witness

The Set-Up Man

Read: Acts 9 In our week-long discussion of "closers," I would likely offend the countless number of baseball fans who read PrayFit each day (wink, wink) if I missed discussing one critical role -- the one known only as "the set-up man." You won't find his name on the wall in Cooperstown. No statues of him outside the stadium. See, he's virtually award-less, unnoticed, even forgettable. All that and still necessary to our topic.

Now, Paul would have been an excellent person to shine our light upon this week, agree? I had his name scribbled on my list. He was actually first. But then I thought about his set-up man. Do you know his name?

Paul (at the time still named Saul) had been blind three days. One question from the Lord on the road to Damascus had darkened his life. This most zealous of Christian killers was hell-bent on adding a few notches to his belt when Jesus scared hell right out of him. "I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting." Lights out. Can't you see him in his room? Cold, confused, shivering, drooling, eyes caked shut. Doesn't exactly sound like the world's greatest evangelist. Enter Ananias.

If you've read today's chapter, you realize that Ananias knew of Saul's reputation and while begging God not to send him, God assured Ananias that He had plans for Saul. See, it was Ananias' job to give Paul the ball, to tap him on the shoulder, to summon the closer within. "Saul...the Lord Jesus...sent me." (Acts 9:17) Paul took the ball.

Who in your life needs you to be Ananias? It could be the kid nobody talks to in class. The woman nobody sits near in church. The not-so-fit guy on the bike. Someone needs Ananias to put a hand on a shoulder. Somebody needs help in realizing the closer within. Ananias didn't know what Paul would do for the cause of Christ, God did. We don't know what God has in store for those around us, but sharing Christ with them is our job. The best part is, every closer needs a set-up man, and every closer can be one.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: What a tremendous honor to be humbled and used like Ananias to help spring Paul into ministry. What do you take away from this story? Does it make you want to close well, be someone's set-up man, both? Please share your thoughts.

Photo courtesy Food NetworkRECIPE OF THE WEEK: Arugula Pesto

Enliven your pasta repertoire with this healthier summer sauce from PrayFit and Food Network contributor Dana Angelo White.

>> Click here for the recipe!

Start Pulling

I'll never forget it. I was 19; the newest member of a very small band of brothers. We weren't an official group on the Baylor University campus, by any means, these "Russell Rats." We had no membership roster, no board of directors or rules and regulations to speak of, but we were very exclusive. And although we weren't organized, we did pay our dues -- dues of a different kind that were collected daily. As far as acceptance into the group, well, it just happened. Call it a nonverbal recognition of pure heart. If you had it, you were in. And rather than Greek letters across our chest, we had chalk and sweat across our backs. There was no mistaking our crew.

In the late 80s, a small family of guys came one by one into the best (and only) fitness center on campus, Russell Gymnasium. The gym itself was actually a corner hole-in-the-wall within a bigger auditorium of basketball courts, with a two-tone, green concrete wall separating the outdated Universal equipment and rusty dumbbells from the courts next door.

Well, one sunny Waco afternoon, at a campus-wide celebration called Diadeloso (Day of the Bear), the group decided to enter itself into the annual tug-of-war competition. We wanted nothing more than to show the fraternities what real strength felt like. After a lot of hooplah, we marched -- in slow motion if I recall -- onto the sand. We could hear the audible gasp from the opposition. We nodded to one another with pre-victory smiles. After all, not only were we obviously strong, we had ourselves a plan. We reasoned that because we outweighed the competition, only half the team would pull when the whistle blew. And when one of us gave the signal, the rest of us would begin pulling. Trust me. We had it covered.

Well, we found our grip as our competition found theirs. I remember they were a preppy bunch. Handsome. But no doubt mismatched. We did our best not to giggle. The referee raised his hand to alert the start of the match and the whistle blew. And?!.....We got crushed. Within 20 seconds, we were pulled across the line. It honestly felt as if the rope was somehow cleverly tied to an F-150. What happened you ask? Well, a couple things actually. First, they had seven guys and we had six. Completely fair because the only limit was total weight, but an extra pair of arms pays off come to find out. But I think we lost miserably because we were overly confident and planned poorly.

Why the long stroll down memory lane? Well, I'll be a special guest at Baylor University this November, speaking to students and greeting faculty. And if I learned anything that day as I lay face down, swallowing dirt and pride, it's that we can never underestimate the enemy in life, and we can't wait to start pulling. Plainly said, we have to give it all we have, never saving anything for the second half, the second set, the climb down, or the swim back. We can't wait to share Christ, visit the widow, give to the needy. The fact that you're reading and I'm typing means we're knee deep in sand and it's quick.

Friends, we have to be humble constantly and plan wisely. In every area of life, be it with quiet times, workouts, relationships, school, work...a humble heart and wisdom will please God every time. So hang on tight. And when the sun comes up and you've given God your day, just start pulling.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. Four years later, I led a team of seven onto the sand. We won every match but the last one; to a team of eight.

For Discussion: Are you waiting to pull with your life? Your quiet times with the Lord? Your health? If I can help you start pulling, talk to me. I want to help. And if you have similar memories where you were humbled, please share!

RECOVER WITH R.I.C.E. When you start a workout program or return to activity after a long layoff, it's not uncommon to suffer a few aches and pains. Muscles strain, ligaments groan and pain springs up in places that you wouldn't expect. In most cases, these injuries are minor and can be treated at home with a few easy steps. So before you go schedule an appointment with your general health practitioner, take stock of this four-step process.

>> 4 Ways to Treat Soft-Tissue Injuries at Home

Who Are You Wearing?

"For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ." --Galatians 3:27

Read: Galatians 3

Here in Los Angeles last night, it was all about the Golden Globes -- where the famous dress to the nines and accept their praise. The most popular question posed as they walked the red carpet was, of course, "Who are you wearing?" It's an interesting question if you think about it. But more intriguing was how equipped the celebrities were at answering it. From head-to-toe, it was no secret. Whatever they were displaying, they knew its creator by name, probably because they knew they'd be asked. What a lesson.

As a Christian, am I as well prepared to talk to others about my creator? As believers, we're saved by grace, forever forgiven, eternally secure from head-to-toe, because why? We have "put on Christ" (v.27). In the back of my mind, I kept waiting for a Christian entertainer to answer with, "Oh, I put on Christ. I wear His name." Maybe next year.

Makes me think of my grandmother ("Palmommy" we affectionately called her). Boy, she sure knew how to witness. Without fail, no matter where we were, she'd find a way to share Jesus with someone. She'd disarm them with a gentle compliment and eventually follow up with a plea to know Him. I remember her telling those who didn't know Christ that they'd make lovely believers. "You'd make a beautiful Christian," she'd say. She was masterful at it. Yeah, my sweet Palmommy never walked a red carpet, never wore priceless diamonds and wasn't known the world over. But she knew Who she was wearing. And even though she wasn't always asked, she couldn't keep it a secret.

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. I think Palmommy found it so easy to talk to others about God, because she always talked to God about others.

Question: Are you anxious to share Christ with strangers? Do you look for ways to witness? How can your health be an icebreaker for a Godly conversation? Share your thoughts with us below.

10-MINUTE WORKOUT: Full-Body Blast

A great many of us start the year with the best intentions in the realm of health and fitness but eventually, life gets in the way and we find ourselves with less time to commit to the effort. Thankfully, you can elicit significant changes in body composition by simply dialing up the intensity -- by making shorter, more economical workouts the orer of the day. This full-body workout boosts strength, enhances metabolism and scorches a ton of calories -- in just 10 minutes.

>> Click here for our 10-minute full-body routine. >> NEXT LEVEL: If you find that you have more than 10 minutes to invest and more energy to part ways with, try the PrayFit 33-Day Body Toning System. This challenging, at-home program, hosted by PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña, continues to be one of the highest- and best-rated selections on Amazon's hot new releases for one simple reason: it works. And your workouts are also accompanied by PrayFit Minutes, powerful, faith-building messages from Peña. Get yours today by clicking here! Already doing this workout? Click here to write a review!

Can Anything Good Come Out of This?

"'Can anything good come from Nazareth?' Nathanael asked. 'Come and see,' said Philip." --John 1:46

Read: John 1

What a verse. What a story. Oh, I'm sure Nathanael meant well. After all, so do you and I, right? We've asked the same. Just replace Nazareth with your hurt. Can anything good come out of your diagnosis? The unemployment? The heartache? Lord knows I've asked this year. Can anything good come out of this?

Sitting in crowded waiting rooms, watching my doctor go from room to room, just begged the question. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I wouldn't be as close to the Lord today, I wouldn't have had a chance to share Christ with my neighbor, and I wouldn't have such a hunger for God's word. In fact, reading through the Gospels this month, I've come to realize more than ever that Jesus healed so many people physically in order to heal the world spiritually. Everywhere He turned, more healing, more believing.

No wonder Philip said what he said. And I like to think he had a grin on his face when he said it: "Come Nathanael. Come...and see."

--Jimmy Peña

P.S. In case you hadn't had a chance to skim yesterday's entry, sit in the waiting room with me. Listen to the hurts. Feel others' pain. click here and scroll down to the comment section. Pick one on the list, bow your head and pray for them specifically as they enter their room and close the door.

UPHILL BATTLE? Why being heavy makes it harder -- but not impossible -- to lose weight, inches

If you're reading this, then chances are you are fitness-minded or at the very least seeking guidance on how to live a healthier lifestyle. And we're glad to have you -- regardless of where you fall on the body-shape continuum.

But those who are on the heavier side have something working against them in their efforts to lean up: their brains. New research in the journal Physiology & Behavior showed that diets high in saturated fat and refined sugar may cause changes to the brains of obese people that in turn may fuel overconsumption of those same foods and make weight loss more challenging. In other words, the heavier you get, the harder the weight will be to lose.

But at PrayFit, we firmly believe that nothing is impossible. That slimmer waistline you seek is attainable, so long as you are diligent, faithful and obedient. For more on this message, click here, then press play.

Playmakers

"The wicked flee though no one is pursuing them but the righteous are as bold as a lion." --Proverbs 28:1

Read: Proverbs 28

As I was watching the Miami Hurricanes dominate Georgia Tech recently in college football, one of the announcers referred to a player as "the playmaker." It gave me pause. What a compliment. What an honor. This player wasn’t just out there to fill in the gaps or run time off the play clock. He was "the playmaker" and everyone knew it. He was the heart of the team. All of those around him looked to him for direction and leadership and for what was coming next. Every single play, eyes on him, things were happening. There was action in the room.

When it comes to our faith, are we the real "playmakers" on the Father's team? Do we make the big plays every time the whistle blows or are we sometimes comfortable simply watching from the sidelines and cheering others on? Are we intentionally seeking to share God’s love and amazing grace with all of those around us, not only on game day, but every day?

I want to be bold. I want to be "the playmaker" for God in my own life and for those who would look to me for direction. Every single play, eyes on Him, there is action in the room.

--Allison Earnst

PrayFit's contributing writer, Allison Earnst, is a fitness expert, motivator, competitor and mother of three. She's been featured in numerous magazines including FitParent, Natural Muscle and Oxygen magazine. She has shared her fitness story on Good Morning America, Extra TV and Lifetime's "The Balancing Act." You can visit her blog by clicking here.

TRENDING IN...HEALTH

When was the last time you checked in on the rising epidemic of obesity in this country? If it's been a while, here's a heavy, disheartening update. Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 35.7 percent of adults and 16.9 percent of children ages 2-19 are obese. And, if the trend continues, every state will see 44 percent of its population hit the obese category by 2030. Several states will hit 60 percent.

Despite the many causes of weight gain, the solutions are always simple: an increase an activity and changes to diet. A preponderance of resources on exercise and nutrition in the marketplace have failed to stem the rising tide of obesity and weight-related disease. Perhaps it's time for us to stop focusing so much on "the how" and start focusing more on "the why"?

By focusing on our health as a means of praise and seeing the need to be better stewards of our physical gifts, we can commit to serious, long-term change, honoring the One that created us.

"We don't strive to be healthy to be loved by God," says PrayFit founder Jimmy Peña. "We strive to be healthy because we are."

For Discussion: Are you struggling with your own weight? What are the roadblocks to a healthier lifestyle? Do you think the Lord is pleased with the care that you have shown the body He gave you? Why or why not? Have you ever thought of your body as a divine gift that requires better upkeep?

Those Who Have Heard

"How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?" --Romans 10:14

Read: Romans 10

Those of you who periodically stop in at the prayer requests section of the PrayFit forum may know that I struggle mightily with the plight of my younger brother.  At 30, his body is beginning to fail him. He is plagued by intestinal distress, some vision loss, dangerously high blood pressure and numerous other physical ailments, nearly all of which are the result of his own stubborn insistence on living the way he wants.

As both a big brother and someone who has made a career out of fitness, you can imagine how difficult it is for me to watch my brother destroy his body, one Big Gulp, one pack of cigarettes at a time. Over the years, I've discussed the gospel of health with him and have tried to be the kind of fitness witness he can mold himself after. Alas, he has heard the truth and still refuses to believe. Tragically, a slow and willful death is all that awaits. And for what? The comfort and ease of doing what feels good?

Today, there are so many people who have heard and do not believe. There are those who know the consequences of physical inactivity, smoking and poor nutrition yet continue to dishonor their bodies. There are also those who would thumb their noses at news of the resurrection of Christ, forgiveness of sins and the heaven that awaits, all in the name of living a life without moral consequence or conviction. Both roads lead to death. Friends, the One that gives life wants you to choose Him, just as much as He wants for you to thrive physically.

Some people never get the chance to hear the good news. So consider yourself blessed! You have heard. Now what will you do?

--Eric Velazquez

WILLFUL DESTRUCTION A few eye-opening facts about the most troubling health problem in America

--The annual healthcare costs of obesity in this country are $147 billion a year. This could rise to as much as $344 billion by 2018, according to one major study.

--Obesity has become one of the most expensive health problems in America today, surpassing smoking, according to a study in Health Affairs.

--Two-thirds of Americans are overweight although 85% of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat/very healthy.

--Obese employee sick days total approximately 39 million workdays and 63 million doctor visits yearly.

--12 million Americans are considered severely obese, defined as more than 100 pounds overweight.

--Nearly a third of the children in this country are overweight and some experts believe up to one third of children will suffer from diabetes at some point in their lifetime.

--For the first time in the history of our nation, some medical experts warn that this younger generation may be on track to have a shorter life span than their parents as a direct result of the obesity epidemic.

Source: CNBC's "One Nation, Overweight"

Under the Radar - By Eric Velazquez

"It is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful." --1 Corinthians 4:2

Read: 1 Corinthians 4

As a baby Christian (I wasn't baptized until I was 25 years old), I really prided myself on my ability to fly under the radar. I was new to the club so I implemented a low-key initiation period where I could just live under the radar. I didn't want any attention called to my new-found faith any more than my previous shortcomings -- I just wanted to adjust to grace at my own pace, under the warm blanket of ambiguity.

In one way or another, we're all still baby Christians clinging to the comfort of anonymity. We think we can get away with doing just enough not to lose His divine favor, not so much that you risk being pressed into greater service. Of course, this is just no way to exercise faith. Paul reminds us that while we aren't judged on our works, we are called to live by faith -- to live boldly in the light of salvation so that others may see and be saved by it.

The world makes it easy to do "just enough" -- to be wholly adequate, never daring to seek our full potential. But whether it's our faith, our health or our love, we should never wither to our calling. Baby Christians or not, it's time for us to stride confidently out of conformity and onto His radar.

--Eric Velazquez

Question: Are you doing "just enough" in the realm of health and fitness? Are you challenging your body each and every day? Have you become content with doing the same workout at the same pace or with the same weights? How we care for our bodies can reflect the love of the One who created them. Do you think your health can be a witness to those around you?

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS: Want to help spread the gospel of faith and fitness? Bring Jimmy Pena and the PrayFit team to your next church service or corporate event! For more information, click here.

SHOP: If you're looking for ways to show your PrayFit swagger, you can peruse our selection of PrayFit apparel at our new online store. Hats, tees, wristbands and more are just a click away.

DVD: Our 33-Day Total Body Makeover is changing bodies and fortifying faith across the U.S.! Check out a trailer for the video and find out how you can get in on this inside-out makeover by clicking here.

Rattle Some Chains

"Then I heard the Lord asking, 'Whom should I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?' I said, 'Here I am. Send me.'" --Isaiah 6:8

We often pray for God to send us where He wants us to go. You've probably said, "Here I am Lord... send me." Well, when Paul was put in prison, he kissed the walls. He figured he had a captive audience. If this is where God wanted him, he was gonna rattle some chains.

So take a look around you. Do you have a captive audience? Oh, you may not be in prison, but perhaps God has cleverly placed you right where He wants you. So do like Paul and kiss the walls. Go ahead, throw away the key and rattle some chains. When you pray, "Here I am Lord, send me", maybe He already has.

--Jimmy Peña

Lord, as we begin a new week, help us see those around us (family, friends, co-workers and fellow gym-goers) as the audience that needs to see You, through us. Help us be obedient, leaving the consequences to you. In Jesus' name, amen.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: 10 Minute Abs

After a fun afternoon Super Bowl Sunday with family and friends -- and more buffalo wings and nachos than you care to admit -- a shock-and-awe abdominal routine might sound rather good today, so here you go. Take 10 minutes and crush your midsection with these simple yet effective moves that target your upper and lower abs, obliques and innermost core musculature. The order is more random than you're used to, so pay attention to the rest periods as they come sporadically and less often than would be typical for an abs workout.

Reverse Crunch - 30 seconds Standard Crunch - 30 seconds Double Crunch - 30 seconds Rest - 30 seconds Plank - 1 Minute Rest - 30 seconds Plank - 1 minute Rest - 30 seconds Double Crunch - 1 minute Standard Crunch - 1 minute Reverse Crunch - 1 minute Plank - 30 seconds Rest 30 Seconds Double Crunch - 1 minute

>> VIDEO: For video demonstrations of these exercises, click here.

PRAYFIT 33: Step up your training with the PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge DVD from Lionsgate. This home-based workout, led by PrayFit founder Jimmy Pena, MS, CSCS, will help you build strength and burn fat, all from home and always honoring the one who made you. Click here for more info, or to order.

 

 

 

"GO"

"He said to them, 'Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'"— Mark 16:15

"Tell me, Jimmy, can you talk about some before and after successes?"

Of all the questions about PrayFit I fielded on the radio this week, that was probably the toughest to answer. Not because we don't have powerful testimonies of physical change, but like I told the host, "It's too early for a victory lap." Because honestly, the day health won't be a necessary battle will be the day it's no longer our responsibility.

But right now, during this "before" called life, our souls want to go places our bodies simply can't go. And because of that, sadly, our minds don't let our hearts even dream of living abundantly. Serve on the mission field? Laugh. Participate in a charity walk? Chuckle. Make it to church? Sigh. Our physical troubles have become spiritual warfare. We're soldiers of the cross who can't reach the battlefield.

Sure, someday we'll be rescued from a body that doesn't work, but until then, let's see what it can do for the cause of Christ. After all, His great commission to us -- "Go" -- hasn't changed. It's still an action verb.

–Jimmy Peña

YOUTHFUL STRENGTH

In addition to the typical monkey bar romps and lunchtime hoops, dedicated muscle strengthening is a good idea for kids. Training for strength, contrary to a commonly-held belief, does not interfere with a child’s growth or promote excessive musculature. In fact, even a minimal amount of strength training can be beneficial for a child’s bone density, muscle growth, coordination and motor learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least three days per week of activities that include strengthening moves such as gymnastics, push-ups or jumping rope.

>> STOCKING STUFFERS: Looking for a few gifts to hang from the chimney with care? Visit the PrayFit Store to do a little digital shopping for the faith-and-fitness devotees in your life.

 

 

 

 

THE REASON FOR THE CALL

November 2, 2011 Read: Matthew 28

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations." --Matthew 28:19

Yesterday's conference call took an interesting turn. See, I was blessed to be the link between my friend (the reason for the call) and a potential group of investors. Compared to the names on the line, I was definitely the little man.

Well, things seemed to be going just fine, but as the meeting was coming to a close, my friend did the unexpected. In his closing remarks to everyone he said, "Jimmy speaks for me." And then he hung up. (Cue the crickets) In one sentence, my role changed. Four little words converted me from little man to middle man. The reason for the call was gone, but I was his voice. Eyes wide, heart pumping. "Say something" I thought to myself. (Cue the life lesson)

Friends, you and I represent the Reason for our call; in how we speak, work, live...and move...

Say something.

--J.P.

FAST FACT

47 Percentage reduction in symptoms of depression for those who walked 30 minutes, 3-5 times per week.

Source: MedicineNet.com

PASSING THE FAITH ALONG

July 21, 2011Read: John 14

“You know the way to the place where I am going.” --John 14:4

Hope nobody’s tired of this week’s marathon theme, because I’m definitely not running out of topics (Ouch!). But I did see something at the race that made me tilt my head and squint my eyes just a bit; something that seemed out of place–a relay team.

I never thought of a marathon as a team sport, but as it turns out, you can run relay-style. Every few minutes or so, I’d see someone run by carrying a baton they’d received from their forerunner, and I realized they’re not in the race alone; for them to be running, there needed to be a hand off.

As believers, it’s neat to think that as we run, we’re collectively carrying a light that Jesus himself lit miles and miles ago. My forerunner was a sweet man named Henry Powell. Because of him, I’m in the race. And although I haven’t always kept pace, because of my ‘preacher man’, I know where I’ll be when I run out of road.

Who was your forerunner?

–J.P.

SO YOU WANNA RUN A MARATHON? (continued)

So if you have managed to stick to the site all week, you will have noticed a developing theme. First, we discussed how beginners should approach their training. Here, we'll speak to the intermediates and our more advanced runners who are looking to make a serious impression on the course.

INTERMEDIATE: If you regularly run 20 to 30 miles a week, and have done so for a year or more, you’re an intermediate. Intermediates also likely do a weekly long run of 8-10 miles and have some experience with tempo runs or intervals. They’ve run 10K races and maybe even finished a half marathon. The rare, elite category of intermediates may have already run a full marathon but are now ready to set more challenging goals for their race times.

>> The Plan: “Long runs are the basis of marathon training, but at this level it’s important to add some intensity to the program,” says anaerobic management coach John Sinclair (www.anaerobic.net). So, you’ll gradually increase the length of the weekly long run to adapt your mind and body to the rigors of running nonstop for several hours. But running 18 to 20 miles at a time isn’t all you need, so you’ll supplement these runs with some higher-effort running twice weekly, including sustained tempo runs at your half-marathon race pace. These promote aerobic strength and efficiency and will help you find that groove you’d like to be in when you run a longer race, according to Sinclair. You’ll also be doing a smattering of speed work. For more specific tips, visit www.runnersworld.com.

ADVANCED: Advanced runners are veterans — those who have been at it for at least three or four years that routinely log 35 to 40 miles a week, with a splash of interval training mixed in for good measure. Advanced runners have likely run the full gamut of races from the 5K up to the marathon. But even elite runners want to score that most prized runner’s achievement — the PR, the absolute fastest 26.2 miles you’re capable of. They may also have ideas of crossing the tape first in a given division.

>> The Plan: “You’ll have to be willing to hit 50 miles a week,” Sinclair says. “For an advanced marathon effort, inadequate miles just won’t cut it.” At this level, your goal is to learn how to maintain a strong, solid pace for several hours. So, along with the standard long runs, you’re going to spend two days a week developing stamina at half marathon, 10K, and 5K race paces. On Thursdays, you’ll be served a marathon goal pace/tempo/cruise combo platter — an extended effort that develops focus, strength, and the capacity to hold a strong pace as fatigue sets in. “Long runs and mileage get you to the finish line,” says Sinclair. “Intensity in your training will get you to the finish line faster.”

Source: Runner’s World

HEARD: “Not only is Jimmy Pena one of my best friends, but whenever I want to get dialed-in for a role or photo shoot, he’s my only call. And I love starting my day at PrayFit.com, building spiritual and physical muscle. A one-of-a-kind concept from the best in the business.”

Mario Lopez, host, EXTRA

>> To hear what others are saying about PrayFit, click here.

CHEER ME UP

July 20, 2011Read: Hebrews 12

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses...”-- Hebrews 12:1

I know beyond a doubt that I’m not the first person to see heaven in a marathon, nor will I be the last. But standing among the countless other witnesses along the cement track just begged a comparison.

Maybe it was the blind runner holding on to his guide to get him through the miles. Or perhaps it was each coach strategically placed throughout the trail to encourage and motivate. (Indeed, each warrants a devotional all their own). But for me, it was written on a little girl’s shirt as she anxiously awaited her daddy to come running. It simply said, "Cheer me up." Not "Cheer me on" or "Cheer me through" but... "up." And with every passing group of runners, her shirt would come into view. Not knowing the context, I dismissed it.

But it wasn’t until the race was over, while I was waiting in the designated Family Reunion area, that her shirt made sense. We too are being encouraged each day. By those we know and those we don’t, and even by those we can’t even see. And someday, when our race is over and the good Lord calls us home, we’ll reunite with loved ones and strangers who have been anxiously awaiting our arrival –cheering us up – all along the way.

–J.P.

SO YOU WANNA RUN A MARATHON?

If you answered the above question "yes," PrayFit editorial director Eric Velazquez probably asked "Why?" with a look of confused pain on his face. But if all this talk of running has ignited a spark in your gut about taking on a marathon, we've done half our job. The other half would be for us to help you prepare. For that we look to our friends at Runner's World for some helpful training tips. If you're new to running, today's helpful tidbit is just for you.

BEGINNER: Who, exactly is a "beginner?" Well, if you've run 15 to 20 miles a week for at least six months, completed a 5K or 10K -- perhaps even something longer, you are a beginner. A marathon beginner can run five or six miles without collapsing afterward and want to gradually become a stronger runner with a marathon on the horizon.

>> The Plan. You're going to train just three to four days a week and gradually increase your weekly mileage from around 10-15 to 35-plus miles a week. The biggest key of all will be to gradually increase your mileage, especially that of your weekend long run. "The beginner needs to focus almost entirely on the long run," says anaerobic management coach Jon Sinclair (www.anaerobic.net), "but it's also good to throw in a little hill work and some aerobic intervals on alternate weeks to bolster your stamina and to liven up your training."

Lastly, we're going to have you running two low-key races -- such as a half marathon or 10K --  to get the feel of competition before the big day.

>> TOUGHEST WORKOUT EVER: Well, the contest isn't on anymore but we're still curious -- what was your toughest workout ever? If you continually challenge yourself, there's likely one or two workouts that stand out. Share here on our forums!

 

 

FIT EXAMPLE

July 5, 2011Read: 1 Corinthians 11

"Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." --1 Corinthians 11:1

Quote of the Week

"Good or bad, may we never let our fitness be a distraction from our witness."

--J.P.

What are your faith and fitness goals for the second half of the year? Let us know in our comments section below.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: MASTERING THE PUSH-UP

A few days ago, we got a question about the push-ups in Week 2 of our book, "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." Whether you're new to the exercise or you're a seasoned athlete, the push-up is a tough but fantastic exercise that targets your chest, shoulders, triceps and to a lesser extent your core musculature. So mastering it, even through the initial road bumps, is a good idea.

(NOTE: If you have pre-existing limitations or joint issues that prevent you from performing the push-up or even the less difficult incline push-up, modify the activity however necessary. And remember, always consult your physician before attempting a new exercise routine.)

>> Try this. Begin your push-ups in standard position and perform as many as you can -- even if it's just a few. Then, when you can no longer do push-ups in this position, move to the modified version, where you let you knees rest on the floor. When you fatigue at the modified version, you can continue with incline push-ups, where your hands rest on an elevated surface such as a table, chair or low wall.

Rest only as long as it takes to get into position for the next move. After complete failure, rest 1-2 minutes and then repeat the sequence or move to your abs or even additional cardio. Be sure to record your effort, then beat that performance the next day and for the rest of the week.

>> VIDEO: Standard Push-Up

>> VIDEO: Incline Push-Up

NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

April 6, 2011Read: Mark 12

"Love thy neighbor as yourself." --Mark 12:31

Sitting on our little porch, I'm watching Loretta add potting mix, dirt and water to plants and shrubs. The smell of barbecue from a nearby condo fills the air. Somebody's cookin' out. The neighborhood seems alive tonight. Sun-filled cheeks on neighborhood kids is evidence of a fast-approaching summer. It seems God has dropped me in an episode of Leave it to Beaver. Somehow you'd expect Wally to come strollin' by. But I know better. This is no Pine Street.

I know better because I know myself better. When was the last time we visited a new neighbor? Or went to see the widow down the street? Or invited the single dad to church? Not sure if you can relate, but we have more in common with Mrs. Kravitz than we do June Cleaver. In reality, however, our homes, apartments and condos are as much an opportunity to witness as gyms, offices and schools. Let's make it a point this week to do something in Jesus' name for those we live around.

--J.P.

VIDEO: SPEEDY SOUP

If you're looking for a hearty, healthy soup, look no further than the kitchen of PrayFit contributing nutritionist Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC. In this clip, Dana shows you how to make what she refers to as the "perfect" bowl of soup -- low sodium and loaded with nutrients. So click away and get cookin' -- a quick and nutritious dish awaits!

VIDEO: IN THE KITCHEN WITH DANA ANGELO WHITE

>> FIGHT NIGHT: Don't forget to check out PrayFit athlete Robert Guerrero as he takes on Michael Katsidis for the WBO and WBC interim lightweight boxing titles, live from Las Vegas on HBO Pay-Per-View this Saturday (April 9). Guerrero will be wearing PrayFit.com across his trunks when he steps into the ring! For more info, visit HBO Boxing.

>> GEAR UP: Make sure you're outfitted for your fight night party. Pick up our newly designed PrayFit hats and t-shirts at the PrayFit Store.

 

LOOKING UP

March 11, 2011Read: 1 Peter 3

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." --1 Peter 3:15

Last night Prayfit VP Eric Velazquez called me to share his excitement of seeing the International Space Station (ISS) flying across the horizon. Before I could say anything, he rattled off the staggering facts that the ISS is about the size of a football field and orbits the earth at over 17,000 mph. (These facts, he repeated over and over.)

When he finally took a breath, he said something that caught my attention. He explained that as he was looking up, a curious neighbor approached him and inquired. Standing there assured, Eric explained what he was anxiously awaiting, so the neighbor stayed. After a few quiet, awkward minutes, sure enough, the ISS appeared, torching the sky for almost four jaw-dropping minutes. For the neighbor, worth the wait. For Eric, worth the risk.

Pretty awesome. Eric did exactly what you and I should be doing. Not only was he looking in the right direction, he convinced others to join him. Though the sky was clear and without proof, Eric knew what he was waiting for and he didn't want anyone to miss it.

Neither should we.

--J.P.

Application: 1. Are you and I looking up enough for others to be curious? 2. It can be awkward at times, but what are some ways to witness to strangers? 3. Can our fitness be a witness? How?

STRETCH QUIZ ANSWERS

Thank you everyone for participating in our quiz on stretching yesterday.

Stretching is a delicate issue, literally and figuratively, and should only be done at certain times, under specific circumstances and for the right reasons. So as to which one of the reasons listed was not true...

1. Stretching doesn't necessarily prevent injury.

True: Research confirms that just as many people injure themselves who stretch as those who don't.

2. Stretching actually makes you weaker before a workout.

True: Stretching target muscles prior to a workout relaxes the natural tension within the muscle, preventing it from being as powerful as it could be had it not been pre-stretched.

3. Stretching is for range of motion purposes only.

True: This one is tricky. While there may be benefits of stretching like reduced soreness following rigorous activity, the research-based, ultimate purpose of stretching (functional or for performance) is for range of motion. It makes no sense nor does it provide any benefit to stretch even a sufficiently warm muscle if the ROM is achievable without it. You may see people stretching prior to a jog on the treadmill, but that is not only needless, it could induce unwanted damage. Most people have the range of motion necessary to jog.

4. Stretching a cold muscle could actually cause injury.

True: Think of your muscles like a sponge. The more fluid a sponge has, the easier it is to move. Twist a dry sponge and what happens? Same goes for your muscles.

5. Stretching is best done after a workout, when your muscles are warm and full of fluid.

True: After a workout, the target muscles are full of fluid (water, blood, nutrients, byproducts). It's that fluid that allows for safe and effective stretching for reasons previously mentioned.

So what should you do pre-workout? Get warm. Take a few minutes to do a general warm-up, such as a brisk walk on the treadmill, and follow that with some dynamic exercise such as walking knee hugs, jumping jacks, butt kickers and shadowboxing. If you're weight training, do a few light sets of your first exercise as a specific warm-up before going heavier. General, dynamic, specific. It sounds like a lot, but it will only add minutes to your workout and it can boost performance while decreasing risk of injury.

So...the winners are: Alyssa, Phil, Peggy, Bill and Maria. To Alyssa, Phil, Peggy and Bill, we'd be honored if you let us send you a complementary Prayfit bracelet. For Maria, you were first, so we hope you enjoy your brand new Prayfit Baseball Cap! E-mail your mailing address to jimmy@prayfit.com.

A HEALTHY REFLECTION

January 24, 2011Read 1 Corinthians 11

"Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." --1 Corinthians 11:1

Quote of the Week

"Good or bad, may we never let our fitness be a distraction from our witness."

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: MASTERING THE PUSH-UP

A few days ago, we got a question about the push-ups in Week 2 of the book, "PrayFit: Your Guide to a Healthy Body and a Stronger Faith in 28 Days." Whether you're new to the exercise or you're a seasoned athlete, the push-up is a tough but fantastic exercise that targets your chest, shoulders, triceps and to a lesser extent your core musculature. So mastering it, even through the initial road bumps, is a good idea.

>> Try this. Begin your push-ups in standard position and perform as many as you can -- even if it's just a few. Then, when you can no longer do push-ups in this position, move to the modified version, where you let you knees rest on the floor. When you fatigue at the modified version, you can continue with incline push-ups, where your hands rest on an elevated surface such as a table, chair or low wall.

Rest only as long as it takes to get into position for the next move. After complete failure, rest 1-2 minutes and then repeat the sequence or move to your abs or even additional cardio. Be sure to record your effort, then beat that performance the next day and for the rest of the week.

>> VIDEO: Standard Push-Up

>> VIDEO: Incline Push-Up