Using SMART Goals to Optimize Nutrition for Climbing

Here’s the deal: without goals, your dreams are just—well, dreams. It’s like you’re trying to get somewhere without a GPS. You’ve got an awesome destination in mind, but no plan on how to get there.

If your serious about growing as a climber, in your career, or even just as a human being, intentional SMART goal setting is a tool you can’t afford to pass up!

Let me also say that it does not need to be complicated. You don’t need seven different colors of sticky notes and spreadsheets galore to set killer goals that move you forward (unless of course that’s your thing)!

Set Yourself up for Success by Starting Small

It’s challenging/nearly impossible to change your anything overnight. In fact, the more changes you try to make at once, the more likely it is that you’ll give up and return to old habits (why diets don’t work)!

Example: if you want to eat more fruit and vegetables and dairy and protein and complex carbs and nuts/seeds and drink more water and make sure you’re fueling appropriately before/after you climb for max performance/recovery and work out and sleep more you likely won’t get too far before you give up.

I’ve found the most success with clients (and in my own personal journey) by focusing on a few small and sustainable tweaks until they become habits and then tweak other areas.

It takes time, but it’s AMAZING to actually watch positive habits start to stick and really makes you feel like you could do/be anything. And my clients and I make these tweaks using SMART goals.

So What Are SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Let’s unpack each of these quick.


Your goal should be laser-focused. “Climb harder” is an example of an unspecific goal. How exactly do you want to climb harder? Do you want to break into a certain grade? Conquer a specific project?


You need to be able to tell if you’ve accomplished your goal or not! “Eat more vegetables” is tough to measure. Is there a number of servings you want to eat per day or week? Do you want to include at least a serving of veg in each meal? What will count as meeting your goal?


Nothing zaps your motivation and confidence like an unrealistic goal. So set yourself up for success by being realistic. Having a long term game plan or big dream is awesome! But you need baby steps that you can work on now. So be completely honest with yourself here. Do you realistically have the time, energy, and resources to make this goal happen?


No sense in wasting time on an irrelevant goal! Ask yourself, does this goal make sense for where you are right now? Does it fit into the overall picture of what you’re working towards? Is it worthwhile and is now the right time?


This can mean a couple of things. It can either define how often you’re going to do a certain thing (eat fruit daily) or specify the deadline by which you’ll achieve something (make a shopping list or try a new recipe by a certain date).

How to Use SMART Goals

1. Choose your goals

Choose between 1 and 3 small, realistic, and sustainable changes you can make (and want to make) and form them into SMART goals.

Ask yourself if they are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

If they don’t meet one of these criteria, tweak they do. Don’t set yourself up for failure with an un-SMART goal!

2. Write your goals down

Putting them on paper or in a note on your phone solidifies your goals and you’re more likely to take them seriously and hold yourself accountable.

You should also consider sharing your goals with someone else. You have a 65% chance of achieving them when you do and a 95% chance when you have a scheduled time to check in on your progress.

Speaking of checking in…

3. Decide how often you’re going to check in with yourself and stick with it!

You can remind yourself of your goals daily, or weekly and evaluate your progress monthly or quarterly, whatever works for you!

When you check in, ask yourself three questions:

  • Did you achieve the goal or not?
  • If you did achieve it, does the goal need to be made harder?
  • If you didn’t achieve it, does the goal need to be made easier or changed in any way?

If you find that you’re not meeting a goal, change something. Maybe it requires too much. Maybe there are 3 things you need to do before you can even get to the goal (like to eat more fruit you need to actually go to the store and buy it).

What you shouldn’t do is feel bad! Your original goal was unrealistic which you couldn’t have known until you tried it so just pivot and keep moving forward!

One Last Thought

Behavior/mindset shifts and habit-building are tricky but essential parts of developing a lifestyle that supports your climbing goals and for sure where I spend the most time with clients. 

Be patient with yourself and focus on the long-game versus quick results. Remember that you’re goal should be to build a sustainable lifestyle, so you don’t have to have it figured out today!

And seriously, if you stick with it which I know you can (especially when you’re goals are SMART and realistic), you’ll be amazed by who you can become and what you can achieve!

Let me know what questions you have and feel free to run your goals by me for a quick SMART test (shoot me an email or a DM on insta)!

Happy goal setting!


Published by Chiara

I’m a rock climber and registered dietitian teaching fellow climbers to become the strongest and happiest versions of themselves with evidence-based fueling strategies and by making peace with food.

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