Jaymee Ong, TV Host, 36
TV personality and AXN’s eBuzz Jaymee Ong loves to get all hot and sweaty. This may have something to do with an active childhood where her Australian mum always told her to “go play outside”.
“My younger sister and I were constantly on the go – skating, riding bikes or running around in the backyard. At school I took part in junior athletics, netball and ballroom dancing, and when I became a model that passion progressed into regular visits to the gym,” shares Jaymee.
Jaymee doesn’t need a personal trainer. She designs her own exercise plan and diligently sticks to it. She is natural and Californian dreamy, not to mention seriously fit. At 36, and just four months after having her second baby (a boy, Harrison), she’s lost 14 kg of pregnancy weight and regained the body of a 20-something dancer, which she tells us is down to yoga and running with her five-year-old daughter Juliet on her bike.
“I was 18 years old when I first tried yoga and after just one class, I fell in love.”
Yoga is so challenging on so many levels, and there are so many variations to suit the way I’m feeling. I feel grounded and calm after each practice, and it really does not just build physical strength, but internal strength too,” says the Singapore Permanent Resident.
The strict regime hasn’t been without interruptions. “I aim to exercise at least four times a week, but sometimes that’s a bit ambitious with a newborn. I’d do some yoga, follow a DVD by celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson and take the kids out for a walk. Some days I can only manage 20 minutes, other days, an hour and that feels like a bonus,” she says.
What is your secret to a great body?
“Just eat well and move. I’m not super strict with my diet, but I’m balanced. If I’m going out for dinner or craving pizza, I’ll have a salad for lunch. I am a sucker for cheese and wine and my family eats at
Jumbo at least once a month (I love their salted fish fried rice!). I’ll put in a little extra time on the treadmill the next day to compensate for all my indulgence.”
How do you find time to exercise?
“Scheduling it. I try to do it first thing in the morning so it’s out of the way, plus it fuels and energises me for the rest of the day. There are times when Harrison is burbling in his bouncer at the end of my yoga mat, but if I get 20 minutes done, I feel so much better.”
What’s your best workout tip?
“Set realistic time frames and stick with it. If that means 20 minutes three times a week then do that. If you do manage extra then that’s a bonus. Make sure you do something you enjoy, and if you can, get your kids involved. Juliet loves riding her bike alongside me, and Harrison is intrigued with me doing yoga. I think it’s great for kids to understand how important being healthy is.”
Kareen Lai, 33, founder of Mums In Sync
Former PE (Physical Education) teacher Kareen Lai was at her wits end with her weight after piling on 30 kg while expecting a pair of twins in 2010. So after delivering her children, a boy and a girl, she tried a slimming package, jamu massages and a gym programme.
“These burnt a deep hole in my pocket but not an inch off my belly,” says the active 33-year-old.
She engaged an online coach with programmes to teach her to eat correctly and do the right exercises. The hard work paid off and within a year, Kareen lost the excess 30 kg she had gained, becoming lighter than her pre-pregnancy weight.
Five years later today, Kareen still stands at a svelte 56 kg, runs a small business (aptly named Mums In Sync) that provides fitness and nutrition programmes to help mummies get into tip-top shape, has written a book on weight loss, and enjoys rock climbing. No wonder she’s a poster girl for active parenting.
New knowledge is what Kareen has developed: Through her own experience and two US-based certifications for physical training and women health. Recently, she also spent a week in Canada with an acclaimed women physiotherapist Diane Lee to get a deeper understanding of the female physiology and health, especially after pregnancy. She’s also boning up on benefits of a plant-based diet and is one step closer towards busting fad diets like Atkins and high-protein-low-carb.
What’s your advice on getting rid of a jubbly belly?
“By eating the right foods and moving a lot. You don’t have to do many crunches or join a gym. Start by incorporating long walks into your day, and get up on your feet after every 45 minutes of sitting down. You also need to eat clean, drink two litres of water a day, and avoid processed food.”
What’s your opinion on fad diets like high protein and low carbs?
“They cause more harm than good. I went on the high-protein-low-carb diet for two months to prepare for the Singapore Fitness Model in 2014. It helped me lean down, but research has shown this is not a sustainable weight loss method and can cause cardiovascular diseases and high cholesterol in the long haul.”
THE BEST MOTIVATION COMES FROM…
“The people you hang out with. If you’re surrounded by gourmands who are always on the hunt for wanton noodles and bak chor mee, you will find it very challenging to make a change.”
Citira Corrigan, 34, boot camp manager
When, three years ago, Citira Corrigan suffered a back injury, it left her inert, checked out of life and binge eating for comfort – she gained 10 kg.
“I was in a very dark place after the injury. I felt lost and suffered from physical and mental pain. I couldn’t exercise because it hurt too much,” says the 34-year-old Australian who’s half Indonesian and lives in Singapore with her husband and three children aged 15, 10, and nine.
One night, a few friends visited Citira at home and they built vision boards with images and words to illustrate their ideal lives. That seemed to put everything in perspective and Citira decided to take her health more seriously.
Over the next six months, Citira changed her diet and resumed exercising (thanks to physiotherapy), eating “clean foods” and incorporating high intensity workouts and gradually building up her core strength (to protect her back) to lose 10 kg.
“I discovered that good nutrition and exercise is the most effective form of anti-depressant.”
With a new-found body and confidence, Citira went back to work as a boot camp manager with her former employer, UFIT. She now runs UFIT’s burgeoning outdoor boot camp programme to help women shape up. “Staying fit should be important to everyone – man, woman or child,” says Citira, “I feel joy when I eat well and train right. I definitely feel four years younger than my actual age.”
EXERCISE IS LIKE…
“Brushing your teeth. You’ve got to do it until it feels natural, or feels unnatural not to do it. Make it a habit to do something every day, even if it’s just taking a walk. Not many people realise how effective it is.”
A FAST AND EFFECTIVE WORKOUT IS…
“High-intensity interval training (HIIT). Rather than a long boring jog, try quick sprint intervals. Sprint for 10-20 secs, then jog and recover for 1-3 mins. Repeat this cycle 5-6 times for short and effective 15-20 minute HIIT workout. Mix this up with yoga and Pilates during the week, or just run around and play with your kids.”
AVOID FOODS WITH…
“Sugar, including fruits. Your body doesn’t know the difference between a fruit and a chocolate bar. Increase good fats like avocado, coconut oil, and olive oil. If more than a third of your diet comes from packets, something is wrong.”
For more body confidence tips and advice, read 10 Celebs Reveal Their Body Confidence Tips And Tricks, 5 Amazing Things You Never Knew About Your Body and It’s Time We Stopped Body-Shaming Our Sisters: Jennifer Aniston And More Celebs Speak Out.
Text: Sylvia Ong
Photos: Chia Yoon Nyen