When I got back to Sweden, one of the first things I wanted was to join the gym again. As my mum has worked in the industry for over 30 years, I really only had one choice (but also because it’s the largest chain in Sweden and it has the most variation among the classes) but memberships are expensive! So when I got my job and found out I get double the recommended amount in the so-called ‘wellness benefit’ you can get from your employer in Sweden, I was on it in an instance. I signed up on 26th May and have since been to the gym 42 times. That’s an average of 3.8 times per week, and if you subtract the 10 day gap I had when I was on holiday, that changes to 4.4 times per week. Not bad, right? I try to make sure I go at least three times per week, but I never go on the weekends if S is here.
I have to say that their website is really good, and so is the app. They’re easy to use, and it’s usually quite quick and simple to view and book the classes you want to go to. And I’m not saying this because my mum works there – more like in spite of the fact that my mum works there. Anyway. When I signed up I noticed that they have this tab called “Exercise plan” where you could set up a plan based on your wants and needs. I was a little intrigued by this – and quite interested – but I didn’t want to sign up if it meant that you get some personal trainer calling you to talk it all through.
After some Googling I found that this was not the case, so I went ahead and tried it out. I chose that I wanted to ‘get in shape’, have a very stationary job, want to train three times a week, and lose a little bit of weight in the process. As each plan is 8 weeks long, I thought losing a few kilos wouldn’t be too strenuous (or unrealistic). Once I’d added that together with my stats (height, weight, age, gender – the usual) I got to my ‘start page’ for my plan.
On the right is my estimated calorie need, which they’ve put at 1960 kcal per day. That’s quite high, and when I spoke to my mum about it she said that they usually count on an extreme calorie burning intensity in your exercise. (So I’m aiming to have a net intake of between 1300 and 1500 kcal which, depending on the exercise, can amount to a gross calorie intake of between 1300 and 1900 kcal.) Underneath your recommended intake there is a link to ‘recipes that suit me’ where they have a collection of around 10 breakfast recipes, 50 lunch and dinner ones, and 40 snack ones.
On the left is my exercise wants and recommendations. Where I’ve chosen that I want to exercise three times per week my recommendation is two classes and one strength session. It shows a list of the classes I’m booked into this week, as well as offers suggested training programmes for the strength sessions.
On top there’s a weekly summary of how many times you’ve exercised, which looks the same as the one you can see in the ‘My Training’ section which is available without the exercise plan.
Though I think that the recipes are good, I’m a bit disappointed with the rest. There’s no accountability anywhere – you can’t add your daily calorie intake or your weight, and I don’t think it calls you out in any way if you don’t do the recommended number of exercising sessions. All classes are also automatically counted as classes, so you can’t count something like shape or bodypump – which is a series of weighted exercises you’d often do in a weights session in the gym – as a strength session. So my first week on this programme (which also, independently of when you sign up, always starts on a Monday) I did 5 classes but no independent strength training – and technically therefore didn’t meet my goal. But nothing happened.
I know that the gym ultimately wants you to buy hours with their trainers for them to do these things with you, and that maybe I shouldn’t have expected that much to begin with, but I think I’m going to stick to my FitBit which at least rewards me with a ‘well-done-notification’ when I’ve met my goals.
What I did really like though was the recipes. I’ve used three (or four?) of them for smoothies already, and because they’re meant for people who exercise a lot and are developed by personal trainers, they’re quite protein-heavy, which is good. When I cook I’m more often drawn to carb-heavy rather than protein-heavy foods, so getting some variation and seeing that it’s tasty and doesn’t just feel like a bodybuilder’s meal is good for me lol.
And wow do I like this. It’s definitely sharing the crown with the beef stir-fry at the moment. It’s such a simple recipe with earthy flavours, but that basil yogurt really brings it up a notch.
Ingredients (4 portions)
600-800g chicken fillets (I used 700g)
4+2 cloves of garlic
‘food yogurt’ (or crème fraîche/natural, Greek or Turkish yogurt)
I love carrots but S doesn’t like them so I don’t eat them as often now. But when I saw this recipe I immediately wanted to try it – and even S said it looked good when I sent him a picture!
Now my carrots and parsnips were very nicely cleaned so I didn’t peel them. (Btw, in my supermarket parsnips are sold individually and wrapped in plastic – how annoying is that!) But if you want to, that’s what you should obviously do first. Then cut them into similarly sized batons and put in a tin or on a tray. Douse with 1-2 tbsp of vegetable oil (I use rapeseed) and season with salt and pepper. Then throw in four cloves of garlic (I peeled mine) and cook at 225 degrees Celcius for 25-30 minutes (depending on how large they are and how soft you want them).
While the vegetables are cooking, prepare the chicken. If you’re like me – begin by cutting off all the white slimey and fatty and tendony bits. The original recipe had the chicken fillets wrapped in bacon, but I’m not a big bacon fan so I skipped that bit. I just cleaned them up and seasoned with salt and pepper. If you do want bacon – wrap each fillet in one or two rashers (depending on the size of the fillets) and secure with a toothpick.
Lower the temperature on the oven to 150 degrees Celsius and cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes. I took the vegetables out for 10 minutes and then put them back in with the chicken for 5, because I didn’t want them much softer.
While the chicken is cooking, peel and finely chop two more cloves of garlic. As for the basil, you can use fresh or frozen – but I wouldn’t recommend dried. I used frozen and I think I actually prefer that. Partly because I’m lazy and partly because I felt like it gave more of a flavour punch. If you do use fresh basil, chop up as much as you like, then add the garlic and basil to the yogurt and stir.
When the chicken is cooked through, serve with the vegetables and the yogurt.
This dish keeps quite well, but the chicken can go a bit dry when reheating it, so it’s best enjoyed fresh (but does work in the lunch box the day after too).