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Overcoming Emotional Eating Using “HANG”: 84

In this episode, Renee Jones shares her weight loss journey and techniques she found to deal with emotional eating. Renee shares her background of yo-yo dieting and her eventual discovery of emotional eating as the root cause of her struggles. She explains how she found what works for her body through a specific software program and emphasizes the importance of an individualized approach to weight loss.

She provides practical tips for overcoming emotional eating and maintaining weight loss, including the HANG acronym for addressing emotional hunger. She also shares the role of coaching in helping others resolve emotional issues and live authentically.

Connect with Renee at


  • Emotional eating is eating for any reason other than hunger, and it often involves using food as a way to soothe or cope with emotions.
  • Finding what works for your body is crucial for successful weight loss and maintenance. It requires self-reflection, experimentation, and paying attention to how different foods and eating patterns make you feel.
  • Practical tips for weight loss include facing your emotions instead of using food as a coping mechanism, creating rules and boundaries around food and finding alternate activities or behaviors to replace emotional eating.
  • Coaching can be a powerful tool for weight loss and personal growth, helping people resolve emotional issues and live more authentically.

Watch the episode on YouTube

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Podcast Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Background
03:20 Discovering Emotional Eating
06:32 Finding What Works for Your Body
09:29 Practical Tips for Weight Loss
16:21 Replacing Unhealthy Behaviors
18:54 Renee's Coaching Approach
23:14 The Power of Authenticity
24:07 Getting in Touch with Renee

Podcast Transcript

Cheryl McColgan (00:00.874)
Hey everyone, welcome to the Heal Nourish Grow podcast. Today I am joined by Renee Jones and we are going to talk about something that's a very popular topic at the beginning of the year and that is weight loss. Renee has had a very interesting background as you heard in her bio, but now I'm gonna let her share in your own words, Renee. How did you get into this work and kind of, but maybe start with the background. I think you said for 40 years, you were kind of just like yo-yoing around. So I'm really curious to hear about your backstory, like what sort of things you tried, what were your challenges. So I'll let you take it away with your introduction to your history there.

Renee Jones (00:37.652)
Okay, well, thanks for having me for a start. But my first diet was when I was 10, and I know that sounds awful, but my mother thought, you're a bit young, but if we start now, maybe you'll learn how to do this. And the problem was, I didn't know what I was doing. She'd been heavy all her life, so she didn't know what she was doing.

Cheryl McColgan (00:49.902)
I'm sorry.

Renee Jones (01:02.192)
And we sort of would start and stop and then we'd say, oh, do you want to do the diet again? Yeah, okay. And we'd start over again. And it would go for a while until we either got fed up or went somewhere, you know, either visiting family or holiday or something like that. And it, you know, it just went on. I didn't learn how to first believe that I could keep the weight off that I lost.

but also what was really good for my body. It was usually sort of a whatever the diet of the day was. So I think we tried them all, honestly. I think there are two diets I have not tried. And one of them was that HCG thing. And the other is the Whole30.

Cheryl McColgan (01:50.499)

Renee Jones (01:55.636)
Because I've done something close enough to that. I thought, got the idea. I'm good. But that just went on.

Cheryl McColgan (01:55.992)

Cheryl McColgan (02:00.114)
Right. So out of those ones, and so out of those ones that you tried, you never really found, I mean, did you ever feel particularly good on any specific diet, or was more just like, you're kind of waiting for this mental shift to happen where it was became more clear to you what needed to change.

Renee Jones (02:20.248)
Um, actually that didn't come until I was staring down my 50th birthday, because I didn't know what, what call myself. But when I was doing research, because I was about to be 50 and I thought things change for women, if I don't lose the weight now, I'll never lose it. And I discovered that this term emotional ater, I thought, oh, that's what I am. So.

Prior to that, I was probably never satisfied. I was always hungry. And I thought with my New Year's resolution that I was gonna make it happen, but I didn't. I just couldn't stay on track for very long. And started at New Year, had to restart every month. And by the time we got to April, I actually needed a bigger size. And I thought, this is going the wrong direction. And I thought,

I can't do this by myself. I just can't. So I tried out a short program where you buy the material, read it, do the exercises. And what I realized was that this person knew something that I did not. So I eventually hired her as my coach and she helped me get there. And she introduced the idea that, oh, yes, you could lose it and keep it off without doing the yo-yo thing.

So that's how I got to that point.

Cheryl McColgan (03:55.626)
And so was it the, so you heard emotional eating and she was the one that you really found that kind of meshed those two things together with a program in the emotional eating and kind of tackling some things. One of the things that struck me when you said you were an emotional eater, but then you said you were always hungry. So maybe if you could share with people now, what is the idea behind emotional eating? Because the hunger that you had was obviously not a physical hunger.

it was some kind of emotional state. So if maybe if you'd go into that a little bit more for people that haven't heard that term before that don't really know like how to conceptualize that, I guess.

Renee Jones (04:30.028)
So I call emotional eating, eating for any reason other than hunger. Right. If you're hungry, you may actually need something to eat. It could be emotional hunger. But often it's it is just that and we have to figure out how to deal with that. Now.

It could be eating for joy, as in a holiday, right? It could be eating for sadness. It could be boredom. It could be sad, mad, frustrated, exhausted. I just need something to make me feel better. So that's what I think of as emotional eating. And for me, what I found out, I mean, I lost my weight on one diet, right?

But two years later, I was still struggling with it, trying to keep the weight off. And I was tired, hungry, and cranky all the time, which was not good for my dear sweet husband, right? So I did some more research, because that apparently is what I do. And I found a software program that tells you what your unique nutrition blueprint is.

And I looked at those results and I thought, that's never gonna work for me. But, you know, I'm at my goal weight, so we'll give it a shot. And I was absolutely amazed because I lost two pounds that week. I have never lost two pounds in a week. And I wasn't tired and I wasn't hungry, so I wasn't cranky. And what I learned from that experience is that everybody's different.

It can't be a cookie cutter. It has to be what works for your body. And I finally found what works for my body. And that was 10 years later, I'm still doing the same thing because it works for me.

Cheryl McColgan (06:32.958)
And so what you said is it is so individual and everybody needs to kind of experiment for themselves or find these programs that help them discover what works best for them. But because I know everybody's thinking, because I'm thinking I hear, well, what was it that you found that worked for you personally in this scenario?

Renee Jones (06:48.328)
Seriously, it's a software program that I have and I just run it and it asks you a bunch of really awkward questions. And I think you could do it yourself if you would take enough notes because essentially it asks you questions about how do you feel after a meal like this? How do you feel after a meal like this? And it asks you some weird questions like, you know, how white is the white of your eye? Odd questions that

Cheryl McColgan (07:07.761)

Renee Jones (07:17.912)
Obviously, I don't know enough about science to deal with that, but it's just something that I now give all of my clients because It helps you find what works for you

Cheryl McColgan (07:30.666)
And do you think it's honing in on any specific aspect? Cause you say tired, hungry, cranky. To me that sort of would signal maybe some blood sugar regulation issues. Does it try to hone in on those things? Or is it really just a more holistic thing where it's, I know you said like the whites of your eyes, for example. So that might not be as much blood sugar related, but is there any particular aspect you feel like it's trying to hone in on?

Renee Jones (07:52.82)
I think blood sugar is a big part of it, absolutely. I also think, you know.

My cousin can't do the same diet I do. She just needs more of some things than others than I do. I need a little more protein, good fats and fewer carbohydrates, whereas she needs more carbohydrates. So it kind of zones in on, okay, what, how does your body run best? And you know, we're all such a mixture of

families and heritage that we've got to figure out, okay, what does my body actually need? And I mean, you can say, how do I feel after I have a heavy meal or a light meal? Do I do better with breakfast? Do I do better with an evening meal is the largest meal? And those things will give you an idea. If we can pay attention to that and take enough notes, we can figure it out ourselves. But I was in a hurry.

Cheryl McColgan (08:59.599)
As are most people when they finally get to that point, right? Like you've had it. I've tried all this stuff. I'm ready. I'm ready now. So that, that is great though. I think that, so that self reflection part, I always think can be useful. It's sort of no matter what kind of, you know, challenge you're facing. It's like, that you're saying you got to kind of quiet things down enough to really get to that point. So going back to the emotional eating, once you found this coach, you started working on these things, you found this great software program.

Renee Jones (09:02.64)
Yeah, absolutely. Let's get this figured out.

Cheryl McColgan (09:25.954)
But at the end of the day, you still have to do the work. So I like to try to find some kind of practical takeaways or tips in these interviews for people because you've done it, you've kept the weight off. Can you say what may be some of your most important, either new habits that you found or kind of in the tips and tricks category of things that have really helped you maintain that weight loss?

Renee Jones (09:29.108)

Renee Jones (09:46.585)

Yeah, I think the biggest thing that had the biggest effect on me was recognizing that I was trying to stuff down my feelings and follow it with a food chaser. And my mantra when I was losing weight and still now can be, face your stuff, don't stuff your face.

Cheryl McColgan (10:14.361)
That's awesome.

Renee Jones (10:16.176)
Because we do, it's like, I want to feel better, let me put something in my mouth. And that's common. It comes from birth. Because you have a baby and it cries, we put something in its mouth. It's a real soother for us. But we just have to find a different soother. Now, I do say it's not hard to overcome emotional eating. But you do have to get the hang of it. And hang is an acronym. So the H, am I actually hungry?

If you're not, what is your A? What is the attraction to food in that moment? What do you want it to do for you?

The N is what do you actually need in this moment? Because maybe you need to walk around the block or to play with the dog or get a hug, right? What do you truly need right now to make you feel better? And then the G is go, go get that. Because that will soothe you more than food ever possibly could.

Cheryl McColgan (11:17.674)
Such an amazing acronym and it makes me think of how you could really apply that to any addiction like process because my minor is actually in addiction studies and what I'm thinking of when you say that is it's the same thing for when you're looking for an alcoholic drink or people who are looking for drugs as a soother or sexuality any other behavior.

Renee Jones (11:37.364)

Cheryl McColgan (11:38.974)
It's shopping, online shopping. Like you do not need something else from Amazon, right? It's probably like you're feeling something else, but identifying that isn't always so easy. So I love that. That's such a great acronym. What else did you learn about yourself in this process?

Renee Jones (11:46.202)

Renee Jones (11:51.4)

Um, that I was not addicted to peanut butter, but I used it a lot to soothe myself. So I had to actually stop buying it for a period of time, which really upset the dog. Cause I'd get some, he'd get some, it was great. But sometimes you have to make a clean break with a food that you cannot say no to.

Cheryl McColgan (11:59.286)

Cheryl McColgan (12:11.741)
They do love that.

Renee Jones (12:22.5)
Even today, it lives in the garage, in a refrigerator out there, because I need a few steps to think about what I'm doing, because it's so easy to go back to it. And honestly, it was tied to my relationship with my grandmother, because she and I had a bond around peanut butter and chocolate. And particularly after she was gone, if I needed her,

If I needed the love and encouragement that she always gave me, peanut butter would sort of soothe it. But in that quantity, it's not a good idea. So sometimes we have to say, okay, I can't keep this in the house for a period of time. And the good thing is that other places will keep it for you and they'll keep it fresh and they probably have your brand. And they even call it a store.

Renee Jones (13:24.24)
They will store it for you until you are ready. So you just kind of have to figure out what. Yeah, absolutely. Making rules for yourself can be good. Like the kitchen is closed after seven or after dinner or whatever it is. And I don't go back in there except for water.

Cheryl McColgan (13:28.042)
Yeah, that's another great practical.

Cheryl McColgan (13:50.018)
Did you find that you were able to follow that? Because I think some people set those and it's like an easy mental switch where other people kind of, they don't follow their own rules kind of thing. Was that an easy transition for you or?

Renee Jones (14:03.96)
It became easier over time. I had to practice it. And honestly, do I go back into the kitchen in the evening sometimes? Yes, because I take a vitamin before I go to bed. But I can do that with water. So it's something that you… Whatever will work for you, if you don't like rules, don't do that. Because that will be your reason for breaking your commitment to yourself.

So we don't want to do that. We have to find ways that work for us. Sometimes people say, you know, I have a family and they have food that I don't want to take in. Okay, so what we do with that is the foods that are good for you, you put in the refrigerator or the pantry at your eye level and you put them in a clear container. So you can see it. And if it's pretty, all the better.

You put other foods, I mean, I'm only five foot three, I'm a short little woman, so my husband's stuff goes up here, because I'd have to get a step stool to get to it, right? Or you may choose to have a cupboard that's just for the stuff that's off limits for you, or your own stuff. And if you take it, that's really kind of like stealing, isn't it? You have to find ways that click your brain into.

Okay, what will make me stop this? How can I create a hard stop before I do something that I don't want to do when I'm in my best self?

Cheryl McColgan (15:47.266)
So when you were discovering this, and so far we've just talked about food, but you were kind of in this journey discovering what was gonna work for you. And you mentioned, you know, in your hang acronym, finding the thing that you really need, you mentioned like go for a walk. So I think activity really for a lot of people can be a great replacement for some of these other kind of less healthy behaviors. Did you find there was any kind of particular thing that you were drawn to? Did you start exercising more or dancing? Or was there anything that kind of…

seem to work for you as kind of like a little trick to take your brain away from that.

Renee Jones (16:21.596)
You know, I take a walk every morning and I chose to do that because I had a puppy at the time and they were better when they'd had a walk in the morning. So I have made that a daily thing for the last 10 years and it's good for me and it's good for them. Right. But I also found that sometimes I just needed to sit down.

Cheryl McColgan (16:33.439)

Renee Jones (16:49.776)
and journal out what it was I was feeling. Face it. And to be honest, my coach and I did a lot of work that wasn't anything to do with food. You know, we may have talked about food for a session, maybe two, and the rest of the time, we were dealing with the emotional stuff that gets in the way. Because once you deal with that, and you resolve it,

You're not as likely to jump for a Twinkie or whatever, right? If we face our stuff, then we get free of it. And that is probably the best thing I learned going through this process.

Cheryl McColgan (17:37.898)
And in your bio, I read that you're a counselor yourself. So were you already a counselor prior to this journey that you went on with the weight loss? Or is this something that you came to after having gone through this process for yourself?

Renee Jones (17:51.316)
Well, I got the degree, you know, a number of years prior. And then what I did with that was I took it to be a hospital chaplain, which I call rapid therapy. It's about all you have time to do with people is help them figure out what's going on in their life and how that's gonna change things. But I hadn't thought about shifting over to coaching until I went through this. I thought, this is what I do all the time.

Cheryl McColgan (18:06.934)

Renee Jones (18:20.368)
So I did a kind of a slow start and didn't leave chaplaincy until after I'd been in it for 20 years.

Cheryl McColgan (18:30.77)
And so now though, you are working with people in a coaching capacity. Could you kind of share how you do that? I'm assuming a lot of it's online or that people have access to that, even if they're not down there in Texas where you are. So can you just share with people how you work with them or any programs or things that you do to, you know, kind of help people with their weight loss journeys?

Renee Jones (18:54.124)
So I have a kind of a three-point structure. We talk about your body because we need to get you on the nutrition plan that works for you. So we do that first. We talk about the foods that are difficult or challenge you in some way. But then we go on to all that stuff and it is kind of just digging it

getting it out of your system, as it were, and helping you figure out, okay, what is it I'm trying to do with this food? What are the emotional needs I'm trying to meet? And when we resolve some of those issues, they're coming up for air, and it's fantastic, because pieces of their heart get healed, and that's just a wonderful place to be. And then what we're trying to do is get you into your best self.

most often. Because when we're living out of our best self, we just make better choices.

Cheryl McColgan (20:02.414)
How do you find that people take that process? Do they feel that it's more of a, and I know this is partly in how you set it up obviously, but does it feel more like therapy in some ways, or does it feel more like coaching or, I'm just, it's just kind of like, I think all of that is so valuable. And I guess my brain automatically goes to that some people might hear that and think, oh, I don't wanna do that. I just wanna lose weight. Do you know what I mean? So can you maybe share a little bit more about that?

Renee Jones (20:30.652)
Well, sure, I shifted from being a counselor to a coach for a particular reason. And that was because my experience of having been counseled in years past left me with a lot of the stuff. Now there, I understand things are changing now, but what I saw in my coach was we're gonna resolve stuff, not just make ourselves feel better about it.

So I call it much more coaching because they kind of take you from here and go forward. Counselors meet you where you are and help you look back at things. If we have to do some of that, they want to do that. That's great. I can do that. But I'm much more interested for them in getting the things resolved in how you're going to live today, tomorrow, next week. Let's get you back.

Cheryl McColgan (21:26.696)

Renee Jones (21:27.032)
up to the life that you wanted to live, not the one you just sort of fell into.

Cheryl McColgan (21:32.522)
Yeah, and that's a great clarification. Cause I think that really good coaching can be so empowering. And I just didn't want people to hear that and think like, Oh my gosh, we're going to go dig up all these, you know, past issues, like we do in counseling. And like I said, my, my background's in psychology too. So I know exactly what I was thinking about that. But, um, I think it's great that transition, because I think coaching when done really well can be so powerful and it can really.

Renee Jones (21:51.785)

Cheryl McColgan (21:56.802)
help people in a way. It's kind of a different paradigm that a lot of people haven't experienced if you haven't been on a sports team before, you haven't done some of those things, it's kind of a new experience, right? Like something that people aren't as used to.

Renee Jones (21:57.82)

Renee Jones (22:09.264)
Yeah, yeah, but it's, you're right, it's so empowering, it's so powerful. And I think, you know.

Cheryl McColgan (22:15.094)
So if people do, sorry, go ahead.

Renee Jones (22:19.457)
I just think it helps us be more authentically who we are.

And most of us are carrying around a lot of masks and covers just trying to get through. But if you can be just yourself, it's so much easier.

Cheryl McColgan (22:40.83)
Yeah, totally agree. I had a great teacher that was really yoga actually, that was very focused on that. And just noticing that, are you the same person with everybody that you interact with, like with your boss at home? And are you a different person in all of those? Because it really speaks to authenticity and how exhausting it can be to kind of play those different roles. And I think that a lot of times feeds really into that emotional eating because you're trying to soothe yourself from being constantly

at odds with yourself, disjointed, right? It's kind of weird.

Renee Jones (23:14.992)
Yeah, yeah, but we do it so much and that's not that's just not good for us. We're much better being who we are.

Cheryl McColgan (23:25.214)
Yeah, I love that. And so I think that's a great place to kind of just leave this for people, to find a coach or find a book or some kind of way to empower yourself to find some authenticity. And it just makes, not saying that everything just becomes rainbows and unicorns then, but it does make just making the, as you mentioned earlier in the interview, making those decisions on a day-to-day basis, whether it's about what you're eating or what activities you're doing, it makes it so much easier when kind of everything's in alignment. So all that being said,

Where can people get in touch with you? Where can they find you online? Where's your website? Do you have any programs coming up? Tell everybody all the ways to learn about Renee.

Renee Jones (24:07.2)
My website is I'm on Facebook at packyourownbag, Instagram. I think maybe even YouTube is packyourownbag, but it's pretty easy to find, Renee Jones.

Cheryl McColgan (24:23.05)
and they just reach out to you and you have a form that they fill out to work with you or how does that work or just get in touch and you guys will figure it out.

Renee Jones (24:29.808)
Yeah, we usually have a chat because I want them to be comfortable with me. I don't want to, you know, just say, okay, we'll start tomorrow. That doesn't usually go well. So I figured you give them one, one session of here's what we, what do you need to do that sort of thing, introductory sort of thing. And then we start after that. If they're, if they're comfortable and I'm comfortable.

Cheryl McColgan (24:41.046)
I'm sorry.

Cheryl McColgan (24:54.346)
Amazing. Well, Renee, thank you so much.

Renee Jones (24:55.016)
So I do have some three month programs.

Cheryl McColgan (24:58.234)
Oh, awesome. Yeah, because I think sometimes too, maybe if people can't afford or commit to a one on one relationship, sometimes online programs or self guided source of options are a great way that they can still, you know, meet their goals and maybe make it work for their lifestyle or their finances a little better.

Renee Jones (25:17.224)
Yeah, yeah, I have a video course that is essentially what I do with people. They just have to do it on their own and some can do it very, very well.

Cheryl McColgan (25:19.03)
Well, thank you so much, Renee.

Cheryl McColgan (25:29.578)
Awesome. Well, everybody, all the links for Renee will be in the show notes. I hope you have enjoyed getting to know her today. And I think the focus on emotional eating is something that we haven't often talked about on this show that much, but I think it is really a valuable tool because we all do it. Every single person to some degree, whether you're trying to lose weight or not, there's an emotional side of food. So it's good to be aware of it and to learn more about it. So thank you so much, Renee.

Renee Jones (25:56.884)
Thank you for having me.