Michelle is a wonderful mother of two who came to me during Kodiak Cakes Eat Better. Live Better. Program with a goal to build muscle/decrease body fat, get outside more, and train for a half Ironman. Not only is Michelle a busy mom but she also works long hours as a nurse which made her goals all the more challenging. But together, we came up with a plan to prepare Michelle for her half Ironman this April.

As a Registered Dietitian, I have to keep in mind many factors like body type, metabolism, and activity level when it comes to determining nutrition needs for people like Michelle. I do this by measuring resting metabolic rate (RMR) and applying the numbers to calorie needs as well as macronutrient (macros) percentages. Knowing Michelle’s fitness training plan helped me guide her meal plans and navigate which foods she needed to eat to fuel her workouts, at home, and throughout her day. Together, we did this by counting her macros (or macronutrients).

Counting Macros

So how do you determine the “right” macro counts? There is so much in the media that pushes our attention to eating foods that are high fat, high protein, and low carb. But we can only restrict calories for so long, right? When it comes to endurance sports, like training for a triathlon, Michelle and I needed to make sure she was getting enough energy to complete every workout. The focus is fueling workouts with carbs, recovering with protein and carbs to repair any muscle tissue damage, and consuming a moderate amount of fats in our daily diet. It all comes down to balance. Once our bodies learn to utilize the fuel we give it through food, we can all become endurance machines!

Whole grains are full of healthy carbohydrates that provide energy for endurance exercise. For Michelle, products like Kodiak Cakes flapjacks or toaster waffles quickly became a staple pre-workout food. Power Cakes are not only made using whole grains, but also pack in 14 grams of protein per serving which makes them a fantastic option for recovery because of their good carb to protein ratio.

The Power of Progress

Michelle preferred to to use an app to help track her calories and macros. Between running, swimming, cycling, and strength training we made sure to fuel her body with the appropriate amount of carbohydrates for her workouts and balance the rest of her meals with carbs, protein, and healthy fats. Through trial and error, we made adjustments as needed; but over time Michelle has gotten stronger, faster, leaner, and can completely maintain her progress.

Thanks to this diet and regiment, Michelle was able to lose 16 pounds and 13 inches. She continues to train for her half Ironman, and I have all the confidence in the world she’ll do amazing.

For anyone else looking for extra motivation to take on a big challenge in the coming year, here are a few quotes from Michelle that truly really stuck out to me about the power of progress:

“I’m feeling really good. I was sick last week and it reminded me how I felt before I started. And then I got back to my meal plans and work outs Monday and instantly felt so much better. I used to not realize how much that played a factor into how I was feeling. Because even with my first race I was still not really focusing on my food”

“That was my big goal. I had stupid diets. I have a friend right now on one and she is dropping crazy weight. And while that would be nice it’s not sustainable. It’s nice to see my steady, healthy drop, a difference in how I feel, and realize I can do this always”

Michelle’s story is all about the importance of getting the right foods to fuel our bodies for our activities. It’s a great example of adjusting nutrition and exercise to better fit a lifestyle.

About the Author

Breanne Nalder Harward, MS, RDN, works hard to teach the science of food and how our bodies use nutrients as fuel to achieve optimal performance. She understands that every body is unique and that nutrition needs are individual. Her goal is to help each person she works with modify their lifestyle to reach their goals in ways that they can enjoy and maintain. You can contact Breanne for nutrition advice on Instagram or at

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