Holding Hope Services

Julie Fanning LCSW



My Rant on Being Fat!

I am fat.  I’ve been told this my whole life by both friends and society.  Sometimes I will look at a photo of myself from when I was young and will wonder why everyone thought I was so fat.   Maybe it was a self-fulfilling prophesy but I am fat and that has been part of my identity as long as I can remember.  At times it has determined what risks I have been willing to take and what experiences I participated in.  I would blame it for relationship troubles or truly believe it was one of the reasons for general unhappiness at different times in my life.   As I’ve gotten older I am able to more often recognize that I am not just a fat person and my weight doesn’t determine my happiness.   Also – and this important for people to remember about themselves too – what I weigh does not determine my worthiness as a person.  I am going to repeat that.  Our weight does not determine our worth as a person.  The value I have as a human and my happiness are not dependent on numbers on a scale.   Each of us is worthy of love, happiness and kindness,  regardless of how much or how little we weigh or our physical appearance.

Right now I am doing the whole30 challenge.  I get accolades about how great it is that I am doing this.  If I lose weight, I will get praise for losing weight.  People will say “You look so good.” Or “It is so great you are hanging in there.”  I soak up any praise and it it is a motivator to keep eating healthy. However,  when it comes down to it, if I choose to live healthier, if I lose 40 pounds or if I end up gaining 40 pounds – it makes no difference in who I am.  I am a not better person if I weigh 40 pounds less.  I will not be less worthy if I gain 40 pounds more.

In my private practice both women and men come in and virtually with each and every person there will come a time where there is a discussion about weight and negative feelings surrounding it.  I have worked with so many teenage girls who have issues around their weight.  They tell me “My mom (or my grandma) told me I need to lose weight.”   These are teens who are active and within the norm of weight for their age and they will cry and ask why their parents can’t accept them if they don’t weigh the right amount.

Then I have adult women come in and tell me the same stories of family members and friends telling them they needed to lose weight.  They are told they will be all alone in life because they are fat or if they didn’t lose weight they would never find happiness.  Generally, these messages are well-intended.    You want the people you love to be happy.  Only, the feelings these messages induce don’t go away.   It sends a subtle implication that you are not quite good enough because of your weight.  You might not even notice you are saying these things to others or yourself because it is such a part of our culture.  It is difficult to step away from thoughts about weight because American society is filled with the messages everywhere telling us that thinner is better.

      Julie in first grade   "Too fat to have friends"
Julie in first grade
“Too fat to have friends”

When I started first grade there was a girl who told me she wished she could be my friend but she couldn’t because I was too fat to have friends.  I wasn’t even six years old.  Now, almost 40 years later I remember this and I know it became part of my identity.  I don’t remember the girl’s name or face but I remember the conversation.  Probably one of my brain’s first lessons on starting to believe “don’t be fat or you will be all alone.”     How much more will words about heaviness stay with someone when it is a family or friend saying them.  You might say “I worry about their health, I want them around for the grandkids” or a hundred other very valid reasons why someone would be better off losing weight.  You are just trying to help.  I would argue that if the person is an adult – they are very aware of how much they weigh.  It only amplifies the shame to be reminded that your fat bothers others and you are not quite good enough because you don’t lose it.   There are ways to be encouraging and supportive without adding to pain.  It is up to the person to decide how they want to tackle their weight.  People have very complicated relationships with food and weight.  You can be pithy and say “just don’t put it in your mouth” but there are often many factors at play.  It is not necessary for you to let someone know they need to lose weight.  Even disguising it with “I worry about you” is still saying “you are not good enough because of your weight.”

I’m not saying you shouldn’t help your children be active and maintain a healthy weight.   I would just say consider how you promote it with your children.  Eat healthy and be active yourself.  Don’t hold others to expectations you aren’t able to sustain.  Live by example.  Which also means recognize that each time you put yourself down for your weight or your eating or exercise habits you are teaching your children and others that your importance has something to do with your physical looks.  You are even reinforcing your own beliefs.  “See I’m not good enough because my body isn’t perfect.”  Stop yourself when you find yourself putting yourself down.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  I bet virtually everyone who reads this has thought at one time or another “at least I’m not as fat as that person.”  I have thought it.  Unfortunately it just reinforces the idea that if I weigh less I am better.  Being a little healthier than someone else does not give us the moral high ground.

Not making your weight be such a huge factor in your identity doesn’t mean someone can’t make changes and be healthier.  I want to live healthier.  I want to lose weight.  I want a better relationship with food.  These are reasons why I am doing the Whole30 challenge.  However, this is my journey.  If I don’t succeed I will be disappointed with myself but it doesn’t make me a failure at life.  Conversely, if I complete the challenge it won’t make me a better person.  Happiness, love, money and opportunity won’t just fall out of the sky to me because I shed a few pounds.  My life will still be my life.  If you are working on changing your weight do it for you and not because you think it will make others accept or love you more.

I want to note that it is OK to accept yourself at whatever weight you are.  You don’t owe anyone explanations on how much you weigh.  You are allowed to be happy and enjoy life and it is not dependent on your size.  You are worthy of love and joy and you will find the people who really matter don’t care how much you weigh.

I know as someone who is heavy that it is easy to forget to live life because you are waiting to lose weight.  Just don’t do that.  I am working hard at living the life I choose, embracing opportunities and not letting my weight stop me from living.  Whatever we are on the outside does not determine our happiness unless we let it.  I know that it is easier said than done, but my hope is that instead of focusing on our perceived shortcomings that we instead embrace life.  You are worthy because you are alive.   Instead of feeling shame over your weight focus on embracing experiences, loving those dear to you and being kind to all.

Julie- July 2015 Living Fully Pacific Ocean
Julie- July 2015
Living Fully
Pacific Ocean
With BFF Karen Campbell Embracing Life Accepting Me
With BFF
Karen Campbell
Embracing Life
Accepting Me

Life is meant to be lived not endured…

Hi everyone,Taking My Own Advice

I am a contributor to a blog that is for those entering or in the social work field.  My first post is titled life is meant to be lived – not endured.  I think the tips for living life can be helpful for anyone.  Click on over and check it out!  Thanks.

Oh — And Happy Social Worker month to all of the social workers out there!

Send your kids outside!

This article makes a lot of sense to me.–abc-news-topstories.html

Of course I wouldn’t recommend paying someone $350 to not watch your kids because you can do it for free.  Your very first and longest lasting task as a parent is to keep your children safe.  It makes sense that you will try to everything in your power to keep them that way.  However, is there a time you should grit your teeth and take a step back?  I am not a crazy outdoorsy person by any stretch of the imagination but as a child, I ran around outside.  The next door neighbor kids had a kick ball game some days, we would play “war” with these crabapple things, we would go try to catch crawdads in the creek and sneak away to ride our bikes to the grocery store.  (No idea on why we’d go to the grocery store – maybe because it was illicit behavior.  Also, I don’t believe we ever caught a crawdad.  I’m not actually sure what a crawdad is or if it is even real but would probably not want to touch one if I saw one.  My mom always told me I could catch one with a hot dog.  That seems weird to me but who knows.)

What freedom do you give your kids?  What ways can you feel confident that they are safe yet let them enjoy the magic of doing nothing outside or hanging with friends?  Unfortunately, there is no way any parent can plan for every eventuality.  I’m not saying send them out at the beginning of the day and tell them to check back in 8 hours.  Be a responsible parent but allowing them some time to just be can be huge part of their development.  Kids learn how to entertain themselves.  It may enhance their creativity.  Kids learn how to build friendships and navigate the muddy waters of relationships.  Kids build resilience because they learn to handle challenges without their parents always being  there.  By letting your kids have some time to go and play, you will be ensuring they have some very useful skills as they get older.  Have faith in your parenting – you are doing a great job – and your kids will reflect that as you allow them room to grow.

Find Your Passion Prezi

Happy Wednesday!

I am always looking for fun ways to get my message out.  (Whatever that might be.)  I saw some therapists were using this program called Prezi to create slideshow sort of thingies so I jumped on the bandwagon and did one to.  I took my “Find Your Passion” rack card and tried to make a Prezi.  Go ahead and check it out and let me know what you think.  I obviously have no idea how it is supposed to work yet but it was fun to do.

You can click on the start button for each slide to show up or  if you go prefer go under the tab ‘more’ and it will give you the option to run it like a video.  Good times.

Daily Journal Calendar

Playing on pinterest the other day (Yes, I play on Pinterest.  You can check out my boards at I saw this activity.     It is a daily journal.  It must be a new popular thing because I saw journals set up for it at the bookstore yesterday too.  In the one I saw the person kept a recipe box with one index card for each day of the year.  Then each day a person writes one thing about the day down and then as years go by you have nice snapshots of what was going on in your life.  I think this is such an amazing way to remember those moments.


As I start this, I would remember that Saturday I played the game Clue with family members.  I would remember how it is totally not played the same as when I was young and the laughing and confusion and yes actual disagreements we had about how a person wins.  This is one of those moments that make life but really it is not significant enough to be burned in my memory forever.  How nice if a year or two or three down the line, I could look at that card and remember that game.

Remember, these little moments are what makes life.  The interactions with friends and family and our daily dreams and tasks are what life is.  How great to remember some of them.  I am so excited to start this!


I’ve decided that my choice is to do what I love.  I believe doing what I love, living my passions will bring me contentment and happiness.  Sometimes I put obstacles and barriers of my own making into place and it gets in the way of fully living my journey.  I feel like I have to earn good times and getting what I want.  It turns out that I don’t.  Sometimes life is hard and sometimes I make it harder than it needs to be.  Today I am going to choose to not put up fake barriers.  Today I am going to choose happiness.  What are you going to choose today?

Doctor Who Quote 2


I’m ready to share my next favorite Doctor Who quote (and no they are not in any particular order.)

For the previous Doctor Who Blog Post follow the link below.

04/03/2012 – Doctor Who Quote 1 (and explanation)

“Letting it get to you. That’s being alive; it’s being here right now. And that’s the best thing there is.”-11th Doctor, /The Doctor’s Wife/

Many of people’s struggles with the problems in their life have to do with avoiding emotions.  I’ve said it before allow you to feel those uncomfortable feelings – they aren’t going to go away by ignoring them.  Not only will feeling those emotions help you, feeling them will also enable you to be comfortable around other people who are struggling with their own rough feelings.    You can sit with them and witness instead of distracting them in an effort to lighten the mood. (Yes, I know I am guilty of this. I’m working on it.)
I think this quote is not just about struggles but staying in the moment and living fully.  When you feel passionate about something, shout it out to the world.  When you are happy – share it.  When something gets to you – speak out.  Feel.  Be alive.  Don’t worry about looking stupid or doing it wrong – just live.

And just for fun the BBC trailer from the episode “The Doctor’s Wife.”

Totally Random Friday Fun

Random Activity for today…
Need to procrastinate?  Want to stimulate your mind? 
I learned some new words today and used them in sentences below.
I can say without any hesitation I do not suffer from Porphyrophobia.  It is one of my favorite colors.
I have a favorite story on the internet that used the word Ubiquitous.  Now I know what it means.
I wish I was a Deipnosophist but a lot of times I just seem like I’m rambling.

Fridays and Words are almost always
good reasons to smile.

Now you have something to do and most likely you can learn something.  Go to or other internet place and look up the words you don’t know. 
You’re welcome.

30 Posts in 30 Days (or maybe delusions of grandeur – we’ll see)

I spend a lot of time starting blog posts.  I have so many great ideas for posts and I write 2 or 3 lines and then I put my masterpiece beginning aside and save it for later.  You know ~later~ when I will take the time to write it up properly.  You guessed it.  Later rarely comes.  Instead, my blog start gets to be saved forever and never sees the light of day.
I keep thinking that I have to do something to get writing and then it happened.  I was playing (read playing as avoiding things I probably should have been doing) on Pinterest and I saw a pin for a blog challenge of 30 blog posts in 30 days.  Just the thing to motivate me.  I decided to buy into the challenge and I am going to try to get 30 posts done this month.  (I can do anything for thirty days – right?)  I have faith in me.  (However, I don’t promise interesting and fascinating posts so you might have to read and decide that for yourself.)

So, Happy Spring and Happy April Fool’s Day.  (A holiday I don’t know why individuals continue to celebrate because I don’t think it is amusing to trick or attempt to make other people look or feel stupid.  Generally I would say that is not desired behavior.  I’m just saying.)

I am ready for this challenge.  I will talk to you again tomorrow. 
(Not to jinx it but I think I can get at least to day two.)

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