Merritt Clubs Blog


Fitness is a journey... not a destination

Posted by Joanna Meade

Jan 13, 2014

How many times have you uttered the words, “I’ll start Monday”?

Chances are we've all said or thought this at least once in our lives. I’m willing to bet there are more than a few people out there that have used some event - a wedding, reunion, significant birthday, 5k race - as motivation to “get in shape,” only to find themselves back at square one shortly after the event has passed. If you can relate, I’ve got news for you: just like life, fitness doesn’t start on Monday and it doesn’t end after the wedding cake has been cut. It started the moment we were born, and it won’t end until the day we die. Every choice has a consequence.

The choices we make every day make us healthier or sicker. Our fitness (or lack there of) is the accumulation of every single one of the seemingly insignificant choices we make every day: hit the snooze button, or hit the pavement at 6AM; eat the side salad or the french fries; pull an all nighter or ask for an extension on your deadline; take the dog for a walk or let him out the back door. It all adds up.

Furthermore, we usually make decisions based on past decisions. That means bad decisions can easily become habitual. Going home to rest after work instead of going directly to the gym suddenly becomes the norm instead of the exception. Having that beer and pizza during the game last week makes it easier to do again this week.

People often seek out a personal trainer with a specific goal or event in mind thinking that six weeks will get them there and that once they achieve their goal the work is done. Unfortunately, it took a lot of poor choices to get out of shape and it takes a lot of smart choices to get in shape, perhaps even more eye opening is the fact that getting in shape never ends.

Personal trainers are a resource. Not only can we help get you to your goal, we can also give you knowledge so you can continue to make smart choices long after we’ve parted ways. However, we can’t do the work for you. You make millions of decisions every day that affect your overall health. We can’t be there all the time to make the right choices for you. And a few hours a week with us won’t undo the other hours of less than optimal conditions of life.

So, don’t fool yourself into thinking your fitness goals are a destination. They aren’t. They are just another step along the journey of your life. And the journey doesn’t start Monday either. It’s going on right now. Right now is your opportunity to make a better decision.

Need help learning how to make a better decision? Seek out a personal trainer and get the advice, motivation and support you need to make the most of your journey.

Joanna Meade (view bio) is a NSCA Certified Personal Trainer at the Downtown Athletic Club. She is a Level One CrossFit instructor and competitor. She can be reached at Merritt Athletic Clubs Downtown Club at 410-332-0906 or click here for a Free CrossFit Session.

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Topics: CrossFit, Personal Training, health, Merritt blog, best trainers, Fitness Tips, best health clubs, fitness, Joanna Meade, gyms, baltimore trainers, merritt charm city crossfit, best exercise programs, best workout plans, Baltimore fitness

Caffeine and a Healthy Lifestyle- Too Much or Not Enough?

Posted by Heather Blake

Aug 15, 2013


Most people think nothing of drinking a cup or two of coffee every day to wake up and keep ourselves going throughout the. Caffeine can be part of a healthy lifestyle, and it seems harmless enough- until you decide to quit cold-turkey and suffer from painful caffeine-withdrawal headaches and other symptoms. Many people find it almost impossible to quit caffeine and go back to drinking their coffee in a hurry. Why is it so difficult to give up caffeine?

Both caffeine withdrawal and intoxication are now listed as official diagnoses in the latest version of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, commonly referred to as DSM-5. When these caffeine “conditions” impair a person’s ability to function in their daily life, they are considered mental disorders. Both caffeine intoxication and withdrawal occur on a regular basis, but only rarely are symptoms serious enough to be considered a mental disorder.

Caffeine withdrawal headaches can mimic other medical issues. According to Laura Juliano, a psychology professor at American University, “We've heard many times people went to the doctor for chronic headaches or because they thought that they had the flu and it turns out it was caffeine withdrawal and they didn't even know it."

Caffeine withdrawal is classified as a patient experiencing at least three of five symptoms within 24 hours of cutting back or eliminating caffeine: headache, difficulty concentrating, fatigue or sleepiness, irritability, and flulike symptoms such as muscle pain or nausea.

Caffeine intoxication is defined as having symptoms such as insomnia, muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, rambling flow of thought and speech, restlessness, or nervousness. The other criteria for intoxication are that the person must have five out of a possible twelve symptoms. Intoxication can occur at levels of more than 250 milligrams of caffeine, and it must be very difficult to function at home or at work.

Many studies have shown that caffeine can have beneficial health effects. But anyone who experiences unwanted effects from caffeine, such as sleeplessness or the jitters should consider scaling back on their consumption. People with diabetes, anxiety, insomnia, or high blood pressure are also advised to avoid caffeine.

"Some people cannot drink any coffee, half-a-cup of coffee or a Coke will keep them up at a night," said Jim Lane, a professor of behavioral medicine at Duke University School of Medicine. However, "if a person doesn't have any unpleasant symptoms, or any health problems that we know are affected by caffeine use, then I would not try to suggest that whatever they consume is too much," he said.

For more information about reaching your health and fitness goals, please contact us.

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Topics: coffee, health, healthy lifestyle, Fitness Tips, wellness, caffeine, Awareness and Support, caffeine withdrawl, nutrition

Can Intermittent Fasting be Part of a Healthy Lifestyle?

Posted by RaySa

Jun 25, 2013

Many people interested in fitness and nutrition have heard the term “intermittent fasting”. Maybe you are wondering what the buzz is all about and whether it can be a part of a healthy lifestyle?

In simple terms, intermittent fasting means going without food for a certain period of time. There are different types of intermittent fasting, including:

  • All-day fasting- Usually this means eating an evening meal, and then going without food until the following evening, or approximately 24 hours.
  • Alternating days of fasting- This involves fasting on one day and then eating normally the following day.
  • Partial-day fasting- This allows for a specific window of time for eating, and then fasting the remainder of the day. Someone might eat during a 6-8 hours period of time, and then fast for the other 16 to 18 hours in the day.

The human body requires energy to digest or absorb the nutrients in food. Once a meal has been digested and all the nutrients absorbed, the body enters a fasted state, and begins generating energy from stored fat and protein.

An intermittent fast might have some beneficial effects on metabolism, and could help control weight and manage blood glucose levels. Clinical studies have shown that lowering food intake could actually slow the aging process by controlling potentially harmful free-radicals that are produced in metabolizing nutrients in food.

A calorie-restricted diet that has 60-80% of the normal intake of food can result in an unhealthy obsession with food. Studies done at the University of Minnesota during the 1940s showed that men who consumed 40% of their normal intake of food developed unhealthy eating patterns such as bingeing.

Most people find intermittent fasting for certain periods of time or on alternating days easier to follow than a strict calorie-restricted diet all the time. It might be worth experimenting with intermittent fasting to see if it helps you reach your health and fitness goals.

Please contact us for more information.

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, eat right, health, best weight management, Merritt blog, Fitness Tips, is fasting good, fitness, weight loss tips, Baltimore fitness, best gyms, fit tips

Exercise your options for sore muscles - massage or light exercise?

Posted by RaySa

Jun 20, 2013

You worked out at the gym a few days ago and went all-out with extra reps or achieved a personal best in the amount of weight for that bench press. Felt great, didn’t it? But you woke up the next day very sore and those muscles are tender to the touch. How to speed up the recovery process and get back to normal again? Here at Merritt Athletic Clubs, you can exercise your options and find the solution to muscle soreness.

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, how to reduce muscle soreness, Personal Training, health, better health, Merritt blog, health clubs, Fitness Tips, fitness, Baltimore fitness, best fitness tips, group fitness, muscles, best gym, fit tips

Using Vitamins to Boost Wellness

Posted by RaySa

Mar 27, 2013

Walking in to your local drugstore, you may feel overwhelmed by all of the vitamins and minerals displayed on the shelves. Your goal: wellness. But which vitamins will benefit you? What do these specific vitamins help with? Here's some information that will prepare you for your next trip to the vitamin aisle:

Vitamin A (Retinol):

Vitamin A supports healthy eyes and bones. If you have a vitamin A deficiency, you may suffer from night blindness and/or itchy eyes. Vitamin A will help your immune system protect you from illness. It aides white blood cells, which play a key role in killing bacteria and fighting disease. Taking vitamin A also helps free the body from radicals and toxins that can harm your skin. It helps your skin retain moisture so that it stays soft. Natural sources of vitamin A include cream, egg yolk, and cheddar cheese.

Vitamin B7 (Biotin):

This vitamin is important in maintaining overall health. If you have a vitamin B7 deficiency, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, depression, or hair loss. Vitamin B7 helps control your metabolism because it is a catalyst for many metabolic reactions. It also plays a key role in having healthy hair, skin and nails. This vitamin can also aide with weight loss because it helps to reduce extra body fat. Natural sources of this vitamin include egg yolks, fish and milk.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid):

A vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, a disease often associated with men at sea. Symptoms of this include loss of teeth and joint pain. Vitamin C can be used to treat the common cold because it helps strengthen your immune system. It can also help lower hypertension (high blood pressure). Vitamin C also plays a role in the production of norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that affects your mood. A natural source of vitamin C is citrus fruit such as oranges and lemons.


Let us help you on your journey to wellness. Contact us to find membership options and healthy opportunities that fit your lifestyle.

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Topics: Merritt Athletics, Healthy Recipes, Personal Training, health, supplements, Merritt blog, how to boost your immune, antioxidants, Fitness Tips, vitamins, boost immunity, nutrition, powerful antioxidants, brain power

How Anil Lost 120 Pounds and In The Best Shape Of His Life

Posted by RaySa

Jan 23, 2013

"Keeping a strict workout routine at Merritt Athletic Club in Eldersburg of four-hour sessions five-days-a-week, Kendir cut all carbohydrates from his diet and replaced them with protein and vegetables.

One year later, Kendir is now 120 pounds lighter and in the best shape of his life.

“It’s a huge euphoria,” he said. “I can’t even explain how amazing it feels. After 120 pounds, I’m a completely different person.”

The weight loss sparked to a holistic change in his life. Kendir is a lot more confident, those social issues have evaporated, and he feels great physically, emotionally and mentally.

It all began with the New Year’s resolution one year ago.

Resolutions are a big driver of new members at the Eldersburg Merritt Athletic Club, according to programs manager Andrew Dibble.

The gym sees an annual influx of members in the first few weeks of the new year, as people are holding true to their resolutions of weight loss and increased health, Dibble said.

Kendir’s success story is one that can give anyone hope, Dibble said.

“Stories like his are what make people walk through the door every day. It gives that belief that anybody can do it,” Dibble said.

Kendir now works as a staff member at the place he lost all that weight.

As for a 2013 New Year’s resolution, Kendir is still pondering his next self-made promise.

“It’s hard to come up with one, I have accomplished so much in the last year that, you know, what do I set for myself now? So I haven’t set any yet,” he said."

-Brett Lake, Carroll County Times

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Topics: New Year's Fitness Resolution, health, Weight Loss, merritt athletic clubs blog, fitness, carroll county times, New Year's Resolution, Member Success Stories, diet lifestyle change, lifestyle change, fitness programs

Grapefruit: Super Fruit

Posted by Heather Blake

Sep 10, 2012


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Topics: health, balanced diet, super-fruit, citrus, nutrition, grapefruit, healthy heart

What you Need to Hear About Exercise and Nutrition

Posted by Heather Blake

Sep 6, 2012

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Topics: health, exercise, consultation, Weight Loss, diet, Fitness Tips, fitness, Awareness and Support, nutrition

Post Workout Nutrition

Posted by Heather Blake

Aug 24, 2012

Many people ask what are the best foods to consume after a workout?

The answer: a well balanced meal including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are essential for proper recovery. Your blood sugar levels (glycogen) decrease during a workout as the muscles use glucose for fuel. The muscles store glycogen. Glycogen comes from carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the number one energy source to the body and should be consist of 65% of your daily intake. Good carbohydrates to consume after a hard workout are whole grain breads or pasta, brown rice, and dark green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and romaine lettuce. Many people enjoy consuming their veggies in the form of a cold smoothie. Smoothies are faster to prepare, and also provides a refreshing nutrient based meal. Foods such as these will help increase or replenish your glycogen levels.

Then you want to include proteins, which should consume 15% of your daily intake. Proteins or amino acids may also be used in a shake form, as well as their solid forms. Proteins are important post workout as they help to re-energize and rebuild the muscle fibers you damage while resistance training. Good sources include, fish, eggs, baked or grilled chicken, nuts, beans, and lean cut deli meats to name a few.

Protein powders usually provide between 30-40 grams of protein per serving. Keep in mind to consume .8g/kg of your body weight as protein to prevent damage to your kidneys and other health risks.

Finally, consume 20-30% of your food as fats. Good sources of fats come from omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Good sources of omega 3 fats come from foods such as flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, sardines, shrimp, and tuna. Omega 6 fats come from your dressings and oils such as soybean oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil, mayonnaise and other salad dressings.

Incorporating these various foods in a wholesome post workout meal will supply your post workout needs leaving you feeling rejuvenated and energized for your greatest workout endeavors!

Written by: Kris Hynson

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Topics: after workout food, health, best foods after workout, Fitness Tips, post workout, what to eat after exercise, nutrition, post workout food

Summer Healthy Eating

Posted by Heather Blake

Aug 22, 2012

Heat up the grills and get the most out of the season! Grill your weight off by keeping the flavor up and the calories down! Switch up your protein source from chicken to seafood to lean cuts of beef and pork to keep from getting bored. Take advantage of all the fresh fruits and vegetables by eating lots of flavorful (and colorful) salads and side dishes.

I am going to list a couple of my favorite healthy grilling sauces:

Coffee-Balsamic Marinade


  • 1/2 teaspoon instant-coffee granules
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons crushed black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Dissolve coffee in hot water in a small bowl. Stir in vinegar, brown sugar, oil, garlic, pepper and salt. Use 1/2 cup to marinate beef or pork. Reserve remaining marinade for basting.

Lemon-Pepper Marinade


  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Combine lemon juice, mustard, oil, sugar, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Use 1/2 cup to marinate shrimp, tuna, chicken or vegetables. Reserve remaining marinade for basting.

Experiment with your sauces and spices and use FLAVOR to keep your meals exciting. Lean protein and healthy vegetables will help you reach your goals so get to grilling!

Written by: Phillip Nohe

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Topics: recipe, Healthy Recipes, health, summer healthy eating, summer food, Fitness Tips, fitness, flavor, grilling, eating healthy, nutrition