Steph, I think you need to write. You need to let it out.

I thought I was journaling before I met Katie Dalebout. Really, I did. I had a box of old journals to prove it. Pages and pages of words…written by me…in a journal.

So, when Katie told me that I needed to be writing I proudly declared that I already was writing. But as we talked I realized that it was all a lie. I was pretending to journal. I filled pages and pages of journals [for years] with words that I thought I should be writing. Feelings I thought I should be feeling. Desires I thought I should desire. I was so caught up in the need to be perfect that I was paralyzed on the page. I often would start to write and freak out because my handwriting was messy or I misspelled a word and then I’d tear out the pages or declare that journal ruined. The words wouldn’t come out. I didn’t want to permanently document what I was really thinking or feeling because I was terrified to be exposed. Katie saw right through that and gave me a journal prompt to use that night.

Since then my journal has become my source of comfort, my therapist, my friend, and my way to process everything I am experiencing. The pages are filled with my truth. It’s not always pretty but it’s always real. Sometimes it’s a to-do list, a gratitude list, my deepest, darkest secrets, my dreams, my struggles, my successes. Sometimes I write a few sentences, sometimes pages pour out. I’ve learned so much about myself on the pages of my journal. I’ve learned to let it out in my writing which has allowed me to let it out in my life. The truer the words in my journal are, the truer the words I speak are.

And it all started with a journal prompt which is why I am so, so, so excited to share that Katie can prompt your truth to rise to the surface and flow through your written word in her new book, Let It Out: A Journey Through Journaling. This book is specifically designed to help you tap into your inner compass through journaling and move forward in life with confidence and ease on your own personal journey wherever you are. The book is full of tools, exercises, inspiration, tips, and techniques to discover new way to navigate your daily life, cope with stress, and create exciting, permanent change in all areas of life. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of the book and I’m obsessed. It’s fun, inspiring, deep without being overwhelming, and an amazing tool on the road to being healthy + happy from the inside out.

I asked Katie if I could share one of my favorite tools from Let It Out with you. It’s a practical tool that will support you on your journey to being healthier, happier, and less stressed. I love this meal planner tool because it’s a totally new way to use your journal. It’s not all about feelings. Your journal can be a practical place where you organize your life. This tool will help you get clear on what food you have in the house, what you can make with you, and what extra items you need to pick up. Spending sometime during the weekend writing out your fridge-to-plate meal plan will invite so much ease into your week. You’ll have a plan – a realistic plan – that can support you all week long. You’ll make healthier choices. Save time and money but not letting food go to waste or making random and unnecessary trips to the store. I also loooooooove that this meal planner isn’t about rigidity. Instead of mapping out what you will eat on what day, you are organizing all of your meal options so you can easily pick what sounds the best when hunger strikes.

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TOOL NO. 11 [from Let It Out by Katie Dalebout]
THE FRIDGE-TO-PLATE MEAL PLANNER

How often are you standing in front of a fully stocked fridge, tummy rumbling, thinking, I have nothing to eat! And how often does the food in your fridge go bad without you even realizing it? The fridge can be a black hole for the food you come home with. It goes in, you forget what you bought, and eventually you pull it out, green, fuzzy, and sad, no longer excited to eat what it has become.

This tool is a helpful, practical tracker allowing you to stay organized with the food you have on hand. With it on the fridge, you won’t have to do any rummaging or searching; rather, you’ll clearly see all the contents of your fridge as well as ideas for meals you were excited to make. Unlike a strict meal plan, this tool promotes fluidity and intuitive eating by encouraging you to choose what you want to eat in the moment rather than what you plotted out days in advance. Making true intuitive food choices requires access and therefore a well-stocked kitchen. Basically, intuitive eating is relearning how to hear and respond to innate hunger and fullness cues. (If you want to know more, check out the book Intuitive Eating, by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.) While the concept seems simple, for chronic dieters like myself it can take some learning.

I realized listening to my body’s cravings goes out the window when I’m starving, and I’ll choose the quickest and easiest food I see. This tool reminds you in your hungry moments what options you have, allowing you to reach for what your body desires rather than the nearest piece of fruit on the counter when you really wanted a substantial meal. I use this tool and a little planning to have a variety of diverse options on hand so I can make intuitive choices when hunger strikes.

Directions:

Step 1: As soon as you get home from the grocery store and put away your newly purchased food items, take out your receipt and transcribe the ingredients onto the left side of your journal page; be sure to include any food items you have left over in your fridge. Name this column “Ingredients on Hand.”

Step 2: Look over the list of ingredients and star anything you’re excited to try, foods you know you have recipes for, foods you want to research recipes for, and foods you want to eat first (perishable).

Step 3: Spend a few minutes flipping through your favorite cookbook or browsing your favorite online cooking site. (Check out 101cookbooks.com by San Francisco–based Heidi Swanson for inspiration—you can search her amazing recipes by ingredients. Kris Carr also has some of my favorite recipes. But honestly, the entire Internet is your cookbook these days; you can find a recipe for anything just by typing it into Google. Your intuition is the best sous chef.) Find a few new meal ideas you can make throughout the week with what you have on hand.

Step 4: Divide the meal ideas into categories under a “Meals I Have the Ingredients to Make” column: List them under “Breakfast,” “Lunch,” “Dinner,” and “Snacks.”

Step 5: If there’s anything additional you’ll need, jot down those items on the right side of the page under an “Oops I forgot” column. Make yourself a note to grab these the next time you’re out.

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Order Let It Out now!