Best Evidence Based Practice vs Best Emotional Intelligence Based Practice


I deliberately made the title a little bit more intriguing for click bait purposes. The reality of the matter is that the best practice IS an evidence based + emotional intelligence based approach.

To the right you can see a little graphic that I whipped up earlier. The first venn diagram is something you might have seen variations upon before, and I had the second diagram in mind to tie together a few of the topics I've covered on facebook in the past.

I had a post a while back about coaching strategies, and how I really think the importance of having a good coaching strategy can't be overlooked. Of course people need an effective training program, they need an appropriate nutrition strategy, but they need more than just that... and as far as I'm concerned it's not just "accountability" either.

What's also important is that people come into a program with some idea of how the training strategy works, some idea of how the nutrition strategy works, and that they're confident and enthusiastic to give it their best try. The coaching strategy in my opinion should be something that builds and increases those levels of confidence, enthusiasm, optimism and ambition, and in my opinion the outlook should be a positive one based on enjoying the challenge.

What should those strategies be based on, though? Refer to the first chart.

This is something else that appears to be often misunderstood.
  • Best Scientific Evidence will support whether something is necessary, beneficial, worthwhile, or otherwise. Note however that just because it might not be necessary to do something in a specific way, this alone is not always a reason not to do it that way. See the following point.
  • Professional Observation & Experience may influence how the coach feels is the best way to approach those necessary & beneficial aspects. For example; "in my experience with my clients, we seem to maintain better enthusiasm, better adherence, and therefore better results and altogether a more positive experience when we go about it this way". For this reason, anecdotal evidence is still valid in discussing what makes for best evidence based practice. For some reason this remains a point of contention.
  • Client's Needs & Goals obviously another crucial point that people seem to overlook. 

This applies to each individual aspect of the coaching strategy, and the coaching strategy as a whole. Otherwise... well, here's a flow chart that I made which I think is pretty cool, too:

Now... we could be talking about weight loss goals, athletic condition goals, whatever goals. And I do seem to write about weight loss a lot lately for a guy who doesn't really think weight is the thing we should be primarily focused on. Either way though, here's the thing; the purpose of these articles isn't to promote weight loss or to sell weight loss or whatever else.

The purpose is to protect people, right?

To protect people from the belief that there's some certain diet that they need to be on to lose weight, some certain choices of foods that they need to avoid or else they'll get fat, some reason they should have been able to stick to some awful dietary regime despite being hungry and miserable... and in specific reference to what is considered "evidence based" in online fitness & coaching cliques, to protect people from the idea that they can reasonably be expected to heavily and indefinitely restrict caloric intake to extreme levels of deficit, or that this would actually be conducive to best condition.

Particularly in the context described above, the term "evidence based" as been so abused over the past few years that is become virtually meaningless. Everyone thinks they're evidence based, no matter how little evidence there actually is that supports their position, no matter how much evidence refuting their position which they dismiss arbitrarily or simply refuse to acknowledge... some seem to think that simply by considering themselves "evidence based" people that they're automatically right about everything despite their total inability to provide a compelling argument in support of their opinion, or an intelligent thought on anything else, either.

Now, when you're talking about weight loss or you are talking about lean athletic condition... here are some facts I don't think you can dispute;
Individuals have been successful via a variety of approaches, but not by just one particular approach to the exclusion of all others.

Despite this, no approach that exists has a good track record of success, especially "long term" success in weight loss without weight regain.
In fact, according to the International Journal Of Obesity; “it is now well established that the more people engage in dieting, the more they gain weight in the long-term.”

So... everyone on social media is an expert on weight loss, but no one (well, relatively few people) is actually losing weight successfully. Everyone seems to want to 'splain what everyone else should be doing, and what every dietitian, nutritionist, GP & other health professional and their respective organisations should be recommending for weight loss.

Here's the thing; if there's no approach that exists with a proven track record of resulting in long term, sustained weight loss... arguing in favour of ANY approach is not being "evidence based" no matter how many times you use the phrase or how many links you drop.

The only argument on the subject that is evidence based is to point out the futility of attempting to force people en masse on to any dietary regime based on restriction, deprivation &/or the omission of any particular food choices.

Any evidence based approach should have a good outcome, but if you scroll back up a little to my beautiful flow chart, you'll see that somewhere in between "evidence based approach" and "best long term outcome" there's some unknown point at which it all breaks down and doesn't quite work out the way it is supposed to.

So, really the discussion isn't "Evidence Based vs Emotional Intelligence" so much as it should be about applying some emotional intelligence to an evidence based approach. Because as per the flow chart above, when you leave the emotional intelligence part out of your coaching strategy, all you're really heading for is a great big question mark.

Any form of intelligence seems to be in short supply amongst humans these days, but emotional intelligence might be the rarest form of all.
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