When she was 33 years old, Kim Dolan Leto was crowned champion of ESPN's Fitness America competition. Soon, she was on the cover of nearly every fitness magazine. You may think that she was the picture of health at that time. The truth is, Kim was going down a dangerous road.
Kim grew up dreaming of being on magazine covers. She plastered her bedroom walls with covers of Glamour and Sports Illustrated. The models were taller and thinner, but Kim was shorter and thicker.
By the time she was 13, Kim had an unhealthy self-image and dieting became a regular part of her life. Growing up in a dysfunctional home, her battle to lose weight and keep it off led her to dark places. Then after her father, 47, had a stroke, Kim, 30, committed to getting fit.
She dieted and trained for several years, and even learned gymnastics as part of her regime. At the age of 33, Kim stepped on a stage surrounded by twenty-something girls in the best shape of their lives. The ESPN Fitness Competition was tough, but Kim won first place.
Even after winning the competition, Kim struggled with the perpetual cycle of weight gain and loss. She continued down the dangerous, unhealthy road of extreme dieting. She made the cover of nearly every fitness magazine. Soon Kim's self-worth was based on whether she made the cover of a publication or whether she made it to the next round of a fitness contest.
At the age of 38, Kim had a baby girl and realized the methods she was using to maintain a certain look were not ones that would ensure a long, healthy lifestyle. Kim, who was raised Catholic, was tired of the raging battle to keep weight off. She had been attending church for years and was encouraging women to be healthy, but the Holy Spirit convicted her that the images she was portraying were not consistent with the true message of her heart.
God showed her that staying healthy for her children and taking care of her body to avoid diseases were better motivators than looking good for a fleeting occasion.
As she turned to God, Kim walked away from fitness modeling completely. The game changer for Kim was when she began focusing her healthy lifestyle on God rather than on her own body, which gave her lasting motivation and sufficient strength to continue. "This is the answer to losing weight and keeping it off," she says.
Kim felt the freedom to compete again. Seven years after she won the ESPN Fitness America Competition at age 40, Kim won first place in the fitness routine portion of the Ms. Fitness USA competition. She placed second overall. "It became clear to me that He had prepared me for this victory," says Kim.
FITNESS WITHOUT GOD IS FRUSTRATING
Kim felt the Lord inspire her to share her fitness journey and what works with others. "Being an athlete in the fitness modeling industry wasn't being celebrated," she says. "There is a tendency to make your body an idol. I want to give a message that is honoring God. We have to stop the self-obsession."
THE 7 Ws
When beginning your health journey, Kim says the following steps are vital:
- Word: It's important to get into God's Word daily. The Lord will strengthen you and give you self-control which is listed as a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
- Worth: Find your worth in Christ and learn who He says you are.
- Whole, God-made foods: Stay away from processed foods. Kim says, "If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it."
- Water: It's vital to drink plenty of water daily. Start by taking your weight and dividing it in half to determine the number of ounces you should be drinking daily.
- Work out: Move and strengthen your body five to six days a week. Go outside and enjoy His creation and take mini movement breaks throughout the day.
- Worship: Listen to Christian music, sing, dance, and praise God. Drawing close to God in worship strengthens our faith and enables us to live in a place of peace and victory.
- Wake/Sleep: Even though our culture doesn't place much value on rest, God does. Without adequate sleep, our bodies produce cortisol which promotes weight gain. Poor sleep habits can also cause sickness and disease.
RECIPES AND FITNESS TIPS
Viewers can download a free booklet that includes recipes and tips for getting healthy and losing weight by going to Fit God's Way.
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