blind Saul heading to Damascus. The visionary Paul pacing in prison writing, "We walk by faith". Picture the crippled boy carrying his bed through town, or a once-blind Bartimaeus -- now turned follower -- not letting Jesus out of his sight. I'd love to have seen Simone the Cyrene heading to Jerusalem, or Simon the Cyrene leaving Jerusalem. The two mourning disciples shuffling along the road to Emmaus just before their eyes were opened, or Peter's look of wonder as he strolled across the water.

Oh, we could go on and on, right? Some of the greatest moments of all-time occurred during one of life's most basic yet powerful actions. Whether they were called, healed, leading, following or reminiscing, we get to imagine their faces of faith as they walked. But I don't think the best evidence of its power is found on the floor of the Red Sea. It's not on the island of Patmos or somewhere along the road to Damascus.

How does the Bible describe the miracle moment of the Word becoming flesh? He walked among us. Of all the ways God chose to relate to us, making footprints was one of them. And those precious feet wouldn't stop until they were nailed to a Roman cross. The hill of Calvary didn't require Paul's brilliant mind, Job's resilience, Mary's innocence, Luke's precision, Joseph's persistence or the positive encouragement of Barnabas. No, Calvary required the perfect, spotless, blameless, loving, grace-giving walk of the Savior.

Evidence of faith, of agreement, of courage, of vision, of passion and purpose, of love and amazing grace. Walking is a powerful statement.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: We know the specialness of a walk, don't we? The bride in her aisle. The soldier exiting the plane home. The surgeon walking out to family with good news. What walk are you about to make? What steps of faith will you take to get your soul where it needs to go? Make no mistake, your walk is powerful statement. Say something with it today.

Sister Powell Update: Hey everyone, Sister Powell received the prayers and thoughts from everyone. She's traveling from the jungle of Cambodia en route home. Thank you guys for blessing her and me with your words. Here is her reply to you all:

"Jimmy, I am honored by your kindness and your generous spirit toward Henry and me. I praise the Lord that Henry lived long enough to see the Godly man you have become. I thank the Lord we both saw the stable marriage you and Loretta have. And, I thank the Lord for my PrayFit partners. I just received this e-mail and devotion. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support.

You are like the steel girders under the bridge, holding me up. I cannot even express the encouragement you deliver to me through your words and responses. Encourage means to put courage in another. Truly, you have and continue to do that for me. I am both humbled and grateful."

DID YOU KNOW?

High blood sugar can sour your mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drink two and a half cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious than those drinking less pop. What's more, the depressed have a heightened risk for Type II diabetes. The reverse also holds true: Diabetics are twice as likely as others to suffer depression.

Source: Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"

The Prayfit Daily Returns Jan 7th! Subscribe Today!

"For unto us, a child is born." --Isaiah 9:6

Read: Isaiah 9

Soon we'll lay down the dumbbells and set aside the running shoes, and replace them with egg nog and wrapping paper. Christmas marks the crescendo of a chorus that began the day after Thanksgiving and will fade before the dawn of the new year.

For many, Christmas is a holiday of toys, food, family and new sweaters that we won't wear 'til next year (if ever). But through all the great things that come along with this season, all of which we too love to enjoy, let's remember the cliche is true. There is a reason for the season: that God came down to our level, because we couldn't get up to His.

So let us be first to say...Merry Christmas!

And finally, we at PrayFit want to thank all of you for your prayers of support, your time spent with us daily and for your encouragement. We're so excited about what God has in store for us and for you this new year.

May the Lord richly bless you and your loved ones today and everyday. May He guide and protect all of you and we pray for abundant health for everyone, so that we may continue to boldly serve Him all the days of our lives.

--Team PrayFit

NUTRITION TIP: SUPER SWAPS

As you look for ways to avoid the all-too-common holiday weight gain, or if you're planning on changing your dietary practices in 2013, your approach doesn't need to be as drastic as you think. Eating healthy does not have to mean a complete diet overhaul. A substitution-type approach can create big improvements in the way you eat, feel and look. To get started, try swapping the following:

• Processed grains for whole grains Research shows that eating whole grains reduces the risk of many chronic diseases. When shopping for breads and pastas, look for those with "whole wheat" listed as their first ingredient. And when dining out, don't be afraid to ask your server to switch your sandwich bread or hamburger bun to whole wheat. Many sushi restaurants will even make rolls using brown rice if you request it.

• Sugary beverages for water Drinks like fruit juices and sodas are high in refined sugar and calories. Their consumption can quickly lead to excess weight gain and eventually health problems. By switching to water, you can prevent this. You will also meet one of your body's essential needs, as water is required for carrying out most of its daily functions. If you'd prefer a bit of flavor, try adding some lemon. Aim for half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day.

• Empty calorie snacks for protein Foods high in processed carbs and fats yet low in nutrients are said to contain empty calories. They provide little to no benefit to our health and can easily lead to weight gain and the maladies that come along with it. Cookies, chips and candy are a few examples of snacks you'll want to swap out. By considering foods high in protein as an alternative -- like trail mix, yogurt, or natural beef jerky -- you will be giving your body a nutrient it needs to build and repair while satisfying your hunger in the meantime.

Amanda McDermott is an ISSA-certified Specialist in Fitness Nutrition and the owner of Feed My Body, a nutrition coaching program. Learn more at feedmybody.com and facebook.com/feedmybody.

>> The PrayFit Daily will continue on January 7, 2013. To sign-up, or to get friends on our subscriber list, click here. For now, you can stay with us on Facebook, Twitter, HeavenUp and YouTube. And for a final look at how your health can be used as a means of praise, click 'play' to hear from founder Jimmy Peña.

Ripened Fruit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." --Galatians 5:22

Read: Galatians 5

There aren’t many things that make me as happy and content as perfectly ripened fresh fruit. I love to walk into the market and smell the fresh peaches as I pass, see the bananas yellow to perfection. Perfectly ripened fruit doesn’t just "happen." It is a process that takes time, patience, and growth. There are many factors that come into play when I ultimately choose the perfect Gala apple to put in my basket and take home.

I often wonder if God sees us as His ripened fruit. Sometimes we end up the best of the bunch and other times we are a more banged-up version of ourselves. But, the awesome part is that even when we have bumps and bruises, He still picks us. To Him, we're keepers. We don’t have to be perfectly ripened. We're in His basket and He proudly takes us home.

--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.

DID YOU KNOW?

High blood sugar can sour your mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drink two and a half cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious than those drinking less pop. What's more, the depressed have a heightened risk for Type II diabetes. The reverse also holds true: Diabetics are twice as likely as others to suffer depression.

Source: Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"

A Sea of Obstacles

"But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left." --Exodus 14:29

Read: Exodus 14

If you've been following us on PrayFit, I know it seems we spend a lot of time the desert, but let's rewind the tape. Moses was reluctant, but he led the Israelites out of bondage, motivated and on their way. Then came the Red Sea. Uhh...Moses?

The reason we're stopping here at the banks is because we receive countless e-mails expressing gratitude for the motivation, but there are all sorts of barriers that prevent activity. The workout of the week was too challenging, time constraints, bad sleep...the list of valid reasons goes on. Can you relate? While you feel encouraged, you often face an immediate impasse. Well, with water up to his knees, and Pharaoh breathing down his back, Moses could relate to you and me. We've got health issues chasing us but seemingly impossible challenges blocking our escape.

Friends, we have to remember that it's not about a particular workout or routine, but rather it's whatever you can do, enjoy doing, and can strive to improve upon from one day to the next. For some, that means a brisk walk around the block, for others it's pumping iron at the local gym. Truth is, we all have our own personal seas to cross, so stay encouraged. God is able, so stay available. No matter how you got to the water or how you plan to get to the other side, it's not impossible...the sea is crossable.

--Jimmy Peña

DID YOU KNOW?

"Researchers find that even a relatively small loss of weight can have a significant benefit in blood sugar control, regardless of how you lose the weight."

--Andrew J. Ahmann, M.D., medical director of the Oregon Health and Science University Diabetics Center

Source: "Sugar Nation" by Jeff O'Connell

An Avenue of Affliction

"In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider God has made the one as well as the other." —Ecclesiastes 7:13-14

Read: Ecclesiastes 7

On the treadmill to my right, walked a man maybe 80 years old; on the one to my left, a teenager with a disability. The three of us huffed and puffed, each with a window overlooking a busy intersection -- sort of a fitness fishbowl, if you will. Each stoplight ushered in a new array of commuters and though every once in a while we'd capture the attention of a driver or two, one vehicle in particular caught mine.

But first, isn't it interesting that you really don't know what motivates someone? Some things you just can't see. You can only see the result. Oh sure, while the dashboard on my treadmill might give me distance, it doesn't know what it took to get me that far. Pastor Chuck Swindoll wrote, "Although this journey along the avenue of affliction is unpleasant and unappealing, it is inevitable. Working through the hurt is essential if we hope to become effective for God."

To be effective for God. Isn't that the goal both physically and spiritually? And since we know that nothing hits us without Him allowing it, it's a compliment that He believes we can work through the hurt. Or better yet, we're never in pain alone. So as I stepped in between the two bookends of life on my left and right, it was a comfort to know the steps God took to see me through mine. (Lord only knows what was inside their hearts-the history, the pain, the drive,- but whatever it was, they walked).

And oh yes, I almost forgot. The car that got my attention? An Official Vehicle of the Department of Aging. Somehow, the three of us "vehicles" could easily relate. Wow. Can't you just hear the applause of Heaven? Listen closely, take courage and keep going. Because thankfully, the road we're on as believers? It's an incline.

--Jimmy Peña

CARBS: CHOOSE WISELY

While PrayFit isn't completely against low-carb dieting, we stress the importance of choosing the proper types of carbohydrates to fuel your training and other daily activities. Carbs are, after all, the body's preferred fuel source, so extended or extreme deprivation can backfire for dieters as well as the companies that stake their futures on no-carb schemes. Case in point...

"The low-carb diet craze reached its peak in 2004, with far fewer people following diets like Atkins and South Beach in subsequent years," according to John Robbins, author of Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World's Healthiest and Longest-Lived Peoples. "On August 1, 2005, Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., filed for bancruptcy court protection."

Remember, the key is to control refined sugar, not to overly restrict healthy complex carbohydrates. Refined sugars, such as those found in sugary drinks, white bread and candy, digest quickly and spike insulin levels, which can cause the body to store fat. Complex carbs, such as those found in whole grain foods, fruits and vegetables, digest more slowly and provide sustained streams of fuel to cells.

Source: Healthy at 100 by John Robbins

Lord, Do You See Yourself in Me?

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

Read: 1 Samuel 16

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

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

POINT TO PONDER

Good friend, best-selling author of "Sugar Nation" and editor at Bodybuilding.com Mr. Jeff O'Connell (@J_O_Connell) Tweets...

Sugar Nation point: surplus sugar rots gums, threatens heart. Remove sugar, improve both. “Experts” who miss obvious -- REPORT: No Proof Gum Disease Causes Heart Disease

Crusaders

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

Read: Isaiah 40

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

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

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

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

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

Emily Ann Miller, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian and works at a Washington, DC-based independent, nonprofit science organization, where her work is currently focused on environmental and policy solutions to obesity prevention. She also speaks to groups about health and nutrition and provides nutrition education to patients at a free medical clinic that serves low-income, uninsured adults in the Washington, DC area. You can view more of Emily’s nutrition tips and updates by following her on Twitter, @EmilyAMillerRD.

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

CHARACTER. FLAWS.

November 22, 2011Read: Psalm 32

"You are my hiding place." --Psalm 32:7

A friend of mine recently asked her fans and followers if they could relate to any particular character in the Bible. I never get tired of that question. If you're like me, you don't know where to start. Pick one. The disobedience of Adam? That's me, hiding in the bushes. Insecurity of Moses? Yep, I'm a carrier. What about Sarah's idea of the impossible, versus God's idea of the inevitable? Regretfully, Sarah and I would share a good, brief laugh.

Indeed, find a character in the bible and you'll find your character flaw. But of all the things I'm thankful for this week, it's not about who I can relate to, but Who chose to relate to me. To think, I can identify with so many of the bible's lowest moments, yet Christ identifies Himself with me.

What are you thankful for today?

-Jimmy Peña

CRAVINGS: BRAIN GAMES Science shows that impulse control may have to do with your blood sugar

Think back on the last time you were hungry for something really bad. When that craving for high-sugar, high-fat and/or high-calorie food hit you like a freight train, how long had it been since your last good meal? Brain imaging scans show that when glucose (blood sugar) levels drop, an area of the brain known to regulate emotions and impulses loses the ability to dampen desire for high-calorie food, according to the study published online in The Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Your brain runs on glucose, so in a state of deprivation -- which can occur if you go too long between meals -- it may send signals that trigger these cravings. In order to avoid said cravings, your best bet is to have 4-7 small, healthy, whole-food meals and snacks throughout the day. This constant influx of fuel prevents your brain from going into panic mode and keeps you on the right track for healthful, abundant living.

>> For the full story on Science Daily, click here.

 

GRACE FOR IMPACT

August 18, 2011Read: Matthew 18

"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." -- Matthew 18:20

Yesterday, my friend Allison King Earnst -- in just a few words -- wrote a novel's worth of wisdom. She alluded to the fact that God will often plot a course for believers to meet and team-up for the cause of Christ. She called it a "spiritual collision." The expression (appropriately) knocked me back on my heels.

Friends, in the area of health, we need each other. If we're gonna to live abundantly like God intended, we need moms and dads, brothers, sisters, spouses and friends, to help us hit life head on. And when we do, God is more than near, He's here. So let's do more than just meet. Let's collide! With a running start, let's push our faith into the battle. God Himself designed these bodies of ours and the world won't take them without a fight. So...I'll see you in the middle? Remember, it's not the battles we lose that should bother us, it's the ones we don't suit-up for. Thankfully, in the times we break through, and when we ultimately break down, God promises grace for impact.

-JP

DID YOU KNOW? High blood sugar can sour your mood. In a recent study, researchers found that people who drink two and a half cans of soda daily are three times more likely to be depressed and anxious than those drinking less pop. What's more, the depressed have a heightened risk for Type II diabetes. The reverse also holds true: Diabetics are twice as likely as others to suffer depression.

Source: Jeff O'Connell's "Sugar Nation"

BE HEALTHY, QUIETLY

March 8, 2011Read: Matthew 6

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

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

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

Push away from the table sooner, quietly. Turn the TV off earlier to go outside, quietly. Praise God with your health, quietly.

--J.P.

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.

Professor Paul Elliott, senior author of the study, from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said: "It's widely known that if you have too much salt in your diet, you're more likely to develop high blood pressure. The results of this study suggest that people should be careful about how much sugar they consume as well."

His study, published in the journal Hypertension, did not examine the mechanism that might link sugary drinks with blood pressure. However, the researchers suggest that raised uric acid, which has been linked to sugar-sweetened beverage consumption, might raise blood pressure by reducing the levels of nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes the lining of the blood vessels.

Want an easier way to reduce your risk of hypertension and to keep your waistline in check? Drink more water and limit your soda consumption to special occasions.

Source: Imperial College London

Related Story: High blood pressure linked to high-sugar diets

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PEACE IN KNOWING

October 27, 2010Read: Romans 8

“No, in all these things we’ve been made more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” --Romans 8:37

Loretta and I don’t watch a lot of TV, but we have our share of shows, one of our favorites being The Apprentice. A couple months ago, we watched the season finale with millions of other devoted viewers. But unlike most weeks, Loretta sat uncharacteristically calm throughout the show. I, on the other hand, shifted in my seat and talked to the television. After almost two hours of nail-biting suspense, I began to be more intrigued with Loretta’s demeanor than I was Donald’s decision. Then it hit me. She checked the internet. She already knew who won.

So with about 10 minutes left in the show, I curiously asked, “Babe…um, so who won?” She got the biggest grin. She explained she just couldn’t stand the suspense, but because she knew the outcome, she was able to relax and enjoy the show.

As believers, the reality is, we’re Heaven bound. I say we do less shifting in our seats and be more like Loretta; enjoying the show of life as those who know who wins in the end.

–J.P.

5 WAYS TO SURVIVE THE HALLOWEEN SUGAR BINGE Avoid doing too much damage with these tips from PrayFit nutritionist Dana Angelo White

1. Say No To Super Sticky Taffy, gummies and other sticky candies can cement themselves to your teeth. This combo of stiff and sticky can damage teeth, cause cavities, and ruin orthodontic work, turning them into an expensive dental bill instead of a one-night treat.

2. Pass On Powdery Messes Sticks and packets filled with colored powders are tremendously popular with kids (and some adults!). They’re nothing but mouthfuls of colored sugar, which makes them among the worst for teeth — the tiny particles get into every nook and cranny! And you’ve got to wonder: are all those neon-colored artificial colors safe?

3. Forget About Full Sizes An average full-size candy bar will set you back 300 calories. “Fun size” bars come in closer to 80 calories per piece. Stick to mini bars and packages for built-in portion control.

4. Ditch the Dare-Devil Candy Excessively hot, sour, or bizarre-flavored candies (earwax-flavored jelly beans, anyone?) are more trick than treat. These types of extreme candies can be dangerous for the mouth, throat, stomach and digestive system.

5. Super-Sized Chewies Those super-sized gumballs, hard candies and gummies are notorious choking hazards. We suggest making them scarce, particularly if you have children.

Since giving out apples to trick-or-treaters will never be popular, try some of these healthier options: Chocolate or yogurt covered raisins Cocoa-dusted almonds Trail mix with chocolate chips (For the older kids) Sugar-free bubble gum

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. Get the rest of her spook-tacular tips here.