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Hearts That Hustle

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

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

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

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

--Jimmy Peña

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

Josh-snowTHE BEST WAY TO BURN EXCESS BODYFAT

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

>> Click here for the secret.

Total Loss

"For you formed my inward parts. My frame was not hidden from you." --Psalm 139:13, 15

Read: Psalm 139

As a little boy, I spent many a summer day sweeping floors and washing cars at my dad's body shop. I felt right at home amidst the bondo dust and paint fumes -- even though I could often be found asleep in dad's office. But while I didn't pursue the family business, little did I know that the body shop was a great place to learn about grace.

Each day, customers would come in to either pick up their cars or schedule a drop off, but then there were those who came in just for an estimate. They'd wrecked their car or truck, and all they wanted to know was what it would it take to make it good as new. And whether the damage was their own fault or caused by someone else, sometimes dad would have to tell them it was totaled; their car wasn't worth anything. A total loss meant the insurance company wouldn't touch it, and they'd have to pay for it all by themselves.

We've all wrecked our lives in one way or another, be it with work, a relationship or our health. Thankfully, a total loss is no match for the cross. What the world gives no value, He gives grace.

--Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: Abs

With Thanksgiving a few days away, we thought we'd encourage a good midsection training session to begin the week off right! Got 15 minutes? Try this at-home abdominal blitz before you hit the road. Do each exercise to failure before moving on to the next without resting in between. Take a one minute rest only after all the exercises have been performed.

Reverse Crunch Standard Crunch Double Crunch Plank --Rest and repeat as many times in 15 minutes

BONUS! - Click here for exercise descriptions and demonstration videos

>> We start the workout with the reverse crunch which targets the lower abs, since for many of us, the lower abs are our weakest part of the midsection. However, because we're working with just bodyweight, feel free to mix the order up as you see fit. And if you try this workout along with other bodyparts, make sure to do this after your other bodypart moves. Reason being, you want your abs/core fresh to stabilize your body throughout a typical workout. Then you can move on to work your abs and train to fatigue.

>> PRAYFIT TO YOUR INBOX: Click here to start receiving the PrayFit Daily in your inbox each morning!

The Water's Edge

"One day Jesus was walking along the shore..." --Matthew 4:18

Read: Matthew 4

Although the weather was gloomy last weekend, Loretta and I decided to drive to the coast to relax. As we walked onto the sand, we immediately noticed a sea lion laying on the beach. When the wildlife rescue team arrived, they said it was probably sick and needed to rest, which is why it came ashore. Had it not, those able to save it said it would have surely died at sea.

Now, if you've been on PrayFit for any length of time, you know by now that I'm a little sentimental, so you'll forgive the analogy. But some of the greatest men and women have been rescued near the water. Moses needed courage on the banks of the Red Sea. David needed wisdom as he chose five stones. And on the beach in Galilee, Andrew and Peter met their Purpose face-to-face. Courage, wisdom, a Savior.

Are you facing some heavy work issues? Are you or someone you love in dire need of physical healing? Or maybe you just need a little rest. No matter your needs as we start a new week, His favorite place to run is to our rescue. Let's remember that our only hope in the world is waiting for us at the water's edge.

--Jimmy Peña

10-MINUTE WORKOUT: LEGS

Wanna change your entire body? Start at the bottom and work your way up. By training the large muscles of your lower body with greater intensity, you stand to burn more calories and raise your metabolism. This 10-minute training plan, which attacks your legs with bodyweight exercises only, is designed to set your whole body on a path to transformation. Click below to get started.

>> POWER LEGS

WORKING BACKWARDS

November 29, 2011Read: Matthew 6

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you." --Matthew 6:33

Losing stuff is easy. It's finding it again that takes a little work. But what do we do? We work backwards. Be it car keys, a book, maybe a wallet -- we retrace our steps until...ahh, the lost is found.

You know, I think that's the way God intended us to live. He said to Seek first His Kingdom because He wants us to secure our future, and sing "Blessed Assurance" for a reason. When you look at it that way, you and I are just working backwards. After all, why would He ensure our final step, only for us to be unsure of our next one?

So if you're facing tough times, do just that: work backwards. Misplaced your courage? Lost your will for a healthy life? You'll find both what you've lost and what you're looking for, if you re-trace His steps and stop at the cross.

--Jimmy Peña

THE SECRET LIFE OF PROTEIN

Almost universally, higher-protein diets are associated with greater muscle mass. While it's true that hard-training individuals should consume more protein to maximize muscle recovery and growth, protein also helps you to stay lean. A recent study published by the American Society of Nutrition showed that dietary protein stimulated thermogenesis (fat-burning) and promoted satiety more than high carbohydrate meals. While casein and soy protein were found to be more filling, fat-burning was higher after consuming whey.

Researchers at Skidmore College also found that when subjects followed a high-protein diet for eight weeks they lost significantly more body fat, particularly abdominal fat, than those following a low-carb/high-fat diet.

Minimum recommended daily allowances for children range between 16-28 grams per day. Healthy male adults should aim for 45-63 grams per day, while females should strive for 46-50 grams. Pregnant? You may need 60 grams per day for your growing baby. Protein requirements vary, of course. If you workout regularly or at higher intensities, you may need more protein -- up to 1-1.5 grams per pound of bodyweight per day -- to help rebuild muscle and keep your lean body mass in healthy ranges.

>> SHOP: In need of the perfect stocking stuffer for your loved ones? Visit the PrayFit store for faith-and-fitness inspired clothing, books, wristbands and more!

FOREVER ROAD

November 14, 2011 Read: James 1

"Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." --James 1:12

Queensboro Bridge. Halfway through the New York City Marathon is both where this entry was written, and where my race actually began. Nearly two months of ultrasound and countless hours of therapy weren't enough to convalesce my troubled hamstring. And with 12 miles -- or roughly 24,000 steps left to go -- the grand, lofty notion of taking just one more was in question. So I wrote this entry.

In as much time as it took a thousand runners to pass me by, I wrapped my leg in a makeshift tourniquet using stored gauze, and as many white flags as I could find in my heart. If there's one thing this most novice of runners quickly realized on that bridge, was that the next step was as necessary as the eventual stride that would be needed to cross the finish line. So this week, we'll run the Boroughs together. If you recall, in the days before the race I asked God to open the eyes of my heart, and I promised you I'd write down what He showed me. Well, He kept His promise, and I wasn't about to break mine.

Friends, life is simply a bridge. Work, school, money, health...all mere mile markers that remind us that we're in a race. And while we don't compete against one another, I think sometimes the most daunting of life's fights occurs when we're surrounded by fellow runners. Fellow runners who are - by nature - each hamstrung by something, and fighting to turn another corner down Forever Road. Let's remember that each step is worth it if we know Who awaits us in the end. --Jimmy Peña

WORKOUT: RUNNER'S RESOURCES

Some may think that running is simply a matter of putting one foot in front of the other. To others, no performance tip is insignificant. In either case, running is an activity that can be improved upon, provided that you have the proper coaching. Build a stronger stride, better endurance, a leaner physique and a runner's heart by bookmarking some of these trusted resources on the web. Enjoy your runs this week and remember to post your distances to your workout journal on the PrayFit forums.

MarathonRookie.com: Tips for novices looking to enter half- or full-distance marathons

Runner's World Magazine: From shoe selection to race day decorum, the authoritative source for all things running

Jeff Galloway.com: Practical training tips from one of the industry's top coaches

Mapmyrun.com: Track your distance runs with this easy-to-use mapping tool

Josh Cox: Christian ultramarathon runner, TV personality, author and believer

A CRY AT THE DOOR

November 6, 2011Read: Joshua 1

"As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you." --Joshua 1:5

As a new dad, one of the toughest things to do was to leave my daughters. Each morning, when I would head out into the garage to depart for work, I'd have to endure the heart-wrenching sound of their screams from behind the kitchen door. They were so distraught that I was leaving that my wife's explanations of my eventual return seemed to do little good. But that was then. Older and more confident that I'll always come back, they hardly notice my departures now. Whether I'm heading to the store for milk, or dropping them off at grandma's for the weekend, I'm lucky to get a second look when I'm heading out.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss them missing me so much. I know they love their daddy but part of me wishes that they were always a little more aware of my absence, a bit more hungry for my presence -- anything to make for a more dramatic, lasting embrace when I return!

At times, it may feel as if we've been left alone -- like our desperation has us crying at door for a father that is ambivalent to our desperation. But our heavenly Father never leaves our sides. We are His work so while there's never occasion for such a conspicuous exit -- at least there hasn't been in 2,000 years -- just know that He still loves it when we hunger for His presence and that our eventual reunion with Him will be all the more sweet as a result.

--Eric Velazquez Co-Founder, Prayfit

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: RUNNER'S CORE

In an effort to become more efficient runners, people will often train their legs harder. A few more miles per week, a few more lunges in the gym -- legs, legs, legs. But as any experienced runner will tell you, legs are only part of the equation. Core strength and stamina are incredibly important for maintaining proper mechanics, whether you're training for a 5K or running out a double in a softball game. Muscles in your abdomen, such as rectus abdominis, obliques and deep transverse abdominis, help to keep the torso stable when running, allowing the legs to do what they need to. But simple crunches won't suffice. Your core needs deep and dynamic work in order to strengthen your stride. If you're a runner, or just someone looking for a more athletic core, this routine will come in handy.

Plank - 30 sec. Side plank - 30 sec. (each side) Ab rollout - 10-12 reps Bicycle crunch - 30 sec. Mountain climber - 30 sec. Medicine ball twist - 30 sec.

>> Perform all exercises as a circuit with little to no rest between moves. Do the entire circuit 2-3 times total, 2-3 times per week on non-running days. If you must perform your core work and runs on the same day, go running first -- doing your abdominal work first could compromise your running form, putting you at risk for injury.

>> SHOP: Looking for some awesome PrayFit gear to sport on your next run? Visit the PrayFit store today for hot deals on tees, hats, wristbands and more.

EYES WIDE OPEN

November 4, 2011Read: Ephesians 1

"I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened." --Ephesians 1:18

As I prayed and waited to board my plane en route to the New York City Marathon yesterday, a scene from one of my all-time favorite shows, Friday Night Lights, came to mind. Before the big game, coach asked his young quarterback if his eyes were closed when he threw last week's touchdown pass. The kid's response: "No sir. My eyes were open. My eyes were wide open."

Well, I suppose that scene came to mind because that was my simple prayer -- that the Lord would open the eyes of my heart this weekend in New York. As a writer, not a runner, I know my purpose at the marathon isn't necessarily to have a fast start or even a strong finish, but rather to listen from start to finish. Indeed, after 26.2 miles, I want to be more focused on my walk than my run. May that be your prayer too. Whatever race lies before you today at work, school, or home, let's just try to see Him. All we want to do is see Him.

--J.P.

P.S. When they announced my flight, I turned and who was standing next to me? Pastor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life. We chatted a few minutes, he asked about PrayFit, and I praised what he's doing at Saddleback Church in the area of health. Thank you, Lord. My eyes are open. My eyes are wide open.

PRAYFIT WEEK IN REVIEW Time to cherry-pick from a week's worth of faith and fitness

Faith

>> PURPOSE OVER PROCESS: Know the destination, savor the journey

>> ELLA'S GRIN: The Lord watches over us, pausing on moments too good to pass up

>> REASON FOR THE CALL: We represent Him in how we live, speak and move

>> ROAD WARRIOR: Because He traveled, we will get home

Fitness

>> 3 MILES: How did you fare in this week's fitness challenge?

>> KID ACTIVITY: How much is enough?

>> DEPRESSION: Beat the blues with a few minutes of exercise

>> MARATHON FUN FACT: How close was the closest finish at the NYC Marathon?

PRAYER REQUEST: PrayFit Nation, we ask that you join us in praying for founder Jimmy Pena as he tackles the course at this weekend's New York City Marathon. Please pray that he is kept safe from injury and that with each footfall, he strides with his eyes (and heart) wide open. We're so proud of you for undertaking such a feat, brother!

--Team PrayFit

HE FOUND YOU

September 29, 2011Read: Luke 5

"Simon answered, 'Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."--Luke 5:5

Smelly, dirty, grimy -- these are just a few of the ways to describe Peter and his buddies. After all, they spent their days baiting hooks and cleaning fish. I'm smiling as I picture Jesus 'the Recruiter' walking up to this motley crew. Did He pause and grin, crouching down to watch and listen to them work? Maybe after a few minutes, He looked skyward with a smile as if to say, "I found them."

I'm not sure, but I like to wonder what happened in that moment just before the call. What we do know is that of all the fishermen that came off the water, this bunch caught God's attention. And not long after Christ borrowed Peter's boat, the two were catching fish in water too deep for the nets to reach; Peter's preview to the depths of His love.

Friends, remember. You have God's attention. So as we start our cars, open our offices, enter our cubicles or prepare for housework, let's do what Peter did and abandon control. Let's just imagine Him saying with a grin, "I found them," and this is that moment just before the call.

--J.P.

RECIPE: BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA Use this recipe to enjoy a healthier, homemade pizza

If you are easily tempted by the lure of buttery crust, bubbling cheese and a "supreme" piling of toppings, well you're not alone. But as tasty as pizza is, it is generally not the healthiest food on the planet. Sure, a slice or two isn't going to have you flooding over your belt line but indulging more than that (or more often) is a -- dare we say? -- recipe for disaster. This alternative from Dana White, MS, RD, ATC, a writer for the Food Network and contributing nutritionist for PrayFit, helps save calories with healthier ingredients, taking the guilt out of your next pizza night.

>> BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA - CLICK HERE FOR RECIPE

NEW!!! Read up on PrayFit 33-Day Total Body Challenge, the newest home exercise DVD from Lionsgate Entertainment, due out December 6. (Available for pre-order now on Amazon)

HIS IDEA

September 26, 2011Read: Psalm 124

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

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.

Yesterday 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 oversized stomach and jokingly bragged about the oversized meal and game he was about to enjoy.

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 succeed 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?

Join us this week as we put our health in perspective; a heavenly perspective.

--J.P.

WORKOUT OF THE WEEK: TOTAL BODY 10 Train most major muscle groups in less time with this bodyweight-driven workout

Recently, a well-respected fitness coach said that losing weight may not be as simple as "move more, eat less." Rather, he says, we should "train harder, eat smarter." While it's true that attention to energy balance -- the old "move more, eat less" mantra -- has some value and can be effective, it is entirely more productive to simply give your best effort day in and day out while continuing to eat a balanced diet that will support your training.

One way to constantly challenge yourself, and therefore effect change in your body, is to outdo your previous performance. And to do that doesn't require a gym -- just the willingness to push. It should be noted that training at higher intensity is relative -- your max effort is entirely unique to your body -- but this workout allows novices as well as experienced trainers to draw equal benefit, training your upper body, abs and legs in 10 minutes flat.

5 push-ups

10 crunches

15 squats

--Set a timer for 10 minutes. Perform these exercises consecutively with no rest in between moves. Do as many rounds as possible of these exercises in the prescribed order in the set 10 minute period. The total number of rounds you complete is your "score" for the day. Partial rounds may count as thirds -- i.e. if you only get through five rounds and then only complete the five push-ups on the sixth round, you've done 5 1/3 rounds. Rest at least 24 hours between workouts. To allow for better recovery, perform this workout no more than three times in a seven-day period.

Advanced Training: If you can complete 10 rounds in 10 minutes, increase the workout length by one minute. Add a minute to the workout each time your number of completed rounds equals the number of minutes trained for sustained progression.

STRONG FOR THE WEEK

February 18, 2011Read: Ecclesiastes 7

“Finishing is better than starting.”Ecclesiastes 7:8

So here we are. The end of another week. Fridays are always a good time to look back and survey the efforts of the previous few days. Instinctively, we focus on things that we’ve done or tasks that we’ve completed, marking them off one by one like to-do items on some kind of mental Post-It note. But for each item we “cross off” the list, our brains, gearing up for the weekend, may start drifting into reward mode which is why Friday can sometimes be the least productive day of the week.

On Fridays, our focus on the things that matter most – including our faith and our fitness – can become obscured.

We may marginalize our time spent on our knees so that we can run full speed into the weekend. Or we might shrug off the day’s workout and wander from our healthy eating habits knowing Monday's workout is right around the corner.

Let's face it, no one is immune to the occasional case of the “Fridays,” but we’d be wise to remember that how we finish the week is just as important as how we start it – not just for us, but for those who would learn from our example.

--E.V.

START TO FINISH

Since we are waxing philosophical about strong finishes, it’s probably a good time to remember where you started. What brought you to PrayFit in the first place? Click here for a video refresher of what PrayFit is all about.

VIDEO: WELCOME TO PRAYFIT

>> Visit our newly updated fitness and nutrition pages for even more workouts, exercise tips, and recipes!

FITNESS | EXERCISE DESCRIPTIONS & VIDEOS | NUTRITION