How Can You Find Spiritual and Physical Transformation That Truly Lasts?

Kim Dolan Leto (Charisma Media archives)

Today Kim Dolan Leto is the picture of health. She's an ESPN Fitness America Champion and has been on numerous magazine covers. However, there was a time when she was ashamed of her body and even hated it.

"First day of eighth grade, my Mom took a picture of me and said, 'Kim, you look fat,'" Leto explained. "All of sudden I thought, 'I have to go on diet!' I felt immense shame. It changed how I felt on the inside. I began to value myself only by what I looked like. It really messed with my brain. I felt really alone and sad that I couldn't get the weight off."

From then until she was 30, she struggled with her weight and her self-image. Then, she was blindsided by her father having a stroke. He was only 47. Seeing him in that hospital bed and completely paralyzed on one side was a wake up call for Leto. She had tested high for cholesterol, and she didn't want the same thing that had happened to her dad to happen to her.

She cried out to God and said, "I'm going to put a stake in the ground and say, 'No this is not going to be me. I'm not going to have a generational curse.'" She saw obesity, diabetes, heart disease and an overemphasis on food in her generational line, and she knew if she didn't change her habits, she was headed in the same direction.

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She added, "I cried out to God for help, and I heard Him say, 'You have to lay this down. You have to surrender it. You are not what you look like. You are more than the scale, more than numbers, age or clothing sizes.' In that moment, I laid my life down. I dedicated my life to God and said, 'Ok, I'm going to do this with You.'"

From that point on it has been a daily surrender process for Leto. Although she looked for answers from both the church and the world, neither had the answers she needed. "Then I realized this has to be a daily surrender to God. It has to be a moment-by-moment surrender."

She explained that every aspect has to be laid before God, including what we eat, when and how we workout, snacks, everything. "We have to cast our cares on Him and surrender it in that moment," she said.

If we don't choose our path, the world will choose it for us, Leto went on to explain. "The world's way is the path of least resistance. Here's this frozen meal. You don't have to workout. Take this pill, and you can lose weight. It's a lie. It's just garbage. If there is a secret sauce, it's in surrendering this all to Him."

One of the most important things to Leto is to understand that as Christian women, we should not lose weight to look a certain way. The reason we choose to become healthy is to fulfill the call of God on our lives. "It's for a life placed in His hands," she added.

Leto is adamant that one of the biggest issues today is the diet mentality most women have fallen prey to. "The diet mentality says if you do this for a certain amount of time, then you are going to look like this. Then what? You're not going to stay that way. Trading in the diet for a life in Jesus and His abundance is the best way. Get away from looking at yourself and the numbers, and look at your life, your whole life."

Her advice is to have a "Faith Inspired Transformation Power Hour" with God every morning. Give Him the first moments of the day. Exercise while listening to Scripture, a Christian podcast or Christian music. Every time we eat, we should surrender the foods to God.

Another big issue that Christians shy away from, according to Leto, is that overeating is a sin. "God wants us to honor Him in our bodies," she said. "When we don't, and we fuel our bodies with garbage, how are we any good for God? When we are overeating, we're feeding a hole we can never fill."

She adds that gluttony is a sin that we push aside and don't address in the church today. "Gluttony isn't a sign of overeating; it's a sign that something is eating you," she said. "People in the church will say, 'Well I don't do anything wrong, so can't I just eat what I want?' No, you need to honor God in your body."

Leto recognizes that it isn't an easy thing to do to begin to change the way we eat and direct our entire being—body, soul and spirit—to becoming fit. She has suggestions for how to begin the process:

Identify how dieting hasn't worked.

Recognize that dieting will never be the answer.

Begin by making small changes, small wins.

Ask yourself, "What can I do differently today to work toward becoming fit?"

Let one good decision fuel the next.

Learn from your failures. Ask Jesus to pick you up and help you make good choices.

Ask God to help you choose Him over food.

Renew your mind with God's Word.

FIT Power Hour should include time with God, prayer, journaling and moving your body in a way that brings you joy.

For more from Leto about pursuing health God's way, check out this episode of Sweet Grace for Your Journey on the Charisma Podcast Network titled Daily Surrender with Kim Dolan Leto.

This article first appeared on teresashieldsparker.com.

Teresa Shields Parker is the author of six books and two study guides, including her No. 1 bestseller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. Her sixth book, Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds, is live on Amazon. She blogs at teresashieldsparker.com. She is also a Christian weight loss coach (check out her coaching group at Overcomers Academy) and speaker. Don't miss her podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, available on CPN.

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