How to get on your mat, even when you really don’t want to…

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We all struggle with our motivation.  Yes – even me!  I love pilates, I love what it does for my body and how it makes me feel, but there are some days where I run out of steam too – just like you! 

But here’s the thing with motivation…research shows that motivation often FOLLOWS action, not the other way around.

But what does that mean in practice?

It means you don’t need to feel good to get going, you need to get going to give yourself a chance at feeling good!

It’s actually more important to get on the mat when you feel like you’d really rather not because this is where you have the most opportunity to learn just how impactful moving your body for a short space of time can actually be.  

In turn, this can act as a powerful catalyst that can help to keep you going, even on the days where you feel least like it!

Today, I’m sharing 4 simple tricks to help you get on your mat when you’re really lacking motivation and inspiration…


1. Ask yourself, what’s your alternative to not getting on your mat?

On those challenging days, I’ll often consider what my alternative is to NOT moving. 

Usually it means just sitting, which brings with it a little bit of overthinking too and a feeling of on-going sluggishness. 

Maybe you’ve been there too?

Translated – it means I’m not really doing anything useful for my physical or mental wellbeing and am actually contributing to making myself feel worse by doing nothing.

Whether it’s 1 minute, or longer, here are some of the incredible ways your body benefits just by simply moving it:

  • You oil your joints which prevents stiffness in your body (and lowers your risk of injury and back pain)
  • you increase your flow of oxygen.  Why does that matter?  Well oxygen is an essential ingredient of ENERGY!  It’s a process known as cellular respiration and it requires glucose and oxygen to create ATP (which is the physiological term for energy).
  • If you want to read more about how your body creates energy, then I’d really recommend you read this blog post by our wonderful TLC nutritionist, Moira.
  • movement helps keep your digestive system active – this is essential for getting rid of waste and detoxifying your body
  • it improves your circulation which can prevent things like blood clots (follow this link to try a quick standing pilates routine).  It’s also all up hill to your brain and movement helps pump blood upstream! 

Knowing these benefits makes it a bit counter intuitive to NOT take action wouldn’t you say?

See for yourself…

I always encourage my Lifetonic Club members to hit play on the shortest routine in their Bodytonic Library, which is a 7 minute pilates warm up routine, because 7 minutes is better than none and just look at how you stand to benefit!

You can try it for yourself here:

2. Rate your transformation

I’ve been busy rehabing my mum following two rounds of life saving colorectal surgery and we use a fatigue scale to work out how tired mum is, which then helps me work out the right rehab things for us to work on.

It’s brilliant and works really well because it’s just a simple metric!

Based on that, I created the Little Book of Pilates Progress, for Lifetonic Club members. This little book allows members to keep track of their pilates progress by measuring things like their flexibility, mobility and strength as well as their energy levels and how calm they feel.

They can also measure important aspects of their health that contribute towards their overall wellbeing, things like their key relationships, their personal growth, their finances even how much time they’re making for fun things in their life.

Because The Lifetonic Club uniquely doesn’t focus on the more traditional health and fitness measures like flat abs or what you weigh, it’s given us a much more holistic way to measure progress on (and off), the mat.

Making something tangible gives you a sense of achievement and accomplishment, which helps with motivation.

Being able to see the progress that I’m making with my health goals, and knowing that I’m more than likely going to feel better as a result, is a powerful way that gets me on my mat every time, so if you’re really struggling, I’d recommend you try something as simple as rating how you feel before and how you feel after your time on the mat.

photo of julie doing the teaser

3. Reward yourself

This is an EASY win that I love to do! 

Our brains LOVE reward!  Rewarding yourself for doing something is a proven way to help kick start a dopamine-driven feedback loop and when dopamine rises, so does our motivation to act.

It’s called Temptation Bundling and means that you can pair an action you want to do (watch an episode of your favourite netfix show), with an action you need to do (10 minutes of pilates).

Pick a reward that’s super attractive to you and you’ll instantly feel motivated to roll out your mat.

4. Double up on the positive self talk

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • “ I’m too busy, I’ll just do it tomorrow” (prioritising someone or something over yourself)
  • “I can’t really be bothered” (not viewing your health as important)
  • “I’ve missed 2 workouts already this week, what’s the point of doing something now? (seeking perfection)

Let’s be honest, when you’re low and lacking in motivation, the voice of the inner critic can be strong in helping you find those extra reasons to stay on the sofa!

It’s in these moments where I double up on my positive self talk (or the voice of my inner good-ness…).

This can be challenging when you’re lacking in motivation, because for every negative thought you have about yourself, research says you need to have 8 positive ones to counter it.

So I encourage you to be ready for those days by having a little bank of at least 8 positive affirmations that you can say kindly towards yourself on those off days. 

In The Lifetonic Club, we call them ‘mindtonics.’

Here’s my top 8 just to help get you going:

“I’m the CEO of my own health”

“Little things add up over time”

“I don’t have to be perfect”

“my health is worth making time for”

“I can change the way I feel”

“I want to set a good example for my children”

“it’s ok not not always feel amazing – there always up and down days”

“I am grateful for my body and all it is capable of”

“10 minutes is better than none”

8 Mindtonics to cultivate kindness towards yourself

Remember – looking after your health on the bad days is actually often what motivates you to get on the mat on your good days.

I hope you found this blog post helpful. Let me know if you’ll try any of the points above and if they work for you!

Love Julie x


Tiny Tonic Take Away

You don’t need to feel good to get going, you need to get going to give yourself a chance at feeling good!


Ready to put some of these tips into practice?

Then download my FREE 5 Simple Everyday Pilates Exercises below!

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Meet Julie

Hi, I’m Julie, owner of Ostara Pilates and blogger at Ostara Living. Here you’ll find pilates workouts, practical resources and inspiration to help you build a realistic wellness routine. I’ll show you how to prioritise your health in ways that fit neatly into your day and easily into your life. No shame, guilt or crazy diets, just simple & stress free ways to take care of yourself and feel great every single day! Read More…

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