This week, the inspiring Renée Marie Joyal joins us to share her unique approach to physical and mental health, wellness, and nutrition. Renée is a Keynote Speaker, Coach, and the Author of the Amazon #1 Best-seller, “Live Beautiful: A Compassionate, Balanced Guide to Everyday Wellness & Well-being.” Two near-death experiences marked Renée’s life: a life-threatening illness in early adolescence and a drunk-driving accident in her mid-20s. The radical change Renée created in her life as an answer to her autoimmune disease brought her health back and prepared her mentally and physically to recover from the accident.
Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to all of our Becoming Your Best podcast listeners wherever you may be in the world today. Thank you for tuning in, we’re so excited to have you join us. We’ve got a great subject, a great, great guest that we have, we’re going to visit with today. This is Steve Shallenberger, your host. Our guest survived a life-threatening illness, an autoimmune disease and a terrifying drunk-driver accident.where someone hit her. Her intense study of functional medicine and the science of wellbeing lead her to a practical way to live a more meaningful, healthy life full of possibilities. Welcome, Renee Marie Joyal.
Renee Marie Joyal: Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here and share this time with you.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, she has a great subject that you’re going to learn about right away. We had fun visiting before we started, and before we do start, I’d like to tell you a little bit more about Renee. Renee’s methods create optimal health and happiness, proving that small changes lead to big results. I fully believe that, and these incremental changes can, when they come together, have a big impact on us. She is passionate about the benefits of fitness, of sound mind and the use of food as medicine. Renee’s vision and mission is to use her wellness wisdom and life experience to inspire and empower others to cultivate a vibrant health for a beautiful life. Let’s just jump right into this. Renee, tell us about your background including any turning points, which may include some that we’ve just talked about in the introduction, that have a significant impact on you and what you’re doing today.
Renee Marie Joyal: Sure. Yes, I’ll share my background as briefly as I can. I grew up as a very young, healthy child, and was very passionate and active in sports. Always happy, always smiling, highly energetic, until one day I was not. I was becoming extremely fatigued, really feeling unwell, and not thriving as I should at a young age. This probably started at age 11. I was really slowing down, not feeling well, trying to identify things that were wrong. Fast forward, by age 14, I was finally taken down with a serious heart condition and it scared the life out of myself.and my family. I was med flown to a stronger hospital in Boston that was well equipped to handle me and my situation. I had five cardiac surgeons waiting for my arrival. My life completely flashed before my eyes. I was becoming ill for several years without understanding what was happening in my body. My parents were wonderful. They took me to every doctor you could imagine, and no one really seemed to know what was wrong, but my body was telling me something was very wrong.
Renee Marie Joyal: I ended up in the hospital and in intensive care for several months. I actually witnessed a boy in my intensive care unit that was going through similar life challenges that I was, and I witnessed him lose his life in the middle of the night. At age 14, it was really the first time I had ever witnessed or understood what loss of life really was. From that moment, I realized the severity of my circumstances where I was in the hospital and I was relinquished of all physical control. My body was failing me, but I knew at age 14 that my mind has power over my body. Even with a priest at my bedside and my family coming in from all over the country to see me and witnessing other people in such a dire situation in the ICU, I realized that I had to be mentally strong to persevere.
Renee Marie Joyal: Thankfully, my prayers were answered. I was mentally strong and I was able to get through a year in the ICU. I was sent home with a laundry list of medications, treatments, injections and all of the lifestyle factors that were taken from me, and I was told that I was going to have to live a different life, a life with restriction, and I would not live as a normal adult. I wouldn’t be able to go to college.or get a normal job because of the health circumstances that I had ahead of me. These were all things I was not looking to – I just couldn’t wrap my head around this. I was given a label. I was told I had lupus, I had an autoimmune disease. “We don’t know what’s wrong with you. We don’t know why this is happening, but things are going to continue to happen,” and I was sent on my merry way.
Renee Marie Joyal: From that point, I really took my health in my own hands. I took every single second I could to educate myself. From this point, I was probably 16 years old. I was very determined to go to college. I was very determined to not be looked at as a sick child. and I didn’t want to live a life without limitation. I wanted to become passionately curious and educate myself in how can I get my body to heal itself. So I really became my own practitioner of life. My parents, I very much scared them in many ways because they were nervous about me not adhering to some of the medical advice that I was given. No one was telling me how I could enhance my health, how I could strengthen my immune system, how I could build up a defense mechanism and use lifestyle changes to overcome autoimmune. Over the course of five or six years, I actually was able to get my health in remission using preventative medicine and using food as medicine and also physical activity I really was able to adopt physical fitness in a healthy way when I was told not to be physically active. I think that healthy or physical activity can really enhance your immunity and your strength and your mental willpower as well.
Renee Marie Joyal: Then fast forward, I ended up in a good place, my health was finally in a good place, and I ended up in a nearly fatal drunk driving accident aged 25. It almost took my life and I found myself back on the way to the hospital again. From the point, I realized that health is so much more than the absence of disease. It is how you feel, it is who you surround yourself with, the people that you are with and what you are consuming. I really dove into my mental strength and resilience to bounce back. Life is difficult and we will constantly be hit with adversity and challenges, but how we bounce back is the biggest thing and indicator in the success of our life and in our happiness and in our health.
Renee Marie Joyal: I’ve tried to give you the best cliffs notes I could for my story, but it is a long story, and I do discuss it in my book. And I’m here today to share my passion and what has worked for me on how nutrition and physical fitness, how you take care of your body, these factors that influence your recovery and also your resilience going forward in life.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Well, those are things that are important to every one of our listeners, and it’s really fun to have you here and talk about this because it affects every single one of us. Every single one of us listeners are honored to have you here.
Renee Marie Joyal: Thank you.
Steve Shallenberger: It’s a privilege. We are all concerned about our happiness, our health, our vitality, our energy. I’m really looking forward to hearing what your lessons have been, Renee, the insights that you’ve had from your perspective and the ideas it can give to each one of us, the inspiration and motivation. We had the chance to visit a little bit before we got going. What’s your passion in life? What are the things that really get you excited to help you get up in the morning?
Renee Marie Joyal: I am so passionate about helping others, and I’m so passionate when it comes to health and wellness and really thriving in life. What gets me up and makes me alive is being able to help others because I know that it works. I know how lifestyle changes can really help your body and help your mind and your immune system and the quality of your life. If I can share that with other people, that’s my number one passion and goal. However I can inspire and use my previous circumstances to help others, then that’s it for me.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, good. Yeah. Listen, let’s be frank. Those are tough experiences that you had. The illness, the autoimmune disease, and then just when you think you’re getting back on your feet and queen of the hill, you have the unexpected happen,which is almost lose your life.
Renee Marie Joyal: Yeah.
Steve Shallenberger: All of us, every single one of us, has setbacks and challenges and how we handle those is really what brings us the greatest glory and joy of life.satisfaction, which is having a triumph from our failures. When you think about it, people that we love and admire, we admire the fact that they’ve been successful, but we love the fact that even though they’ve had a failure, they’ve created a triumph from that experience. Tell us about your book. What inspired the book, the name of it and what’s in it?
Renee Marie Joyal: Well, I realized, as on my mission to help other people live better and live more authentic and beautiful lives, is that a lot of people struggle. Some people struggle whether it be in health or in family, work or relationships, and they suffer needlessly. A lot of people struggle where you don’t always have to have a life-altering event. Some people live very unhappy or they live with constant pressure and anxiety, and I really wanted to share how you can live beautifully. You can be thriving. You don’t have to live a life full of anxiety and a life in fear With health, even if you’re perfectly healthy today, there is age-related disease if you don’t take care of yourself. So how could I share with others to live a better quality life, to really thrive and engage lifestyle changes. That was really my mission in sharing my story.
Renee Marie Joyal: I didn’t go too deep into my story in the book as I really wanted to be uplifting and really motivating, and give anyone the energy to inspire them even if they could do one thing to improve the quality of their life, small changes over the course of time can make a big impact. So I was really excited to do so, and the reason why I wanted to use an image of strength on the cover of my book was really to show perseverance and resilience. When someone says that you can’t do something, that you can’t be physically fit or you can’t be healthy, yes, you can, and I just wanted to show that change.
Steve Shallenberger: good. Is that you on the front of the book?
Renee Marie Joyal: It is.
Steve Shallenberger: Woohoo. Very good. Well, that’s a good image of vitality and energy, and I love that.
Renee Marie Joyal: Thank you so much.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, so what lessons learned did you gain while you were writing this book. Some of the greatest insights, say.
Renee Marie Joyal: Yeah. Health is not a linear path. It was interesting as I was writing this book, I still ran into some health issues.both within myself and within my family. I did question myself at times. I said to myself, “Something’s always happening to me, I’m not perfect yet, it’s not perfect.” And you know what? I said “You have to finish, you have to follow through, and you just have to keep going.” If you can just be passionately curious, always put your best foot forward, continue to learn, continue to share and help others, then you’re moving in the right direction. So for me, I learned a lot. I had other family members that were going through significant challenges. I experienced mental illness, which I was not familiar with. There were a lot of things. It’s been eye-opening, and I think understanding how to take care of the quality of your thoughts, your mind, the people you surround yourself with, your mental wellbeing, is just as important as your internal health.
Steve Shallenberger: Renee, what did you discover about yourself during that journey and during your journey generally?
Renee Marie Joyal: Perseverance. I had to continually tell myself even if it’s 1 percent better, you can do 1 percent better each day, and you will get there. I discovered a lot. I discovered I had a passion for writing, I truly do. It’s very cathartic to put your thoughts on paper. I encourage anyone to do so. I think that it’s really good whether you’re setting goals or you have a vision or a dream in mind. For me personally, I really, truly live everything that I share in my book when I talk about living beautifully and what that entails, both internally, externally, what you eat, what you consume mentally, physically, everything, it just resonates with everything that I am about and I just had to follow through with it. I encourage anyone. If you haven’t decided to write a book, haven’t decided to write, just write a note to yourself and look at it maybe a year from now and see where it takes you.
Steve Shallenberger: Writing is so powerful, isn’t it, whether it’s a book or a journal. Capturing your thoughts and thinking about your ideas, thinking about things you’re grateful for and capturing those, they just release your spirit and just helps you start thinking in a positive way about what’s possible which then leads to everything else. I have a question, Renee. Do you remember thinking about the day you decided that you want to write a book. Where did that idea come from for you?
Renee Marie Joyal: It’s so interesting. I always wanted to write a book; I did not know what it was going to be about. I had so many different ideas as a young kid. I said, “Oh, I’ll write a book, I’ll write a book.” I had no idea until I really realized how many people are struggling needlessly, and I said, “I’m going to use whatever I have,” because I’m I feel as though I’m a wealth of knowledge. I absorb everything like a sponge. I have made it my life’s mission to study psychology, nutrition, physical fitness, sleep and the impact of all of these things on your health,how you engage lifestyle changes. I said, “I have to share this with people.” It was so important for me, and it was really the determining factor. It wasn’t even a question any more, it was “How do I get this done?”
Steve Shallenberger: I love it. For our listeners, I think that’s one of the things we’ve talked about, when Renee and I visited, about Becoming Your Best and the 12 Principles of Highly Successful Leaders. The starting point are the talents and inspiration that you already have, and sometimes you’re really aware of it. Like Renee said, “I just always thought I’d like to write a book.” It’s having that idea that can create such a transformation in our lives, and it probably lay dormant for a while, Renee, as you thought about it, but look at what happened? Everything moved in your direction.
Renee Marie Joyal: It’s amazing. Actually, you say something in your book that I absolutely love. “There is an art in the start. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” I love that. I think that it is so true. Deciding to write a book, it was very challenging. That was a big commitment I made to myself because it takes a lot of time and I’m very thorough and critical in my work. Also, I’m very private, so for me to share was a big turning point for me, but if I could use my pain and turn it into purpose and help others, that was the goal. It’s been amazing, the feedback that I’ve received so far and the people that I have been able to help. Just a change of perspective, just a little,.it makes a big difference in your life and how you talk to yourself.and how you start your day, where you decide to go from there. We have one life and we really have to make it the best ever. For me, that’s why it’s so important to live beautiful.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, that’s great. I just want to say that those are really great thoughts for you, for me and listeners. Yeah. Embrace your ideas. There’s no dumb idea out there. Listen to yourself whatever it is. It could be at any level. Give it time and give it air and let it develop because just thinking as Renee was visiting and sharing about her experiences, when you act on those feelings ,whatever it might be. That’s why having a personal vision and having annual goals are so important. It’s because as you progress along that road – and in Renee’s case now she has a book – you‘re in a whole different place in life, and it spawns new ideas, new thoughts, new inspirations that you just didn’t have before. First of all, great going on that, and you’re just beginning. So many fun things to come, right?
Renee Marie Joyal: It’s amazing when you start something how you can spark your creativity through the people that you meet and how you can be inspired by others. We can inspire each other. I think there’s such positivity in that. It’s all good, and it’s great. Just to be able to collaborate with other like minded people and sharing my mission to help others and make the world a happier, better place, it’s been a great experience.
Steve Shallenberger: Well, good. Renee, what are some of the things that people, from your perspective, from your experience, can do to create optimal health and happiness?
Renee Marie Joyal: Well, I think first you have to start internally. I think taking care of your mind and the quality of your thoughts is the most imperative. Because if you’re not doing that, you can’t really set yourself up to think about how you want to eat well and how you want to sleep well, all of these things. If you can take care of the quality of your thoughts, you will build upon the quality of your relationships. You’ll be able to navigate through adversity and challenging times. I strongly encourage meditation, and it’s really interesting because I know my family has laughed at me at times. Some people think that you have to become like a monk to meditate, but that’s not true. You can find meditative moments, keeping your house a peaceful environment and having moments of quiet and stillness. I think those are all such good things to implement into your life for optimal health. Obviously using better nutrition. Staying away from the standard American diet, increasing your nutrition. Really romanticizing your life, making it enjoyable, nonrestrictive. Those, I think, are just so optimal and also sustainable. They need to be sustainable, long-term things that you take with you for a lifetime.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Let’s just talk just a little bit more about the nutrition. What are some of the best thoughts or habits that we should work towards that is sustainable with regards to nutrition?
Renee Marie Joyal: Sure. I don’t follow a diet, I’m not big on dieting at all. I don’t think that it’s healthy. I think that it automatically puts people in a restrictive mindset. I try to live a life of abundance. What can you add into your life? If you can add in things that are nutritious and bountiful and healthy and that support your immune system and that are truly satiating and enjoyable, that is the goal. I think, for me, nutrition is staying away from processed foods as much as possible. Try your hand at cooking. I love to cook. For me, I know exactly what the ingredients are. I think we’re never using anything from nature, using all the fresh produce. Meat, fish, whatever your palate is, bring it all in, and stay away from processed as much as possible.I think wholesome is always the best.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. How about fitness? Ideas, things that you’ve learned that help people to be fit?
Renee Marie Joyal: Yes. I think that we live in a world where there’s such extremes. I think people think that they really have to hit the pavement so hard and work out so hard in order to be physically fit. Or they say, “I’m too tired, I can’t do that. I’m not doing any of it.” You have to find there is a happy medium and there is such an endorphin boost in being physically active. Not only does it increase your immune system and your immune strength, but it also has a dopamine effect where it increases the power in your mind and your happiness. Whether you’re able to walk I am a pilates instructor. I love strength training. For me, being bedridden for so long when I was sick I lost almost all the muscle in my body, so being able to maintain muscle and knowing that your body is strong and what it can do for you is such a good feeling. I’m not into superly high-intensity workouts or overly exerting yourself. I think that rest days are so important. Taking care of your body in fitness and in recovery is just as equal. So being good to your body overall.
Steve Shallenberger: Good thoughts. Really good reminders. How about sleep? Give us the lowdown on sleep.
Renee Marie Joyal: Sleep is the foundation of health. If you are not sleeping, you’re not able to thrive.in your life. If you want to have a good day, it starts the night before. The quality of your sleep is so foundational for your health. Not only is it cognitive impairment for your body and your mind, but it sets you up for a better day. You’ll make better choices. You’ll have higher energy. Your mood will become more stable and you’ll be able to handle life’s challenges. We don’t always have fantastic sleep, but if we can stick to a regular sleep schedule as much as possible, aiming for that seven to eight hours of quality sleep, setting yourself up, you’ll have greater health. You’ll also be more productive throughout the day, and focused.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. I love one of the things that Renee said just a while back here in our conversation, and that is one of the most important things we can do is have the quality of thoughts has such a huge impact on our lives. What you’re talking about here is putting – I loved also “the art of the start.”
Renee Marie Joyal: That was great.
Steve Shallenberger: That’s a great reminder. Another.one that’s really fun is “Where your focus goes, your energy flows,”
Renee Marie Joyal: I love that.
Steve Shallenberger: It’s really putting these healthy things in front of you. I also really like the idea that we “add to.” As you add to good things in your life, it helps you be more discerning about the other end of things that may be harmful or maybe not be optimal for you. That’s a really great approach. How do you have this quality of thoughts? Well, they show up in your personal vision. That means you need to have a personal vision that’s inspiring and exciting for you. You can review it, and that’s where then your energy flows. It’s towards that focus. I love these. What have we left out in terms of things that create an optimal health and happiness? How about relationships? What are your thoughts there on what we can do to maintain healthy and happy relationships because sometimes people can be grumpy or be critical or whatever. What have you found that works for you?
Renee Marie Joyal: Well, the quality of your relationships are so important. I think human connection is imperative to our health, but you really want to be mindful about who you share your time and energy with. We only have so much space for time and energy, and you can feel when someone is taking from you and you feel depleted. Then you can feel when you have people that are around that inspire you or you have similarities and creative aspects. Having quality relationships is so important. I’ve always said that your diet is not what you eat. It’s who you surround yourself with. It’s what you watch, what you read, what you listen to. It is all-encompassing, and I think that the quality of your relationships speaks so true to that. Whether that is your partner, your family, the people that you’re keeping in your close inner circle, you want to make sure that you have similar viewpoints, you’re able to give and share exactly what you’re capable of. Sometimes some relationships take more from us than others. Some things need limitations on that. It’s not always easy, but it is healthy, and I think necessary at times.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Well, I’m always amazed, Renee, on how fast these interviews go. We’re at the end of our interview. Any final tips you’d like to offer to our listeners today?
Renee Marie Joyal: I would tell anybody that you don’t have to do everything all at once to live healthy and to be happy and to have healthier mind and body or nutrition.I think that try being one person better each day, and over the course of time you’ll make significant impacts in your life. The results don’t always happen overnight, but you will notice. You’ll look back a year from now and say “Wow. I’m so happy with the changes that I’ve made,” and it’s the only way I know how. Also, I would say don’t let a busy life get in the way of living a beautiful life because our time on earth is precious and we have to make every day count.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Well, great. Well, thank you, Renee, for being part of this show today. It’s been really so fun visiting with you.
Renee Marie Joyal: It’s been so nice speaking with you.
Steve Shallenberger: Yeah. Hearing your story, and I love the title of your book, Live Beautiful. So thank you. How can people find out about you?
Renee Marie Joyal: Thank you so much. Yes, you can find me. I have a website that is livebeautifulbook.com or you can connect with me on social media at reneemarie_livebeautiful.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay. Well, that’s good. Well, thanks for being with us.
Renee Marie Joyal: Yes, thank you so much.
Steve Shallenberger: Okay, and to all of our listeners, we’re grateful for you and wish you all the best, as you’re making a difference in the world. Your effort, your desire to become your best has such a huge impact, and it’s an honor to be together with you today. We wish you the best today and always. This is your host, Steve Shallenberger, signing off.
CEO, Executive, Corporate Trainer, and Community Leader
Renée Marie Joyal
Keynote Speaker, Coach, Best-selling Author