Simple Tips to Avoid Hitting the Wall

running outside

It happens like clockwork. Even when I am aware of its impending arrival and make every effort to avoid it. The workout is going great. Progress is being made. I am on my way to achieving a new goal. And then sometime between 4 and 8 weeks in…I hit a wall.

I don’t mean a real wall – I mean an invisible wall (most often of my own making) that keeps me from moving forward. Call it a plateau, a hurdle, an obstacle, whatever you want. It just feels like getting stuck.

I started off so strong!

I get excited about new things and I love setting seasonal goals. For example, the 30 day push up challenge was perfect for me because it gave me a goal within a time frame. Whenever I start a new workout plan I get so energized. I can’t wait to go do it. This energy is great for the first few weeks. But fitness and health is not a sprint but a marathon. It takes time to make a permanent change. And it is hard to maintain that high level of energy for long.

Why does it get harder?

I had a great exercise physiology teacher and he taught us that to be in great shape a person had to overcome two things…pain and boredom. Simple and brilliant and completely true.  These two things are not easy to overcome for long periods of time.  It does not feel good to have sore muscles or to go without a sweet when you are craving it. Running, swimming, lifting can all get tedious and repetitive.

In my personal life, as a coach, and in my work as a fitness consultant I have learned that everyone seems to hit the wall sometime between 4 and 8 weeks after starting a fitness plan (or a season, or anything new really). People get bored with the workout. They get tired of trying to be good when it comes to food. They get bored with keeping a food journal. They find other interesting things they could do with their time instead of working out.

You might think that wouldn’t happen if they were getting results – but it does. What’s amazing is that this happens to people even when they make great progress in the beginning. My clients have lost an average of 7 pounds in the first 4 to 6 weeks yet they still struggle with making it past the 6 week mark. It is a mental stumbling block. So what can be done?

How to avoid the wall

If you are heading for a brick wall the only ways to avoid hitting it are to either stop or to turn and go around it. Instead of stopping altogether I recommend turning. It is so much easier to keep the momentum going then to try to start again. What does this mean in terms of a fitness program? It means identifying obstacles before you hit them and changing things up. Here are some ideas:

Remember WHY.

Part of the reason is to so exciting to start a new program is because you know why you want to do it. Maybe you want to get into shape before you go on vacation. Maybe you want to get healthier so you can play more with your kids. Maybe you want to lose weight to feel prettier or to have more energy. Whatever your reason is, it needs to be compelling. Write it in big letters and put it somewhere you can see. Then when it gets hard you can remember why you are doing it. Don’t quit.

Make it social.

Find someone to work out with or join a group or a class. Having someone to laugh with may be enough to distract you from the pain and/or boredom you are experiencing. This may be enough to keep you going even when it gets tough.

Take it up a level.

If you are a competitive person who likes a challenge then purposefully increase your workout every four weeks. Instead of starting a workout plan that goes on indefinitely think in terms of 4 week chunks. Give yourself an end goal for each four week phase.

Give yourself a break.

Often, people start a training program with great motivation. Then they risk doing too much: going to the gym too often during the week, staying there too long.  Afterwards, they’re are exhausted. Because they are in pain, they have to stop for a few days to recover. During that time, people go downhill.”

Nobody is perfect and so don’t give up just because you have a bad day (or week, etc.). Health is not all or nothing. Some people think that if they break their diet the whole thing is blown and its over. Don’t be so dramatic. So you ate the whole bag of Oreos – move on. Yes, that was not in line with goals but don’t give up the goal because of a set back. Pick up where you left off and resolve to do better the next day.

Read also: 14 Great Tips to Feel More In Control

I’ve Hit It – Now What?

If you find yourself struggling to keep going forward with healthy eating or a workout plan, understand that this is normal. You are not a weak person, you just need to keep moving. Ask yourself – why did I want to get healthier? Make a list of all the reasons you started in the first place.  Then evaluate your plan. If parts of it aren’t working change it up. Add something new. Go through all the ideas above.

Focus on the result you want to achieve rather than the tasks you have to do, the exercises, the constraints or the pain. Our state of mind is fed by the thoughts and emotions we experience the most. Learn to program your mind to what you want to achieve. This will fill you with enthusiasm and satisfaction. Do you think this kind of emotion will help you take action?

Remember you want to be healthy for life. Keep moving forward and put that wall behind you. Anybody out there feeling stuck?  Why do you want to get healthier?


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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