Introduction to Flow Intelligence Theory

Updated: Jan 25, 2021

Reading Time: 6-8 minutes

Over the years, one of the main challenges I have had whilst working in the fitness and health industry is how heavily it relies on objective data. Throughout the years I found that often when using the data, be it writing programs, hitting macros or calculating ideal recovery, we can often miss the actual, whole, human being standing right in front of us.

It wasn't that the data wasn't or isn't important, there was just something dry about looking at the person in front of me as merely an object of information.

This really came to light early on in my career when I grew a little tired of having the same conversation with the same people every 6 months. These were good people who had families and full-time jobs. They knew, objectively, what to eat and how to train, but for some reason, they would find themselves getting results, losing results, getting results, losing results and so on and so on.

That's when it occurred to me that the fitness industry created/upheld long term psychological (subjective) issues, provided short term physical (objective) solutions to generate repeat customers.

People were pursuing short term results and sacrificing long term progression.

So I started to search beyond the so-called 'data'. Search for what I was missing in the way I was working and dealing with the individuals I came in contact with.

I soon realised that for years, I was only seeing half the truth.

A handful of years later and I recall a conversation with a client struggling with losing weight. Over the years, it would be normal to go back over their goals, change their program, go over what their diet should look like and even offer different habits for making small changes when it came to their diet.

This all changed for me when talking to a client. It became apparent they kept weight on to be unappealing to the opposite sex. Which, for most people, is the opposite of why they train, or so they think. But for this person, it meant that they couldn't be physically harmed if they weren't in a relationship with a male.

In a traditional fitness model, it is common to see the overeating as the problem causing the weight to stay on. In reality, for this individual, keeping weight on was a solution to a problem they were barely conscious of.

It is easy to fall into the camp that someone just isn't committed or motivated when in reality, the individuals meaning structures were setting off alarm bells at the thought of being appealing to the opposite sex. These alarm bells (in the past) kept this person safe. Here we were trying to overwrite them with motivation, goals and a diet plan…

Another example is a lady in her 40's who would only snack on "sometimes foods" in private. So private that if working with a nutritional coach, the coach would have no idea about these particular snacks. When this client was younger, she would sometimes drive across town with her mother to the closest McDonalds to get an ice cream cone. A treat they would share. One particular memory she had was moments after they had left the McDonalds her mother turned to her and said: "let's go get another one, it can be our treat, no one needs to know."

What adds more complexity to this issue is the clients desire to be closer to her mother when she was younger. More or less, she had associated snacking with the nurturing she so deeply craved from her mother.

Neither of these ladies would be considered special populations or high risk. They are successful and normal functioning adults that you would meet at dinner parties or similar. Seeing these examples and many, many more (including my own), I searched for answers beyond the data.

In the early days of my search, I may have neglected the objective data for the sake of attempting to uncover and understand what was really going on with people. To begin with, this helped me unearth many misdiagnosed problems and even help forge out paths of development that allowed people to move past the conditional worth and esteem that they have built by leaning on data to decide how "good", "happy" or "healthy" they were.

This helped a lot of people begin to understand their 'why' behind their 'what'. Whether that be late-night snacks, up and down motivation for training, to never really feeling good enough no matter what they achieved.