weight

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.

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. 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.

Make Believe

"So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing." --1 Corinthians 9:26

Read: 1 Corinthians 9

As I was leaving Gio's Boxing Gym in Burbank (Calif.), amid the familiar cadence of speed bags and jump ropes, something a cornerman yelled to his boxer caught my attention. "Stop trying to look like a fighter and be a fighter!" he said. I literally stopped in my tracks. What a powerful statement. Just how powerful, I'd realize just moments later.

Walking toward my truck, I came upon a film crew about to shoot a documentary -- a boxing documentary, no doubt. Lights, cameras and make-up. I stood for what seemed like years and watched a make-up artist applying shades of purple, black and blue to an actor's face and under his eyes. Boxing gloves? Check. Legitimate shorts? Those too. But he wasn't dressed for - nor returning from - a real battle. "Stop trying to look like a fighter and be a fighter," ironically echoed in my head.

I wonder about my faith. And maybe you wonder about yours. Am I a make-believer in life? Or do I help make believers with my life? Like the verse above, I don't want to shadowbox. I want purpose. Give me somethin' to hit.

--Jimmy Peña

Question: In what area of your life, spiritually or physically, do you need to stand to fight? How can the Prayfit community pray for you? List your battles below or simply list them as "unspoken request(s)".

REPORT: CHILDREN OBESITY SPILLING INTO MANUFACTURING

A CNN report recently called attention to the latest casualty in the childhood obesity epidemic: school furniture manufacturers. Because of the expanding waistlines of children -- a full 15 to 17% of all kids are over 95th percentile for obesity -- manufacturers are forced to develop desks that can accommodate them. Child car seat manufacturers are also having to adjust with new designs to keep heavier kids safe.

"Childhood obesity affects their safety in matters beyond child seats and ill-fitting school furniture," the report says. "Obese kids are more likely to get heart disease, high cholesterol and high blood pressure and are more prone to diabetes, bone and joint problems. Their health problems are also more likely to follow into adulthood."

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

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

Misfits Seldom Do

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong." --1 Corinthians 1:27

Read: 1 Corinthians 1

If he were your neighbor, you'd move. If choosing teams, he'd be the one last picked. Without a doubt, on the island of misfits he'd be king. But he didn't care. More bold than beautiful, John knew the act to follow was really the act to follow. So he used whatever God gave him to get his message across to a world in need.

Friends, our bodies are merely tools. In the end, they simply get us from life's A to B. But our short trip was so important that Jesus made His. So this week, let's add how we eat and exercise to the list of strange ways God makes Himself known to those around us. Will you be popular? Maybe not. Regarded or rewarded? It's doubtful. But then again, the only attention that's really important is the attention you're paying to the body God designed for you. So go ahead. Be the last one standing. In a world that disregards the body as a means of praise, you'll be in good company when you don't fit in. Misfits seldom do.

--Jimmy Peña

THE POWER OF THE JOURNAL

Keeping a consistent workout journal is one of the best ways to keep yourself accountable. Here are some of the key things to note in your daily journal:

1 Exercises, sets and reps: Consider this the workout blueprint. Jotting all this down is a good way to ensure that your workouts have structure and that you have a clear plan of what work there is to get done each day.

2 Weight used: Whether it's your own bodyweight or a heavy barbell, keeping track of the resistance you're using serves as a mental note to consistently add more. Whether your trying to add muscle or just get stronger, gradual increases in weight are crucial.

3 Rest periods: How long did you take between sets? The shorter the rest periods, the more intense the workout. If you are lifting heavier, then longer rest periods may be helpful. In either case, keep a careful eye on the clock between sets.

4 Intensity techniques: Did you use drop sets today? Did you have your spotter help you through a few forced reps? Knowing which intensity techniques you're using to make your workouts more challenging will help you continue making gains. Knowing when and how often you're pushing it will also help you keep from overtraining.

>> What else do you keep track of in your journal? Let us know in the comments below, or on the PrayFit forums today.

>> Start a journal - Click Here

>> Got a journal already? Update it today, view other PrayFit workout journals, by clicking here!

PRAYFIT NEWS: PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña will be appearing on FOX's Good Day Atlanta this Wednesday, February 8, between 9:00 am and 9:45 am EST. For the full story, click here.

His Idea

“God’s strong name is our help.”  --Psalm 124:8

Read: Psalm 124

If possible, forget the idea that when we're healthy, we're better at work. Try to ignore the fact that when we take care of ourselves, we're better for our families, kids and spouses. Block all that out for a second. Focus on this short and simple command: "Honor God with your body." Vain, you say? Petty? Too temporary? It would be if it were my idea. But it isn't. It's His.

Recently at church, we sang praises. We listened to a sermon about the importance of praise. Then we offered Him praise through the giving of our tithes and offerings. All good. All expected. All right. But then the Pastor returned to the podium, rubbed his belly and jokingly bragged about the oversized meal and game he was about to enjoy. He even prayed that it wouldn't be too healthy. I found myself squeezing my wife's hand.

Now, maybe I'm sensitive. I admit, perhaps my feelings are exposed because my life's work revolves around health as a way to praise God. But friends, listen up. Our best effort at health is not a good idea because of the benefits it brings, it's a good idea because God said it. In the end, we're not loved because we're successful at it, nor because we plead forgiveness if we fail at it. He loves us regardless. But shouldn't we be doing one or the other?

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Shoulders & Legs

Many of our workouts are geared for the living room, but for those of you that are gym-goers, this one's for you. An odd combo you may not be used to involves training legs with shoulders. But we think you'll enjoy it as much as we do. You're going to hit legs first then attack shoulders. The top-to-bottom approach is so satisfying we think it just might become one of your go-to routines for two areas of your body that are important for different reasons.

With your shoulders, greater muscle tone goes a long way toward defining your torso's silhouette, giving the appearance of a smaller waist. But regular training of your shoulders is also a great way to bolster your resistance against injuries that can spring up suddenly with these complex, yet delicate joints. And training your legs intensely not only has tremendous athletic benefits -- those who are stronger on the squat tend to perform better on sprint and agility drills -- but these large muscles help your body to burn more total calories, both during and after your workouts.

Try this routine and post your responses in the comments below or at our forums.

Legs Squat (Smith or free-weight) - 4 x 6,8,10,12 Leg Press - 4 x 8,10,12,15 Romanian Deadlift - 4 x 10,12,15,20 Jump Squats - 4 x 20

Shoulders Overhead Press - 4 x 6,8,10,12 Upright Row - 4 x 8,10,12,15 Dumbbell Lateral Raise - 4 x 10,12,15,20

--Prior to training, perform a dynamic warm-up to raise your internal body temperature and to prepare your joints for the work ahead. Try 5-10 minutes of running in place, jumping jacks and jump rope, for example. Then, do a few light sets of the first exercise for each bodypart before your "working" sets.

NOTE: You'll notice that, on most exercises, the target number oreps increase with each successive set. This is called a reverse pyramid. This allows you to lift the heaviest weight early in the set, when your strength levels are highest. Then, as you fatigue, you can lower the weight to allow for more reps, which recruit additional muscle fibers and provide additional blood flow. This also adds volume to the workout, meaning more calories burned during your time in the gym. For each rep range listed, select a weight that brings about failure at that number. Failure is the point at which you can no longer complete clean repetitions on your own.

EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS: To see some of these moves in action, visit exrx.net, one of the web's largest resources for exercise demos.

He's My Brother

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

Read: Joshua 24

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

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GRACIAS A DIOS

October 20, 2011Read: John 20

"Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." --John 20:27

"The usual?", I asked with a smile. The sweet lunchtime waitress and I have grown accustomed to each another. I'm greeted, not with a menu but with a name. By now, she knows I don't like ice in my water, and that I prefer egg whites. Probably in her late sixties, she speaks beautiful Spanish and forces me to practice mine. I know she likes my PrayFit hat and goes to church just around the corner. Today, however, she lingered longer than usual after showing me to my booth. I knew immediately she was more empty than my stomach.

"Do you ever doubt?" she asked as she straightened her apron and adjusted her bifocals. Before I could answer, she began to serve up her hurt, and as she phrased it, the need to "see Him" in her life. A glimpse. That's all she wanted. Something to feel, something real. I didn't presume to have all the answers, but we chatted. By the time I ate and payed my bill, my friend was assured of two things. 1) she wasn't alone in her doubts, and 2) she wasn't alone at all.

Friends, Jesus understands. That's why when He showed His scars to Thomas, He showed them to you and me. In order to reach us, He let us touch Him.

Gracias a Dios.

--J.P.

KIDS & ASTHMA

Want to keep your kids lungs healthy? Keep them at a healthy bodyweight. Research shows that overweight or obese children are 50%  more likely to have asthma than children who maintain a healthy weight. But even if your child is heavy, keep them eating a sensible diet and make sure they still get 60 minutes per day or more of moderate to rigorous physical activity. Increased physical activity can actually work to improve lung function, so the benefits far outweigh the risks. More severe cases should be monitored more closely, of course, so be sure to consult with your family physician before starting your child out on any structured exercise program.

 

 

 

 

DEVOTION COSTS

September 19, 2011Read: Luke 10:38-42

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her." --Luke 10:41, 42

When I was 19 years old, my college buddies and I would base the week's success on how well we did in the squat rack. "Leg Day" was the focal point of our week, around which everything else rotated. Well one day, someone among us -- someone bigger and stronger -- put leg day on Sunday.

I'll never forget the feeling I had in our campus cafeteria. I sat there drenched in my old T-Michael sweatshirt with traces of chalk still on my hands, when a group of students fresh from church joined us at our table. Having spent practically every Sunday in church since the 8th grade, I knew something was "off" for me. My legs might have been growing, but my heart wasn't. I determined at that point that if I didn't get my training done in six days, it wouldn't get done in seven. I couldn't help it. Someone bigger and stronger had set my schedule. And for the rest of my college days and to this day 20 years later, I've never trained on Sunday.

Friends, I'm not suggesting you never train on Sundays, but I am saying to make sure that you rest. Renew your mind, your heart and your body. Let all three heal, repair and grow. It might mean a sacrifice. It might mean surrendering the dearest things in life. But He's honored by what we're willing to lay down.

--J.P.

Please join us this week as we look at our health as a sacrifice, a means of praise, and what that means for our daily lives.

SCRAMBLED LEGS For those of you who hit the gym frequently, here's a similar workout I wrote when I was with Muscle & Fitness magazine. It's based on a principle I've published and preached for over 10 years, called pre-exhaust. Basically, you destroy the target muscle with isolation moves (which are basically exercises that have one joint moving) before finishing it off compound moves (which are basically multi-joint and multiple muscle moves). Enjoy and hit them hard.

Exercise, sets, reps Rest 1 minute between each set

Leg Extensions (5-6 sets of 6-15 reps) Squat (4 sets of 8-10 reps) Leg Press (4 sets of 10-12 reps) Leg Curl (5-6 sets of 6-15 reps) Romanian Deadlift (4 sets of 8-10 reps) Glute-ham extensions (4 sets of 10-15 reps)

Note: Be sure to utilize a weight that allows you to fail at or within the rep range listed. The lower the rep range, the heavier the weight required to achieve failure. The higher the rep range, the lighter the weights.

>> QUESTIONS FOR THE TRAINER: Unsure on why or how to use a particular exercise or workout principle? Put your question to our experts.

REDEEMED

August 23, 2011Read: Job 19

"I know my redeemer lives." --Job 19:25

In a recent sermon, my good friend Dr. Aaron Tyler said, "The story in the book of Job is a story that tests the foundations of faith." As you know, God allowed Job to be tested beyond belief. His family, wealth and even his health were taken from him. But like Dr. Tyler said, "Job suffered faithfully." And in a remarkable surge of faith Job said, "Etch this in stone...I know my redeemer lives."

Friends, we might be going through all kinds of tests -- from finances, to relationships, to our health. But may we follow Job's example, that even as our lives unravel or our bodies break, our foundation of faith remains. Oh, we may not have books written about us, but our little stories are no less important to God or those around us. And if you happen to be asked why you care for a body that will surely fade away, just remember Job as you say, "Because my redeemer lives."

--J.P.

GET DAIRY THIN

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

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

WHAT PLAN B?

May 27, 2011Read: Joshua 1

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." --Joshua 1:9

Chances are good that you've heard the expression, "Burn the boats!" They say Cortez was the first to make that announcement when he arrived in the new world. Upon reaching land, setting the ships ablaze sent a message to his men and his enemies that retreat never was an option -- that whatever the odds, a fight was coming.

Do you believe Christians should be the example of honesty in the workplace? Of course. Would you also agree that Christians should be best at showing love to neighbors? Without a doubt. So why are we so reluctant to take a stand on the subject of better health? Shouldn't Christians strive to be some of the most health conscious people on earth? Some might argue, "Well, Jimmy, the Lord looks at the heart." True, but doesn't that mean it's the effort that matters? And to be honest, not caring for the body that carries the soul just might be a heart issue after all.

So if this is an uncomfortable subject, mark it down. Because this will become an increasingly sensitive topic the bigger and bigger we get. But I believe it's the church's responsibility to lead the fight. A fight that we are losing. Where's Cortez when you need him?

--J.P.

TIME TO TESTIFY

If you've committed to living a healthier lifestyle, there's likely a strong motivating factor that goes beyond fitting into your clothes better. Do you want to look better for your spouse? Are you trying to make sure you're around to dance with your daughter at her wedding? Maybe you've had a friend or relative suffer complications from a weight-related disease and you're trying to now lead by example. Whatever the case, whatever your story -- it matters. You matter. As we pick up our crosses in our faith walks each day, we can also be healthy ambassadors for God's message of honoring our bodies. Why do you train? Why do you choose to eat well? Who are you doing it all for?

What's your fit testimony? Share yours in the comments section below and have a blessed weekend.

In Jesus' name, we train

Team PrayFit

 

THE REST OF THE STORY

April 7, 2011Read: 1 Kings 10

"Indeed, not even half was told me..." --1 Kings 10:7

I'm likely giving away my age, but I grew up listening to Paul Harvey on the radio. Many of you might remember his opening line, "Hello Americans, this is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news!" with added emphasis on "news." Others might recognize his classic closing salutation, "Paul Harvey...good day!"

But my favorite part of his legendary broadcast was a frame called, "The Rest of the Story," where we'd wait in wonder as he took us down a historical path on any number of subjects before finally unveiling the surprise at the end.

You know, our lives might be a lot like a Paul Harvey story. After all sorts of twists and turns, pitfalls and mountain tops, breakdowns and breakthroughs, God will unveil Heaven's surprise. And though we've read about streets of gold and those gates made of pearl, we will someday see just how badly words failed. And I like to think that maybe, just maybe, God will look at you and He'll look at me with tear-filled eyes and say, "And now you know, the rest of the story."

--J.P.

UNDERESTIMATED WEIGHT New study shows most moms and kids may not be in touch with the gravity of the problem

If you don't stand on a scale everyday, don't worry. While studies show that those who are dieting have a better chance of keeping on track if they weigh themselves regularly, there are a great many people that don't have the faintest clue how much they weigh. But Columbia University researchers found that most moms and kids who are overweight tend to underestimate their weight -- and each other's.

Just under two-thirds of the mothers were overweight or obese, as were nearly 40% of the children, who ranged in age from 7 to 13, according to the story, which appeared on CNN. The vast majority of the overweight people weighed more than they thought they did -- and the heavier they were, the more likely they were to underestimate their weight.

Eighty-two percent of the obese women underestimated their weight, compared with 43% of overweight and 13% of normal-weight women. Likewise, 86% of overweight or obese children failed to correctly estimate their weight, compared with just 15% of normal-weight children.

"In order to target the obesity epidemic, we need to improve perceptions of body weight and create healthy image goals," says the lead author of the study, Nicole E. Dumas, M.D., an internal medicine resident at Columbia University Medical Center, in New York. "But how do we change perceptions? That's the big question."

Source: CNN

>> COMING THIS FALL: The front line in the fight for healthier families starts in our homes. This fall, PrayFit will roll out its second print project, PrayFit Family, which provides 28 days of biblically-based devotions, healthy-living tips, recipes and other tools to help build stronger, more faithful families. More info coming soon!

>> ORDER: To order PrayFit's debut book, PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days (Regal Books), which contains two, 28-day, at-home exercise programs and meal plans, click here.

>> SHOP: Get outfitted with the latest PrayFit gear at our online store by clicking here.

 

OPEN HOUSE

March 22, 2011Read: Isaiah 1

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

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

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

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

--J.P.

FUEL AND FAT

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

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

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

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

RED LIGHTS, RED LETTERS

February 9, 2011Read: Psalm 119:107

"Revive me O Lord, according to your word." --Psalm 119:107

This morning, I woke up anxious. With barely one eye open, I stumbled across the room to check my phone. If you're like me, you look for that red light that screams, "You have a message!" But in my case, nothing. I grabbed my coffee and made my way to my favorite morning spot, but not before checking that measly phone...again. Alas, no red light. But as I sat there for a moment, I looked and realized that I had set my phone down right next to my bible. From across the room, I grinned, because I could feel the Holy Spirit say, "You do have a message..."

Rather than look for the red light, I should have been looking for the red letters.

--J.P.

8 WAYS TO EAT BETTER...FOREVER

By Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC

As a registered dietitian, I share many of the same tips with clients over and over again. For instance, I always tell my clients to give up saying they don’t have enough time to eat better and exercise, and remind them:  Health should be a priority!

We asked nutrition experts from across the country to share their most valuable tips. Here are their top nutritional landmines to avoid when it comes to eating for better health.

Don’t Stock Your Pantry With Junk Even if it’s not for you (yeah, right!), leaving junk food at arm’s length is just asking for trouble. Mitzi Dulan, RD, CSSD says “never put junk food on your kitchen countertop.” There’s a time and place for cakes, cookies or whatever junk food you love, but it shouldn’t be an everyday thing. How about a bowl of fresh fruit on the counter instead?

Don’t Ignore Hunger Cues Chef and dietitian Katie Cavuto-Boyle says don’t “clear your plate just because.” Read her recent post all about mindful eating.

Don’t Guzzle Your Calories Healthy Eats’ “Veggie Table” dietitian Janel Ovrut reminds her clients to bypass gulping endless calories.  “Even seemingly healthy enhanced waters and beverages are usually loaded with sugar. Get nutrients from food, and hydration from water,” she says.  Not a fan of water? We’ve got ways to flavor it up that won't compromise your waistline.

Don’t Buy Into the Latest Diet Craze Food writer Jessica Cox, RD, reminds her clients to “avoid defined meal plans and ‘diets.’ It’s hard to stick to a boring meal plan for more than a few days. Instead, resolve to make a few healthier choices each day within your normal routine.” Alma Kay Nocchim, RD, CD, LD backed this up by also warning against “diets” altogether. “Changes must be considered a positive change in lifestyle to work!” 
Melissa Buczek, MS, RD, CDN says “don’t follow the latest ‘fads.’ Instead, seek out reliable, health information from professional source. Don’t think of your daily food intake as a ‘diet;’ make every meal and snack a pleasurable experience, a healthy part of your day-to-day life.”

Don’t Believe Everything You Hear Along the same lines as those diet crazes is our nutrition expert Toby Amidor’s number one no-no. “Don’t believe everything you see on TV or read.” she says. “There is lots of nutrition and diet information swirling around out there. Before you go and buy the newest buzz food, gather the facts by looking for information published by registered dietitians. To find a registered dietitian near you, check out www.eatright.org.”

Don’t Throw In The Towel Any nutrition professional will tell you that mistakes are part of the learning process. Registered dietitian and author of "The Thin Diary," Cindy Guirino warns against giving in if you slip up. “Don’t collapse when you spot too many lapses,” she says. “Correct the behavior that is causing it.” For instance, if you are prone to hitting the drive-thru because you're pressed for time, you may want to consider prepping healthy, easy-to-eat meals ahead of time that you can have anywhere.

Don’t Skip Meals Dietitian and life coach, Linda Eck Mills discusses a topic that RDs bring up on a daily basis. “Stop skipping meals, especially breakfast! If you don’t like traditional breakfast foods, eat foods you do like.” she says. “You will actually slow your metabolism by skipping meals.”

Don’t Weigh-In Daily It’s super-easy to get hung up on that number on the scale. What most people don’t realize is that daily weights are not always an accurate measure of your success. Don’t “weigh yourself every day” says Heather S. Zeitz, RD, Vice President of Health Content at Alere. “If you are going to monitor weight, pick one time a week where you weigh yourself first thing in the morning, before you eat or drink,” she says. “Fluid fluctuations throughout the day and week will be discouraging and won’t help build confidence in your efforts to manage your weight.”

TELL US: What are some of your major nutritional hurdles? Discuss in the comments section below.

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.