Come along and join me to jump out of lockdown and into SPRING. I am presenting a 2-hour workshop as a benefit for IWOSC, the Independent Writers oSouthern California.

See the flyer below and register…

ATTENTION: Deadline to Sign Up TOMORROW (Friday the 19th) at 12:00pm PST.

Join me this Saturday, March 20 at 12:30pm PST.


Hi all,

It’s been a while since our last newsletter. (BTW, Please make sure to unsubscribe if you no longer want to receive these quarterly tidbits). In this seasonal newsletter I present to you the following topics:

  • Fat Shaming
  • Zooming through Covid
  • Diatribes for Dessert
  • Ballerina Dilemmas
  • President Joe Biden and Me
  • Be the Change You Want to See
  • Upcoming Events
  • Amazon Presence

I thought I would get more accomplished while locked down and have started a number of new projects, but everything is still in blissful transition. As Tolkien said, “Not all who wander are lost.”


Bill Maher why don’t you listen?

    At age five when kids circled round and taunted me in song with ‘’Fatty, Fatty, two by four,” I had no idea what to call it. Now it has a name, ‘Fat Shaming,’ and is no less painful.

     Last week one of my favorite comedic commentators continued in his ongoing rant against overeaters which I found particularly unfunny and far meaner than usual or necessary.

    He does often see things clearly but not this time. Who knew Bill Maher would continue with his fat shaming? You tube abounds with comments answering back to him trying to teach him that such abuse is not healthy. 

    If you happen to know a way to get through to Bill, please pass this on:

Of course, Bill you are correct in alerting us that obesity is one of those underlying conditions that worsen Covid outcomes. And yes, doctors should be letting us know how much we have to stay healthy, eat correctly, and lose weight. But Bill, do you think it all has not been said and heard before?

Yelling complaining, cajoling, and manipulating has never worked with other addicts and does not work with overeaters. You are still promoting the same idea:

 “That patient should be able to handle this thing on their own.”

         It’s the same old “push yourself away from the table” treatment.

Do you think no one tries to do that?  Do you think they want to overeat?”

        Do you ask other addicts why their tolerance for their drugs increases and why they don’t titrate their doses to get along with less?

    Do you really think people want to be fat? Do you think they’d choose to be at greater risk for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, orthopedic surgeries and now Covid? Really?

Do you think they don’t know the calorie counts of everything much more than you or any nutritionist? Do you think they haven’t read a woman’s or sports magazine, a fitness blog, or health and nutrition digest?


         During a forty-year career treating thousands of obese patients in eating disorder units, I found individuals who know more about diet and exercise than their treatment professionals could imagine. They know more than you do about cultural factors, inherited propensities, exercise regimens, and dangers of relapse. It is their issue and they do pay attention. 

          I used all knowledge gained as an obese child to later in adulthood diet my way to 220 pounds. More education and more bullying are not the answer. We have lost the war on obesity just as we’ve lost our war on drugs. It’s now time to try a surrender. 

I already knew well more than enough to mount the fight. We all knew. But we can’t fix it by ourselves. All research into drug addiction treatments, (yes, I said drug addiction) advises group therapy is more effective than individual. We need to discuss these things with other fellow sufferers who know how difficult the task is and will provide compassion and support for the daily regimens and commitments required.

Instead of being such a know it all, why not take a minute and listen to those of us who have been accompanying many on our individual paths to recovery. I’ve written four books on the psychological dynamics of overeaters and their relationships. Now countless other professionals are entering the field and there is a wealth of knowledge for you to glean.

If you really do care and want to learn more and rant less, we might help you see more clearly why you personally are so extremely upset. Of what person or memory in your own life does our obesity epidemic remind you? What is the source of your pain?

Those of us suffering this scourge of our nation, are like the miner’s canaries warning that lives aren’t working well in the US of A. Overeating is not a moral failing. It results from our super sensitivity to truly see what is not working in our lives. The constant need for more and more solace takes us to the plate, the wrong mate, and as you warn, a far too early fate.

Why do you want to get rid of us? Why so worked up? You could follow Otis Redding, take a look at yourself, and TRY A LITTLE TENDERNESS.

Many in the medical community, like you, have given up on trying to help. During my childhood obesity, doctors dispensed a lot of advice. Usually the simplest way for the doctor to get my mother and me out of the office was to fling a 1200 calorie diet across a big brown desk and smile, “Here. Do this.”

Well, it’s just not that easy. If we could have, we would have.

The problem was the off-handed way that doctor told me what to do, pretending that I could easily follow his instructions . He pretended his new ideas whether about low carb, high protein, drinking more water, or getting more exercise could be followed with a mere flip of a switch.

He believed I could listen to the Nike slogan and JUST DO IT. I could then go to Staples and buy that button that announces THAT WAS EASY. 

Now more than forty years and eighty pounds later, it has not been easy, but certainly worthwhile. I had to surrender to the long haul and the total life turnaround.

In early adulthood I became an addiction counselor to help all those I thought had a more difficult malady to treat and who’d had worse traumas than mine and I just kept eating . Finally at almost thirty years old, I walked into a room with other overeaters similarly afflicted, and somewhere in a silent group consciousness, I heard a whisper of, “We know how hard it is.”

At last someone acknowledged that I was trying my best and this malady is unbelievably difficult to address.

Can’t all our statistics and the clear indications that obesity is our national plague have convinced us all that this is no easy task? Surely some doctors have attacked the problem by cutting out half our stomachs or intestines. Though some of these extreme measures work for a while, many of these surgeries eventually fail. Some lead us on to alcoholism, and most are not effective unless the patients adhere to the rigid food plans that were suggested back when I was eight.

 It was not until I felt the compassion and support from fellow sufferers admitting it would be a difficult journey and they’d offer help that I was motivated and encouraged to set out on a new path. Their guidance incorporated physical, psychological, and behavioral alterations as well as a commitment to grow along spiritual lines. 

I was not considered stupid because of all my failed attempts. “Of course you ate. That’s what we do.” When you give up eating to excess, other unexplored issues bubble to the surface.  

I heard a gentle invitation: “Don’t worry, we’ll help you. And if you don’t like what you see, we’ll refund your misery.”

       Now, 46 years later, I still maintain an 80 pound weight loss, wear a size 8 bathing suit, and have the most muscular thighs in southern California.

 I welcome all of you. It has not at all been EASY. It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever undertaken. I had to discover that my entire being is mixed in with my searching for excess. When that is curtailed, everything changes. Come join me.

I invite Bill and anyone else who is curious to accompany me to a zoom meeting of Overeater’s Anonymous occurring 24/7. Just google Overeater’s Anonymous. You can find many workshops and audio recordings for free at There are also free recordings at You won’t have to be seen, heard, or identified. Just listen in on what people say. You’ll hear about the struggles and triumphs, the progress and setbacks, and you’ll GROW to appreciate HOW HARD IT IS. 

When you stop judging and start listening, you’ll find a better way to get your warnings across and you may even learn something about the difficult disease of food obsession.

Coronavirus Diaries: Zooming to cope

Judi Hollis

Special to The Desert Sun

Editor’s note: With state and local officials asking Californians to stay at home to halt the spread of coronavirus, we’ve asked Desert Sun readers to share how they’re adjusting to the new reality.


In 1971, I was assigned to attend an AA meeting as part of my graduate school counselor training. In later years I would take our patients, including the First Lady of the United States, from the Navy Hospital in Long Beach to a large and raucous AA meeting on 7th Street. I began learning lessons there that have prepared me for a — so far — serene and contented coping with lockdown.

Each night as I watched and listened to recovering alcoholics full of joy and compassion provide jokes, coffee and a welcome for anyone who showed up, I learned that we can all survive together with a modicum of grace and humility by focusing on “one day at a time.” They echoed the message from Ram Dass in the ’60s, “be here now,” and they sounded sometimes biblical with “this too shall pass.”

In later years while supervising alcoholism treatments throughout Southern California, I found I had my own personal needs for 12-step programs. I began earnestly attending meetings of three different fellowships. In the process I have maintained an 80-pound weight loss and 40 years of sobriety. I’ve also attended fellowships that taught me more about family dynamics and setting boundaries with love and respect than any of my social work classes.

I watched hundreds of others like me balk at the seemingly religious focus until a seasoned member told us all: “The only thing you need to know about God is ‘you ain’t it!'”

So, whether God does or does not exist, the coronavirus moves along. At any hour nationwide, thousands of 12-steppers are coping by attending Zoom meetings. They recommend, like the fishermen, “Pray toward heaven, but row toward shore.” In other words, “Do what you can, (shelter in place) and leave the results to the universe.” You could call that the serenity prayer.

Diatribes for Dessert

      In all the years I have been treating my own obesity as well as helping others on their journeys, I’ve had disagreements and discouragements coupled with outrageous joy and opportunities. I’ve never received a diatribe as was recently sent.

        The world is getting harsher. That’s partly why I gave up doing television shows. There’s a rage wanting audience. A man has sent me videos and expletives along with his personal rage about overeaters, obesity, and what he sees as our professional community encouraging as well as excusing gluttony. He offers suggestions and instructions we’ve all heard forever.

         We only need to look at our current prison populations to realize punishing addicts does not help them stop. Enough already!

America’s obese population is not available to carry the hate and weight of our nation. Now with Zoom thousands more of us are getting the message that we are not bad people trying to get good, but sick people trying to get well. Even if folks like this guy and even some in our health care communities still blame the victim and think we want to gain weight and be unhealthy, we now know we cannot do it without daily and compassionate help. We need help to keep confronting our own denial systems and ultimately take ourselves and our lives more seriously. 

That helps all of us see that we have more choices. In early alcoholism treatments, we found that after usually beginning alcohol abuse in their late teens, most found themselves “hitting bottom,” admitting they had a problem, at about age 38. Even so , the average age for folks entering treatment was age 58. That meant that for the next twenty years, they were believing “I can handle this on my own.” 

         Well, overeaters have been fed that lie of self-sufficiency and self mastery for countless decades. Most girls begin dieting at age 8 after buying into the culture’s expectations of unhealthy thinness. Billion dollar industries have thrived on offering “help.”

 That has all been gradually changing, but we have a long way to go.


This month the New York Times ran a feature titled “Second Thoughts on the Ballet Body”

    A member of the New York City Ballet is contemplating a dance future not obsessed about losing weight. She promises herself, “I’m not going to dance at 94 pounds anymore.” Most of us have read all the glaring reports of unnatural thinness being required for models and ballerinas. The model needs to serve as a hangar for clothes. The dancer is required to move in a way and form lines pleasing the aesthetic of mostly male choreographers. Usually what are seen as “bulges,” breasts and butts, get in the way of the straight lines requested.

        Although muscular bodies that move well with dynamism and musicality are currently coming into vogue, there is still the expectation that they look frail and Twiggy thin. While most Americans on lockdown complain of gaining the “quarantine fifteen,” ballet dancers report having gained five pounds during lockdown and actually liking their bodies more.  Even so, as they return to the stage, some are experiencing the subtle body weight issues they’d found before the lockdown. No actual numbers are mentioned, but after rejection for a role, a dancer may learn that her body “wasn’t where it needs to be.”

         The airlines have never been that subtle. In the early’80’s when I was creating the first treatment centers, flight attendants were referred for eating disorder treatment with actual weight loss poundage required before returning to work. Despite addictions to amphetamines, hydrocolonic irrigations, and taking time off to hide out in spas on restrictive diets and excessive exercise regimes, many of these employees could not pass their monthly weight check before achieving flight status. 

One of our patients was a male flight attendant body builder. Though muscular and healthy, he was fired for his inability to make the company’s unrealistic required weight. He sued United Airlines taking his fight to a very high court and lost the case. Judges determined that the company had the right to establish its standards for employment and he was out of a job! Thankfully, the skies have gotten friendlier.


Our current president and I share a special distinction. We were both born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I lived in what was then a dusty coal mining town through kindergarten. Soon after I flew by MATS (Military Air Transport) to join my dad cleaning up postwar Europe. I have recently been honored and named as one of 40 Northeast Pennsylvania Notables. 

Next month they will run a special feature about some of my history and accomplishments. Last so honored as a famous Scranton gal was the great film noir actress, Lizabeth Scott.  I am excited and proud to be recognized in this way. Here is the link, should you like to read on.  Take a look at

Or you can email the society and ask to be sent a copy of the Judi Hollis Special Edition of History Bytes. Here is their email address:


HERE’S WHAT I’VE BEEN UP TO…I continue to branch out into presenting my writing in public, as well as working on two forthcoming books. More details in next newsletter.

I’ve been speaking and reading at conferences!

I am so grateful that early on in this lockdown process I found countless zoom meetings. I hope you are all tuning in to these and we can play Hollywood Squares together. These meetings continue to help us to not just survive, but to thrive into recovery. I hope to meet up with many of you at any 12-step meeting. You can email me if you’d like to learn more.


Flyer for April 18th is below with Meeting ID number and Password, along with description.

Flexibility alongside Discipline

         Initially beginning a disciplined relationship with our primary love object, our food, seems similar to starting any other diet. Later as the body and mind clear and we grow along spiritual lines, we learn about mindful eating, portion control, and leaning in to longing as well as joy. Then we are moving toward establishing a more moderate relationship with food and life becomes more balanced and food plans become more moderate. Do you agree or disagree? Want to learn more about this from longtime members? Join them to discuss and develop organic and sensual experiences to continue living a recovery centered life with less fear and more joy.


As part of my reFIREing, I will be changing and increasing my Amazon presence.  If you’ve liked any of my books, please go to Amazon and write a review. I will be ever so grateful.

Judi Hollis, Ph. D


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