By Kim Dolan-Leto

All photos copyright by their respective owners. Used by permission of Kim Dolan-Leto.

Is your identity in the world and not based on the Bible or found in God? What causes us to lose our confidence? When that happens, how can we get it back?
Have you ever said, “I’ll be happy when …?” When you get that promotion, lose those last ten pounds, or make a certain amount of money? What or who defines you? If your confidence (or lack of confidence) is found in the way you look, your social position, a past lifestyle, a failed relationship or even someone else’s opinion of you, you’re allowing the world and not the Bible to have the final say.
We should be seeking God’s approval - not mankind’s approval. This can be tough in a world full of media images telling us how we are supposed to look, what we should have and how we should live.
After thirteen years in the fitness industry and sixteen years of being a Christian, I’ve learned the hard way that my confidence has to come solely from who I am in Christ. As a model and writer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by what everyone else thinks of me and to seek their approval. Whenever I’ve bought into this, enough is never enough. There isn’t pretty enough and there isn’t fit enough. Everyone has a different opinion. So, buying into ‘what other’s think’ lands you in a world of misery. Seeking God’s approval and not man’s is how to find true confidence and peace. In God alone, right now, we are good enough.
If you’re feeling like you’ve allowed something to dictate your identity and you won’t be happy without it then remember this: we are all created individually with a specific plan to prosper and to have hope. You are so precious and unique to God that He only made one of you. God doesn’t make mistakes. What we do (in all areas of our life) should be done unto an audience of one - God. Adopt this mindset and let it liberate you. Find who you are in Christ. Avoid the trap of trying to be what the world thinks you should be. You are, as the Bible says, fearfully and wonderfully made.
growing up in fear – GROWING UP IN CONFIDENCE
Growing up, I lacked confidence and thought way too much about what other people thought of me. This produced unhealthy fears. If we allow our fears to override God’s plan for our lives, we won’t be living in His will.
Growing up in God, I have learned that fear is something to give Him. Imagine the fear of learning gymnastics in your 30’s, or trying to get back into modeling as a new mom in your 40’s? These were goals God put in my heart. When I would learn a new gymnastics trick, I would say God’s promise over and over in my mind, “Fear not for I am with you”. It is a favorite Bible verse that has sustained me through some pretty overwhelming times.
The problem with fear is that it paralyzes us, stops us and prevents us from living the life we want --- the life God wants for us. For me I found that my lofty fitness and modeling goals as a 40+ mom were met with a lot of ridicule and personal fear. Yet I knew I was supposed to do it. Have you ever had a dream in your heart? What is that ‘something’ you can’t ignore? Our dreams can be fed or starved. Choose to feed yours with faith and starve your doubt. We can’t be double- minded. As a long time fan of Joyce Meyer, I cherish her acronym for FEAR: False – Evidence - Appearing - Real.
Think of a time when you did what you feared and you got through it. You know that the outcome was more than just a rewarding feeling. You grew in confidence. That confidence is in fact the evidence of the personal faithfulness of God to you.
Consider these potential fear-inducing scenarios:
- Going to the gym and feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing. - Wanting to get healthy, but being afraid to ask the important questions and learn how. - Thinking it’s too late. - Being concerned about what other people think of your goals. - LIST YOUR FEAR HERE.

It’s never easy to do something new, but once you get the hang of it, the intimidation subsides and confidence soars. This is the process of turning your attention from the lies of Satan and placing your hope and daily life in the guidance of God. Take the time to learn. You are worth the investment.
DON’T ALLOW YOUR PAST ‘growing up’ TO CONTROL YOUR SPIRITUAL ‘GROWING UP’
We all have a default setting in our minds birthed out of circumstances and opinions shaped over the years. But, why do we allow these past experiences to creep into our current goals and talk us out of what we know we are capable of doing? If you are stuck in this cycle, you are not alone.
The key to remember is that God is the one that can do a new thing in you. He is the source of that transformative power. We are not our past. Yesterday is gone forever. Life always brings about change, but God is sovereign and we can count on Him to help us begin new --- again and again.
If you’re like many people, you’ve tried and failed on many diets or fitness plans. I know I have. It wasn’t until I committed to keeping my word, that I found success and confidence. This sounds obvious, but be mindful of the words you speak about yourself and your goals. Don’t talk failure and expect success. Honor your self-made promises. When you commit to something (and to God), then do it. The Bible admonition is simple, “Let your yes be yes and your no be no!” Not doing what we say we’re going to do makes us lose faith and subsequently we give up. Nothing has ruined my confidence more than saying I was going to do something and repeatedly giving up on it. Yes, we have all thrown in the towel, but what if this time you don’t? Don’t give up on you – God hasn’t. He knows that you are so worth it!
KEYS TO GROWING UP SPIRITUALLY IN YOUR DAY-TO-DAY PHYSICAL JOUNEY
Whatever you’re going through, there is a Bible passage to take you through it. The Bible is recognized as the very God-given direct communication to us. That is why you may have heard people refer to it as ‘sacred scripture’. We set it apart from other writings as a book – a message that is truly special from God. It certainly can be considered a handbook for life – an effective tool to guide you. Use the Bible to strengthen your mind and enable you to reach your goals. With today’s internet technology you have convenient and powerful ability to search the Bible for whatever you’re going through. When you turn to the Bible you can grow in faith, reach your goals and get through things in life that you weren't meant to do alone. Tap into the power of God.
CHANGE HOW YOU TALK TO YOURSELF
Have you ever listened to your inner dialogue? Challenge yourself to think about the way you talk to yourself. Is it the way you would talk to a friend? Is it positive and encouraging or negative and demeaning? We can’t go further than the way we think and talk about ourselves. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” How can we have confidence with a negative conversation going on in our mind all day? Give yourself a break. Become your own cheerleader, encourage yourself the way you do your closest friends and children. Reject negative and debilitating thoughts (they are not from God). They never get us anywhere—especially not to our goals.
CONTROL YOUR APPETITE
When people ask me how I adopted healthy eating in my thirties, they are surprised by my answer. I prayed for temperance over my appetite. I really love to eat. So, this was an area where I felt powerless. Making a conscious effort to ask God to help me enjoy food and empower me to be mindful of portions helped me achieve balance. Starving, skipping meals, or having an unhealthy relationship with food does not achieve a healthy diet. Food is fuel and we need it. Eating every three to four hours keeps energy up and cravings down.
I recognized that I love food. I decided I couldn’t live on just protein shakes, chicken and green veggies. So, I’ve learned to cook all the foods I love in a healthy way. Who wants to live without pizza? Not my family. Research healthy recipes for your favorite foods, and enjoy them. This is a big part of long-term success and getting your family on board with healthy eating.
FIND YOUR EXERCISE PASSION
What did you love doing when you were a kid? I believe God has given all of us an exercise passion. Regardless of your age, there is something you enjoy doing. Fitness isn’t limited to the weight room and cardio equipment. Take a dance class, learn karate, join a hiking club, or grab a friend and play racquetball. These are all great ways to incorporate exercise into your life. When you do what you love, you’re more likely to stick with it. Getting fit must not be a chore or something you dread. Do what you enjoy and a healthy and fitter body will follow.
ACHIEVE BALANCE
Disorders are born out of extremes. When anything is out of balance, we’re in danger of extremes and anything extreme is unhealthy. We can restrict our diets too much and even overtrain our bodies. Both are unproductive and hard on us. Be well balanced. A major cause of being out of balance is looking at oneself in parts. Here’s an example: stand in front of the mirror, what jumps out at you? Are you looking at the whole person, or just the parts you want to change? Being healthy isn’t a look, it’s the way you live. Make good choices and focus on where you’re going not where you’ve been. Even those doing intense preparation for an event find that God designs us for balance. In that balance we’re most likely to have ongoing optimal health and wellness.
TOP TIPS TO BECOME A MORE CONFIDENT YOU
- Think of food as fuel and not comfort. - Learn to cook all the foods you love in a healthy way. - Make an eating schedule with regular times each day to eat. Ward off sugar cravings and low energy with healthy meals and snacks. No ones makes good food choices when they are starving. - Our bodies demand what we give them, so if you’re wondering why you crave certain foods, this is why. - Establish clearly defined goals, with a time frame that is measurable and realistic. - Exercise doesn’t exclusively mean weights and cardio machines. Find what you love doing and you will stick with it. - Make your health a goal. For example, my goals are to keep my blood pressure and cholesterol within a certain low range. - Do a web search for the “verse of the day” and do some spiritual fitness. Spending time learning the word of God, will provide wisdom, strength, comfort and power you’ve never knew before. - Download some great Christian music. I like Toby Mac’s newest CD. Some music, like Spirit Fit’s Latin Dance is intentionally designed to pair with your fitness and exercise lifestyle. Listening to Bible-centered music while exercising is powerful. - Track all of your progress online or in a hand written journal. People give up too quickly, because they don’t know how far they’ve come. - Use another measurement other than your weight to judge your progress. Scale weight can be misleading. Take measurements and pictures. - We all come in different shapes and sizes, so make health your goal not a certain size. - If you blow it, acknowledge it, but refrain from berating yourself. Don’t allow setbacks to derail you. Get back on track. - Forget the all or nothing approach; it’s too extreme and never lasts. - Healthy isn’t a look, it’s how you live your life. - Exercise creates energy. If you’re tired all the time or have the blues, you’ll be amazed at the increase in your energy and general mood. - Your words matter. The way you talk about yourself, your goals, and your life, remember there is a very important person listening, you!

Kim Dolan-Leto is the ISAA Director of family health and wellness, writer, cover model and pro athlete. She is the cover model along with her husband and daughter on the February/March 2013 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine. Visit theKim Dolan-Leto website for more information and to connect with her.

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