Our health is a means of praise. It’s easy to say. It rolls off the tongue. But my motto is more than a line in a speech. It’s more than a tweet or a Facebook status update. Of course, our body is only one part of our overall spiritual health. But as some of you have seen (and as I have certainly experienced firsthand), without our health, we just aren’t going to be as effective in all the aspects of our lives that God needs us to be active in—our churches, our families, our jobs, our communities. Good health extends our ability to make an impact for the cause of Christ. Plainly said, God doesn’t need our health to get His message around the world; we do.

Let me ask you something. What if nobody saw what you looked like? Would you work as hard as you do to keep your body in shape? Would you judge yourself as harshly when you looked in the mirror? Would you still watch what you ate, and would you make an effort to exercise? For some people, the answer is an easy yes. They have learned to love exercise for Heaven’s sake, and they dig into a plate of healthy foods with delight and anticipation.

And then there are those who find making healthy choices a daily struggle. For many, eating well can be a challenge, because they equate indulgence, fulfillment, and satisfaction only with a plate of greasy, gooey decadence. But I’m going to show you a different way to approach eating and food. With the PrayFit Diet, you’ll learn

a flexible, creative way to put together delicious, filling meals that will nourish not only your body but also your spirit. And what’s more, you’ll find the resolve—and, even more than that, the will and the desire—to eat foods that will help you lose weight and gain health, because you’ll finally see the connection between faith and food. Just remember that the by-products of your effort don’t determine the worth of that effort. What determines the worth of our objective to eat better for ourselves, our spouses, kids, and friends is the One for whom we eat.

Friends, Jesus gives our lives meaning. He’s the point of the story, the point of this book, and the point of our health we don’t want to miss. He’s why. For that reason alone, we place our trust in Him, and we pledge to Him our time, our money, our precious loved ones. And, yes, we should also pledge to Him our health, our commitment to living a healthy life—for His glory, not ours. The Bible reminds us that God sees only the heart. It also demands that we honor the body. That’s not a contradiction. It’s a priority list.

Taking care of the body through balanced eating is only one way to thank the Lord for seeing only our hearts. Every believer has been called to fulfill his or her purpose, but not one purpose calls for a neglect of health; not one. But 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. 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. Once we realize that honoring the body is God’s will, the result should be an unwavering, lifelong commitment to achieving that goal. But how to do that has proven to be problematic for so many of us.

The PrayFit Diet is arguably the most balanced food plan ever assembled, harnessing the best elements of the food we were always meant to eat. Unlike other diets, which tell you to cut out a whole category of food so you will quickly shed pounds—only to gain it back (and then some) once you resume normal eating—PrayFit is a sustainable way of eating because it’s a balanced way of eating. On PrayFit, you’ll eat protein, fat, and carbs, all in equal caloric proportions. Perfect harmony. The better able you are to put these macronutrients to use each day, the quicker you’ll lose weight, gain confidence, and begin a lifestyle of long-lasting, healthy change.

Nowhere in these pages will you find calls for radical deprivation, the elimination of entire food groups, or confounding and discouraging food measurements. On the contrary, you find balance, abundance, simplicity, and sustainability. I’ll get into more of the details of the PrayFit Diet as we get deeper into the book, but here’s what you need to know now.

BALANCE. Calories matter, but it is the distribution of calories through food types that will play a crucial role in energy, metabolism, and body composition. The PrayFit Diet provides equal amounts of calories from healthy sources of protein, carbs, and fat—33 percent of your day’s take from each—allowing you to capitalize on the body and brain benefits of each.

ABUNDANCE. As a nation, perhaps we can stand to eat a little less, but that is not the best long-term solution for a radical change in our health. The PrayFit Diet teaches the value of each of the macronutrients, instead of viewing them as competing food sources. Protein, carbs, and fat are all important to health, performance, and weight loss. We show you how to enjoy them all in abundance while continuing to see change in your body.

SIMPLICITY. If you’ve ever tried a dietary plan that calls for counting calories or measuring things down to the half ounce, you’ve no doubt dealt with the frustration that it can produce. By insisting on balance and illustrating practical ways of planning meals, we forgo these expected, complicated dietary hurdles and leave you with an eye—and heart—for easy, healthy eating.

SUSTAINABILITY. Our goal isn’t just to help you lose weight this month. It’s to help you reach your goal weight, no matter how long it takes, and then to help you maintain it for as long as your lungs have breath. The absence of extreme deprivation combined with the inclusion of health-boosting dietary balance makes the PrayFit Diet a resource that you can come back to again and again for years to come. No monthlong “cycle off,” no “coming back to it when you’re ready”—this plan is designed to help you to rethink the way you view nutrition and to flourish physically, forever.

Chicken Jerusalem

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into strips

¼ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper

½ cup sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup chopped canned artichoke hearts, drained well

¼ cup white wine or chicken broth

2 tablespoons 2% Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon

Parmesan cheese for topping (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Add leeks, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, and wine or broth to the pan and cook for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Add Greek yogurt and mix to combine. Garnish with fresh tarragon and Parmesan cheese, if using, and serve.

THE 33 DIFFERENCE: This favorite made the menu for two reasons. First of all, it tastes amazing. Second, it is a low-fat, low-carb, high-protein dinner that stores and reheats well. Though there are a few variations of this recipe floating around, this one represents the healthiest incarnation available without sacrificing flavor.

Tilapia with Mango Salsa

1 mango, peeled and diced

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

½ cup chopped cucumber

Juice of ½ lime

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro


Hot sauce

8 ounces tilapia

1 tablespoon canola oil

For the salsa, combine mango, pepper, cucumber, lime juice, and cilantro. Season with salt and a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired; set aside.

Season tilapia with canola oil, salt, and hot sauce. Cook fish in a nonstick skillet or grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side or until completely cooked through. Serve topped with salsa.

THE 33 DIFFERENCE: Tilapia is a healthy, protein-loaded mainstay on the PrayFit Diet, and there are a number of ways you can prepare it. But after you try this recipe, you may be more of the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” persuasion. By combining mango, bell pepper, cucumber, lime, and cilantro, you get a flavor explosion that jazzes up an already amazing source of protein and healthy dietary fat.

From THE PRAYFIT DIET: The Revolutionary, Faith-Based Plan to Balance Your Plate and Shed Weight by Jimmy Pe ñ a. Copyright © 2014 by PrayFit, LLC. Reprinted by permission of Touchstone, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

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