A Prescription for Healthy Living
Jimmy Peña is a fitness expert that has trained celebrities such as Tyler Perry, Mario Lopez, and LL Cool J. However, his journey has not been free from bumps on the road. Even as a child, Peña had a passion for health and fitness and was an athlete in school. In the 8th grade, Peña responded to an altar call and was saved, which only increased his desire for stewardship of the body. Jimmy went to college and got his bachelor’s degree in business management and his masters degree in clinical exercise physiology. When Peña published his thesis for his master’s degree, the prestigious Muscle and Fitness Magazine hired him for freelance articles and eventually picked him up as a full time editor.
One night, Peña observed the owner of Muscle and Fitness magazine in the foyer. The owner walked by a statue of himself, which was sculpted of him when he was in his prime. Peña watched this man by his younger statue and realized he was seeing him at two book ends of his life, and it challenged Peña to think about how life is not just about the body but also about the soul. Peña was burdened with the desire to help Christians take care of their bodies but wasn’t sure what exactly to do about it. There was a massive layoff at Muscle and Fitness and Peña was out of a job so he started blogging and touring with celebrities.
While on tour, Peña’s left arm started going numb and he was sent home. Doctors quickly diagnosed it as degenerative disc disease, damaged spinal discs in the back. Peña then went on to face a hereditary colon issue that caused him to lose over fifty pounds. Peña has seen three significant surgeries and taking care of his health has helped him to recover and continue encouraging others to stay fit.
Peña founded the company PrayFit, an organization that believes in the combination of faith and fitness and helps people to walk these out in their personal lives. Through PrayFit, Peña has written books, created several workout DVD’s, and speaks at other organizations. What sets PrayFit apart from other fitness and diet programs is its incorporation of faith, food, and fitness. Jimmy says, “Life is not about the body, but our health is a means of praise.” He believes that health is important and essential in serving God and carrying out the call on each person’s life. He challenges that everyone’s call on their life involves physical capacities and that we ought to steward the bodies we are given. He even goes as far to say, “Friends, I am convinced that the only two elements any believer needs when it comes to his or her goals are God’s will and health.” Jimmy shows how our health is a common denominator in whatever we feel called to do so we should value it all the more.
A BALANCED DIET
Many modern diets cut out entire food groups, advocate one group over all the others, or insist on counting every calorie. Peña, and his PrayFit diet, champion an equal balance of calories from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Peña believes that all food was created for a purpose and that balance is the key with these different kinds of foods. He calls it the simple 33 balance, which represents an equal distribution of thirty-three percent of calories from each macronutrient: protein, fat, and carbohydrates.
Protein is the macronutrient that most diet plans agree that more is better. However, some plans teach that protein will make women bulky. Peña reveals that protein will not make women bulky but is essential to a healthy lifestyle as it is the building block of muscles. Carbohydrates are the macronutrient that receives the most varying advice. Most dieting plans encourage people to cut as many carbs as possible or to eat more than normal. Peña states that carbohydrates are the body’s preferred fuel source and that not enough carbs lead to people lacking energy and too many turns into fat. The most controversial macronutrient is that of fat. Most people believe that in order to lose fat you need to avoid eating it at all cost. However, Peña sheds light on the truth that not all fats are created equal. There are many healthy fats such as polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that exist in foods like avocados and olives that can help boost heart health and prevent certain cancers.
ONE DAY ON THE PRAYFIT DIET
1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, 2 tbsp. sliced almonds, 1 tbsp. ground flaxseed, 1 cup berries (p. 36).
3 ounces deli turkey, 1 slice Swiss cheese, 3 slices avocado, sliced tomato, 2 slices Ezekiel bread (p. 37).
¼ cup hummus, 10 baby carrots (p. 37).
Chicken Jerusalem (p. 213); small green salad in side bowl.