Our Blog - 50/50 Fitness/Nutrition

Real Results Start with Consistency

Real Results Start with Consistency 

Health and Fitness Specialist, Emily Mailloux

You’ve probably heard the saying, “you can’t out work a bad diet.” Here at 50/50, we have a wide array of group fitness classes, strength classes, personal training, and opportunities to be active out in the community. Unfortunately, even if you’re taking full advantage of these options every week, if your diet isn’t where it should be, you may be struggling to see the results you hope for. While exercise is important for many reasons, most body composition changes don’t occur until you start to make lasting changes to your nutrition. It’s a crucial piece of your overall health and wellness, and one of our most important focal points here at 50/50. Here’s how to approach a healthy diet that will support your exercise routine without driving yourself crazy.

First, prioritize protein. Make sure that you’re getting protein with every meal. Healthy protein sources include poultry, fish, lean beef and pork, eggs, beans, and dairy sources such as cottage cheese, greek yogurt, and milk. For a handy reference guide, look no further than your own hand. Men should aim to have two palm-sized portions of protein at each meal, and women should have at least one palm-sized portion per meal.

Next, add your vegetables. US dietary guidelines recommend that you fill half your plate at each meal with vegetables or fruits. Try to get a wide variety of vegetables each day – dark leafy greens such as kale or spinach, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and squash, and red and orange vegetables including carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. Be creative with your veggie choices! Sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and onions go great in an omelette or with your morning eggs. Add lettuce, tomato, or sprouts to your sandwich at lunch, or have a big salad with lots of different veggies and protein on top. For dinner, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower roasted with olive oil and a little salt and pepper are a great addition to any meal.

The US dietary guidelines also recommend that half of your daily grains come from whole grains. Whole grains are present in either their whole form or are ground into a flour, without losing any part of the seed. These grains are higher in fiber, potassium, iron, B vitamins, and other important nutrients than refined grains, which have finer texture and longer shelf life. Some of the best sources of whole grains that should be a part of your daily diet include brown rice, barley, buckwheat, bulgur, oatmeal, and whole wheat breads. When shopping, be sure to look for whole-grain breads, cereals, or crackers instead of refined grain options. Try cooking barley, bulgur, or brown rice with your protein and vegetables for a balanced dinner, have oatmeal, bulgur pancakes, or whole-grain toast for breakfast, and use whole-wheat bread or wraps for your sandwiches at lunch.

Finally, getting an adequate amount of healthy fats in your daily diet is an important part of balanced eating. Between 25-40% of your daily calories should come from healthy fats such as avocados, olives, nuts, seeds, nut butters, coconuts, and oils. Some of these fat sources will also come from animal sources, such as the fats found in dairy products, eggs, fish, and meats. Avocados or almond butter on whole grain toast make great breakfast options, add sunflower seeds or olives to your salads, snack on raw almonds or walnuts, and cook with olive or coconut oils whenever possible. Eating healthy fats will help you feel more satiated, provide energy, protect your organs, and help your body burn stored body fat.

Last but not least, drink your water! Maintaining an adequate level of hydration throughout the day is crucial for your organ health, immune system, energy levels, and fat-burning, among many other benefits. To get started, drink a minimum of ½ an ounce of water for every pound of body weight, and add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes you spend working out. Gradually work on adding more water throughout the day until you are closer to one ounce per pound of body weight.

Katie’s Pre-baby Post

Katie’s Corner 

Health and Fitness Specialist, Katie Lipsmeyer

Well, it’s my final week of teaching and training before I have this sweet little baby! Words cannot express how thankful I am to this wonderful 50/50 community for providing love and support to Chris and me throughout this pregnancy. Baby CKL already has such a gigantic extended family to welcome her into this world!

For all of you who gave individual gifts, we are diligently working on the Thank You notes. We have been so fortunate to receive so many presents from you that it’s taking us a little longer than we hoped to suitably thank all of you, but they’re coming!

For those of you who want to help out after the baby is born, there are two great ways you can. We have started a Meal Train so that you can visit with us and the baby in our home. We have also received so many offers to care for the baby so that Chris can have an hour or two to sleep, have a date night, or to simply have a moment to ourselves. We also realize that some of you may want a “new baby smell” fix, and we can certainly help you out with that! Please click for the Meal Train and for the Sitting Sign-up. We would certainly appreciate either!

Finally, please read the following speech that I gave at the baby shower that was held at 50/50 in October. It sums up the huge amount of warm fuzzies I feel for this community…

“Chris and I wanted to take a minute to thank all of you for joining us in this celebration of the upcoming birth of our daughter. Before I delve in though, you should know that Chris’s very first nickname for the baby was Sparkle Pony Extreme. It will be important a little later on in the story.

“Thank you to Ryan Ambuter and Lindsay Rowe, Megan Dobro, Morgan Lentz, Jamie Cocco for being the main organizers and setting this huge undertaking in motion, Justin for letting us all celebrate in a space that means so much to me, Diane Norman and the entire TRX Basics class (ya’ll have been sneaking around for quite some time), Ann Ward, Ana Devlin-Gauthier, Mellie Black, Kate Cirstiello, Evie Snyder, Melissa “Woodsaw” Woodard, John Stothoff, Megan Carvalho for the delicious cake, and the entire 50/50 community who are here as well as those who weren’t able to make it today but have offered their well wishes and instant love for our daughter since we announced our pregnancy in June.

“I moved here knowing one single person. 4 ½ years ago, I was at a very difficult point in my life, and I decided that it was time to take one of the biggest risks I had ever taken by moving all the way to Western Mass from the likes of Arkansas and Texas. It turned out to be the BEST risk I’ve ever taken. Over the course of these past several years, I have pursued and realized my passion in physical and mental wellness. I have had the gift of inspiring others while simultaneously learning so much from them. I have faced the most rewarding challenges of my life. I have met my best friends and partner here and have garnered a fierce community of people who I receive so much love from every day.

“As many of you know, my mother-Momma-was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s 12 years ago. She raised me by herself, and me, being an only child, it was the two of us against the world. It’s continued to be true, just in a very different sense than I ever anticipated. She lives here in the Alzheimer’s unit of an assisted living community, she knows that I’m pregnant, she knows it’s a girl, and she knows that she’s going to be a grandmother. However, since she is in the late stages and is very limited verbally, it has been difficult to know what she comprehends beyond that. Does she understand that the baby is kicking below her hand when I place it on my belly? When we sing a song, does she know that the baby can hear her? Does she realize the significance and power of her influence when I tell her that the baby will share her same initials?

“As wonderful and amazing it is to be able to bring this sweet baby into the world, it’s also been difficult in terms of dealing with feelings around my own mother. And, because of this, your support is even more potent to me-to us. You have become our village, our family.

“Finally, I must say something to my accomplice, who I wouldn’t be in this situation without. Usually, Chris is more than happy to give me the spotlight, but it’s time for us to shine it on him, at least for a minute or two. Since the moment I met you, Chris, you have brought light into my world. For all of you who know me, you know that I love to talk about how wonderful this person is, and I’m not apologetic about doing so. Chris, you deserve to be celebrated for the amazingly kind, considerate, fun, adventurous, compassionate person you are, so much so, that I feel compelled to tell everyone I know. When we first met, I kept waiting for you to reveal SOMETHING about yourself that didn’t jive with my worldview, because there was no way that my perfect person existed, especially in such a smokin’ hot package, and even less of a chance that I would likewise be his perfect person. But you are, and I am so grateful for the gift of you. You are everything I have wanted and needed in a partner. And I have every confidence that you will be everything Sparkle Pony Extreme will need in a father. I am so utterly happy to do life with you, Chris, and I can’t wait for us to welcome our baby girl into our little family.

“A final thank you to you all for coming out to celebrate this exciting time with us. You have all made such an impact on our lives in your own individual ways, and we know our daughter will continue to be so blessed with love and support from every direction.”

All my love,


P.S. I am dying to get on a bike and do some burpees, so don’t be surprised if you see me in class about four to six weeks after the baby is born!

P.P.S. I expect to return from maternity leave in late February/early March, so I won’t be gone for too long!

  Upcoming Community Events/News
New 50/50 Training Facility set to open in January 2018! 


We’ll be releasing clues, subtle hints, and updates all month long as we look to continue to grow our personal training, group exercise, and small group Targeted Training services! We have your recent surveys in mind, as well as feedback about suggested class offerings. This will all be met with new equipment, in a brand new space! Ask questions, continue offering suggestions, and know that we are all ears. We strive to continue to create the best training services is the Valley, and beyond. So, please, keep the ideas flowing. Email info@5050fitnessnutrition.com any time, with any specific requests, and we’ll continue to answer any questions you have, in house.

Get to know Ryan!

I have always been athletic and I have always had a tough relationship with food. Through most of my life, these two truths balanced each other. As an adult, being active started feeling more like a chore than something I enjoyed. I ate more and moved less, until I hit what I consider a low point in my own health and fitness. Even though I have generally been opposed to weight loss for weight loss, in 2015 I saw 50/50’s weight loss challenge and signed up, hoping that my competitiveness would take over and the challenge would give me a much needed jump start back into being active. I’ve never been good at doing things in moderation and this challenge was no exception. I started spinning, training, and tracking with intense focus. In 8 weeks I had lost 25 pounds and I kept going. At the same time, unexpectedly, I found myself really invested in the community at 50/50 and got into the best shape of my adult life. I’ve always been a leader-type, so I told myself that if I lost 50 pounds I’d get spin certified. I did and I did, and then Katie and Justin gave me a shot. That was two years ago.
For the first time in my life, I actually felt some hope that I could maintain a sustainable relationship to fitness and food…and then I got pregnant in the fall of 2016. That year was really rough for me, and I didn’t have the mental energy to hang on to all of my “sustainable” habits along with the pregnancy. I tried to be forgiving with myself, figuring that after I had the baby I could reset. Quincy was born in the spring, and I basically found myself back at square 1. I had put on most of the weight I lost, and had no core muscles, no momentum, and no free time. That said, I found myself really missing 50/50 and spin, so I started riding and teaching again.
My daughter is now 6 months old (and she is the best!). I can ride harder and longer than I could 5 months ago when I got back on the bike for the first time, but am finding the post-baby return to fitness hard. I can’t be at the gym 6 days a week like I used to and most of my meals involve eating while holding a baby or driving. I know I’m not alone in feeling busy and tired and a little less hopeful, but I’m trying to be steady and patient. It’s important to me to show up and ride when I’m feeling my best and when I’m not. Part of this is about a politics of representation. Even at my smallest and most fit, I know I don’t look like most people who teach fitness classes. That matters to me. Not everyone feels comfortable in a spin studio, but I believe all people and all bodies can be strong, can motivate, can inspire, and I try to embody that. I love designing creative, butt-kicking workouts set to classic, throwback playlists. I love a heavy hill or a killer sprint. While I’d be lying if I didn’t say I want to lose the baby weight, there is something important to me about being visible and being an instructor where I’m at. Food and fitness journeys are long and hard, and it’s important to me that folks at 50/50 know I’m right there with you. I hope to see you on the bike.

Not all fat is created equal

Personal Training Director, Jay McWilliams

We continue on with our discussion of body composition this week with an important but often overlooked subject: the difference between visceral and subcutaneous fat. Everybody has both, but the distribution of fat in your body has serious health implications. Previously when we talked about body composition, we kept things pretty simple: we left it at body fat percentage and lean mass percentage (everything else). But for two people with the exact same body fat percentage and weight, there can be important differences in where the fat is stored.
Subcutaneous fat lies below the skin and above the muscle. This fat is less detrimental to your health (although it may be covering up those six pack abs you’ve been working so hard for). In fact, appropriate levels of subcutaneous fat have been shown to reduce the risk of broken bones in the elderly, simply by providing a cushioning effect. So, remember, leaner isn’t always better after a point. The more sinister fat we all have is visceral fat. Visceral fat resides in the abdomen, surrounding our internal organs, and even invading the tissue of our liver. Visceral fat has more profound metabolic effects on the body than subcutaneous fat, and is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Some people with dangerously high levels of visceral fat are by no means overweight, but the excess fat in the “belly” increases their risk of heart disease.
How do I know if I have too much visceral fat? One simple way to screen for excess visceral fat is a waist to hip ratio. Simply measure your waist just above the navel and your hips at the widest point. The ratio of these two numbers (waist/hip) should be less than 0.9 for women and less than 1 for men. People with a more “pear-shaped” weight distribution are at significantly lower risk of heart disease even if they are overweight. The good news for all of us is that exercise tends to target visceral fat first. So your morning spin class and your evening Tabata are doing an essential job at reducing the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, even if you don’t see the numbers on the scale moving at first.
Keep up the good work people!

Body Composition, NOT Weight Loss

Changing the Conversation:

Body Composition, NOT Weight Loss

Personal Training Director, Jay McWilliams

What is body composition, and why is it one of the 6-focal points of 50/50’s balance approach to health and wellness?

Over the years, I and many of my training clients and members of our gym have discussed dreading stepping onto the bathroom scale.  Most of us can relate as it is very frustrating to exercise and eat a healthy diet only to see the number on the scale stay the same.  However, just because your bodyweight on the scale isn’t changing doesn’t mean that your hard work isn’t paying off. If you are exercising, most likely your body composition may be improving.

So, what is body composition?  Body composition refers to everything in your body, generally split up into: fat mass and fat-free mass.  Fat mass refers to all the fat tissue in your body. Fat-free mass is everything else, including muscle, organs, bone and fluid.  If both change at once, you might not see any changes in bodyweight on the scale.  For example, one of my training clients started exercising to lose weight, he may have gained two pounds of muscle in the first month. At the same time, he may have lost two pounds of fat, due to burning more calories through exercise, and changing his diet.  In those first few weeks, he began to get discouraged because his bathroom scale showed that he was not losing weight.  I had to change his way of thinking by educating him about the importance of body composition over bodyweight on the scale. I reminded him that his fat-free mass may have increased by the same amount as his fat mass decreased, making his “scale body weight” unchanged. With some doubt, he asked me: “How do you know?”

One technique 50/50 utilizes is tracking the circumference of different body parts (Shoulders, chest, waist, belly, hips, buttocks, thigh, and biceps). We make these measurements using a flexible tape measure. Along with body circumference measurements, we also use fat caliper readings. We measure the skinfold of seven sites on the body that gives us an average body fat percentage, and then calculates the total fat mass and fat-free mass in pounds.  Taking progress pictures of your body every few weeks or months can be another way to assess how your body is changing.  While none of these tools give us exact information, these do give us some general idea of the changes taking place.

So, why is body composition one of the 6-focal points of 50/50’s balance approach to health and wellness?  If you have too much fat, especially at your waist, you’re at higher risk for health problems such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and diabetes. That increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Obesity is now recognized as a major, independent risk factor for heart disease. If you’re overweight or obese, or simply have an excess of fat mass, you can reduce your risk for disease and increase longevity by starting a 50/50 Training Program.

The personal trainers here at 50/50 understand that stepping on the scale will only tell you how much you weigh. You can get a more accurate picture by considering your body composition (percentage of fat mass vs. percentage of fat-free mass). Your body composition is affected by your nutritional habits, exercise, sleep and other factors. For this reason, improving it can sometimes feel complicated and unrealistic.  That is why 50/50 offers a body composition service, where we can measure your body circumference, conduct a fat caliper reading, and take pictures if you so wish.  For ONLY $15!  This service is included free for those participating in our Training Programs.

What does it mean to increase strength?

Okay, so hopefully all of you are fully convinced of the benefits of strength training. Now let’s get in to the nitty gritty details of the different types of strength training: muscular strength, muscular power, muscular hypertrophy, and muscular endurance. Think of these categories from the stand-point of your end goal. What is your training intent? Are you looking to increase overall strength? Improve your explosive movements for your tennis game? Look more defined in your bikini? Or, improve your time for your next ultramarathon? These are all example of goals that would be best served by one particular style. Now how do you implement these styles of training to achieve these goals? Let’s break in down….

Muscular strength is best trained by using a heavier weight (80-100% of 1 RM for advanced strength trainers) for 2-6 sets of 1-8 reps. Notice the repetitions per set are low, and the recovery is long, up to 3 minutes between sets. Training like this is the fastest way to improve your base level of strength, but may not give you the body of your dreams in a short amount of time. Training for muscular hypertrophy will result in more defined individual muscle groups, taken to its extreme training for muscular hypertrophy along with an incredibly strict diet will result in a body-builder appearance. However, for most of us training for muscular hypertrophy will result in a more toned appearance, something that many desire. 99.9% of us do not have the genetics to achieve the Arnold Schwarzenegger look! This involves training individual muscle groups with a higher weight (70-100% of 1 rep max) for about 3 sets of 8-12 reps with shorter rests.

Training for muscular power involves using a light load ((0-60% of 1RM) but involves explosive movements, such as box jumps. Improving muscular power is desirable for many different types of athletes, especially when speed and jumping are involved. This type of training is effective, but needs to be utilized carefully to avoid injury. Training for muscular endurance will result in increased levels of overall fitness and endurance, but is not as effective at increasing your base level of strength. Muscular endurance is achieved by using lighter weights for higher repetitions, up to 25 per set, with minimal rest. Now how do you decide which is best for you? This is where working with a personal trainer, who can assess your areas of strength and weakness will really help. For those taking classes, most of the classes (i.e. Tabata, Spin and Strength, and Fit Camp) fall on the muscular endurance side of the spectrum. Targeted Strength and Conditioning incorporates more muscular strength and hypertrophy. Now remember, any strength training is good, but to achieve a desired result you need to make sure you are training in the most efficient way. When you train with an intent in mind, your results will improve dramatically.

Time to get Stronger!

Guess what, it’s Strength Month! My favorite. In coming weeks, I will discuss principles of strength training in greater detail, but today I just want to touch on some of the many benefits of strength training. You know exercise is important to your long-term health and well-being, and you probably know your routine should include some weight or strength training… but do you know why? Weight training strengthens muscles so they can support you through all of your activities, throughout your lifespan. If you don’t build and maintain your muscles, there’s a host of negative effects such as loss of muscle mass and bone density, and increased risk of falls. But, let’s keep things positive today. Here are some of the more fun and interesting benefits of strength training: decreased cancer risk, increased IQ (really!), decreased risk of anxiety and depression, better sleep, and a more positive attitude throughout the work day. How much strength training do you need to do to get these benefits? As few as 2-3 full body sessions per week will cause you to reap these rewards. This still leaves you plenty of time for your favorite spin class, or to try our new Yoga class on Sundays. You do not have to strength train every day to see these positive effects.

Here at 50/50, we want to ensure you that it is one or our six focal points of health and wellness. Staying strong is important for everyone, and increases the chances of enjoying a long, healthy and vigorous life. There are many ways to incorporate strength training into your routine. For more traditional strength building, Fit Camp, Targeted Strength and Conditioning, and Personal Training are great options. For muscular endurance, TABATA and Spin and Strength are fun classes to get your heart pumping and work your muscles. For those of you newer to strength training, I highly recommend personal training. Not only will you get the one on one attention needed to ensure correct form, but you will also receive a full-body assessment and a plan of corrective exercise to address imbalances that may otherwise hold back your progress.

However, you chose to incorporate it, I challenge all of you (yes, especially you spin aficionados) to incorporate 2-3 days of strength per week for the next month. Your body and mind will thank you!

How do you feel about food?

Well Cardio month sure went by in a heartbeat, and now it is time for nutrition month here at 50/50. If you look to the internet, the media, or even ask your friends and loved ones you will get wildly different opinions on what constitutes a “healthy diet”.  The subject of nutrition is one of the most controversial and most emotional dinner table conversations, rivaling both politics and religion. Many of us are always looking for the “best diet”. I have news for all of you, there is no one “best diet”. There are many different eating strategies that will meet your nutritional needs and help you reach your goals, be it increasing muscle mass, decreasing body fat, or maintaining your healthy weight. In fact, recent research has found that one of the reasons many “diet plans” are effective is that they result in people being more mindful of their food choices. In some cases, the mindful eating effect may be more important than the particular requirements of the diet.

This week I want you all to focus on how your food choices make you feel. There is no right or wrong. Try to avoid thinking about “eating clean” or “good food versus bad food”, simply observe your choices and your body’s feedback. For example, I have recently cut way back on sugar and have noticed that my energy level and mood are more stable. My Starbucks mocha habit was having a negative effect on my day and my wallet, and to be honest I haven’t been missing them since cutting them out. Simple observations like these can really make a big difference in our daily habits. If remove some of the judgement from our food decisions, we are more open to really noticing how our bodies respond to various foods and tailoring our diet so we feel our best. Some of us feel our best eating eggs and bacon for breakfast and others feel best with a plant-based diet, neither is inherently right or wrong and both can be done successfully. If you feel really inspired, maybe even keep a food journal this week, no, not calorie counting, just an account of what you ate and how you feel. This simple step will result in more mindful eating and most likely better nutrition.

Creating a Training Plan to Increase Cardiovascular Fitness

Just as with strength training, cardio training requires proper progression, variation, specificity, and overload for beneficial adaptations to occur.  When looking at how to design an effective cardio training program, consider the following variables:

  1. Mode: The following activities can be used for cardio training: swimming, rope skipping, jogging, cycling, cross country skiing, stair climbing, elliptical trainer, dancing, rowing, and many other activities. When choosing your activity, consider the activities you enjoy, your skill level, and your joint health.
  2. Frequency: Frequency is the number of cardio training sessions performed per day or per week. This will be dependent on training status and intensity. 2 to 5 sessions per week will suffice.  Weekly accumulation of 150 minutes for general fitness, and 250-300 minutes for weight loss.
  3. Duration:  Duration is the length of the cardio training session. This is directly related to the exercise intensity. Strive for 15 to 60 minutes of continuous cardio training.  Most of the 50/50 Fitness and Nutrition classes are 45 minutes in length.
  4. Intensity:  Intensity of the cardio training can be monitored via heart rate response. The most practical method is measuring heart rate using a heart rate monitor or a simple pulse count. To attain optimal cardiovascular fitness, exercise between 60-90% of maximal heart rate -or- 50-85% of heart rate reserve.

Remember that heart rate increases in a linear fashion as workload increases during cardio training. The maximal level that can be attained is dependent on fitness level, age, climate, gender, medications, etc.  Below is a good method for finding the Maximum Heart Rate, the Karvonen Method:

220 – age = Maximum Heart Rate

Maximum Heart Rate – Resting Heart Rate = Heart Rate Reserve

(Heart Rate Reserve x Training %) + Resting Heart Rate

A few thoughts to keep in mind as you develop a weekly workout plan based on your fitness goals.

Cardiovascular exercise is vital to our health and increasing our overall performance. With regular cardio training, one can expect numerous metabolic changes and positive health benefits.  Cardio training can be helpful for achieving optimal body composition because of the high caloric expenditures. It does help to lower the overall percentage of body fat, but has little effect on increasing muscle mass.  In some cases, intense cardio training could elicit a greater cortisol response than traditional strength training. Higher levels of cortisol is associated with protein loss from muscle, which could lead to a reduction in muscle mass and strength. If you’re training for increase strength, consider keeping your cardio sessions relatively brief and less frequent.

5 Tips for New Runners

Grant Ritter, Running Coach

Invest in good running gear

A properly fitted pair of running shoes will keep your feet comfortable while helping to prevent injuries. Avoid cotton running gear, as it tends to absorb sweat and cause uncomfortable things like chafing. Technical running clothes will go a long way toward helping you stay comfortable and fashionable on your runs! Your local running store is a great place to get fitted for everything that you need to get out there and run.

Set a goal

Think about what you want running to accomplish. This could be a race, a certain distance, weight loss or anything else. Write your goal down and put it next to your bed and couch. This way that goal will be there as a reminder   when you are tempted to watch one more show on Netflix or hit the snooze on the alarm instead of going out for your run.

Build up slowly and listen to your body

Slowly add miles and running days to build your aerobic base and to give your body time to adapt to the stress of running. This is one of the best ways to prevent injury.  Following we well-designed training plan is a good way to ensure you don’t go too far too fast.

Warm up before you head out

Do some dynamic stretches like high knees or leg swings before heading out on your run. This will help the body loosen up and will help elevate the heart rate so you can hit the ground running. Save the static stretches for after the run.

Rest and Recover 

Resting is the most important part of your running program. This is when your body adapts and becomes stronger. Make sure to take rest days between your runs as you build up. Rest doesn’t always mean sitting on the couch though.  Be sure to hit the foam roller or take on some cross training such as strength training or a Spinning class. These things will help you recover and become a stronger runner.