Amanda Watts – Eat & Get Strong

Amanda is not only a hyper-qualified nutritionalist with a track record of fuelling some of the best climbers in Australia, she is also a very talented climber and trainer who is dead-set keen on giving you all the tools you need to be a better boulderer. Learn about fuel for performance and fuel for recovery and then PERFORM!

What’s the focus of your session going to be?
Nutrition. And the basics of training. The nutrition part of the session will focus on locking down the basics of what you eat (with a little myth busting), food to fuel training and your day on the rock. A brief overview of weight management for performance. The training side will cover: an overview of training tools, different types of and approaches to training, and some tips to getting better and stronger.

What do you think your training as a sports dietitian/nutritionist brings to your training knowledge that a non-nutritionist wouldn’t have?
Understanding the impact what you eat can have short and long term on your body. When you have big climbing goals what you eat can make a big difference to the grade you climb or your place on the podium in a comp. I am lucky that my work means I understand how to craft an eating plan to maximise training gains, to manipulate weight and body composition and to work with long term health and quality of life goals. We need the right recipe of ingredients going into our bodies every day to be the best climbing versions of ourselves and to get to the end of our lives in the best shape possible. Its super cool understanding how to do this and being a part of the global team of people trailblazing this area of knowledge.

Amanda cruxing on Rave Heart (V8), Hollow Mountain Cave.  Lee Cossey

Amanda cruxing on Rave Heart (V8), Hollow Mountain Cave. Lee Cossey

What do you think are some of the core elements of good nutrition?
1. Critical thinking: we are bombarded with food advertising, fad diets and quick fix options. It’s so important to understand that most of the food industry is driven by profits, not driven to make people healthy.  

2. The ability to be reflective and honest with yourself. Do you know what you eat each day? Do you put as much focus and energy into what you eat as you put into your climbing and training?

3. Taking the emotional reaction away from food.   

You’ve been climbing and competing for a long time, what do you think are the core elements of continued improvement at climbing?
Being really, really honest with yourself and understanding what your strengths and weaknesses are. If there’s something you are avoiding in your sessions, it’s probably the thing you are the worst at and need to train most. Having a clear plan, actually sticking to 80% of it and trying really hard. And, lastly, treat training as training. It’s about getting stronger, not looking the strongest. You need to fail to get better.

How do you think knowledge about training, diet and performance has changed in the time you have been climbing?
I think there is a heap more terrible diet information out there now and nutrition has become like a religion. There are so many fad diets and there is so much access to low quality food. On the positive side, we know so much more about training and nutrition now because the sport has been around for so much longer, we have so many more gyms and training facilities and coaches looking at climbing. That's exciting and for climbing nerds like Tom and I, access to tons of training research is awesome.

You’re currently completing your ASCA strength and conditioning level one qualification, have you learnt anything so far that’s challenged your existing knowledge or surprised you?
Not so much. Since I started rock climbing in 1995, I have been extremely interested in training and have read a lot, have worked as a gym instructor and covered some of the principles at uni. I am very psyched on coaching women in climbing and have always liked to have something formal to underpin my work. So the ASCA qualification is about making sure I have an awesome and accessible knowledge base behind me to add to my current degrees and experience.

Why do you think climbing and bouldering festivals are good?
We all get to spend 48 to 72 hours doing nothing but boulder, climb, talk climbing, hang out with climbers and eat great food! What could be better!!

Do you have an tips for boulderers going into the competition on the Saturday of the Festival?
Have a plan of attack to manage your skin!! And bring tape for when you start to bleed.

Not a problem for vegetarians; Amanda giving Butcher’s Choice (V10) plenty of juice, Trackside.  Tom O’Halloran

Not a problem for vegetarians; Amanda giving Butcher’s Choice (V10) plenty of juice, Trackside. Tom O’Halloran

What’s in your crag snack/lunch box?
I find it hard to eat at the crag, I find I’m usually not very aware of being hungry because I am to distracted by the climbing but I do notice when my performance starts to fade from lack of food. So I have had to experiment with this one a lot. I am super aware of trying to get enough protein, carb and energy in every day to be able to back up a training session after a climbing day, multiple training sessions a week and keep my immune system in the best shape I can from my diet. So, I have been taking a Sustagen popper (drinking one of them just before I walk out of the crag works well for me), six to eight Vita Wheat crackers, some hummus, red capsicum, cucumber and cherry tomatoes. Some days I will throw a little bit of chocolate in. And most days a thermos of tea.

What are the three Grampians bouldering problems that you’d most like to climb?
1. The Wheel of Life. (doesn't everyone have it on their ultimate dream list J)

2. When We Were Kings.

3. On the Beach.

It’s late at night and you’re driving back from the Grampians to the Blue Mountains and you have a choice of McDonalds, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Dominos and a fish & chip shop, where do you eat and what do you order?
Never KFC. I just can’t shake the image of a deep fried rat. You never know what’s hiding under that deep fried outer. I love pizza but the microbiology part of my degree, looking at food bacteria, ruined me for things like Domino’s pizza. I’d probably go for fish and chips or an egg McMuffin and hash brown from McDonalds, but I would be more likely to buy a bag of nuts or cheese and crackers and a kids’ sized iced coffee from the servo to get me through.