I agree with the timing of meals. I used to have trouble until I found my sweet spot: eat a big meal 1 hour before I hit the gym; supplement BCAAs 30 minutes prior; sip a workout drink (e.g., the new Surge Workout Fuel, which I got two weeks ago and am in love with), and get a PWO drink IMMEDIATELY after you stop (I carry a dose in a baggie and fill my bottle as soon as I hit the locker room, and it’s gone by the time I’m out the door.)
Followed by a good meal of protein and veggies about an hour later.
Also, I think it’s really a mental thing: the longer you’ve been lifting, the more you come to know your true limits, and the more you can push through the pain/dizziness/etc. when lifting.
It’s not uncommon for me to get lightheaded on squats and deads now, and I know (I KNOW! I’m 3000% positive, dammit!) I can push through that last rep, at new PRs.
A trick I’ve been using myself for a while, and I saw written up in the Weekly Dose this week, is to not use the biggest single weight for your load. E.g., rather than slapping another 45 on the bar, I’ll use 3 10s and 3 5’s, or something like that. Or if I’m about to need a 25, I’ll use 2 10s and a 5 instead. It keeps me from psyching myself out when I look at the bar, which leads to me dumping trying to come up from a heavy squat or something.
As I become more closely acquainted with what real, 100% exertion feels like, I become more likely to push through getting dizzy, getting tunnel vision, seeing the veins in my forehead about to burst forth and shatter the mirror, etc.