Fighting fit at 40 plus

Photo by Ben Myburgh

Being fit, at any age, is not only important for your physical health but also your overall mental wellbeing. The most important thing is that you feel engaged with life and find meaning in what you are doing. That’s why we teamed up with online fitness coach, Sarah Palmer, to help motivate you to get (and stay) fit.

A mother of three and passionate gym-goer who specialises in creating personalised meal plans and training plans for home or gym workouts, Sarah has changed the lives of countless women in and around Durban purely by motivating and driving them from a wellness and self-love perspective.

Photo by Ben Myburgh

“I’ve always been active but, as most of us will agree, when we have kids we tend to let things slide. After the birth of my third child, I woke up to the fact that I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my 30s and I wasn’t happy. I knew I had to do something about it and that famous “there is no time for gym” excuse was wearing thin, so I got stuck in at home on an exercise bike, cranked up the tension and followed a supplement brand’s meal plan. My weight dropped, my fitness improved, I became a regular at my local gym and started following fitness athletes across the globe. I hired online coaches, participated in challenges and even studied personal training. I was searching for that perfect body.”

When a few medical issues, followed by a car accident in July last year, left Sarah out of action and unable to drive, she was forced to take a step back and re-evaluate her life. It was then that she realised there was no such thing as the perfect body, and that being healthy, physically well and mentally happy in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by her family, was what was most important to her.

“I had to pick myself up and start over. There was no giving up. I have a family and I have ME. And to look after them, I needed to start by taking care of myself.”

And that’s exactly what Sarah did. By healing herself and sharing her journey with others on social media, she inherited a following of people just like her, who wanted and needed to uplift themselves through better eating habits and little lifestyle changes. Thriving on being an inspiration to others and helping them succeed in their own personal growth, she founded Sarah Palmer Trading, an online coaching portal (national and international) designed to help people learn that healthy eating doesn’t mean ‘diet’ or ‘starve’ – it is simply a lifestyle change that can be incorporated into the family as a whole.

“I was born with glutes and I’ve learnt to embrace them. Women want curves, but don’t know how to build muscle, so I make it my mission to guide them, in the comfort of their own homes, in a way that works for them.”

“I have a very positive outlook on life and  believe self-love, self-care and self-esteem all work together.”

Online Coaching varies from coach to coach, especially from a contact perspective, but what is generally the same is that you get an individualised meal plan and exercise plan suited to your specific needs. For Sarah though, it’s not only about the physical condition of the body, she also advocates for the importance of mental health. The whole purpose behind what she does is to help create stronger family bonds, and she does so by running challenges designed to incorporate meals that the entire family can also eat (with slight variations) and involving home workouts that moms with children can do.

“Once we have established a healthy relationship with food and fun exercises, we work on self-image and self-love through weekly check-ins during which we also talk about achievements, changes and what comes next. One-on-one coaching is slightly different and specific to the goal of each individual I work with, however I still focus on the importance of mental health and self-image because without it, we cannot truly thrive.”

“Once upon a time my motivation used to come from other fitness athletes. Now it comes from the person I look at in the mirror each day, as well as the people I work with every day.”

“The hard work and dedication they put in makes me proud and more determined to help others as well as to continue looking after ME. That’s how it should be for all of us.”

Sarah says the hardest part about getting fit is getting started. So ask yourself the following:

Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle?
Do you want to have more energy?
Do you want to feel good about yourself again?

“Most people start because they want to lose weight, but they end up learning long-term lifestyle health and exercise habits. One habit we should all adopt is that of drinking more water. If you don’t like water, add a slice of lemon. Our bodies are so in need of water and should never be deprived of it. Forgetting and having no time are not excuses.”

How many days a week you should exercise, and for how long, varies from person to person. Obviously, you will get better results if you work out five days a week with a meal plan, but there really is no set rule. One day a week for 45 minutes is better than nothing.

“Always remember that your body needs adequate nutrition and fuel in order to function naturally. Weight loss is created by being in a calorie deficit. By adding exercises, we are also burning energy (calories). So nutrition and exercise go hand in hand. Everything in moderation and consistency is key. There is no fast way, short cut or quick fix.”

If your goal is to stay in shape some of the best exercises you can do (and this is especially for women over 40) are:

Planking – an isometric core strength exercise that involves maintaining a position similar to a push-up for the maximum possible time.

Squats* – a strength exercise in which you lower your hips from a standing position and then stand back up.

Deadlifts – a weight training exercise in which a loaded barbell or bar is lifted off the ground to the level of the hips, and then lowered to the ground.

Lunges* – where one leg is positioned forward with the knee bent and foot flat on the ground while the other leg is positioned behind it.

Tricep Dips* – one of the most basic, but effective bodyweight exercises that targets the tricep muscle. If you don’t have a bench, you can always do them on the ground. Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows to keep tension on your triceps and off your elbow joints. Slowly bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle.

Bicep Curls – these are usually performed with dumbbells or kettlebells in each hand, holding the bells close to the body with elbows tucked in, and performing a full curl.

Treadmill or Cycle pre gym session cardio

NOTE: Always stretch or do a light set to warm up.

*Depending on the experience, you can add weights to these exercises.

If you are not a gym-goer, here are a few useful home workouts you can do on your own:


Tricep Dips




Burpees – a full body exercise performed in four steps. Begin in a standing position. Move into a squat position with your hands on the ground. Kick your feet back into a plank position, while keeping your arms extended. Return your feet into squat position. Stand up.

NOTE: If you don’t have access to cardio equipment try a skipping rope

For those who are keen, Sarah will be running an eight-week online home workout challenge. To get in touch, contact her on 078 099 9880.