the girl i once was: part 1

The Girl I Once Was is a series of blog posts compiled from real-life journal entries from my teenage years. At 13, my insecurity turned efforts to lose a “few pounds” into obsessive calorie restriction/over-exercising. Soon after, food allergies I experienced as a child returned. My digestive system reacted negatively to almost every kind of food and a functioning body felt like an unreachable dream. After years of trips to the naturopath attempting to follow various elimination diets, I was sick of being sick and tired — trapped in a body I refused to love. My rapid weight loss caused hormonal imbalances, leading to a draining season of anxiety coupled with the loss of my menstrual cycle for a year.

At 15, I wanted out. I took my first steps away from compulsive overexercising and began a journey of healing that continued until I graduated high school. My journals have sat on my closet shelves ever since. A few years ago, I revisited my words. They were heartbreaking. I didn’t want to go back. I was recently stirred to try again, at 21 years old, to review them once more. And instead of heartbreak, I found Grace. His Grace on every page. I have joy. I know what it is to be loved and accepted by a Heavenly Father. God has set me free from the trap of comparison and healed my heart. Oh, how far I have come. Oh, what a story He has written for my life.

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” Deuteronomy 20:4

I have prayed much about sharing these [seemingly] insignificant words. They are raw, they are vulnerable and I am terrified. But my prayer has always been: Use me, Lord. 

Thanks for reading,
Jamie Delaine

In our family, healthy food and an active life was the norm. Neighbourhood walks, bike rides, trips to the park — not to mention wholesome dinners around the table. My parents loved me unconditionally; my appearance was never discussed. I didn’t think I was fat or thin — I didn’t think anything. My eyes were opened to my own body when the first comments about my weight came in elementary school. I started to notice the bodies of my friends. Maybe their words were true. My body started changing when puberty hit — and those changes brought with them analysis. I started to track pounds and inches. Upon much comparing, I knew there was work to be done. I needed to lose the weight that stood in between “normal” and “hot.” I learned about calories, cardio and weight-training. I studied every celebrity diet and training program, read every fitness magazine, spent hours on forums and made a weight-loss plan for myself. With obsessive calculation, I lost 15 pounds my last year of middle school.

June 12, 2004: I’ve decided to start keeping a journal because I read the book “The Princess Diaries” for the second time. It seems like a great idea to understand your feelings. Sara* is having a really hard time at school. It bugs her that Nicole* thinks of herself as fat and ugly even though she’s beyond gorgeous and the perfect size. I hate all these low self-esteem issues girls have. Some of these people have no right to hate their bodies. My confidence is okay… but I know after losing 10 more pounds, I’ll love myself. [*names changed]

June 14, 2004: I went on the treadmill for 30 minutes and stopped because I wasn’t motivated to do more. I looked up some calorie information and I’ve decided to cut cheese right out of my diet. After dinner, I was feeling lazy again and getting into an “I’m so fat” mood. So I did the best thing; I went on the treadmill again. Tomorrow is supposed to be my weights and cardio day which will take me 1.5 hours… I don’t know if I can fit it in. I could do weights then study for my French exam while I walk on an incline. Maybe tomorrow at lunch I will study so I can run after school. 

June 21, 2004: Today I worked out for over two hours. I don’t remember how it went. It was a blur. I hope this is becoming a habit I no longer have to think about…

I have an urge to read the Bible. Strange. I haven’t done that in months.

June 28, 2004: Wow, school is over. I’m kind of sad, the next time we go to school we’ll be in high school, as Grade 9s. I’m sort of nervous. I had a few “fat” moments today. I hate that feeling. But I worked out lots today! I did 45 minutes of weights, 45 minutes of cardio, 20 minutes of Pilates and 10 minutes of ab work. I’m proud of myself. On Tuesday, we leave for Cranbrook. I am not looking forward to five days without working out or counting calories. It might be good for me though. I am definitely going on at LEAST two jogs while I’m there. Maybe I’ll bring this journal and record what I eat. I could even throw my free weights in the car. This isn’t so bad after all! I’m happy now.

July 2, 2004: I absolutely cannot wait for high school. I am 100% positive it will be the best time of my life. I’ll be in the best shape of my life, have the best marks in my life and have so much fun! I really want school to start again… but I don’t want to go to school until I’ve lost weight. So I guess I really don’t want it to start until September. 

July 14, 2004: I’m feeling a lot of things right now: jealously, envy, guys, life, marriage, fitness. I watched the movie “A Cinderella Story” today. It left me feeling depressed — no matter how hard I tried to push the thoughts out of my head. I’ll never fall in love in high school with a gorgeous guy and no one will ever pick me out of a crowd. It sort of hit me. When I look in the mirror, I see a semi-pretty girl… who’s fat. I work out and I eat healthy and I notice the pounds going down [I've lost 20!] but I’m not looking skinnier. I feel so discouraged. I’m crying right now, however pathetic that might be. I’m so sick of working out and obsessing over calories. I am.

Oh God, help me.

I just decided I’m not going to count calories anymore as of tomorrow. I must keep exercising though. Summer is miserable. I want to go back to school. I need to start seeing people more.

I just re-read my entry. Wow, I needed to get that all out. I will stay positive and by the way… Jamie, you are NOT FAT!

 

 

Oh dear little Jamie,

Full of enthusiasm about your future, excited for your high school adventure in the fall… there’s much I wish you knew. Your pursuit of the perfect body, the perfect report card, the perfect social life — you are constantly seeking the approval of others. They have nothing for you. It’s an empty chase. In your addiction, the “highs” are high but the lows rip you apart.

There is no rest from your pursuit of perfection.
& you were not made to be compared.

On vacation, you passed the time calculating calories and running every day. You made neat columns in your journal and stood in front of the mirror analyzing yourself — those legs, arms, fingers, eyes, nose and thighs. All placed on one of two sides, “parts of my body I love” and “parts of my body I hate.”

I hate to see a head full of Sunday-school answers but a heart missing the love of God.

You say to yourself, “No one will ever pick me out of a crowd” but do you believe Jesus did? He died for you, a girl he loved in the crowd of billions. His divine love urges us to look outside of “self” — earthly, fleshly, miserable self.

“Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death” but when His Spirit controls our minds, it leads to life and peace. [Romans 8]

You have been raised to a new life with Christ, Jamie, so set your sights on the realities of Heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honour. Think about the things of Heaven, not the things of Earth. [Colossians 3:2]

He came so we could have life.

Love,
Jamie.

32 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this Jamie, I am sure that it was terrifying and it took a lot of guts to be so vulnerable! I bet that God will use this post to reach innumerable lives for the better:)

  2. wow. this was so raw and really spoke to my heart. thanks for sharing a little bit of your story, jamie! :)

  3. Emily Wilson says:

    Thank you for this VERY powerful post. It reminds me of my insecurities I felt at that age (and even sometimes now!) I think you will be able to touch many lives with sharing your story.

  4. Holly says:

    oh jamie! every young girl needs to read this! thinking of my own daughter someday (she’s 7)… i choked back tears when you penned “…He died for you, a girl he loved in the crowd of billions.” wowwwww! so incredibly true!

    thanks so much for this post, and the posts to come. cannot wait to read. :)

  5. Stephanie says:

    thanks for writing this jamie. it sounds a bit how i was back in high school… and my heart hurts knowing that there are still girls everywhere that think exactly like we used to.

  6. Naomi Elle says:

    i felt my heart twist as i read the beginnings of your story… i will be diligently following along. to see Jesus in your life is an incredible thing.

  7. Vanessa says:

    Jaime- wow thank you so much for sharing your heart on your blog. You have the ability to impact many lives by reliving your years of hurt.

  8. Brittany says:

    Jamie,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now but I’ve never left a comment (mostly because I am incredibly lazy even though I enjoy your photos and writing very much). Reading this entry today reminded me of my high school years and how insecure I felt all the time. I was impossibly skinny and small and flat-chested and I always worried about changing in gym class, not having any boys interested in me, looking like I was 5 years younger than all the other girls my age, etc.

    I didn’t keep a journal because I was too busy stuffing my bra, but I know I would’ve written something similar to your entries. And I would’ve definitely told my younger self that God is good and we are so incredibly valued by Him and not to worry about making high school the best years. They rarely are.

    Thanks for posting this, it was a blessing to read!

  9. Angelique says:

    Thank you for sharing such a personal post.

    Imagine if we could all go back and visit our teenage/child selves and tell them everything will be ok. I suppose the problem is, our younger selves simply wouldn’t believe it…we just have to work through things in our own way until we are ready to be healed/move forward.

  10. Corinne W. says:

    Hey Jamie, kudos for being okay with looking back and examining your earlier years. When I think back to my teen years, I think about people in my life who are our age now, and how much I feel I could have gained if they spoke into my life. It kind of inspires me to pay more attention to the teenagers I might have influence over…

  11. Lara says:

    Great post Jamie! You are so open and honest (which makes you incredibly likable and adorable!) Your posts always inspire me in my walk with Christ. Thanks!

  12. Gillian Ree says:

    Jamie this is amazing. Its crazy the thoughts we can possess about ourselves, and we’re so unaware than every girl has them! Especially at that age.
    I hope its ok but I have shared this post with my youth girls (grade 8’s).
    You have an amazing gift of writing, readers are so blessed by you and your willingness to be vulnerable!!

    xo

  13. I really needed this, Jamie. Thanks for being bold enough to share your heart.

  14. Emma says:

    Wow! What else can I say? Wow! This is amazing Jamie, you’re very brave to share your heart like this! :)

  15. Mel says:

    Sending a hug to the teenage you and a big hug to the grown-up you, too. You’ve come a long way.

  16. Ang says:

    Oh Jaime, your experience speaks so true to my life. Unfortunately, I was much less kind to myself in high school – instead of realizing that Jesus loves me in the midst of my pain, I spent much of my time being resentful towards him for creating me with a body with which I was never satisfied. It was in my university years that the Lord began to work in my heart and open my eyes to his great love for me and only in recent years that I’ve begun to shift my perspective, realizing that I had idolized my body and fitness and that my goal is to glorify Christ, not myself. To be honest, there are days when I still struggle with it all (at 27 years old!) and have to renew my mind in scripture and prayer. It’s especially important to me to commit that area of my life to the Lord now, since I just gave birth to twin girls in January and I realize that I am their example of what a Godly woman should look like.

    Wow, that was a much longer response than I had originally planned – all that to say that your story is such an encouragement and a testament of grace for other women and for parents of girls who may someday go through the same struggle. It’s a great reminder of His goodness and faithfulness in watching over us and our baby girls! :)

  17. thanks for your comment, Ang! i relate to that SO much. — the note at the bottom is from myself now… I definitely didn’t realize Jesus loved me in the midst of my pain at this point. But I have since gone on a similar journey to you! appreciate your note.

  18. Rebekah says:

    Though I did not keep much of a journal during middle/high school, if I had, it would have sounded a lot like yours. How I wish I would have known the love of God then, as fully as I do now. I was looking for peace in calorie counts and scale numbers when I could have found it in Christ. Now I’m almost 25 and have a much healthier perspective on beauty, body image, and “security”–and I am much healthier, period. :)

    Thanks for sharing this. Lovely reminder of how God overcomes our trials, no matter what they are. He is more than sufficient.

  19. Lexi says:

    Jamie – so many teen girls need to read what you have shared! So proud of you that you stepped out of your comfort zone to be raw and honest about your story. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. God is so GOOD!!

  20. Anna Gray says:

    I need every single one of my friends to read this. Heck, I desperately needed to read this myself. Some friends are always complaining about being “fat” and such…and I’m not going to lie…the weighing scale takes over my life at times. If I gain two or three pounds, I freak. Some friends of mine are the same way.

    Truly, thank you for posting this. God is using you for so many great purposes!

  21. ashley o says:

    Father, may you bless this post and the experiences of Jamie to help any others who might be getting into this trap. Lord, led those who need to read these words, that are so well spoken, to this page in Your perfect timing. Let them read the passages from Your word and realize it’s Truth!

  22. Em says:

    I love your heart.

  23. Martha says:

    My cousin actually introduced me to your photography a year ago. She told me she had a photographer friend that goes to my church. I’ve been following your blog since then and wow. When I first read it, it made my heart happy, you’re so young and so mature spiritually. I love that in all your work you can see God’s hand, and that you give glory to Him. I’ve also kept a journal since as far back as I can remember, but I dont have any of them anymore. I know the contents of all of them by heart and they are identical to yours. Every page either a sketch of my “ideal body” or a chart of weight loss goals and plans on how to do it. Pages and pages of self hate. Jesus made me love myself, because he showed me that I am worth loving, it just took me a while longer to open my eyes.

    I hope that your post will reach those young girls(and some not so young)who I know are going through the exact same thing you did, and I pray their eyes are opened to the fact that they are beautiful and worth loving.

  24. Naomi says:

    Jamie, Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m sure it’s not easy to put it out there, but I know your journey is meant to touch the lives of others and to share the love and grace of God that you’ve found.
    This is absolutely beautiful. Our journeys are quite different, yours and mine, but I too have experienced God’s healing in my life. It’s something far greater than our mere human language can fully express or our minds can comprehend.
    Blessings to you, and thank you for sharing.
    Naomi

  25. Shanna says:

    This is amazing. Your realization at the end brought me to tears. Your blog is a light at the end of the tunnel for so many, Jamie! Thank you for being so open, and for inspiring me to be, as well.

  26. Keaton Webb says:

    Tears began running down my cheeks when you mentioned Jesus picking us out of a crowd of billions, and loving us unconditionally. Oh my oh my, how great is our God. :)

  27. Jo says:

    I’m in that situation right now. I’m 14, and i feel like i’m heading down that same road. It’s kind of encouraging to see that you’re recovered, and seeing your success in photography and with God really eggs me on to tell someone about my issues.
    but i know i never will. :P

  28. Ally says:

    Jamie,

    Thank you so much for this series. I’ve read through it all and you need to know how important it is to share such experiences. I’m 21, and I feel as though I am following a similar path. I feel tremendous guilt if I eat junk food, and immediately try to “work it off”, and sometimes I push a little too hard. Calories are constantly on my mind. However, I am aware of the problem, and am actively trying to fix it, thanks to great people around me and resources like your amazing blog.

    Thank you.

  29. Wow. Thanks for sharing Jamie. Weight and appearance is definitely something I am constantly thinking about. It’s just beautiful to read these worlds. My heart breaks for the high school you but is so excited for the present you. I just graduated from high school in the summer and really relate to what you said about guys and marriage and love. Ive never experienced any of that and have never even dated. Its really hard and feeling like there’s no one for you is a sucky feeling but I am to remember that God’s plan is way bigger than mine. I have no idea what the future holds. So hopefully its something great. God has obviously used you!! :)

  30. Faith Bowyer says:

    I know you wrote this a few months ago, but I just read it now. Wow. You have such courage to put these words on the internet, and I’m so very glad that you did. A lot of people need to read these words of encouragement (and your story). Thank you for sharing.

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