By Val McKinley
After I’m introduced to new vocabulary words, I will look them up. Then I’ll say, “I’ve just learned something new!” Zumba? Tiny Habits? Celebration? Let me define them for you.
Zumba® is Tiny Habits® Set to Music: An aerobic fitness program featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance and performed primarily to Latin American dance music. Zumba is an interval workout. The classes move between high-and low-intensity dance moves designed to get your heart rate up and boost cardio endurance.
Tiny Habits® : A “Tiny Habit” is a behavior you do at least once a day, takes you less than 30 seconds, and that requires little effort. Take a behavior you want to start doing and make it tiny. Find where it naturally fits in your life and nurture its growth.
Tiny Habit recipes are made up of an anchor moment, a new tiny behavior, and an instant celebration; A-B-C! After I…, I will B. Then, Celebrate!
Celebration: A way to tell ourselves that we’ve done a good job. When we celebrate, we fire off positive emotions. Celebration helps us achieve; to go beyond the minimum requirements. It’s how we wire in behavior and make it automatic. Celebration can be physical movement, music, phrases, visualization, or sound effects.
After my pre-Zumba timer goes off, I will pick up my workout clothes. Then, I’ll say, “I feel like dancing!”
The other day I realized why I was so attracted to both Zumba and Tiny Habits. They are both positive pursuits that have so much in common. No wonder I keep going back for more!!
In Tiny Habits, BJ Fogg explains that feeling good and feeling like you’re making progress are essential to growth and happiness. Bingo! Embedding many new Tiny Habits into my life over these last two years has definitely caused me to feel good about myself and the choices I’m making in my life. Zumba invigorates me. I’m making progress when I add arm movements to the footsteps. If the routine gets a bit complicated, I choose one part of my body to focus on and do that part.
After I master the leg movement, I will add part of the arm movement, and celebrate by saying “Yes!”
After I complete one dance without one pound weights, I will pick up my weights to do the next dance with them and celebrate by saying “That feels good!”
When we plant tiny habits, we keep the behaviors in our recipes very tiny for the days we don’t feel like doing much. On days we feel like doing more, we grow the behavior. After we do the behavior, we celebrate. This wires in the habit more quickly. For me, the celebration during Zumba is the music! It is an ongoing element that creates positive emotion and wires in the accompanying body movements almost effortlessly.
After I put my purse down at Zumba, I will put my earplugs in and say “I’m ready to move!”
After I start to chide myself for not getting all the moves down right away, I will look around at those who have had a stroke, brain surgery, or are overweight and will tell myself that showing up is the important thing. I’ll celebrate by saying “I am a person who practices self-care.”
After I berate myself for not getting all the moves, I will say to myself, “Be Kind!” and celebrate by saying “I’m proud of myself for showing up today.”
After the music starts, I will express gratitude for this day by focusing on the way my body moves to the music. The music is my celebration!
After Zumba class, I will appreciate the positivity and camaraderie of the participants that I witnessed that hour. I’ll celebrate the experience.
Because Zumba is something I want to do, I feel I am making progress almost effortlessly. So it is with the habits that I have successfully planted in my life. These include: getting out of bed and expressing gratitude for the day, making my bed, doing the starter step of a plank, stretching while waiting for my water to heat in the microwave, choosing a job stick when I feel overwhelmed, and writing in my Gains journal every night after getting into bed.
The above habits all involve complex sequences of steps, just like the steps in Zumba. I have been able to incorporate complex sequences because I have started tiny and added to behaviors when I wanted to; thereby gaining confidence and success momentum over time. If I ever feel overwhelmed by emotions/life, I can always do the tiniest step to keep the behavior planted in my life. I am still remaining true to myself.
Lastly, both the Tiny Habits and Zumba communities embrace diversity! The groups share core values of acceptance, happiness, joy, enthusiasm, positivity and fun! Participation in either guarantees to be judgment free, to meet you where you’re at, to allow you to proceed at your own pace, and to help you do what you want to do!!
I encourage you to explore a form of movement that you enjoy-mine just happens to be Zumba- and the Tiny Habits Method. I hope that they hold the same attraction for you as they have for me.
If you’re looking for some ideas for habit recipes, I offer a few suggestions below. Self-love is such an important foundation for creating a life you want to live in. Some recipe examples* to habituate self-love:
*Don’t forget to add your own celebration
For more from Val McKinley, see her Tiny Habits course Creating Calm Within.