trust

Fear Less

Saturday night Loretta and I joined some friends at Universal Studios. To be honest, we're not huge fans of Halloween, but we enjoyed getting out with the gang. After dinner together, the dozen of us like Scooby-Doo and friends, gathered our collective courage and dared the various mazes designed to haunt and scare. Like, Zoinks!

Of course, I was hesitant. Not fully healed and still unable to twist or turn, I was fine to sit it out and meet everyone at the end. And I would have too were it not for my pesky friends. But in truth, a few things helped my decision to dare it. First, our group had private security in all directions to help keep us together. And second, the characters whose job it was to frighten us along each path were not allowed to touch us. Spook us, yes. Lunge at us, absolutely. But as long as I kept calm, I could walk in a straight line without fear; no need to react, wince or balk.

So like -- "gangway!" -- off we went. As we entered each maze, I literally found myself going through both a physical and mental checklist. First, I stood up tall, drew my core in tight and thought to myself 'nobody can touch you Jimmy. Don't react, don't wince, don't balk, just walk.'

Well, I foiled them. And halfway through the night I wrote this entry. As the skeletons in the closet attempted to trap me and the shadowy unknown tried to paralyze me, I thought of each of you. I figured, during a week designed to playfully frighten us, let's unmask fear -- the good fear, bad fear and the beginning-of-wisdom kind of fear. Hopefully when all is said and done, we can echo the psalmist when he wrote, "When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal men do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4)

Let's have a good week in this maze of grace. Oh, and one more thing, let's remember to stick together.

--Jimmy Peña

Next StepUPDATE: Jimmy's next step in therapy last week was lifting opposite limbs off the floor simultaneously. Not an easy move, even for the healthy spine, but slowly but surely, he's working his way back. You can leave your prayers and/or messages of encouragement below or e-mail them direct to jimmy@prayfit.com.

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Walking Joshua To Class

"So Joshua ordered the officers of the people." --Joshua 1:10

Read: Joshua 1 I used to dread 5th period math. Oh, I was fine with the subject matter, but it was the getting to my math class that had me shaking in my little boots. Each day that semester, a small group of bullies would hang out by my locker, calculating ways to torment me until one day, I got smart and asked my Bubba to walk me to class. Little did they know that the skinniest kid in school was the younger brother of the toughest. They did the math.

In our passage today, Moses has just died and the responsibility fell on Joshua. In preparing Joshua to address the people, you notice God say things like, "Nobody will be able to stand against you" (v. 5), "Be strong and courageous" (v. 6) "Be strong and very courageous" (v. 7) and then again God finishes his holy encouragement with, "Have I not commanded you, be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." (v. 9)

God walked Joshua to class.

You know, I don't remember ever being scared again on the way to math. Not because of who I was, but because of who walked with me that day. If you notice, God didn't tell Joshua, "Chin up, you have the power, trust your instincts, believe in yourself." No, God knew Joshua could stand tall because he wouldn't be alone. And what was Joshua's response? After nine verses of God's assurance, we learn Joshua didn't hesitate. That's right. He ordered. He commanded. He pushed forward in faith and trust. (Because that's how winning is done.)

Folks, faith says that there aren't enough problems waiting around today's corner that can add up or stand up to the One you bring with you. Like we said yesterday, life hits hard. Life can bully. And if we rely on our "selves," we do have reason to fear. But like Joshua and that skinny fifth grader, you and I don't walk to class alone.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What are you facing that needs your absolute faith and trust that God is with you? Health, financial, relationships, hardships? What can we be praying with you about?

EXTREME MAKEOVER: FRIDGE EDITION Body makeovers start in the kitchen. So for 2013, it’s out with the old and in with the new for your fridge and freezer. We’ve got five things to scratch off your shopping list and five fresher, healthier, and more affordable things to put in their place.

>> Click here for tips on how to retrofit your fridge for year-round clean eating. Prayfit Stainless Steel Water BottleSHOP FIT: Looking for some new fitness swag to sweat up in your pursuit of a leaner, healthier body? We've got just the thing(s).

Click here to explore the newly updated PrayFit store!

"Let The Healing Never End"

"Jesus wept." --John 11:35

Read: John 11

If you haven't read today's chapter, Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. And when Mary finally reached Jesus, Lazarus had been dead four days. Perhaps they thought Jesus didn't hurry or didn't notice. Either way, the grief and pain that Mary and the others were feeling moved Jesus to tears. Although Lazarus would soon be having a good laugh, Jesus cried. Why? Because their loss was His too, and their pain hurt. Imagine that for a second. Their agony hit His heart and...gush.

Yesterday I received encouraging news with one of my surgeons (last year's). But it wasn't an easy appointment. So important was this check-up that I had my wife, mother, dad and small corner of friends hitting their knees for me. I even bet my mom went old school -- like biblical -- and prayed in a closet. And it was the doctor who delivered the good news to a teary Loretta. But he wasn't crying with her. He didn't console her, hold her and he definitely didn't cry. Why? He knew the outcome. He saw her tears and quickly knew how to dry them.

You know, if Jesus could instantly dry the eyes of a broken Mary, surely He could prevent His own from welling up. But aren't we glad He knows how we feel? And shows it? Which makes me think, that probably wasn't the last time Mary cried, or cried out to a healing God. And yesterday wasn't the last day we'll follow her example. I'm learning that it's true that on this side of Heaven, the healing never ends. Like you, I often want Him to hurry or notice. If I didn't know better, I'd say this life looks a lot like that short road to Bethany.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Incidentally, tomorrow is my 14-day check-up with the neurosurgeon. Let the dust fly, and like my boys of the group Salvador sing, "Let the healing never end". Amen?

REPORT: ROOT OF THE PAIN Are you walking around each day with chronic pain in your knees or back? It might not be the thrashing you put on your body in your formidable years. It may be the few extra pounds you've accumulated since. The good news is that there's an easy fix.

>> Get the full report here.

LISTEN: Want to take in some of your favorite entries direct from Jimmy? Click here for a selection of audio devotions and be sure to share the link with your social networks!

Get Your Voice Back

"How can I be sure this will happen? I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." --Luke 1:18

Read: Luke 1

Not his best moment. Zacharias has just been given really great news; news of eternal significance. He's been told that Elizabeth will bear him a son. And he will go before the Lord with the spirit and power of Elijah, no doubt. The frontrunner! And not only that, the courier of this miracle message wasn't a neighbor. It wasn't a trusted uncle or even the High Priest. No, Zacharias heard this first-hand from none other than Angel Gabriel himself.

Now, all things being equal, you'd think that would prompt Zacharias to simply rejoice, trust and obey. But as you read in today's verse, Zacharias chose to respond like you and I often do.

Who me? I'm not qualified for that job, have you seen my resume? Who me? A missionary? Have you read my laundry list of weaknesses? Who me? Regain my health after years of negligence? What good can this body accomplish?

There's no telling how effective we would be for the Lord if we trusted the things God lays on our hearts. You know, Zacharias' little faith spoke volumes, so Gabriel made him mute. Months later, on the day of his son's birth, those standing around Elizabeth objected to his given name. But Zacharias -- still mute -- boldly wrote on his tablet: His name is John.

He got his voice back.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: When you and I let fear and doubt cloud our hearts and minds, we too become mute. What has God put on your heart that you need courage to accept?

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: BeFit with Jimmy and Kym

To start this week, we encourage you to dive into these workout tactics, brought to you by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña and Dancing with the Stars cast member Kym Johnson. In the video below, Jimmy discusses why faith is important for staying fit, then puts Kym through the paces of a workout that requires only resistance bands and your own bodyweight. For more workouts like this one, courtesy of our friends at Lionsgate, visit their BeFit channel on YouTube.

Think or Swim

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding." --Proverbs 3:5

Read: Proverbs 3

Armed with new floaties, towels and toys, we made our way to the condo pool for the second time this summer. My preschoolers clamored for the water, wiggling with impatience as I slathered them with sunscreen. Excited to join the pool-step floaty gang, they splashed and played with toys while their feet remained planted on the ground. My four-year-old rejected my requests for her to swim in my arms afraid that, despite massive bundles of air around her arms, chest and back and my ability to carry her, she would sink.

When she finally worked up the courage to trust me, or was just sick of being confined to the steps, she jumped from the deck into my arms. I was so happy to have her with me that I poured kisses on her face and exclaimed, "I love you so much!" She grinned with pride and I slowly toured her around the pool. Gradually, I released my grip on her until she was floating in the pool on her own, something she hadn't thought possible. She spent the next joyful hour in the pool exploring the depths, the sides and the ladder, and never stopped smiling.

What is it that keeps you and me on the "steps?" The Lord wants to gather us up in his arms, rain love on us and show us the amazing feats we're capable of –- if only we would trust him.

--Kristi Valentini

When not kissing boo-boos or playing dolls with her two little beauties, Kristi Valentini can be found writing parenting and lifestyle articles for the Huffington Post, Milkshake Kids and Momtastic, and sharing her mothering shortcuts at her own site, MommyCribNotes.com. RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Angelo Family French Toast

French toast -- we'll say it -- is a breakfast delicacy. There may be a special place in heaven where thick, egg-battered slices of perfectly prepared French toast are served at every meal. Unfortunately, here on Earth, it is an indulgence best had occasionally...until now. This recipe, prepared by PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, is a healthier alternative to this breakfast favorite.

Serves 4

Ingredients: 3 large eggs ¾ cup lowfat (1%) milk 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more to taste 8 slices multi-grain bread 4 teaspoon unsalted butter Canola oil cooking spray 100% maple syrup 2 cups fresh seasonal fruit

Directions: In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla and cinnamon; set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, spray with nonstick spray. Melt 1 tsp butter in skillet. Dip 2 slices of bread into milk mixture, making sure both sides are well coated. Place bread in skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes per side or until golden brown (sprinkle with additional cinnamon, if desired). Repeat with remaining slices of bread. Transfer to a warm oven until ready to serve. Top with maple syrup -- sugar-free if carbs are a concern -- and fruit.

Nutrition info per serving: Calories: 414 Total Fat: 11 grams Saturated Fat: 4 grams Total Carbohydrate: 64 grams Protein: 15 grams Sodium:  473 milligrams Cholesterol: 171 milligrams Fiber: 5 grams

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer, and nutrition and fitness consultant for international food companies, restaurants and marketing firm. Dana is also the nutrition advisor to The Food Network.

>> NEW! Now, you can easily view past installments of the PrayFit Daily by visiting our new archives. Using this new feature, you can now categorically access years' worth of faith and fitness information and inspiration.

He's the 'Why'

"No one can serve two masters." --Matthew 6:24

Read: Matthew 6

Speaking in churches across the country, the crux of our message is the fact that living an abundant life is not about food choices or exercise routines. It's not about making a daily or weekly plan to conquer your fitness or weight-loss goals. In fact, it's not about what our reflection reveals whatsoever. The PrayFit theme is and will always be, "Life is not about the body, but our health is a means of praise." It's easy to say. Rolls off the tongue. But our motto is more than a line in a speech.

It's more than a Tweet or a Facebook status update. The reason I can say that is because if you take away food, exercise and the mirror, it would still be true. Results neither determine nor deter the meaning of the mission; a mission only life's final war with pain can exhaust.

If I asked whether or not your health would be important to you if nobody saw what you looked like, would you work as hard as you do to keep it in shape? (You may be asking, "Why else would we try?") Whatever your answer, just remember the fact that byproducts of the effort don't determine the worth of the effort. What determines the worth of our objective to live healthier lives for our spouses, kids, or work isn't whether or not we succeed at it. What determines our worth is who we have inside our hearts.

Friends, Jesus gives our lives meaning. He's the point of the story, and the point of our health we don't want to miss. And for that reason, and that reason alone, we place our trust, time, our money, our precious loved ones, and yes, these bodies. If you're thinking about rearranging your priority list, let today's verse be the only reason why.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: STRENGTH & SWEAT How much time do you need to get an effective, total-body workout? Some will say an hour. Others may say 30 minutes is good enough. We contend that the proper blend of exercises performed at the right pace can get you a fantastic workout in ten minutes flat.

>> Click here for this week's workout!

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

Don't Miss This Boat

“We worked hard all night and caught nothing.”  --Luke 5:5

Read: Luke 5

Tired, worn, done. In that order. All that work and nothing to show for it. Peter's hands were as raw as they were empty, and the last thing he wanted to do was try again. But Jesus wouldn't let him quit -- not on his watch. In fact, Jesus said, "Now go out to where it's deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish." (v.4)

You know how Peter feels. You're struggling with your health. You've been fishing all night for the right plan or diet but you can't catch a break; not even a nibble of hope. But Peter didn't catch boat loads because of fancy nets and the newest bait. He caught his catch because he trusted, tried again and went deeper. I say we draw a line in the sand. As a matter of fact, Peter's pushing away from the shore. They're calling for you. If you hurry, you can make it.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: Peter's catch isn't point of the story; neither is your physique. So what is? And since Peter's successful catch wasn't required for heaven, why was it important to Jesus?

RECIPE OF THE WEEK: Tangy Carrot Slaw

This makes for a quick, nutritious dish that is a combination of crunchy, soft, sweet, and tangy, and it’s easy to vary the ingredients based on personal preference. Shredded carrots are sold near the bagged salads. This recipe is also good with chopped apple.

Ingredients: 1 (10-oz.) bag shredded carrots 1 (14-oz.) can chickpeas ½ cup raisins or dried cranberries ¼ cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Drain and thoroughly rinse the chickpeas, then add to carrots, dried fruit, and sunflower seeds. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and add salt and pepper, then toss with the other ingredients. Serves 6. Best if eaten within 1-2 days.

Approximate nutrition information per serving (not counting salt and pepper to taste): 210 calories, 8g fat (1g saturated), 120mg sodium*, 32g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 5g protein.

FOOD TIP: A recent study showed that thoroughly draining and rinsing canned beans in a colander can remove up to 40% of the sodium. This tactic should also work for many canned vegetables. Or, you can buy no-salt-added canned veggies and beans, which are becoming increasingly more available.

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.

"BUT MOM...IT'S JESUS"

"Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." — Matthew 1:23

NativityOut walking with their parents on a recent winter evening, Prayfit VP Eric Velazquez's little Mya and Ella came upon a scene that they could not resist. It’s not often that you run into a nearly-life-size donkey and cow begging for you to hop on their backs, right? Passing on propriety, they sped by their parents, the wise men, jumped right into the large nativity, and made themselves at home. Faces full of delight...click! A moment is captured forever and in the next, cautiously put on Facebook for friends near and far to enjoy.

Their parents questioned the appropriateness -- Mya and Ella questioned their caution.

“But Mom, it’s Jesus!”

Where are we in this picture? In Matthew 8, Jesus says that unless we become like children we will never enter the kingdom of Heaven; a child’s faith -- so pure and trusting -- is necessary for a relationship with Him.  As adults, bogged down with day-to-day issues, it’s easy to lose the child-like ease that intimacy with the Father brings. Knowing God's character, I believe it was not only okay for Mya and Ella to make themselves at home with Jesus, He’s waiting for us to join them.

--Catrina Vargas-Cormell

An entrepreneur, Catrina Vargas-Cormell was one of the first members of the PrayFit community. Catrina is now a PrayFit executive committee member and PrayFit Group leader in El Paso, Texas. For more from Catrina, join her group, “Hungry!,” on Facebook or visit her PrayFit workout journal.

SHOP & STAY LEAN Don’t let holiday shopping  derail your healthy-living goals

“It’s the heart of the holiday shopping season: Malls are flooded, parking lots are jam-packed, and your inbox is overflowing with e-coupons,” says Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, PrayFit’s resident healthy-eating expert. “Whether you’re hitting up the food court or doing your shopping online, keep these tips in mind.”

Don’t…

…munch on free samples. The calories can add up fast.

…shop hungry. Eat a sensible meal before you head out to the store or sit at the computer.

…swig liquid calories. Large sodas and full-fat peppermint lattes can have as many calories as a meal.

…go overboard on holiday goodies. Just because you can buy a 10-pound bar of chocolate shaped like a Christmas tree doesn’t mean that you should.

Do…

…resist the wafting smells from the pretzel and cookie stands. Save those calories for holiday parties.

…pack power snacks. Granola bars, fresh fruit, peanut butter crackers, and trail mix are good options.

…keep your mouth occupied. If you find yourself mindlessly snacking, chew sugarless gum or sip on a  calorie-free drink.

…wash your hands before you eat, especially after a day of shopping.

>> For more healthy holiday tips, visit Dana’s Healthy Eats blog on the Food Network.

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.

 

DON'T MISS THIS BOAT

September 22, 2011Read: Luke 5

“We worked hard all night and caught nothing.”  --Luke 5:5

Tired, worn, done. In that order. All that work and nothing to show for it. Peter's hands were as raw as they were empty, and the last thing he wanted to do was try again. But Jesus wouldn't let him quit -- not on his watch. In fact, Jesus said, "Now go out to where it's deeper and let down your nets to catch some fish." (v.4)

You know how Peter feels. You're struggling with your health. You've been fishing all night for the right plan or diet but you can't catch a break; not even a nibble of hope. But Peter didn't catch boat loads because of fancy nets and the newest bait. He caught his catch because he trusted, tried again and went deeper. I say we draw a line in the sand. As a matter of fact, Peter's pushing away from the shore. They're calling for you. If you hurry, you can make it.

--J.P.

Question: Peter's catch isn't point of the story; neither is your physique. So what is? And since Peter's successful catch wasn't required for heaven, why was it important to Jesus?

GET IN ON THE DISCUSSION Use our online forums to interact with like-minded folks on all things faith and fitness

>> PRAYER REQUESTS: Needing prayer? Want to pray for others? Dive in to support the PrayFit community here.

>> QUESTIONS FOR THE TRAINER: Got a training issue that needs clearing up? See what others have asked or put a question to our staff here.

>> ACCOUNTABILITY: One PrayFit member is seeking digital workout partners!

 

LISTEN, BE HEARD

August 26, 2011Read: Jeremiah 29

"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." --Jeremiah 29:12

It's been a blessed and educational week for us at PrayFit. For the last several days, we've been happily confined to studios, warehouses and soundproof stages, rehearsing for today's filming of our very first home workout DVDs. The good people of Lionsgate Entertainment have entrusted us with taking our message of faith and fitness to the masses, while we've placed our trust (and gratitude) into those helping us make sure we get it right.

PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, who will host the DVD series (due out this winter), has been on camera before, but this week has been an entirely different beast. Working with an incredibly talented cast and crew, Jimmy has had to learn to absorb tons of feedback from every direction. As you can imagine, the volume of opinions can make things tough to process, even for an established fitness veteran like Jimmy. But he knows that following the lead of those who have been here before is an integral part of this new venture . The communication hasn't been one-sided, however. Jimmy's input on why PrayFit's message is so important has helped everyone get on the same page. Ultimately, a combination of listening and being heard will make for a much more powerful message, both in substance and in spirit.

It is perhaps the most distinguishing characteristic of Christianity that our Lord craves dialogue with us. He has written the law on our hearts, but he also desires constant two-way conversation that can enrich our lives, feed our souls and even nourish our bodies. When we pray, He listens. When we listen, we learn. Taking the cue of the One who came before us, we can't go wrong.

--E.V.

Lord, this morning, as we finalize our goal of bringing PrayFit's message to families everywhere, we pray for wisdom, confidence and calm. We are so grateful that you hear our prayers and pray that you would help us listen for your voice among the noise of the day. We are humbled by the opportunity and pray that you help us see it through in a way that pleases you. In your name, amen.

>> GET ON "THE LIST": Nearly 5,000 people have signed up for the PrayFit Daily. And why not? Who wouldn't like a bite-sized dose of inspiration and healthy-living tips delivered to their inbox each morning? Sign-up today, or share the link with a friend, by clicking here.

 

IN...DEPENDENCE

July 1, 2011 Read: 1 Peter 3

"So he went and preached to the spirits in prison." --1 Peter 3:19

This weekend we celebrate freedom. As a nation, we proudly hail the day we loosened the chains of tyranny from Great Britain. At PrayFit we want to salute the men and women who never lived to enjoy the freedom they fought to protect. Their memory is a reminder both in celebration and memoriam, that freedom is never free.

As believers, we too celebrate freedom; from our past, today's worry and fear of tomorrow. Those prisons have no key, but the cross stamps pardon on our hearts and the doors open. We're meant to live free indeed.

Friends, when it comes to our health, many of us have a burning desire to be free; from guilt, from diets, and from sedentary lifestyles. But no "how-to" guide or fitness guru is more able to help you achieve abundant health than the one who breathed it into our lungs in the first place. Because of His broad stripes, He's the only one we'll need when our health loses its final perilous fight with pain. Surely, we can trust Him with it in the meantime.

--J.P.

HEART HEALTH BULLETIN

Your heart is a muscle. And just like the rest of the muscles in your body, it responds positively to exercise. So it should come as no surprise that doctors are starting to turn away from long-held "rest and relaxation" approaches to heart health and rehabilitation, instead urging patients to train harder than ever. A more efficient heart, they rationalize, is better at delivering blood and oxygen to working muscles for everything from a walk to your car after work to a no-holds barred weight workout. This can fortify you against cardiovascular disease, help you recover from a heart incident and maintain a healthier overall weight.

>> ABC News delivers the details here.

>> RELATED: An introduction to high-intensity interval cardio

>> SHOP: Be sure to check out our newly-upgraded tees for men and women and take advantage of our clearance sale on selected apparel at the PrayFit store!

A NAME'S SAKE

December 7, 2010Read: John 20

"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, I will not believe it." --John 20:25

Kicking off our first book tour in El Paso last weekend, I had the chance to see some family. One dear couple in particular was my Uncle Eddie and Aunt Margaret. My Uncle Eddie is my "Tocayo." The term Tocayo means "someone with the same name." But not only do we share the same name -- Edward -- but I was named after him. James Edward Pena. We even have a Tocayo handshake -- it's a special bond.

Well, my Tocayo is almost 84 years old, with a sweetness in his eyes and a tenderness in his voice.  A contractor by trade and known for being able to build anything whatsoever, Tocayo sat and told me of the old days when he'd build someone's home on their word alone. Long before you needed things in writing, my uncle said that a handshake meant the deal was done. You were trusted to do the work and in turn, you trusted that you'd get paid. Times and people sure have changed.

As he spoke, my thoughts went to Jesus. As believers, we all wear His name. He's never changed and never will. Talk about someone we can trust! He not only said it, He put it in writing. And rather than offer a hand, He extended both.

--J.P.

WRITE THIS WAY

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

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

1 EXERCISES/ACTIVITIES: If you have taken the time to dedicate yourself to an exercise program, it should have some structure. Keep a careful and consistent list of which exercises or activities you are performing on a workout-to-workout basis so that you can have a gauge on what is and is not working for you.

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

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

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

>> WELCOME: Also, PrayFit issues a special welcome to new forum member sdonati1. You can visit sdonati1's journal here.

RUN IN SUCH A WAY

September 13, 2010Read: 1 Corinthians 9

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1 Corinthians 9:24

Last year I had the opportunity to travel the world, writing a book and helping a client get ready for an upcoming role. At one particular location, I had an ocean view, with a breathtaking sunrise on the water. I’d spend my early mornings on the sand, reading, writing and praying. Then I’d hit an ocean-side workout.

One day that week, I was sprinting close to the water, where the sand is perfect for running. I gave myself a finish line about a quarter of a mile away, and I ran as fast as a 37-year-old with failing knees and back issues can run. When I got to my stopping point, I wanted to retrace my exact steps the opposite direction, in hopes to maintain that same stride and speed.

But as I looked down the path along the shoreline, I realized the water had washed away all my steps, leaving me no way to see my footfalls. It hit me: Isn’t that what God allows each day to be for us? A brand new, clean-slate-of-a-path in which to run? And doesn’t knowing that give us energy to live each day to the fullest? The only way to beat yesterday’s effort is not by using yesterday’s steps as the standard, but by trusting the Lord to fuel every step toward today’s end.

So with that thought, welcome to another Monday at the beach. Close your eyes and listen to the ocean. Thank God for your salvation and praise Him for new beginnings. Now open your eyes, see the day ahead of you…and run.

–J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: More defined shoulders This routine will fatigue your delts from every angle, upping the intensity with supersets. For best results, be sure to move as quickly as you can between the two exercises that make up each superset, and never rest more than 30 seconds between standard sets or supersets.

Exercise                                                               Sets     Reps Seated Overhead Press                                     3          10, 12, 15 superset with Dumbbell Lateral Raise                                     3          12, 12, 12

Standing Dumbbell Press                                  3          10, 12, 15 superset with Reverse Pec-Deck Flye                                       3          12, 12, 12

One-Arm Cable Lateral Raise                           3          12, 12, 12