I work as a trainer and deal with people like your mother all the time so hopefully I can help.
The first thing is to determine if your mother is ready to change. If she is then you can help, if she’s not you need to get her to realize that something has to happen. So first let’s look at the possible stages of change that she’s in:
Five stages of change have been conceptualized for a variety of problem behaviours. The five stages of change are precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance. (http://www.uri.edu/research/cprc/TTM/StagesOfChange.htm)
Precontemplation is the stage at which there is no intention to change behaviour in the foreseeable future. Many individuals in this stage are unaware or underaware of their problems.
Contemplation is the stage in which people are aware that a problem exists and are seriously thinking about overcoming it but have not yet made a commitment to take action.
Preparation is a stage that combines intention and behavioural criteria. Individuals in this stage are intending to take action in the next month and have unsuccessfully taken action in the past year.
Action is the stage in which individuals modify their behaviour, experiences, or environment in order to overcome their problems. Action involves the most overt behavioural changes and requires considerable commitment of time and energy.
Maintenance is the stage in which people work to prevent relapse and consolidate the gains attained during action. For addictive behaviours this stage extends from six months to an indeterminate period past the initial action.
Now that you know where she is you need to know how to help her.
Precontemplation is best helped through education and consciousness raising. That is you need to help her realize that she needs to change, this is usually best accomplished through providing her with the appropriate info and helping her come to her own realization about her condition.
Contemplation is best helped through social support and goal setting. Help her to decide exactly what she wants to achieve, set goals and then help her determine the necessary processes to achieve them. Remember to use the SMART acronym, goals should be:
Preparation if you’re setting goals you’re already in this stage, just continue to help.
Action is the time she’ll need the most support and help to stick with her program, be there for her and try to remain non-judgemental.
So, now that you know where she is and how to help at each stage you need to determine how you’re going to help.
My suggestion is to read Berardi’s ““7 Habits”” article. Try to introduce each of the 7 points one at a time, with many of my clients I find this is the easiest way to help them change. The big key is to not overwhelm her with too much, try to keep it gradual and simple.
In terms of exercise you mentioned that she won’t go to a gym, at this stage that’s really not a big deal. Again, the key is to keep it simple, get her doing whatever she will do and help her. If you can get her out for a short walk once a week that’s better than nothing, twice a week is better than once a week. Remember, it’s about making gradual improvements not about revolutionizing her life all at once.
I hope this helps and if there’s anything else I can do feel free to let me know.