training

Jars of Clay

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are hard-pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." --2 Corinthians 4:7-10

Read: 2 Corinthians 4

Today's verse is as motivating as it is convicting. Take a look again. Notice what he said. "Treasure in jars of clay". That verse is coming from a man who was given 39 lashes five times, beaten with rods five times, pelted with stones, shipwrecked three times, and who would go without sleep, food and clothing; all because of his heart for churches, people, and the message of the inconceivable grace of Jesus.

Compare what Paul said to something I read on a picture quote recently where someone boastfully warns, "Before you judge me, step into my shoes and walk the life I'm living, and if you get as far as I am, just maybe you'll see how strong I really am." I admit, I'd love to hear Paul's graceful response to such a misstatement, because if the most influential man this side of Christ knew anything, He knew where his power and strength came from and from where it didn't.

But today's verse is also a comfort, not simply because of the physical metaphors of hardship, but for the reason to get up at all. "So that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." See -- to Paul -- surviving the shipwreck or sustaining the beatings weren't so much as death defying as they were life-revealing.

And to think, you're a jar of clay, too. So am I. A malleable, bendable, breakable, fillable and spillable jar of clay. I know, some days we feel more like a piñata than a Godly jar of clay. But if it's any help, just remember, if you hit a piñata hard enough, what happens? People get the treasure inside. And that's what I get from Paul. He bled Jesus. He bled the treasure.

So dear friends, let's invite others to step into our shoes and live the life we're living. And when they get as far as we're going, maybe, just maybe, they'll get to see exactly just how strong we're not.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: The jar of clay typing this sentence has been known to lose his wallet, his truck keys, and his health, to say nothing of his daily sins and filthy rags of good deeds. I've said it before and I'll say it again, getting up from a trial doesn't reveal our strength. The fall reveals that. Getting up reveals God's grace. What are you thanking God for today? Any praises? What has He given you the health, strength and grace to continue? As for me, I have one. You're reading it.

 

DEFINING INTENSITY

The fitness world continues to parade high-intensity interval training (HIIT) as one of the best ways to improve body composition, improve athleticism and increase general health markers. You may be thinking, "I'm not really capable of high-intensity training." Hey, we're right there with you. Even the youngest and healthiest among us get uncomfortable with the idea of pushing your physical limits. But here's the good news: intensity is relative. And you may be able to start reaping the benefits of this simple training principle today, no matter where you are on your health walk.

>> What is intensity?

BRING PRAYFIT TO YOUR TOWN

Churches. Community events. Schools. Corporate events. PrayFit is on the march in 2014 with its unchanging message; one of stewardship, of faith, of humility, of endurance. The team is actively booking spring and summer events! Reach out to us at info@prayfit.com for more details. As always, for churches and other non-profit events there is never a speaking fee. Talk to your pastors and leaders. Reach out to us and let's see health as a means of praise, together.

The Purpose Fulfilled Life

Hope you're enjoying the week looking at some of life's closers. First Mariano Rivera, and then of course Joseph. And while Joseph was unavoidable, the next two, I argue, are undeniable. If you've been with us for any stretch of time, you know they're a couple of my favorites.

"See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My children and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want  you to immediately remember this suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember that I know where I'm going." 

The man who said that is none other than Billy Graham. What a way to live and finish, amen? Sure sets the bar high, doesn't he? So does this next one.

There he was. Tied up. Who knows how long he'd been waiting? The most insignificant of animals with a seemingly inconsequential life. No thoroughbred blood running through his veins. His next meal was his only solace between chores. A helpless laborer, a meaningless creature. When, all of a sudden, Jesus asked for him specifically. In that day, donkeys were known to protect sheep, but that day he carried The Lamb. God chose him. Uniquely qualified, his purpose was to carry Jesus to His. He delivered. I suppose you could say he was born for this moment.

You may have heard me say it before, but I like to think that a donkey nobody had ever ridden knew exactly who he carried. And I bet he did his best to make Jesus proud. Of course, we don't know what the Lord said to him as He got off and walked away, maybe nothing. But this writer likes to think that as the crowd took Jesus the rest of the way, that little donkey stood taller than ever. The only one who noticed him and needed him was the One he just carried.

Let's make it our life's purpose to close-out life -- like Billy and the donkey -- and be remembered for where we're going, and who we carried along the way.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What a contrast in closers, don't you agree? Bill Graham and the donkey. One life spent evangelizing the world, filling years with special moments. The other called to be ready for just one. Man oh man. That's tough to type. You and I are no Billy Grahams, but I would have proudly been the donkey.

 

The Athlete

Where were we? Oh, yes. Under the light of the lamp; mid-letter. As we look over his shoulder, we find Paul telling the people of Corinth about the need for self-discipline. Not in order to earn salvation, but for the eternal rewards of reflecting the Lord in life. "I discipline my body like an athlete..."

In the book of Hebrews, Paul writes, "For they (earthly fathers) disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness." Paul knew that God wants us to live holy lives, and because we fall and fail, we need to be disciplined like children. And here, what we find Paul proclaiming -- and eventually carving into our hearts -- is a preemptive strike upon his own. As the sports-minded or health-conscious person may appreciate, Paul uses the analogy of an athlete who perseveres through training. He allowed the athlete's life of sacrifice to describe how he lives the sacrificial life of a Christ-follower.

At first glance, it's an incredible parallel drawn by the most influential man the world has ever known this side of Christ. But even more amazing when you consider that the man who wrote these words would be given 39 lashes five times, beaten with rods five times, pelted with stones, shipwrecked three times, and who would go without sleep, food and clothing; all because of his heart for churches, people and the message of Jesus.

In sports or fitness, it's tough for an athlete to go without food or sleep, but this most amazing man of God didn't seek to look like, win medals like, or get adored like an athlete. No, the man we find under the lamp trained his life like one. And when he finishes this sentence, we'll find out why.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What is your definition of a Christian athlete?

____

Country Baked FrittataRECIPE OF THE WEEK: Country Baked Frittata

"I can't call this a true frittata or a true quiche," says PrayFit contributor Kimberly Fuller, NASM-CPT, CES. "It's a mish-mash of both -- the ingredients of a frittata, but baked like a quiche. You can call it whatever you want, I'll just call it good and healthy!"

>> Click here for the mouthwatering recipe!

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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It's Not In Our DNA

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.” --Luke 17:15-16

Read: Luke 17

DNAOur DNA is remarkable. Our microscopic fingerprint. A double-helix with 25,000 regions of genes that tell the body how to build itself. And we’re getting better at reading it. Want to know if your child has the genetics of an all-pro athlete? There’s a gene for that. Or maybe even more impressive, there’s a gene that determines motivation to become an all-pro athlete. One’s genetic make-up can tell us so much about our future. The smarter we get, the better we’ll be at predicting all sorts of things from the likelihood of certain illnesses to athletic potential.

Aren’t we glad that Heaven isn’t determined by our DNA? When ability falls short and capability fails miserably, Jesus touches our hearts and leaves a permanent imprint of a nail-scarred hand; the only statistically significant indicator of one’s destiny.

–Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: As believers, we have to employ healthy habits in our lives. The goal of abundant life needs to become part of our DNA. If it wasn't something that we have to consciously do, God wouldn't have reminded us. Some things don't come naturally, whether it be motivation, athletic ability, coordination. But none of that matters. God sees the heart, so don't spend time critiquing the mirror or applauding it. Get moving in order to reflect Him. Serve others, be an example to kids, help neighbors, get active in church. When we say health is a means of praise, we don't mean for ourselves.

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.

Your Top Three

"In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." --1 Thessalonians 5:18

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5

Do you like lists? I love lists. My wife and I can be on our daily walk, and all I have to say to her is, "Give me your top three" and she knows I'm asking her to name me the three people she would love to have over for dinner. Without hesitation, Dr. Charles Stanley, Jimmy Fallon and Savannah Guthrie are scooting their chairs under our table. We've done things like that for years. And don't get me started about New Year's resolutions. We've saved every list of resolutions for 18 years. Not only that, we witness, sign and ratify them. (I wish I were kidding). What can I say? I love lists. Especially thankful ones.

Do you have one? A list of things so far this year of which you're the most thankful? Could be your relationship with the Lord, or a new job, or maybe your health has improved. Take a minute to think of, or better yet, jot some things down. Use our comment section if you'd be so bold. What are you the most thankful for as we start a new week? Give me your top three.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. In case you were wondering about my top three for dinner: Max Lucado, Brian Williams, and of course, Derek Jeter. Let's eat.

dumbbellsWORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Dumbbell Complex

Dumbbells are some of the best fitness equipment ever invented. Simple and effective, dumbbells can help you to recruit additional muscle by forcing your body to activate stabilizers to balance your body during exercise. They can also be used to develop tremendous strength and to burn tons of fat. Dumbbells are just plain good for ya. One way to put them to work for you is via complex training, which calls for you to use the same set of dumbbells for multiple exercises. Click below for more detail on complex training and a head-to-toe workout to get you started.

>> DUMBBELL COMPLEX - CLICK HERE

Grace Solves for Why

"But he gives us more grace." --James 4:6

Read: James 4

Max Lucado once wrote, "Grace is the voice that calls us to change and then gives us the power to pull it off." I thought of that last week as my doctor cleared me to start healing on the inside. See, my 14-day check-up was all about wound care -- no MRIs, no CT scans, no surveying his deeper work. He just wanted to make sure that both the scar across my stomach and the one on my back were healing as planned. And as Eric shared with you last week, all looks good. Now it's time to take really good care of what we can't see.

How many of you reading this today are doing just that? You eat right, get your exercise in, take your vitamins. But there's something that's been missing. Something more important. Something...deeper. A show of hands of those that have taken care of the body, but you hear God knocking on the door of your heart, letting you know He misses His time with you. Or maybe the voice inside is urging you to improve your relationship with your spouse, someone at work, or "that" neighbor. Until now, you've shrugged it off. You've done the math and you can't figure out why. Besides, the mirror agrees with you, the money isn't bad, and you suppose, "If that neighbor wants to talk to me -- then, well -- they can come talk to me." But that's what grace is. It's the solution to our toughest equations.

I know sometimes the math of life just doesn't add up. We scratch our heads. We multiply our hurts and subtract our days. We feel divided, because it's not always easy to forgive, or cope, or strive, or to be modest, or patient. But the longer I live, the sweeter the proof is that when you carry the One, grace always solves for why.

--Jimmy Peña

GRACE WEEK This week is all about grace and how our health fits inside its all-encompassing arc. Do you have any questions? Give us your thoughts or post a question and it might make tomorrow's entry. Thanks everyone. Have a great, great week!

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Scrambled Legs Tough leg workouts help you improve overall body composition because you are training the largest muscles in your body. And the more muscle you're breaking down, the more recovery needs to take place, the more calories you burn. Strong legs beget strong backs and stronger cores and keep you prepared for everything in life from the stairs at work to running around with the kids in the yard. Here's a routine that you can incorporate to challenge those legs this week.

>> Click here for the "scrambled legs" workout by Jimmy!

A Holy Climb

"Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea', and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them." --Mark 11:23

Read: Mark 11

Hey everyone. After a week off, PrayFit is back online. Honestly, I probably need to write more than you need to read, but nonetheless, here we are in Jesus' name. If you happen to be new to PrayFit, we have a couple of common mountains we climb -- two objectives as we make our way up some pretty steep hills. For some, PrayFit is a place of encouragement to begin or continue an exercise program or sensible eating plan. Others don't need such nudging on the health side but have come to enjoy the fact that we're nestled in God's word and steeped in grace.

It's a holy climb, really. That's what we chat about each day as we scale. As one hand digs for its stronghold, we remind each other of our need of greater health in order to live abundant lives, serving and doing. And as we secure our grip with the other, we echo the truth that no amount of health or fitness, muscle or endurance is worth anything if God isn't behind each motive.

So, maybe you're like me. Maybe it's easy to imagine yourself clinging to the side of this cliff. For whatever reason, either by neglect or something that blindsided you, you're stalled physically. Or perhaps your fitness is just fine, but you're so focused on reaching the summit of health or even body image that you're missing the purpose of it all. Well, wherever you are on this hillside, I hope and pray you spend some time with us each day. It's my experience that the more we focus on Christ, the stronger we are to get over hurdles or to get over ourselves.

Make it a holy climb -- one you make only by reaching for His hand.

--Jimmy Peña

>> WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: PrayFit has partnered with Lionsgate Entertainment to bring you two home-based workout DVDs -- the second more challenging than the first. Train along with founder Jimmy Peña as you work to become stronger, leaner and healthier, all from the comfort of your living room. Below is a sample of what you can expect with our newest video offering, the PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System.

Two Tributes

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" --Luke 9:23

Read: Luke 9

Undeniably effective for building strength and changing the way your body looks, feels and performs, the squat also happens to be remarkably humbling. As I was looking at today's scheduled workout, I started to look for excuses to avoid my date with the barbell, but then it hit me: I should be thankful I can squat at all.

You see, while I was here racking my head for reasons to avoid this workout, a close friend of mine was struggling with a physical ailment, longing for the day when he could once again test his mettle in the squat or any kind of physical fitness for that matter. He would do anything to get under that bar, to feel the weight pressing him into the floor, to tremble through the uncertain descent that skilled squatters so willingly endure -- and to rise again.

This friend of mine who would give anything to trade places with me on my toughest training day of the week reminds me of another Who traded places with me for all my days to come -- of One who willingly carried the crushing weight of the cross and a certain descent into the tomb, only to rise again.

So today, tossing aside my fears and hesitations, I paid physical tribute to two friends. For one, I squatted. And for the other, I knelt.

--Eric Velazquez

PRAYER REQUEST: This morning, as most of you read this, PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be undergoing surgery on his lumbar spine. We ask that you join the rest of our family in praying for him.

Lord, we thank you for the miracles that are our bodies. While we know that our bodies won't last Heaven, we pray that you would help us to be good stewards of our health however long we have on earth. This morning, Father, we pray for Jimmy -- we pray that You would ease his anxiety and fortify his body and mind for the procedure that he is to endure. We pray for his physicians -- we pray that you would bless them with wisdom, discernment and steady hands as they work to repair Jimmy's spine. Finally, we pray for his wife, Loretta -- we pray that you would fill her with courage, energy and her usual, exceptional strength as a woman of God. Lord, we know that You are in control and that you will be by His side throughout it all. We ask that You would whisper your presence into his heart and that you would instill in him a courageous, unwavering trust in knowing that the doctor's hands are in Yours. Lord, today we pray for the body of the man who has made a ministry out of helping so many others take care of theirs. In Your name we pray...amen.

>> Share your own prayers and thoughts for Jimmy below, if you'd like, or drop him a personal message at jimmy@prayfit.com. Thank you for your support!

>> Next week, May 20-24, PrayFit will be going on temporary hiatus, with no new daily devotions or health content being posted to the site. We will be taking the week to commit to prayer for Jimmy's recovery. You can still find tons of valuable content throughout the site (see links below) and can expect delivery of the PrayFit Daily to resume Monday, May 27.

Training - Workouts, training tips and health news

Nutrition - Recipes, eating strategies, weight loss advice

Devotions - You can search our entire library of devotions here

Listen - You can hear select devotions read by Jimmy here

Hearts That Hustle

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

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

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

Josh-snowTHE BEST WAY TO BURN EXCESS BODYFAT

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

>> Click here for the secret.

Move With Your Life

"For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead." --James 2:26

Read: James 2

How many times have we asked God to move in our lives? I wonder if it even comes close to the number of times He's asked us to move with ours. Follow me through the day: The homeless beggar outside the supermarket; the lonely neighbor nobody ever seems to talk to; the teacher everybody gossips about. How many times a day does God ask us to move with our lives?

Same goes with our bodies. You may find yourself asking the Lord for the strength to stick with better food choices or for motivation to begin an exercise plan. But friends, if you know Him, He's made His move. The real question is whether the miracle He's done in your heart has reached your feet.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Fighter Conditioning

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

>> CLICK HERE FOR THE WORKOUT

"Being a big believer in Jesus Christ, PrayFit gets me on track to start my day off in the right direction.  In boxing there is no room for error. You have to be not only be physically prepared but spiritually strong as well." — Robert "The Ghost" Guerrero, 6-Time Boxing World Champion

>> Be sure to watch Robert Guerrero take on pound-for-pound champion Floyd Mayweather on May 4! Keep visiting here for more information on the fight, or visit the official fight site here.

It's No Wonder

"Know that the Lord is our God. It is he who made us and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture." --Psalm 100:3

Read: Psalm 100

toolsShe should have been a carpenter. If it had been a priceless work of art, she wouldn't have put any more effort into it. Sitting on the kitchen floor, Loretta (who is the handyman in the family), measured, marked and re-measured to make sure the new kitchen hardware was going to be centered perfectly. Of course, I "eyeballed it" and knew everything would be even, but that wasn't good enough. No sir. She even made me hold the tools as she steadied the level. But you can't blame her. After all, these were her cabinets for a room where we spend the most time and have have so much fun.

Putting my arm around her, I kissed the side of her head as we surveyed her work. In that moment, I wondered if this is how we should be treating our time, resources and our health. Our gifts deserve more than an "eyeballing" but rather a genuine care and concern, amen? Of course, not to boast in our possessions or to gloat about how "fit" we are, but all because of the One who made us.

"Fearfully." "Wonderfully." "Knit together." "Formed." "Created". These are just a few of the ways the bible describes how God lovingly built us. Just imagine Him with a level as He designed our souls with integrity. Picture it as He wipes the dust from our rough edges, smoothing tempers and molding character. It's no wonder He chose to be a carpenter. We're a masterpiece that He signed with His blood and framed with a body; what a privilege He's given us to care for His work.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Push-Ups & Planks If you’re short on time, but long on enthusiasm, today’s workout will meet both needs. No equipment required — all you need is some open space, your own bodyweight and 5-10 minutes. Even if you had other plans for the day’s workout, indulge us and give it a try anyway.

>> Click here for the workout!

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.

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Throw Your Head Back

"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." --1 Peter 5:7

Read: 1 Peter 5

Depending on when you open this entry, I'm doing one of many things. Check your watch. If it's early, and the sun is rising, be assured I'm dodging traffic and anticipating yellow lights. If it's mid-morning, I'm tapping my toes with my face plastered against the airplane window. And if it's around noon, I'm sprinting. I've let go of my baggage, thrown my head back and my arms are wide open. After weeks of touring, speaking and serving...I'm almost home.

Friends, life is a quick trip; a short but often brutal bridge. On it we sometimes get trampled. Maybe you can relate. Have you been overlooked this week? Ignored rather than recognized? Maybe you're struggling to cope with a troubled teen, financial hardships or health concerns. Whatever your recent trip of life has you burdened with, do what I am doing today. Drop the baggage and throw your head back. The One who knows you best, loves you most. So just run.

--Jimmy Peña

TRAINING TIPS: When to Pump the Brakes

Perhaps you’ve started out the year on a tear, working out several times a week and pushing your body harder with each session. That is fantastic but if you’ve started to notice that you’re a little slower, a little weaker and a little more fatigued than usual, or that your once-meteoric progress has come to a screeching halt, you may be a victim of overtraining.

>> Click here for more on overtraining.

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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!

A Peyton Manning Moment

"But Jesus said, 'You feed them.' They answered him saying, 'But we only have five loaves of bread and two fish, unless we go and buy food for all these people.'" --Luke 9:13

Read: Luke 9

Seeing as we're in the middle of football season, I've declared this Peyton Manning week. Of all the great things that Peyton is known for in the National Football League (NFL), changing the plays at the line of scrimmage is one of them. More often than not, he breaks the huddle, approaches the line and, based on what he sees in the defense, he yells out a different plan. He calls an audible and, in doing so, changes the game.

Now, for Peyton to be able to read the defense is a gift, no doubt. But I'm as impressed with how his offense adapts so quickly to his changing mind. One thing is for certain, you can't work with Peyton and expect routine. As for me? I'd prefer Peyton to simply remember what we agreed on in the huddle; 'Just stick to the original plan, would ya?' I love my daily routine. I can deal with the expected.

You know, Jesus was known for calling a few audibles of his own. Like we see in today's passage, asking the impossible, he'd watch his disciples go from scratching their heads in wonder to rubbing their eyes in awe. Maybe that's why Jesus so often asked where their faith was. I know He'd ask me the same. Can anyone relate? Anyone else having a week of unfamiliar routes and last-minute audibles? Anyone else rubbing their eyes yet?

--Jimmy Peña

MASTERING YOUR BODYWEIGHT How a simple increase in intensity can maximize your workouts

At PrayFit, we rely a lot on bodyweight exercises. In many of our weekly workouts, you'll see maybe a plyometric push up or a jump squat. Those moves are incredible for developing lean muscle. But I want to explain why. Take the plyo-push up for example. During the plyo-push up, you lower your chest toward the floor slowly, then you press yourself up as powerfully and explosively as possible in order to let your hands come off the floor. Some of you can even do clap push-ups, clapping your hands on each rep.

Well, there's a lot of science behind that simple move. See, during a typical push-up (and any standard rep on anything in the gym for that matter) we decelerate the move so that our hands remain in contact with the floor. Same thing with, say, the bench press. We decelerate the bar as we press up so the bar doesn't leave our hands. BUT, during plyo-push ups, we forget about deceleration and allow our hands to leave the floor. Doing so causes more fast-twitch muscle fibers to be utilized. Fast-twitch fibers are those muscle fibers most responsible for tone for the ladies and muscle mass for the guys. The explosive nature of the plyos calls those fibers into play.

So the next time you see a jump squat or plyo-push up, you know why. AND, when you get too tired during any of those sets, simply resume the exercise with the standard version of that move and you'll help tighten and tone even more.

>> For video demonstrations of plyo push-ups and jump squats, click here.

>> RAVING ABOUT PRAYFIT: Actors, athletes and Christian law enforcement organizations have lent their endorsements to our mission. Find out what they're saying by clicking here.

Salvation Carpentry

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." --Galatians 6:14

Read: Galatians 6

Wendy, you complete me. Sorry to start with such a tired, borrowed phrase but it's true. She does. My weaknesses in this marriage are balanced out perfectly by her strengths. She speaks Spanish pretty well, which has helped on our travels and with living in Southern California. She's tall, so that means I have someone to reach my supplements on the top shelf. But she's also a do-it-yourself maniac which is great since I am challenged by even the most remedial of home improvement projects.

I don't think I've ever put something together without having an inordinate amount of parts leftover. While she savors opportunities to tool, tinker and fiddle -- or as she says, "to do it right" -- I prefer to just duct tape it and be done with it. And the tape may hold -- for a time -- but eventually, it fails. But crafting things to last should be my goal, as it is hers, which reminds me of a great sign I saw once:

"People use duct tape to fix everything. God used nails."

God knew that our eternity was too fine a construct to employ inadequate materials. The cross -- which stands as the definitive, finishing touch on our salvation -- was built to last. It was built as a sign that heaven wasn't a "do-it-yourself" project. And the hands and feet of the Great Carpenter held the nails to prove it.

--Eric Velazquez

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 10-Minute Bodyweight Cardio Blast

No treadmill? No bike? Not a problem. It's short-sighted to think that you need some piece of gym equipment to get your heart racing. The greatest piece of equipment at your disposal is your body. Hit this intense, at-home cardio session to burn calories and start the day off right.

TRAINER TIP: To increase the amount of fat you burn, try this workout on an empty stomach. After a night of fasting, available blood sugar is low, meaning that your body will tap into stored fat for fuel faster than normal.

Perform each exercise for one minute and move to the next exercise immediately, with no rest between moves. More advanced exercisers can rest 1-2 minutes and tackle the entire sequence once more. Use this routine 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days. Walk in place Jog in place High knee running Jumping jacks Fast feet (Squat down, spread your feet and tap your toes as fast as you can) High knee running Virtual jump rope (Feel free to use an actual jump rope if you have one) High knee running Jumping jacks Walk in place

>> MONDAY "TO DO": If you haven't already, please visit the Official PrayFit Facebook page and click "Like," then suggest us to 10 friends.

Soreness in a Sermon

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." --Philippians 3:14

Read: Philippians 3

Yesterday's sermon reminded me of Saturday's workout. The guest speaker said to us, "I know who I am, and I know what I must do." He was referring to his thoughts the moment he came to know Christ 15 years ago. He then listed a handful of biblical examples who met that same conclusion once they met Jesus.

Saturday, I took my training outdoors. Over the last few months, I've had to modify my workouts and I decided to hit the local high school football field for some shuttle runs, snake intervals, and bear crawls. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that my 40-year-old body is reminding me today why I'm not in high school anymore. I even had to use my cap as a yard marker. I'd place it just ahead of the next goal line to help me keep track of where it was I was running on each interval.

Soreness, in a sermon. Seems it's a good reminder of Paul's urgency in Philippians. Our daily objectives of better health, stronger families and daily excellence are all yard markers to help us keep track of where it is we're running. And here we are at an interval -- an up and back sprint through yet another day. Off to work, school, the gym. Line, by line, by line; to and fro we go. But if we remember who we are in Christ, then we know what we must do for Him. Everything we strive for should point toward the goal that lies just ahead. Kinda neat, but each time I reached for my cap, I read what describes our prize of heaven--"Glory."

--Jimmy Peña

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY TO THE PRAYFIT 33 One year ago today (August 27), we filmed our first DVD, the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge with Lionsgate Entertainment in order to provide you with a fabulous, in-home resource to getting healthier for all the right reasons.

With 33 days of bodyweight-driven workouts and inspiring messages from founder Jimmy Peña, this DVD has been the bedrock of change for many who have chosen to believe one fundamental truth: that it is important to care for the body that carries the soul.

>> To view the trailer or to order, click here.

Have a PrayFit 33 success story? Send it to us today at info@prayfit.com!

Two Tributes

"Then he said to them all: 'Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'" --Luke 9:23

Read: Luke 9

Undeniably effective for building strength and changing the way your body looks, feels and performs, the squat also happens to be remarkably humbling. As I was looking at today's scheduled workout, I started to look for excuses to avoid my date with the barbell, but then it hit me: I should be thankful I can squat at all.

You see, while I was here racking my head for reasons to avoid this workout, a close friend of mine was struggling with a physical ailment, longing for the day when he could once again test his mettle in the squat or any kind of physical fitness for that matter. He would do anything to get under that bar, to feel the weight pressing him into the floor, to tremble through that uncertain descent skilled squatters so willingly endure -- and to rise again.

This friend of mine who would give anything to trade places with me on my toughest training day of the week reminds me of another Who traded places with me for all my days to come -- of One who willingly carried the crushing weight of the cross and a certain descent into the tomb, only to rise again.

So today, tossing aside my fears and hesitations, I paid physical tribute to two friends. For one, I squatted. And for the other, I knelt.

--Eric Velazquez

Questions: Do you take your ability to exercise for granted? Do you think training can be a God-pleasing act? Do you have people in your life that are physically unable to workout? Does that change your perspective on utilizing your physical gifts or striving for better health?

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: BODYWEIGHT SQUAT You don't have to settle yourself under an Olympic barbell to reap the benefits of this exercise

Bodyweight Squat | Focus: Legs, glutes, hamstrings, lower back | (VIDEO)

Stand with your feet about shoulder-width apart, a light bend in your knees and your toes turned out slightly. Keeping your head neutral, abs tight and torso erect, bend at the knees and hips to slowly lower your body as if you were going to sit down in a chair. Pause when your legs reach a 90-degree angle, then forcefully drive through your heels, extending at your hips and knees until you arrive at the standing position.

50 - Percent greater calorie burn when performing the squat, as compared to the leg press.

4 - Percent greater strength when performing squats in a Smith machine apparatus, as opposed to a free standing squat.

1000 - Total, in pounds, of Robert Wilkerson's (UK) record-setting raw squat in 2011.

Stumble, Rise

"Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light." --Micah 7:8

Read: Micah 7

In one of the heats of the women's 400-meter hurdles last night, two athletes met disaster but each recovered differently. Just a few seconds into the race, Vania Stambolova of Bulgaria hit the first hurdle, tumbling hopelessly to the track surface as her competition shrunk quickly into the distance. Maureen Jelegat-Maiyo of Kenya stumbled disastrously over a hurdle a few moments later. Both fell. But only one finished.

Dejected and physically beaten, Stambolova picked herself up and ambled reluctantly off of the track, conceding defeat. Jelegat-Maiyo, on the other hand, sprung up and continued on. She finished in last place, almost four seconds behind her next nearest competitor -- a lifetime in the world of elite hurdles. Despite her heroic recovery, there was little fanfare for the Kenyan hurdler to look forward to at the finish. No flash bulbs, no doting reporters -- just the knowledge that she'd picked herself up, run hard and given her best effort, both for herself and her countrymen.

How often do you charge out of the blocks on faith, only to stumble at the start? We misjudge our own power, we underestimate our weaknesses, and we short ourselves on hurdles of health. But those stumbles are never enough to knock us out of the race. In fact, our victory is assured because of the One who has already succeeded on the same obstacle-ridden course. As long as you commit to collecting yourself from a fall, there is no hurdle ahead you can't bound with His help.

--Eric Velazquez

EXERCISE IN FOCUS: REVERSE CRUNCH Yesterday's Workout of the Week started off with the reverse crunch because the lower abs are typically the most undertrained area of the midsection. Leading off with it -- you should always train weaknesses first -- allows you to target this hard-to-change area of your body faster. Here's a bit more about it, and some info on how to get it right.

Reverse Crunch | Focus: Lower abs

Lie faceup on the ground with your hands extended at your sides, your feet up and knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor. Slowly bring your knees toward your chest, lifting your hips and glutes off the ground, and try to maintain the bend in your knees throughout the movement. Return under control.

>> VIDEO: THE REVERSE CRUNCH