feast or famine.Posted: July 16, 2012
I don’t know a woman who has not struggled with body-image issues.
For my part, in my adult life I have largely avoided the weight (or, more accurately, weight-loss) fixation that seems so commonplace in our culture, but I am by no means immune, especially since having my children:
It took me two years to lose the 90-plus pounds (yes, you read that right) that I gained while pregnant with my daughter; and, nearly three years in, I am still working at shedding the last of the (considerably less, thankfully) weight that I gained while carrying my son.
In both cases, I was aware but largely unconcerned about the impact of my post-baby girth until one too many well-meaning comments penetrated my maternal bliss enough to make me want to get moving – not so much because I was displeased with how I looked (although I do cringe a little, looking at the photos from those times) but because I began to feel vulnerable and a little bit ill-treated; and at some point it occurred to me, humiliatingly, that my outward appearance was no longer an accurate reflection of – well – me.
I won’t burden you with the details of the resulting lifestyle choices (that very phrase being one of the most narcolepsy-inducing I know), but if you know me at all by now, you will be aware that, no matter that I am nearing forty and lead a generally responsible adult life, self-denial at the table is not – and has never been – my strong suit.
So instead, I try to get out running as often as I can.
I am not very sporty, and I don’t much like being around other people, so running suits me well: music blaring, lost in thought, unhinged from my daily responsibilities, I come home from a run bursting with a happiness that feels almost reckless.
The way I see it, there are at least two happy side effects to all of this (and no, lest anyone tell you otherwise, the hard work etc. is not its own reward): the first is that I have made peace with my park.
The second is that I believe that my daily run makes me a kinder person, or at least a more tolerant one.
(I know for a fact that it makes me easier to live with – as evidenced by the fact that my husband will, if I am lingering grumpily around the house on a given morning, ask me in the same slightly impatient tone he uses with our children when they are being particularly unreasonable, “are you running today?”)
Even given all of that, though, I don’t always love it. I will gratefully welcome an excuse to skip it, and wander down the road to join all of my neighbours for a latte instead. On those days, rather than the large lingering lunch that might be my preference, I pour myself a glass of Perrier and eat things like this.
Feast or Famine? A Summer Salad
I am not a fan of the leaf-heavy, hair-shirt-y salad; in fact, that I consider this a healthy lunch is perhaps a more telling insight into my daily diet than I intended – all that’s missing is the bacon! – but there’s only so much I’m willing to do.
For the salad, gently toss the following together in a large bowl:
2 pints grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1c canned black beans, well rinsed
2 tbsp capers
1 1/2 lightly packed basil leaves, finely chopped
1/3c pine nuts, toasted and cooled
175g feta, cubed
For the dressing, whisk together until emulsified:
1 tsp dijon
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp umami paste (optional – I recently discovered this stuff and I love it! Anchovy paste – or even nothing at all – would be a fine substitute)
fresh ground pepper
Pour dressing over salad and toss gently.
Serves two very hungry people, or four moderate eaters, or six as part of a larger spread.