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Prayfit: Your Guide to A Healthy Body and A Stronger Faith in 28 Days Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 6, 2010
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Each day contains seven components, Faith (the daily reading and devotion), Pastors Point (which are personal reflection questions based on the devotion), Today's Prayer, Walking with Him (a spiritual exercise for the day), the Workout, Firm Believer (a fitness tip) and Food Byte (nutritional info). There are also recipes thrown in once a week. In the back of the book you'll find a breakdown of the exercises, menu options, a sample menu week, PrayFit nutrition basics and a few essays. The book actually contains two 28 day programs.
Starting with the "Faith" portion, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much emphasis was placed on the spiritual side. I somewhat expected the book to be mostly about fitness with a little 'faith' thrown in for good measure, after all, it's written by an Exercise Physiologist. But there is equal attention given to one's spiritual health. I particularly liked the follow-up questions (Pastor's Point), because as someone who enjoys fitness I can easily 'read' the devotional just to get it done to get to the 'important part.' The Pastor's Point forced me to slow down and really reflect on what I had just read. And what I found is, the questions will do me a load of good if I force myself to answer them, not just read them and move on. I know, earth shattering stuff, but again, what we get out of it is solely determined by what we're willing to put into it.
The "Fitness" portion of each day, at first seems overly simplistic, that is until you actually DO the work! I love that they're body weight exercises, no fancy, expensive equipment to buy and also no excuses, everyone has a body. Rest days are included. I love the idea of making your maximum from yesterday your minimum today. In other words, constant progression. In the introduction, Jimmy says "The body will only change to the level it is stressed... If you keep challenging yourself, your body will keep getting stronger, fitter, leaner, faster." Sounds good to me! I definitely think this program is good for someone just starting out or something that someone can add to their 'regular' fitness routine.
I didn't get the feeling while reading this book that the author was withholding info to save for another release, this book is chock-full of helpful stuff, I felt like I had everything I needed to get in shape both physically and spiritually, from the "bytes" of nutritional info to the daily fitness tips via the "Firm Believer" segments.
My only two complaints are that Jimmy Pena's devotions seemed to be on average, shorter than Jimmy Page's and I would've liked him to have expanded on his thoughts a bit more, he has a lot of good stuff to say. The other thing is, it's mentioned in the introduction that there is Journal Space included with each day and I really didn't find it. There was blank space at the end of MOST days but I guess I was looking for a spot that said "Journal" or "Notes" because like I said, the "blank space" was hit and miss. Nothing major, just things I noticed.
The reader is encouraged to go to Prayfit.com to start a workout journal and that's an excellent idea since accountability is so important to success. I love that an email is provided if one has additional questions, firstname.lastname@example.org, that made me feel like I had support and I also love that they're on Facebook and Youtube because apparently I was doing the lunge wrong!
Final thought: In the essay at the back of the book Jimmy talks about "back in the day" when kids used to go out side and play for hours, I was one of those kids. After school we were ordered outside to play and didn't come in till it was time for dinner. And sometimes we went back out to play till it was bedtime. That doesn't happen anymore, as a nation, we've stopped playing (exercising) and insist on being entertained (for hours) and we are paying the price for it. I don't have children, but this definitely has me thinking about my nieces and nephews and how I can model for them the importance of staying active and living a healthy life.
Update: Having finished the 28 day program I can definitely say that it builds strength in one's physical and spiritual life. Wow, what a workout! I've been working out pretty consistently for some time but this was an awesome challenge for me. The whole PrayFit model of progressive workouts is amazing, trying to beat your own times and reps each day sets you on a fast track to building strength. It also shined a monster spotlight on my weak areas, which I am tackling now (post '28 days').
The spiritual component has helped me build a habit of daily reading the Bible and a devotion and I feel like something is off if I don't 'get it in' as part of my day, and that was a very weak area of my life.
The 28 days was challenging, sticking to it and not giving up really tested me but I'm so glad I finished. It showed me so much about who I am and what I need to be working on both physically and spiritually.
I can not recommend this book enough.
My grumble is that I don't always feel the order of exercises and the number of rounds are explained well. You go from two exercises with one round the first week to seven exercises and four rounds the fourth week. That's a big leap! Because I'm in decent shape doing some of these to exhaustion requires a lot of time, especially the body squats (sometimes over four minutes of this for each round) and it gets kind of mental. I found that doing four rounds of seven exercises on the fourth week may need a bit of tweeking, such as doing two round the first day, three the second day and four the third day. But this isn't addressed anywhere that I can find. And the fact that you are doing squats to exhaustion and then lunges to exhaustion and then reverse crunches (which require you lift your legs the whole time) - it would be helpful to know in advance that your legs might be jello by now and you may not even feel your lower abs due to the burning of your upper legs. This did change by day two and three of the workouts as my legs adapted but it would have been nice to be warned about how you would feel so you don't get discouraged. I would also like more of the food tips and the eating schedule to be more a part of each day rather than in the back where you may not look until later.
The PrayFit website is a great asset to help you contine after the two months and also to get daily devotions to your e-mail. I like that the exercises are pictured and explained in the book and also demonstrated on the website. Overall a great idea and very thorough. I love that you can continue this on your own without gym membership or additional weights or equipment - always a good thing!!