Customer Interview with Saara Retulainen

It’s time to get to know some of FuelMe's customers and their story, mindset behind eating and daily routines.

First up is Finnish national team weightlifter, marketing entrepreneur and weightlifting coach Saara Retulainen - formerly known as Leskinen - whose career with the weights started at a CrossFit gym back in 2013, and it was only a year later when she competed in her first weightlifting meet in 2014. Since then Saara has competed on a national and international level with great results (records being 91 kg snatch and 111 kg clean and jerk). We managed to have a chat with the athlete at the beginning of the national team’s training camp.

Hello Saara! For those who do not know you: who is Saara Retulainen?

Hi there! I’m a weightlifter and an athlete competing for the Finnish national weightlifting team.

How has life been lately?

It’s been alright! Training has gone well, my next major goal is the World Championships held in December. We had a break after the Olympic qualifications, but now it’s time to hit the competition floors during the fall.

How does your everyday life look like at this moment?

Alongside being an athlete, I’m working as an entrepreneur which means it’s quite busy. That is one of the reasons why I started to order FuelMe meals and how important it is to me. I work in marketing and PR/communications, plus I’m a weightlifting coach and an athlete, training five times per week.

How do you balance your daily routine between work, being an athlete, and free time? What are the best ways for you to relax and cut off from busy life?

With great planning I can arrange a good amount of breaks throughout the day. Sometimes I just love to watch good “brainless” TV-shows and take small breaks from my every-day life, f.ex. by going to our cottage.

How do you prepare for a weightlifting competition?

There will be one smaller meet at the end of this month and Nordic Championships will be held in the middle of November, followed by the WC. The biggest aspect, since this is a weight class sport, is to start to lose some weight to be eligible in my weight class (59 kg). This means paying more attention to my eating and increasing the intensity in training. We’re gradually moving towards bigger lifts as well. National team camps and other camps are also starting now or coming up, which is a nice change to my regular schedule.

Do you have any tips on how you stay motivated every day? And do you?

I certainly don’t, but what helps on those days are routines and a supporting environment.

What does good food mean to you, as an athlete?

Of course one part of it is that food is fuel, but I’ve always thought that I also want to eat food that tastes good and what I like. I can be a bit picky when it comes to foods, so I don’t want to eat anything just for the energy if I don’t really like it!

What kind of macros do you follow for your daily food intake? Any changes when you changed towards a more vegetarian diet?

I’m not following macros that precisely. What I do is that I try to make sure that I don’t excessively eat foods high in fats and that I get enough protein from my meals. As for carbs, I follow my gut and have them in every meal. I’ve noticed that when eating more vegetarian-based foods, the total amount of fats reduces nicely.

How did you first hear about FuelMe?

I think I first heard it when I was still living in Turku and I noticed them on Instagram. When I moved to Helsinki and started working and training here, I stumbled across it on Instagram again and then I just thought: "hmm, that would be great, they have this service in Helsinki, should contact them or not?" Luckily I did and I feel great about it!

Before you got the chance to order from FuelMe, how would cooking and eating on a daily basis look like?

It was mostly the same things over and over again: always struggling to get in enough veggies and spending a lot of time cooking and going to the grocery store. Having a busy schedule, working full-time while doing sports at an elite level I was quite puzzled trying to maintain everything in balance.

It's been so great that FuelMe helped me with that. Now my daily food intake has more variation, a lot more veggies, different kinds of carbs and different protein sources. I've been really happy to be able to eat the vegetarian dishes. I've always liked them but I just never cook them by myself.

Would FuelMe fill in the role as your lunch or dinner solution or both?

Because the meals are quite big, most of the time I get two meals out of one. If it's a smaller meal, I eat it as lunch. I’m not a vegetarian, but starting this fall I’ve been ordering only vegetarian meals; I find it an easy and convenient way to eat more vegetarian food.

What is your favourite FuelMe meal?

I think my favorite is the vegetarian lasagna. It is very good, and the sweet potato hash is really good as well (I like everything with sweet potatoes!). Lately I’ve really enjoyed the new vegetarian dishes such as bean & chickpea croquettes, other bean & vegetable patties, falafel,etc. too.

What does FuelMe mean in a nutshell to you and are there any changes you are hoping to see?

In a nutshell it means a healthy lifestyle and making everyday life easy. I've been really happy with the service and I think the meals have a great variety.

Any favorite treats or snacks? 

It would definitely be everything Tex-Mex or Mexican related food, like tacos and tortillas. From the sweets I like salmiakki.

Thank you, Saara! Good luck in training and in the upcoming competitions!


To read more about Saara, give her a follow on Instagram (@saararetulainen) and make sure to check her own website saaraleskinen.com.

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