Reneee Jones

Habits & Health episode 45 - Renée Jones

Habits & Health episode 45 with Renée Jones, who spent 40 years on the Diet Yo-Yo before overcoming emotional/stress eating to reach and maintain her goal since 2012. She has a Master’s degree in Counseling, a Clinical Residency, and training in contemporary models of care. Her book, What’s Really Eating You: Overcome the Triggers of Comfort Eating, is an Amazon best seller, and her TEDx talk has over 550,000 views.

In this episode, we discuss emotional eating, diets, nutrition, Ted talks, changing habits, the biggest problem with weight loss, why  we eat for comfort, stress relief, and other emotional reasons,
how emotional eating begins…


IG:  @packyourownbag
Recommended book:
Beautiful Outlaw by John Eldredge
Favourite quote:
“Be who God meant you to be, and you will set the world on fire.”
St. Catherine of Siena

Don’t forget, there is a transcript of every episode (scroll down the page)

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The Reneee Jones interview link:

This video is related to an older episode featuring Tricia Nelson

Tony Winyard 0:00

habits and health episode 45.

Jingle 0:03

Welcome to the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. Brought to you by an educator and coach for anyone who wants to create a healthier life. Here's your host Tony Winyard.

Tony Winyard 0:20

Welcome to another edition of habits and health. My guest today is Renée Jones. She spent 40 years on a diet yo yo before eventually overcoming emotional stress and eating to to reach and maintain her goals since 2012. She has a master's degree in counselling, a clinical residency and training and contemporary models of care. And her book, what's really eating you overcome the triggers of comfort eating is an Amazon bestseller. So we talk with Rene in this episode about her many diets that she tried over many years and how she eventually discovered what was the trick. So that's coming up very soon. habits and health. My guest today is Renée Jones. How are you?

Renée Jones 1:06

I'm very well. Thank you. How are you?

Tony Winyard 1:08

I'm pretty good. And we find you in in Texas today in Texas. That's true. And whereabouts in Texas. I am right

Renée Jones 1:17

between Dallas and Fort Worth. So east west of Dallas.

Tony Winyard 1:22

And from our conversation before we started recording you know Texas pretty well it sounds like

Renée Jones 1:28

lived here most of my life. Yes. I was born here. And I always come back here.

Tony Winyard 1:35

But you spent well see, it's quite funny me again, something we I discovered just before we I press record, that your surname was quite appropriate sister somewhere you spent four years of your life. Yes.

Renée Jones 1:48

I lived in Wales for four years. And when I when I came back to the States, I married a man whose name was Michael Jones. And they were like his name was never Jones. Is it? I know. I know. But that's true.

Tony Winyard 2:04

Has he ever been to Wales

Renée Jones 2:06

yet? Because he we were dating. We were actually engaged the last two years I was there because it was over about eight years that I was there. And he would come visit me every six months or so. Those last two years.

Tony Winyard 2:19

So Is he well shows the American

Renée Jones 2:22

No, he's American. He's from Abilene, Texas. So he's a West Texas boy. Right? Okay, clearly with the name Jones is likely to be well,

Tony Winyard 2:32

somewhere along. So tonight, tell me a little bit more about yourself. I mean, I your your bio is fascinating, and your story in a book you've written and so on. So where would be a good place to start? Where do you Where would you like to start? Well,

Renée Jones 2:49

I spent 40 years on the diet Yo yo, up and down the scale. And it took I mean, I would lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds, 30 pounds and gain it back or five pounds and gain that back. And it was just a perpetual up and down the scale for all of those 40 years.

Tony Winyard 3:09

And you I like the way that you describe it as a diet. Yo, yo, what point was it? Were you realise that it was a yo yo and it was kind of? I don't know. Well, I mean, it'd be interesting to hear your thoughts that you realise maybe dieting isn't the right way to go about this is how, what were your thoughts? What did you discover?

Renée Jones 3:32

Well, I just thought that was the way it was. I mean, my my grandmother was heavy. My mother was heavy. And this is how it began. I mean, we would I was about 10 When I looked around and saw all the other little girls, the blondes and brunettes who were thin. And I was a chunky redhead. And I said to my father, is it I'm already redheaded that's a problem, because in the 70s it was but I want to I don't want to be so heavy. And she said well, it's really for you to try a diet but if you want to we can do it. So we did and we did okay for a couple of weeks at a time. And then when something happened, we'd eventually go off the diet altogether. Until we regained whatever we had lost the thought right, it's time to die it again. I just thought that's how things were. I didn't realise. I know that sounds a bit silly, but I didn't realise you could actually lose it and not regain it.

Tony Winyard 4:30

And so when did you have that realisation

Renée Jones 4:33

I was staring down my 50th birthday. And I thought if I don't do it now, it will never ever ever happen. So I started out

Tony Winyard 4:48

and what was the you said that if I don't do it now so what was it that was so that you felt that you had to die? What What would the consequences you felt that if you didn't die? If that something would happen, I would just

Renée Jones 5:02

get heavier and heavier and heavier until, you know old age, when it doesn't apparently doesn't matter anymore. But, of course, you know, for women around age 50, there's that hormonal shift. And it. It's not. What I learned was it's not impossible to maintain your weight, because I have been maintaining my weight for nine years and counting.

Tony Winyard 5:26

Right. And so what changed?

Renée Jones 5:29

I got the idea in my head that it had to change. So there was mine. I didn't do it well, for several months, but I sort of heard someone say, Oh, it's just emotional eating. And I thought, Oh, well, yeah. But I've never put that together, that you could change that. So I found a way to overcome my emotional eating. And you know, what, if you don't eat for emotional reasons, it saves you a whole bunch of calories?

Tony Winyard 6:06

But that sounds very easy. Oh, yeah.

Renée Jones 6:10

No, no, in fact, I actually hired someone to help me I do really well, with accountability that that works for me. Because I knew every week, I'd have to say, Okay, here's, here's my food, stuff. And here's what I was doing. And this is what happened when I went and crawled into my peanut butter jar. And it, it worked out. And it took me a bit, but I lost the weight. I reached my goal weight the week before my 50th birthday.

Tony Winyard 6:43

And so the person you said that you worked with, I'm guessing is some kind of a nutritionist, nutrition coach, whatever it was that they was it the accountability, that was the missing link? Or did they give you some kind of a plan or what what happened?

Renée Jones 6:57

Actually, we talked very little about food. She was not a nutritionist, she was a coach. And we talked about all the stuff, the emotional baggage, that kept me kind of where I was, and we started working through it, to unpack it, so that I could be free of it. So I could pack for the journey I wanted to be on rather than the one I just sort of fallen into. So getting that dealing with all of that emotional baggage kept me from having to go to food to get comfort and stress relief.

Tony Winyard 7:37

Did it did it all make sense? As soon as she started explaining this, or did it take a while to really Oh,

Renée Jones 7:42

it took a while? Yeah. And there's still times honestly, Tony, when I go, hmm. I want to go eat now why? Oh, I'm not hungry. What's going on? In fact, I came up with a, an acronym. And I say overcoming emotional eating isn't hard. You just have to get the hang of it. And hang is the acronym H? Am I hungry? And if you are, you probably do need to get something to eat. But if you're not hungry, then A is what is the attraction to food right now in this moment? What's going on for you? And then the end is what is it that you actually need? Do you need a hug? Do you need to walk around the building? Do you need to talk to a friend you know, what is it that you truly need in that moment, and the G is Go Go get that because that will suit you more than food ever possibly could. So getting that idea helped me stop myself in the midst of it and make a different choice.

Tony Winyard 8:55

On the only you said about the acronym ha ing so on the first the first word was hungry, hungry. So are you hungry? How do you determine whether you are hungry in the first place?

Renée Jones 9:07

Sometimes that takes a while to figure out because we are so wired to go to food for comfort. But you do have to go okay, I just ate two hours ago I had this this and this. Could I possibly be hungry? No, not really. Because it's not. It's not that stomach growl that pushes us to food. It's that need for comfort because if you think about it, when a baby cries, we put something in their mouth, whether it's the bottle of the breast or a pacifier a dummy. We put something in our mouth so we learned that soothing early on. And then we go to children go to their thumbs. And then we go to doughnuts, pizza and chips. Some things right? Looking for that soothing. So if you're, if you're not physically hungry, it's probably something on an emotional level, you just need soothing or stress relief.

Tony Winyard 10:17

And so it sounds like then it's a lot, you're better able to identify that now then in the early days of discovering this,

Renée Jones 10:28

yeah, because it feels the same. If you've been eating for emotional reasons, it feels the same. But recognising, okay, this is hunger. And this is not helps you to then make those choices more effectively.

Tony Winyard 10:47

And so is your book, I think, be I believe your book is titled the same? Well, what is the title of your book and just remind me

Renée Jones 10:53

what's really eating you overcoming the triggers of comfort eating? And so

Tony Winyard 10:58

what was it? Why did you decide to write the book?

Renée Jones 11:03

Because I wanted to be able to share with more people. And, you know, not everyone can afford to buy a coach to hire a coach. I can't get to everyone. I mean, I have, I do have clients on six different continents. So I've gotten good reach. But they may not want that. So this is a way that they can a check me out, see, okay, do I like this person? Does that make sense to me, as well as, as work through it? Because it's not quite a workbook, but it could be and allows them to do it on their own if they can.

Tony Winyard 11:43

And so the clients you talk about working with, so that's working with them as in terms of helping them with emotional eating? Is that how you're helping people?

Renée Jones 11:53

Yes, but the truth is, that's just where we start. Because most of it, you know, some people come just for the weight loss. But a lot of people come to just get rid of all the extra baggage. They're tired of dragging with them. But yes.

Tony Winyard 12:11

What do you mean by that?

Renée Jones 12:13

Emotional Baggage? Yeah, old stories, limiting beliefs, the stuff from childhood, and I help them heal their heart, so they can be who they were meant to be. And weight loss often comes along with it.

Tony Winyard 12:34

Is there? I mean, this is I know, I realise it's an impossible question to answer. But how? I'm wondering how, what would typically how long a period would you work with someone,

Renée Jones 12:47

I like to work with people for six months, I have done three. But I like to work with people for six months. Because it takes a little time to walk through all the stuff. They got to try to figure it out. Because I mean, it's not. It's not like I can just give them a prescription and say here, go do this. And life will be great. They go do that. And then they see how it works for them, whether that's the nutrition, or the relationships, or work life or anything else, right. So I like to walk with them through at least six months, so that we can respond to various experiences in their days.

Tony Winyard 13:34

So in Nice, you mentioned people from six different continents you're working with. So the diets and the food choices in all those six continents will be quite different. But what about the emotional issues? Are they are they quite similar across all those continents?

Renée Jones 13:51

They are they I mean cultures are different. That's absolutely true. cultures are different. And nutrition is slightly different. I mean, the body runs on calories. Right? That's how we move and if I can help them figure out what works for them. Because that's, that's the first pillar I do is finding what works for your body. I don't actually give them a specific diet as such. We do a metabolic assessment so that they can know what will work for their body. But they get to choose. If they don't want to do it that way. They don't have to do it that way. But at least they know. And then the emotional stuff. There are cultural differences, and I have to be careful. Sometimes, but in the end most people struggle. If they're struggling with emotional eating, most often they have a self esteem issue in there somewhere. And that's universal.

Jingle 15:04

We hope you're enjoying this episode of the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you're looking for the fastest and most effective way to transform your energy and wellbeing, we invite you to join Tony for an upcoming habits and health workshop. This five week group workshop will empower you with tools to disrupt unwanted habits and make positive changes easy. You'll enjoy sound asleep, better energy, less stress, and a happier mood Workshops begin on the first week of every month. And you can sign up now at Now back to the show.

Tony Winyard 15:51

So I'm my assumption is that Western countries, United Kingdom, United States and so on mentalities may be will be quite similar in some ways. I mean, there's obviously differences, but there'll be more similarities, then when you're working with, say, Japanese people, for example, and, and so do you take quite a different approach? Or is it more about the individual? Well,

Renée Jones 16:18

it's so much more about the individual, you know, I have to work with them where they are not where I want them to be yet. Right. And, you know, I have I have had experiences where they're like, Yeah, I can't do that. Okay, well, let's figure out another way around it, because this is bothering you. And we've got to find a resolution, what would work for you?

Tony Winyard 16:46

And how do they find out about you in the first place?

Renée Jones 16:49

The TEDx talk has been very helpful. Right? That That put me out into a whole different realm. So that that's one

Tony Winyard 17:00

time How did that come about?

Renée Jones 17:03

Well, a year before, my husband had said, you might want to think about doing public speaking. And I said, Love, I'm never going to be a speaker. And lo and behold, Famous last words, right? And it just came, we I found a coach to help me, you know, learn how to speak in public. And one of the options was then to apply for a TEDx talk. And it they took me. So I was like, wow, they actually took me this was great. Mind, that wasn't the first place I had. I had applied. The thing is, I didn't realise they wanted it mostly local. So I started playing in places I'd never been before, because I thought it'd be kind of fun to go to Rhode Island and never been there, or Oregon. Never been there. But that wasn't how that works. But this particular one didn't mind where you were from.

Tony Winyard 18:05

And so where it was, was that quite locally, then it sounds

Renée Jones 18:08

Nora was actually in Delaware, which is over on the east coast.

Tony Winyard 18:12

Right. Okay. But was, so what was your top? What did you speak about? I guess it was about emotional eating? What What was it more specific than that?

Renée Jones 18:22

No, it was emotional eating, lose the weight and keep it off?

Tony Winyard 18:27

And was it in planning for the TED Talk? I'm guessing there must have been some nerves and fears there. How did it actually go?

Renée Jones 18:36

My knees were shaking for the whole 11 minutes, Tony. I was very, very nervous, very nervous. Because that I the lights freaked me out. I hadn't been accustomed to lights like that before. So the morning of I was in this hotel room, I took all the shades of all of the lamps and put them right in front of me. And I gave my talk to the lamps, because I thought that'll help me and it did. But the thing is, very often, once you get going, you're into your talk, and it has to be memorised, that it's much easier because you know what you're gonna say?

Tony Winyard 19:18

How many other speakers were they on the same event?

Renée Jones 19:21

That day? I think there were 15.

Tony Winyard 19:25

And where were you in those 15

Renée Jones 19:28

I was right before lunch. I thought that was an awfully dirty trick to play people. But I was like number six, I think.

Tony Winyard 19:36

Right? And so that did that make lunch a lot easier that you'd finished your job?

Renée Jones 19:41

Yes. In fact, my husband and I went out and there was a there was a bench near the elevators. And I sat down and he said Don't you want to go have lunch? I said Yes, as soon as I feel I can trust my legs again. I won't get up. But yes, that it made the afternoon so much more relaxed.

Tony Winyard 19:59

So soon when was the book published

Renée Jones 20:02

January of 2017.

Tony Winyard 20:05

And so since the book was released, and you know, obviously your have got many reviews and feedback and so on, has it made you want to update it or do a second book or what has happened since then?

Renée Jones 20:20

I think about updating it periodically. And I think about writing another one because I'm a writer at heart anyway. But I don't have a plan for that. The thing that I'm I'm getting ready to do is the audible version of it. Because I like audiobooks and other people like audiobooks. So I thought, Well, that won't. That's not hard. I could do that.

Tony Winyard 20:45

So I want to go back HDT. You mentioned about the timing way or so what what age were you when you in Wales,

Renée Jones 20:52

I was about to turn 24 to 25. And then I came back to go to grad school. In 1990, I came back to do a summer in Tenby to help between two people who were one person was finishing one was coming and I did the middle. And then I was 3232.

Tony Winyard 21:21

And so what why so why did you originally come to Wales was that family reasons or something was,

Renée Jones 21:27

it was a job opportunity. There was a programme similar to the Peace Corps few ever heard of that, where you do two years stints in places. And they needed someone to run a what's it called a community centre. And then the second time I got my degree in counselling by by the third time and they wanted to open a Counselling Centre in the village.

Tony Winyard 21:59

And one of the reasons I asked that question is because we were the food culture in the United Kingdom, and the United States seems to be quite different. I mean, like the you're, I mean, I may, I might be stereotyping a bit, but the portion sizes seem to be far bigger in the States than they are in the UK. So and with the subject that we've been talking about, and how you've been yo yo dieting, I wondered how, whether it was easier during the time yo, in the UK, or wherever that made no difference.

Renée Jones 22:32

No, it didn't really make a lot of difference. You know, the there is a saying, if you leave a Welsh table hungry, it's your own fault. Because they had their little American girl that they wanted to take care of. And I was I was heavy, I was like, over 10 stone at the time. 1010 and a half, something like that. 11. So it was that they were just looking after me. And what I learned a few years ago, is what works for my body. And the food, a lot of the food that I ate and Wales was not necessarily good for me. But it was it was there. And it was good. It worked. But it kept me heavy.

Tony Winyard 23:18

So when you started working with the coach, and you started making a few changes, and as you say most of it was around emotional eating. So did you just sort of change everything overnight? Or was it gradual? Or what? How did that happen?

Renée Jones 23:30

Oh, no, that was it was a gradual change, because there's a lot of work involved in dealing with the emotional stuff. Right, it takes some time to change your thinking. To change your how you approach feeling, I was a very cynical person. And that had to go. But it was a good thing to go. But it took a while for for me to get out of the old habits and into the new habits. As far as food is concerned, I actually lost my weight on a low fat, low calorie diet, but I was tired, hungry and cranky all the time. So what I did, at two years after I was still struggling to maintain my weight, and I thought there's gonna be something better than this. So I found this metabolic assessment that told me what my body worked better with. And I was already at my goal weight, and they gave me this nutrition plan. And I followed it for a week and I lost two more pounds. So I thought there's something to this. So once I found what worked for my body and what my body actually needs, because you know, we're all different. Our we all have a unique fingerprint. So why would we think any diet going would work for us? We have to try them out or find what works so that we can maintain, you know, our our goal or our health, our body in the place that it needs. To me, that was that was amazing for me, because I haven't struggled with it since.

Tony Winyard 25:07

And so in working with your clients, why are there any common denominators to like, what is the hardest things for your clients to change? Do you think?

Renée Jones 25:17

What one of the things is their belief that they can do it? Because they've, they've done it for so long. I mean, oftentimes, when people come to me, they say, I can handle everything else that this I can't. So if we, if we can engage their belief that they can lose the weight, they want to lose, that they can live at that goal weight forever, that they have it within them, that they they can choose to maintain it, then we've gone a long way, a long way.

Tony Winyard 25:59

So. So a couple of thoughts come to my mind from what were you said there? Because there's, so there's two things I'm thinking one is, you mentioned about, you are initially quite cynical, I'm imagining that many of those people will also be quite cynical, because as you said, they've tried so many things, there'll be a number of people who will be very doubtful that anything can work for them, because they've tried so many things, and nothing has worked. And so and there must be some people who don't even come to you in the first place, because they just they're just totally disillusioned. And I think there's, I'm just going to be this way for the rest of my life.

Renée Jones 26:34

Yeah, I mean, there, there's, they're also frustrated, because they think they are doing what they need to do. You know, they've tried every pill, potion and powder out there. And, unfortunately, a lot of times, they just don't completely understand the mechanisms and the consistency. And particularly people who have reactions to certain foods, inflammatory responses, that sort of thing. And they just want to be normal, they don't want to have to be rid of those foods. And yet, that can be the key to their freedom. So yeah, sometimes they're jaded. Another one. Okay, what, what is different about yours that we haven't tried before? It's all the same stuff, right? And, you know, fundamentally Sure, if you have a calorie deficit, you're likely to lose weight. The key for each person is what does your body need? How does your body respond to these things? And if you figure out what works for your body, it'll be a lot easier, you'll be more satisfied. Once I started on that, that different programme, than I was so much more satisfied than I'd ever been before on the same number or even fewer calories sometimes. So you just have to find what works for you.

Tony Winyard 28:14

Do you find that the first few months of the year are your busiest time for inquiries with people failing and New Year's resolutions and so on?

Renée Jones 28:24

It can certainly be Yeah, usually after about mid January, all the resolutions are out the window. And it was for me when I started to. So um, yeah, it can be busy.

Tony Winyard 28:38

Do you have any thoughts on why that is? Do you have any thoughts on why people would so many people fail on many of their New Year's resolutions?

Renée Jones 28:46

Oh, sure. Because they fail to resolve the issue driving the behaviour they're trying to resolve not to do anymore. There's just so much in our emotional makeup. Right? If, if you need if you don't feel loved in a certain area, you're going to be looking for that some way. And it may be Cadbury egg that does it for you. But it doesn't last. So we've got to find, okay, what's driving the behaviour. And if we resolve that, then you won't need resolutions anymore. You'll just do them.

Tony Winyard 29:27

We're coming towards the end. And a couple of questions. I always asked. Is there a book that's really moved? You know?

Renée Jones 29:34

Yeah, I mean, there are a number but I think I just got the audio version of a book called Beautiful outlaw by John Eldridge. And I'm a I'm a woman of faith. And it is a book about Jesus that isn't overly churched as it were, is just looking at him as a human being. And it was like, Oh, that's fun. All right. That's nice. So yeah, it just it shifted my perspective a bit.

Tony Winyard 30:06

And if people want to find out more about you and the programmes you run and social media and so on where where should they look?

Renée Jones 30:14

Website is pack your own and I think Facebook and Instagram are both pack your own bag.

Tony Winyard 30:23

And can you explain pack your own bag? Yeah, yeah,

Renée Jones 30:27

cuz I, I believe so much of our emotional bags are packed for us as we are growing up. And sometimes what we have to do is just unpack a lot of that stuff. And get rid of it, like all the flotsam and jetsam in the bottom of your your luggage, so that you can pack for the journey you want to be on. You can pack your own bag now.

Tony Winyard 30:55

And when I finally is there is that quotation that you particularly like,

Renée Jones 30:59

Oh, I love St. Catherine of Siena who said, be who God meant you to be, and you set the world on fire.

Tony Winyard 31:07

From why does that speak to you? Because I

Renée Jones 31:09

think it's important to be you. Not this version that we sometimes fall into. But if we can get back to our truest selves. That's who we were made to be those the guests we are meant to bring to the world, so that we can help others.

Tony Winyard 31:29

When I experience real pleasure, so thank you for your time. I really appreciate it and best of luck.

Renée Jones 31:34

Thank you for having me.

Tony Winyard 31:36

Thank you. Next week is episode 46 with Tara Bianca, who is a holistic health practitioner for almost 20 years. And she has a company called be like transformative therapy. And in that she specialises in therapeutic body work, breath, work, mindset and sound healing. She does a lot of a lot of her work is around breathing. And we go into that quite a lot. But we also talk about some of the other areas that she helps people with as well as she's got a really good knowledge on breathing and a good way of working with that. So that's next week with Tara Bianca. If you know anyone who we get some we all benefit from hearing some of the information that Renee shared with shared with us this week. Please do share the episode with them. And hope you have a fantastic week.

Jingle 32:27

Thanks for tuning in to the habits and health podcast where we believe creating healthy habits should be easy. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on your favourite podcast app. Sign up for email updates and learn about coaching and workshop opportunities at See you next time on the habits and health podcast.

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