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Why it’s okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

Recovery from an addiction is not a destination. Recovery is a journey. Just like other life journeys, there will be both good moments and periods when you’re challenged. One common challenge shared by many in recovery is battling a sense of complacency. Sometimes it’s referred to as a recovery wall.

This is not an uncommon emotion to feel. You’re not alone. So, what can you do if you feel like you’ve hit a wall in your recovery? Can you get around it? What can you do to avoid them? Let’s look at what the recovery wall is and how to work through this common part of recovery, but avoid a relapse.

What is the Recovery Wall?

The first thing to appreciate is that recovery is a journey. It is a lifelong process with many stages. You may have already experienced some of these. There is the agonizing early stages of recovery, wrought with fear, doubt and physical withdrawal.

Most in early recovery recount a period that they felt absolutely elated to be clean and sober. Many equate it to the feeling of a new romantic relationship. Everything is just so wonderful. However, like most things in life, the pink cloud will eventually fade.

That doesn’t mean feeling good about your recovery has to stop. It’s just a reality that life can be challenging, despite your dedicated intentions to life it clean and sober. Experience has shown that you should be extremely cautious during this early sobriety period. It can fool you.

As the pink cloud sensation begins to wear off, many feel like they hit a wall. This is the first recognizable point in recovery where extra effort on your part is essential to combating urges and cravings to relapse.

You will begin to adjust to living clean and sober. This adjustment period will be filled with rewards and challenges. There is also a period when people leave treatment programs, or move into a new phase in their recovery.

Regardless of where you’re at in recovery, you should be aware of a second type of recovery wall. While it’s similar to the initial challenges presented during early sobriety, this wall can hit you at any point, even after years of clean and sober time.

This is the wall of complacency. Some who have lost their sobriety date to a surprising relapse insist they never saw it coming. However, when presented with some suggestions on how to deal with a recovery wall, or lessen the impact all-together, they understand their mistake.

So, let’s look at what you can do to avoid becoming complacent, or getting knocked down by the recovery wall. These strategies and suggestions for staying balanced can begin to practice some of these techniques days into your sobriety.

How Do You Deal with a Recovery Wall?

Dealing with a wall in your recovery is similar no matter when it happens or why it happens. The initial recovery wall in early sobriety is a dangerous place without preparation ahead of time. However, years of clean and sober time have been erased by recovery complacency.

Becoming complacent, or resting on your laurels as some say, is a prescription for relapse. Begin early in your recovery by developing a routine. Treatment programs will help reinforce the importance of keeping a recovery routine, especially during your first year.

Talk about the fact that virtually everyone in recovery experiences some type of wall. Not everyone hits these walls at the same point. But accepting that they happen is an important step. When you know something is prone to happen, you can prepare a plan.

Your recovery support system is probably the strongest defense against the consequences of hitting your recovery wall. Having a set routine, maybe meetings, study, personal reflection, or a scheduled phone call to someone in recovery, are tremendous defense mechanisms.

Make these important parts of your recovery from the very beginning. Stick to them regardless. Remember, it’s okay to live life and be happy in sobriety. That’s why we get sober. But don’t forget that recovery walls are often triggered by complacency in your program.

Stay vigilant and develop a healthy routine. When you do experience a proverbial recovery wall, it won’t surprise you, and you’ll be prepared. Always remember that recovery is a journey not a destination. Enjoy the journey, including the challenges along the way.

If you feel like you may have a problem with drugs or alcohol, but haven’t asked for help, make the call today at 772-934-6580. Recovery is a wonderful way to step away from the destructive path of substance abuse. All you have to do is ask. Make the call today and give yourself a chance at tomorrow.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

Distance runners often worry about “hitting the wall” during training or races ― that dreaded moment when negative thoughts become so overpowering they make it difficult to continue.

Hitting the wall typically happens around 20 miles into a marathon, when the body’s glycogen supplies become exhausted. At this point, many runners feel exhausted and discouraged, slow their pace, have trouble focusing and want to quit or walk.

“Generalized fatigue, unintentionally slowing their pace, the desire to walk, and shifting focus to just surviving the marathon appear to be particularly common features of it,” said Dr. Alistair McCormick, an exercise psychologist at the University of St Mark & St John in England who co-authored a new study published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology. “A marathon becomes a real mental battle when runners ‘hit the wall.’”

Psychological blocks are an extremely common and often performance-inhibiting experience for recreational endurance athletes, according to the study. To learn how they affect people, sports psychologists asked 30 recreational runners, cyclers and triathletes about the psychological demands of training, preparing for and participating in competitions.

“A marathon becomes a real mental battle when runners ‘hit the wall.’”

The athletes described a number of common experiences. They reported struggling with the amount of time they invested in training and their lifestyle sacrifices leading up to an event, as well as things like staying focused during a competition, optimizing pacing and committing to training sessions.

“Recreational triathletes, runners and cyclists found it stressful trying to find the time to train,” McCormick said. “What was also interesting was the number of potential banana skins encountered before and during competition ― adversities that could cause the athletes to lose their focus and their motivation to keep persevering.”

These roadblocks included difficult environmental conditions, punctures and equipment failure, problems with nutrition and hydration, or making a mistake, the study reported. The athletes in the study said they felt these obstacles affected their motivation and concentration, negatively affecting their overall performance.

Breaking Through Mental Blocks

According to the Stanford University School of Medicine, 43 percent of marathoners are likely to hit the wall during a race. Finding ways to move past those kinds of experiences, then, could have major benefits for an athlete’s performance and well-being.

“There’s good evidence that saying motivational things to yourself can benefit your running, cycling or swimming performance,” McCormick said. “Planning what to do if you encounter various problems can also be very valuable.”

This technique is referring to by sport psychologists as “if-then planning” ― for example, if you hit the wall, then you’ll use a visualization technique to help you imagine yourself getting through it.

If you’ve been finding yourself coming up against mental roadblocks in your training, here are a few other sports psychologist-approved techniques to try.

1. Make a motivational playlist. Distracting yourself with some great tunes can help you make it to the finish line faster. A number of studies have shown that athletes run, bike and swim farther and faster when listening to music.

2. Try the buddy system. A running partner can keep you motivated and on-track, and might even improve your performance, research shows.

3. Visualize achieving your goal. A study on weight-lifters found that mental practices can be as effective as physical practice, resulting in actual muscle increases. Visualizing your if-then plan, for instance, could improve your chance of success, according to McCormack.

4. Try “attention narrowing.” Runners who focus their eyes on an object in the distance get there faster. Last year, an NYU study found that focusing on an object on the horizon makes the distance feel shorter, and leads runners to go faster and exert themselves less than those who let their minds wander.

With these helpful strategies, your next personal record might be just around the corner.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

Marathon runners “hit the wall” when they lose the ability to run as fast as they’d like or even come to a complete stop, when their bodies run out of fuel.

In the beginning we were all about hikes, dog walks and baking bread. But now making dinner each night is a stress inducing activity. My dogs look at me begging for walks.

The fuel is glycogen, which is stored in our muscles and liver. And it’s pretty easy to calculate when the wall is most likely to be hit—between 18-20 miles—because we know how many calories are needed and burned by the act of running.

Hitting the wall in our work lives happens, too. We lose our focus, our motivation, our will and become less effective and start failing more.

A few weeks ago, Canadian professor and researcher in global civil war zones Aisha Ahmad identified her wall at six months. She surmises that six months into a difficult assignment–such as researching in a war zone–the wall appears.

And maybe during a pandemic, too.

About the same time, two of my clients—one working in a global NGO and the other in a high-pressure corporate position–complained to me about their six-month walls.

As a social scientist, my academic response was to wonder, “Hey, is this a thing?”

I decided to do some of my own “thing determination” and queried my LinkedIn network to see if anyone else was experiencing hitting the wall.

YES, came the response. Colleagues and students reported having hit a wall six months into the pandemic’s new normal.

I’ve lost friends to Covid-19 and many people are still suffering with it so it would be inappropriate to call going into lockdown an “adventure,” but it would be accurate to say it’s a challenge that can be negotiated and mastered for a little while.

What’s with six months?

Many of us felt a rush of energy in shifting how we do our work and live our lives. We took pride in our adaptability and resourcefulness, whether it was managing clients remotely or procuring groceries with curbside pick-up. You may have even said, “We’ve got this!”

For Americans, the six-month wall appeared in September or October.

It was that point where we realized this isn’t anywhere near over. We didn’t surmount anything, but are still on a steep incline.

“Six-month wall? I know it might be a thing!” said Dr. Manon Pieper-Zwaanstra.

Manon is programme manager of the international MBA program at The Hague University of Applied Sciences, which underwent an immediate transformation in response to the pandemic.

“At THUAS we heard about the first lockdown mid-March on a Friday and on Monday morning at 10 am our full-time master students were having their first online class on Teams,” said Manon, who worked overtime to facilitate changes to the curriculum and process.

Manon even exceeded her pre-pandemic goal.

“After two months, we decided to move the implementation of the new MBA 2.0 (targeted for 2021 initially) to September 2020. We all worked over hours, but we felt it was justified during a time of crisis.”

For Manon, the wall appeared in her path after restrictions were lifted and she and her team were able to take a break.

Processes lapse

“After returning, I felt so tired and exhausted and overworked. I discussed this with a friend who made the analogy of cycling in the heat for many hours: you get used to it, you can cope with cycling up a mountain. But when you stop and have to start moving again you notice that you don’t have the energy any longer. I feel like we have been working on high speed, crisis mode, and when coming back from a three-week August break you have to get back into that mode, but you can’t. I hit a wall.”

For Julie Dickinson, Chief of Staff (Corporate Bank Technology) at Deutsche Bank, it came sooner.

“I hit a three-month wall – mainly due to lack of a standing desk and proper chair – but was lucky enough to be able to return to the office,” said Julie. “We are very conscious of our people potentially also hitting a wall and alongside ongoing discussions around individual work arrangements, a range of ongoing wellbeing and mental health support activities is available.”

Now, with curfews in Paris and lockdowns looming again across Europe, we see there’s more challenge ahead.

“You don’t know when it is going to end,” said Manon. “I see many colleagues falling down, getting burned out and having physical complaints.”

Manon points to the new layer of “work” that comes with having to be remote.

“Working from home and meeting online all day drain energy too,” said Manon. “Your brain is processing the non-existent non-verbal communication and cannot process all the senses, and therefore is doing its very best to process other signs and facial expressions.

“All of a sudden, people forget the basic rules for change leadership or withdraw, or do other strange things. As if the crisis clouds people’s minds and decision-making skills.”

Okay, it’s real.

Six months or otherwise, as with endurance sports, we’re running out of mental and emotional fuel. There comes a time when all the adaptive creativity and pride in our newfound skills of distance learning and work-life balancing use it all up. Anxiety sets in. What’s next? It’s all uncertain.

I don’t think the wall isn’t as solid as it may seem. It’s more like plateau before another round of what we’ve been through already.

Marathoners train to get through the wall by varying their practice runs and–and by consuming a little fuel for the miles remaining.

So consider…

We know what to expect. It’s normal to be exhausted by keeping up a new mental routine. And it’s okay to fuel up…take a day to review the progress you’ve made through the past six months, despite the challenges. Think of those successes as blocks to be stacked as steps to the next phase. Those achievements and newly learned skills can be fuel for the mind to visualize another six-month effort.

What are you and your organization doing to get moving again? Share with us your ideas for our next installment.

The phenomenon of late-race bonking is becoming a little less mysterious.

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SAN DIEGO, CA – JUNE 03: An exhausted runner pauses after crossing the finish line at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon on June 3, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Kent C. Horner/Getty Images) Photo: Getty Images

Analyzing 4 million race records from 250 marathons, data scientist and runner Barry Smyth was looking for a way around or over a particular barrier to a smooth and fast race. He was looking to understand why runners “hit the wall,” also known as bonking, and thus, how to avoid it.

Author of the new research published in the journal PLOS ONE in May of this year, Smyth became interested in the concept of hitting the wall when he started running himself. “ It seemed to be this big scary phenomenon that really had the potential to ruin a race, and yet I could not find much about it in terms of how it impacted people,” he says.

Smyth is a professor of computer science at University College Dublin. For the analysis, he used race pacing data to take a deeper dive into understanding the parameters under which runners hit the wall.

Before digging any deeper, what does it really mean to “hit the wall?”

For the purpose of Smyth’s analysis, he identified the wall when runners would slow their pace in the late stages of the marathon. But the real definition is a little wider reaching.

“It’s going to look different for different people, and it’s really individual’s internal definition of the wall that really matters,” says Matthew Buman, associate professor at the College of Health Solutions at Arizona State University. Buman also has an interest in what makes recreational runners successful, and has studied the hitting the wall phenomenon in the past.

In Buman’s research surveyed runners identified some of the main characteristics of late-marathon bonking which included: generalized fatigue, unintentionally slowing pace, desire to walk, and a renegotiation of goals (shifting from a goal finish time to just finishing, for example).

Or to get more technical: “Many people have defined it from a physiological standpoint as, hitting the wall is when you run out of glycogen stores,” says Buman.

Who Is Most Likely to Hit the Wall?

In Smyth’s analysis, he found several standout characteristics among runners who were hitting the wall and the degree at which it was happening.

One of the biggest takeaways was in the difference between male and female runners. He found that men were more likely to slow late in the race, likely due to riskier pacing strategies. Despite that difference, how men and women hit the wall was largely the same. “There are some differences in the duration and slowdown, but none as significant as the difference in likelihood,” he says.

Smyth estimates that the cost comes out somewhere to the tune of 31.5 minutes added for male runners and over 33 minutes added for female runners who hit the wall.

Even though women might be less likely to hit the wall, and thus not necessarily adding those 30-plus minutes to their race time, safe pacing might not be playing in their favor either. “Male pacing does seem to be riskier, so they slow more late in the race and suffer a finish-time cost as a result,” says Smyth. But it’s also possible that women are racing too conservatively: “Even though they are avoiding hitting the wall, they are also not achieving their best finish times. They finish the race with something left in the tank.”

Pacing differences between men and women have been studied before, including this study that Smyth authored in 2018. According to a RunRepeat study, women are 18 percent better at running an even pace than men. Data was taken from six marathons— Boston, Berlin, Chicago, London, New York, and Paris—from 2009 to 2019, and found that almost 92 percent of the participants ran the first half of the marathon faster than the second.

Interestingly, Smyth’s data also revealed that runners were more likely to hit the wall in races before or after hitting a personal best. “It seems reasonable to me that runners are more likely to be chasing a new PB in the races before or after achieving their PB, and this may lead them to push themselves harder than they might otherwise, which increases the risk of pacing problems and hitting the wall,” explains Smyth.

Questions Smyth still has that every marathoner and coach probably would also like to know: Are there features in training that make a runner more likely that they will hit the wall? Can early race pacing be used to predict late-race slowing? Are there safe pacing plans that could help a runner achieve a realistic race-time goal without hitting the wall?

He hopes with the advent of Big Data, exercise researchers can study problems from a different angle and answer these question. “Most of the classical studies have involved laboratory-based assessments of elite or competitive runners, for example, but have said little about the majority of recreational runners,” he says. “By analyzing the data that is available, there is much to be learned about recreational runners.”

What You Can Do Now to Avoid and Beat the Wall

Though we can’t always pinpoint when or why a runner bonks, coaches do have tools that can help you have a more successful race execution.

Jenni Nettik with Mercuria Running notes five key building blocks to focus on in training to have a better race-day experience:

  1. Practice nutrition strategy on all long runs throughout a training cycle.
  2. Be consistent with training day in and day out throughout training, and prioritize long runs if something has to give.
  3. Work weekly on mental techniques for working through hard moments in races.
  4. Visualize the speed workouts as the final six miles of a marathon, and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
  5. Practice pacing long runs, finishing every other long run at race pace effort. Mixing progression runs into training to get really familiar with what different paces feel like in the body.

If you’re in mile 20 and you feel yourself fading: Coach Nettik recommends that runners eat some carbohydrates and drink an electrolyte drink to help them get over the wall. “It’ll take a little time for the body to process the carbs, but the sooner you can get fuel to your brain and muscles, the better you’ll feel.”

This kind of bonking is absolutely physical, but it’s also psychological (or bio-psycho-social, as Buman calls it), which is why Nettik also works on mental strategies with her runners. She recommends tapping into mantras, visualizations, and mindfulness to push through the fatigue. “Reflecting back on challenging training runs like tempos, intervals, or long runs can help keep in perspective the discomfort and remind a runner that challenge is only temporary,” she says.

Buman also notes that it is helpful for recreational runners to practice dissociative thinking to work through the wall. “Research has shown that in a recreational runners — it’s not true for elite runners—essentially thinking about something other than the race tends to allow individuals to kind of work through the situation,” he says.

Get your coping mechanism in gear and you can scale the wall with confidence.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

What does it mean to ‘hit the wall’ during a marathon? The Americans call it ‘bonking’, and by any name it’s a pretty awful experience. When you hit the wall, it feels like you have run face-first into a stack of bricks. Your legs start feeling like concrete posts, every step is a triumph of will and you seriously doubt that the race actually has a finish line.

Why do some runners ‘hit the wall’?

In general, hitting the wall refers to depleting your stored glycogen and the feelings of fatigue and negativity that typically accompany it. Glycogen is carbohydrate that is stored in our muscles and liver for energy. It is the easiest and most readily available fuel source to burn when exercising, so the body prefers it. When you run low on glycogen, even your brain wants to shut down activity as a preservation method, which leads to the negative thinking that comes along with hitting the wall.

Noted exercise physiologist Dr Tim Noakes agrees that runners feel the wall physically, but he doesn’t consider it a purely physical phenomenon. The brain, Noakes believes, tells the body it’s time to hit the wall whenever it feels the body has gone too far, too fast. When the brain determines you have reached what it considers your breaking point, it increases levels of the chemical serotonin. This reduces neural control to recruit muscle fibres, which, in turn, triggers the sensation of extreme fatigue. Although a voice may whisper in your ear that you’ve given all you have to give, Noakes says in reality you can dig deeper and give more.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

How can you avoid ‘hitting the wall’ during a marathon?

It’s important to note that you burn a blend of stored carbohydrate and fat for fuel all of the time. However, the ratio of these two fuels changes with the intensity of the activity. For example, during a speed workout you will use a higher percentage of glycogen in your fuel blend. On a long slow run, you would burn a higher percentage of fat and a lower percentage of carbohydrate.

If you do the math, it’s easy to see why many runners hit the wall around the 18- or 20-mile mark. Our bodies store about 1,800 to 2,000 calories worth of glycogen in our muscles and liver. On average, we use about 100 calories per mile when running, depending upon run pace and body mass.

However, proper training for marathon mileage gives your body and mind time to adapt to these rigours. Since you don’t use purely carbohydrate as fuel, you have the ability to continue running by accessing fat stores.

The energy issue then, is really about reaching for those fuel sources. In order to utilise your fat stores, you must have some carbohydrate present to facilitate this metabolic pathway. When you deplete your glycogen stores, it becomes difficult to access fat as a fuel source because burning fat for energy is a more complex process. Long runs help train your body to utilise the fat metabolic pathway more efficiently.

During training you should also experiment with taking nutrition on longer runs for a quick carbohydrate source. By the time you build up to 20 mile runs, you should have a pretty good idea about how much fuel you need to sustain yourself for this distance.

Hitting the wall is not something that needs to be feared, dreaded or avoided (unless it’s race day, of course). The old adage of “if you don’t use it, you lose it” can be applied here.

Training is more than just logging the miles. It is a total body process, and by the end of it you will be transformed into a runner that is prepared and ready to meet all the demands of the marathon. Between stored glycogen and stored fat, you actually have the ability to run many, many miles.

How to cope if you do ‘hit the wall’ during a marathon

1. Distract yourself

Investigations into which brain strategies work best for non-elite runners have found external disassociation (focusing on scenery, crowds, things not directly tied to the race) appears to be the most effective wall-avoidance strategy and results in a later onset of fatigue. A cheering crowd, a spectator’s sign or a band playing in the distance may be just enough to distract your brain from the punishing bodily sensations of running, but without causing you to lose focus on pace and water stops.

2. Mentally hurdle it:

Positive self-talk and visualisation play a huge part in avoiding the wall. Before the race begins, do some visualisation exercises in which you hit the wall and picture yourself dealing with it effectively. If you believe you will dominate the wall, you are more likely to make those beliefs a reality.

3. Face reality

If you do hit the wall, sip some sports drink to get carbs into your system, but don’t overdo it. And it’s best if you have a running partner who can help encourage you through the worst and run with you to the finish. Please remember, however, that hitting the wall can affect your ability to think. I have seen plenty of runners disorientated and slurring their words, then being taken into a medical tent for treatment. I feel concern when I see them wobbling on the course, trying to make it to the finish. There is a point of no return that you need to accept. Going beyond that can be dangerous. If it’s not your day, it’s not your day. There will be others.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

Every year hundreds of thousands of runners will have the opportunity to “hit the wall.” “The wall” is defined as that period in a marathon when things transition from being pretty hard to being really, really hard. It is the point where your body and mind are simultaneously tested. It’s the perfect intersection of fatigue and diminished mental faculties. Or as you most likely remember it, it’s the exact point where all your pre-race plans went out the window.

How you handle “the wall” can literally make or break your marathon. Read on to learn more about why “the wall” happens and how you make sure it doesn’t derail your next big race.

How “The Wall” Works

Distance Disorientation

Let’s face it, 26.2 miles is a really, really long way to go. Doesn’t matter how hard or fast you run it, it’s still 26.2 miles. Most runners never cover the full distance during training; the closest you might come is 21 or 22 miles. In other words, very few runners actually encounter “the wall” in training. Seeing something for the first time on race day makes it significantly harder to prepare for and eliminate.

Great Expectations

The wall” feeds off the games your mind plays during the taper period. As you negotiate your race pacing plans based off of what you plan on running, there are two types of race paces: your “Could Pace” and your “Should Pace.” You remember that one long run in week six when you just flew along and everything was perfect? Based on that day, plus perfect race-day conditions, you “could” run 7:45s on race day.

And then when the gun goes off and fully tapered, that 7:45/mile pace quickly becomes a few 7:25s until things really go badly later on. Every “could” mile split you run brings “the wall” that much closer and makes it that much bigger.

As anyone who has run a half marathon race or longer can attest, it’s almost impossible to do simple math at the end of your race. We’ve all tried to figure out what our target finish time will be with 3.1 miles to go while running 8:30 pace. but few actually can. This is because at some point in your day, your body switches priorities from delivering oxygen/nutrients to your brain and directing them to your muscles.

Running is not a complicated mental activity, which means your brain can go on cruise control while your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes and heart need more and more resources each mile. In other words, your mind is at it’s weakest just when you hit “the wall” and you need it the most.

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A keto plateau or weight loss stall can happen to anyone for various reasons. While it’s a frustrating experience, the good news is that you can get past it with a few essential strategies.

When you hear the words “keto plateau,” what comes to your mind? If you’re thinking about stalled progress on a keto diet, you’re correct.

Read further to learn the reasons behind a keto stall and what you can actually do about it.

What Is Keto Plateau?

Also known as a low carb diet plateau, keto plateau happens when your fat loss progress has stopped. The first time you started the diet, your initial plan was to keep on making improvements in losing weight and feeling your very best.

Yet a couple of months pass, and you start to notice that you’re slowing down.

“Generally, weight loss is pretty rapid at the start of keto as your body adjusts and you lose a lot of water weight.

Once that initial shock to your body is over, it begins to adjust and burn through that stored fat. This is a slower process and it is supposed to take time, so it’s important to be patient,” says Tara Finnerty, RD, CKNS, CSP, CD, owner of Sugar House Nutrition, LLC.

First of all, don’t feel bad. You should know that plateaus happen to anyone, regardless of the type of diet they’re on. Your body is amazing that it can adapt to anything. That includes food, environment, and various stressors.

Another case is that you may be too lax yourself. You’re no longer paying that much attention to your macros, food quality, and lifestyle – and probably, you’re not trying anything new lately.

Just because you stalled on keto, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. Our goal in this guide is to help you get back on track as soon as possible.

But first, it’s important to explore possible causes behind a low carb plateau.

What Causes Weight Loss Stalls?

Why has my keto weight loss stalled? You may be asking yourself this question right now.

Finnerty says that if you’re experiencing a keto plateau for over a month, then it’s time to look at some common problems that caused it.

Metabolic adaptations

Try to approach anyone who’s on a stall, and they will tell you that “It’s probably my metabolism.”

A 2014 article from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition explains it clearly. It states that efforts to achieve weight loss can eventually lead to metabolic adaptations 1.

Since the body perceives minimal body fat as a sign of energy unavailability, it responds by conserving energy. Furthermore, your body prompts you to take in more energy by increasing your appetite 1.

That explains why after a period of steady weight loss, your body slows down.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fast

Metabolic adaptations can cause keto plateaus

Hidden carbs

In one of his podcast episodes, keto expert Dr. Berg mentions how a lack of awareness can cause you to consume hidden carbs in restaurant foods 2.

Common culprits include the following:

  • Barbecue sauce and other sauces
  • Processed cheese
  • Soy oil or corn oil
  • Salsa, dressings
  • MSG
  • Breading on meat
  • Deli meats

There is still a lot more worth mentioning. The bottom line is that carbs commonly hide in fast foods and foods that are highly processed. These foods often come out of a box and go right into your mouth 3.

You’re not just dealing with hidden carbs, but also multiple chemicals and synthetic ingredients 3.

Changes in macros percentage

On a ketogenic diet, your macronutrient percentages look like this:

  • 55% to 60% fat
  • 30% to 35% protein
  • 5% to 10% carbohydrates

So on a 2,000 calorie per day diet, your carb limit is 25 to 50 grams daily 4.

Why it's okay to hit the wall and how to overcome it fastAdjusting keto macros can help break your stall.

This is one of the reasons why people plateau on keto:

They calculate their macros at the beginning of their journey and stop there. Calculating your optimal macros should be a continuous process because different variables change. Such include your personal goals, weight, and activity level.

Overeating

Are you paying less attention to your calorie intake? Because while the “calories in versus calories out” model is not everything, still, it counts.

For example: If you’re eating keto-friendly foods but you’re being sedentary, you’re still missing out on the chance to burn more body fat.

Another point to keep in mind: Just because you’re doing keto, doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Practicing portion control is important.

Finnerty also suggests that you ask yourself, “Am I grazing constantly? Am I eating too much processed keto food?”

Research from the NIH shows that people who eat a diet full of ultra-processed foods consume 500 calories more per day and gain more weight 5.

Stress

Our modern world is a culprit behind most of the stress we experience. It creates stress in various ways. Diversity in people we interact with, our “hustle” culture, and technology to name a few.

Too much stress increases cortisol, your stress hormone. Cortisol increases your appetite and affects your food preferences. You’re more likely to crave comfort foods that are often high in sugar 6.

A study by Yale also revealed that cortisol exposure affects fat distribution. Fat tends to accumulate more in your abdominal area. This is the area that surrounds your organs 7.

Q I took up running a year ago and was really pleased to quickly notch up PBs of 36:57 for 10K and 1:21 for the half-marathon. I then set my sights on the marathon and built up to a peak of 80 miles a week, with five good long runs under my belt. With a sub-3:00 target I started the race at 6:30 pace (to allow for a little slowing), which I maintained perfectly through 10 miles and the halfway point. Then people started to pass me, and by mile 19 I was running at 7:45 pace and still slowing. I finished despondent in 3:24. Was sub-3:00 unrealistic? Did I set off too fast?

A Yours seems to be a classic case of ‘hitting the wall’. Your target seems quite reasonable, given your half-marathon and 10K times, but you never know whether you’re a marathon runner until you try one. However fast one may be, the marathon runner faces two additional problems – one of dehydration and overheating and one of fuel consumption.

Your preparation seems fine, but it does take time for one’s body to make the necessary changes, and now that you are well aware of the problems there are several things that you can do to overcome them.

The first one is pace judgement. Practise your three-hour pace in some of your training runs – in the second half of your long run, for example. In the race itself, make the first mile your slowest mile, outside seven minutes, and then try to settle into a regime of 6:45 per mile.

The second is carbo-loading. In the 48 hours before the race, from Thursday evening to Saturday evening, boost your reserves of carbohydrate by eating lots of bread, pasta and bananas – but don’t overeat on the Saturday night. In effect, you can carbo-load by naturally reducing your mileage and eating the same amount as before.

The third thing is to take plenty of carbohydrate before and during the race. On the morning of the race, take a high-carbo drink and sip it before you start. Take a large drink of it just before the start and continue to take a little every 5km during the race. However, remember that you must practise this beforehand to find out how much is good for you.

I’m sure you’ll find it less of a problem the second time round.

Lots of home projects involve cutting or drilling through walls (everything from nails, screws, or hooks to mount things to cutting through drywall and drilling through studs to run wire).

In general, how do you know what’s safe to break through and what isn’t? In other words, when can you just start drilling through a wall and when do you need to be worried about hitting electrical lines, plumbing, etc.

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Electrical wires typically run either vertically, up and down the side of a stud (with staples), in order to reach receptacles, ceiling lights/fans, etc., and horizontally in order to get across the room(s). The vertical wires are typically pretty easy to avoid: avoid drilling/nailing above a receptacle or light switch, or, if you have to, avoid missing on the side that the receptacle is nailed to. The horizontal runs should have enough play in them to avoid most damage, unless you drill/nail into the hole in the stud (called a nipple) that they pass through.

I don’t think that it’s required that you put any metal plate on the stud in order to protect the Romex/cable/conduit, but rather that it is only required if you drill the nipple too close to one side of the stud, at which point a metal brace is needed in order to ensure structural strength. Outside of drilling/nailing into an unprotected nipple, or very near it, there is little to worry about when it comes to the electrical.

When it comes to pipe, you should be able to tell if you hit copper pipe. Even though it might be one of the softer metals, it’s still going to offer a substantial amount of resistance, and unless you hit it where it passes through a stud, your nail/drillbit will probably deflect off of the curved surface of the copper pipe. With PVC or ABS, however, yeah, you’re most likely going to have a leak if you hit it squarely with a drillbit, maybe even a nail.

When it comes to cutting large holes in drywall, cut horizontally first — if there’s a stud or vertical pipe, it’s better for you to find it immediately, at which point you might decide it’s better to make a new hole on the other side of the stud, rather than later, after you’ve already made a long vertical cut in the drywall.