I also wanted to weigh in on the exercise piece because I have been able to turn exercise into something I love and look forward to (as opposed to something I used to make myself do!) and it’s made a huge difference in my mental and physical health. Changing my MOTIVATION was the most important thing for me when making an exercise program stick! By noticing the immediate benefits and focusing on those, exercise became so much less of a chore. My biggest motivations are: the mood lift that I get immediately after which generally lasts a good chunk of the day and seeing measurable improvements in my strength/abilities (i.e. I can now lift 10 lbs instead of 12, walk 1.5 miles in 20 minutes when it used to take me 22 minutes, or do 30 jumping jacks in a row instead of 25….)
When I focus on wanting to feel good and how good I will feel after, I WANT to go. The reward is tangible and almost immediate. It also changes my frame of mind during the exercise… I’m not thinking that I need to go harder to work off that piece of cake or because I am too heavy. I’m thinking I need to get my heart rate up higher so I can get those endorphins!
I also found some very supportive and fun communities of women in my area at local fitness studios, which makes it fun to go to classes where you can build off others’ energy, but that is a bonus and not important for starting out. I hope some part of this is helpful 🙂