Liv-ing life to the fullest

Liv-ing life to the fullest

May 8, 2022   Return

If there’s one person who is the epitome of brains and beauty, it has got to be 29 year-old Liv Lo. Her statuesque figure, exquisite facial features (thanks to her mixed Taiwanese and Italian heritage), flawless skin and legs that seem to go on forever are enough to make anyone swoon in admiration. That is why it comes as no surprise that the Taiwanese-born lass has had phenomenal success as a fashion model in Japan – something most girls could only dream of. In fact, her modeling career was so successful that as many as 20,000 fans would turn up at events in Japan just to catch a glimpse of her. Such is the power of beauty, isn’t it?

Well, not quite. It takes more than physical attributes to be a successful, regardless of how beautiful one is. “There are millions of people with good looks. There will always be someone taller than you, younger than you, thinner than you,” Liv says. So, beauty is just half of the equation? “Definitely. Not everyone has the confidence, intelligence or toughness to make it in the modeling industry. You really have to know yourself, recognise what you are good at, learn how to amplify your traits and of course, understand the market.” Words of wisdom, indeed.

The sky’s the limit

Elaborating on her modeling career, Liv recall, “Modeling wasn’t a dream of mine, actually. I was fortunate enough to have been scouted. I did very well in the modeling business so it became a full-time job for me almost immediately. With the money I earned, I moved out and bought property of my own. I did all this while supporting my family on a monthly basis. Eventually, I put myself through university,” she recalls. She may have had her first break when she was first discovered on the streets of Taiwan by a model scout but over the years, she has grown by leaps and bounds professionally. “I saw modeling as a career to take me where I wanted to go and I have never looked back since.”

Liv has modeled for so many brands that her list of clients seems almost exhaustive. They include Michael Kors, BMW, United Airlines, Maserati, Roberto Cavalli, H&M – and that’s just naming a few. But these days, you won’t find the Eurasian beauty splashed across magazine covers or sashaying down the runway anymore. “I had a wonderful modeling career, but I wanted to excel beyond being just another pretty face and walking the catwalk. The change wasn’t easy initially and has taken me several years to find my place in the industry. The transition, while challenging, has been ultimately rewarding. It’s the life that I have chosen and I’m definitely the happiest being able to work as television host and yoga instructor now,” she enthuses.

Aside from yoga lessons and hosting gigs, she has added acting to her already impressive resume. “Acting was something I dabbled in when I first arrived in Singapore. I was fortunate to get an established leading role in a top-rated show in Singapore.” So, has her extensive experience as a model helped with her acting chops? “Acting is completely different from modeling. I had to enroll in acting classes and work hard to memorise lines and to flesh out my on-screen character.” For a taste of Liv’s acting, do check out Singapore shows such as ‘Point of Entry’.

Passion for fashion

Although Liv has left her modeling days behind her, passion for fashion is just something runs in her blood. She recently collaborated with Singapore’s leading online fashion store on her first ever sportswear collection. “I helped design the collection purely from the desire to provide girls with affordable and aesthetically pleasing yoga wear. I’ve wanted to create a yoga-friendly apparel collection for a while now and have been a huge fan of Love, Bonito since moving to Singapore. I was talking to a friend once day and when I told her about my interest to start an active wear line, she suggested that I speak to Viola who is the founder of Love, Bonito. This was over a year ago from today. Thankfully, Viola loved my idea – and Liv4LB was born!”

Liv describes her collection as “flattering, comfortable and flexible”. Aside from practising yoga, she runs, bikes and practises HIIT so there was how she got her inspiration for her line. “I wanted to be able to wear these pieces for whatever exercise I wanted to do. That’s why joggers and scuba necks are also in the collection. To sum it up, my zest for life and desire for functional apparel (that didn’t look like the typical sportswear) inspired Liv4LB.”

Jill of all trades

Supermodel, television host, actress, entrepreneur and now, fashion designer – is there anything Liv Lo cannot do? This Jill of all trades seems to have done it all but she is not one to rest on her laurels. “I am developing as a person and definitely not finished. I hope to have more design collaborations, more acting, more hosting, more shaking up of the health industry. I want to be a frontrunner for the health and fitness industry,” she shares candidly.

With so many feathers in her cap, it begets the question: how does she find that elusive balance amidst it all? “Well, every day is different. I plan each days around my tasks. Some weeks can be hectic while others not so busy. It depends on my projects and the season of events. I don’t find it stressful at all because ultimately, this is what I want. It all comes from me – hence, naturally, I’m able to keep up. I savour every little bit of who I am and what I do.”

Staying fit and healthy also certainly helps with things. “I love working out. I also cook for myself, at least two meals a day. I’m a huge foodie. I enjoy learning about nutrition such as what kinds of food suits my body and lifestyle; likewise, avoiding what doesn’t,” she says.

Living her dreams

Looking back on her life, Liv says, “If there was one piece of advice I could give my younger self, it would be this: all that you want, you will have in due time. Looking back, there was so much that I wanted – and I wanted them immediately. I wasn’t always happy and at times, confused about what was good for me or what I wanted to do. But in the end, all it took was time. Time to learn about myself, time to develop my abilities step by step and time to achieve my dreams.”

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Practical Crime Safety

Practical Crime Safety

May 8, 2022   Return

Shamir Rajadurai   Crime Safety Specialist,

Shamir Rajadurai, a Crime Safety Specialist has a 2nd DAN (Degree) Black Belt in Taekwondo and is a three-time gold medallist. Even with that experience, he believes that fighting back is never the best solution.

He chooses the concept of breakaway as opposed to fighting back because our life is more important than our belongings. Please remember that our belongings are secondary.

With permission from the authorities, he and his colleagues interviewed imprisoned criminals to find out how they committed their crimes. The following are some of things he learned.

Three important steps

The first step in crime prevention is to maintain a distance between you and your attacker. The further away you are from your attacker, the safer you are. From Mr Rajadurai’s conversations with criminals, he found that most thieves carry knives, not guns. So, they may not be able to hurt you if you keep a safe distance from them.

Secondly, you must identify potentially dangerous situations instead of potential criminals, as it is impossible to recognize potentially aggressive criminals. You are never going to be able to tell aggressive criminals apart from  non-aggressive ones. So, it is better to avoid getting into dangerous situations in the first place.

Thirdly, learn to defend yourself in a dangerous situation.

Safety tips

How to detect a two-way mirror in changing rooms or washrooms: Put your finger on the glass. If there is a gap between your fingernail and its reflection, it’s a real mirror. If there is no gap between your fingernail and its reflection, it’s a fake two-way mirror. This tip is useful to avoid getting caught in situations in which you may be spied upon as you are changing in a dressing room or using the toilet.

Escaping from your attacker: If someone grabs you, the first thing to do is to scream as loudly as you can. Sometimes, your attacker will step back temporarily, allowing you the chance to break free and distance yourself.

The safest way to carry your handbag: Wearing your handbag on your shoulder is the safest way to hold it. Do not sling your handbag across your shoulder, as you risk being dragged across the ground if the robber fails to cut the strap cleanly. Do not be complacent even if you feel that you are holding your handbag properly and away from the traffic flow – snatch thieves informed Mr Selvadurai that, if they wanted to snatch a handbag, there is always a way to do so!

When driving: Do not leave your handbag on the front passenger seat because the robber may see your bag clearly and target you. Windows protected with a security tint can still be dismantled in a few seconds with the right tool. So, keep your handbag below the front passenger seat instead.

When parking: Whenever possible, reverse park your car so you can see the road in front of you and  spot anyone approaching you on bike or on foot.

When in a restaurant: Never leave any of your valuables like your wallet or hand phone on the table or in your back pocket.

What to do during a possible carjacking: When a car knocks from the back with very little force, you must be suspicious of a carjacking. Stop your car at the side, stay inside and quickly take down the number plate of the vehicle that knocked into you. Wait in your car for the person to approach you. Do not wind down your car window more than 2 cm, as anything more will make it easy for anyone to pull down the window and attack you. Tell the person that you will discuss it at the police station, and meet him or her within the compound of the police station.

If you notice that your vehicle number plate is missing, make a police report it is because it may have been stolen and used in a robbery. This might implicate you so you must report this to the police

When a police officer stops you: You have the right to politely ask for the police officer’s ID card before you show him or her your MyKad or driving licence. To confirm the ID is genuine, call the police hotline and ask to verify the police officer’s number, which is very difficult to fake. The police officers who man roadblocks usually carry IDs that are yellow in colour.

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Her Heart Beats Bravely

Her Heart Beats Bravely

May 8, 2022   Return

“Her parents should have aborted her!” “Shoot her!” “Kill it with fire!”

These were just some of the hecklings present in the comment section of a YouTube video called Ugliest Woman in the World. Lizzie Velasquez was only 17 when she clicked on the video and realized, to her horror, that she was the woman being mocked in the video.

It was a miracle that Velasquez survived childbirth, according to the doctors. She has a very rare form of neonatal progeroid syndrome (she is one of the two known persons who have it). It makes her age faster than normal. She eats up to 8,000 calories a day, and yet she has never weighed more than 28 kg. Velasquez is also blind in one eye.

Being called hurtful names was nothing new for Velasquez, who is now 23. At school, she was called “grandma” or “skinny bones” because of her thinness. Being made the target of mockery on YouTube, however, left her crushed.

She said, “It was a long process of being really sad, then being really angry, then saying, ‘I need to take this into my own hands. How can I turn it around?’” And turn things around, she did.

“I taught myself everything that I know about speaking via the Internet and YouTube,” she said in an interview with ABC News. To improve herself, she studied the presentation styles and mannerisms of successful motivational speakers.

In December 2013, Velasquez unveiled a video on TEDx to tell her story and explain how she would never let her bullies define who she was. It was an instant viral smash, reaching millions of people who offered support – becoming a source of inspiration and strength for victims of bullying, many of whom were moved to share their own stories. Notably, the video received more than twice the hits of the original Ugliest Woman in the World video.

This was only the first step in a long but rewarding journey for Velasquez. She became an advocate for victims of bullying and even lobbied for an anti-bullying legislation at Capitol Hill. She is also very active on digital media, working with Tumblr on the “Post It Forward” campaign to promote compassion and decry bullying. When asked how she does it, she credits her faith in God. “It’s been my rock through everything; merely having the time to be alone to pray to God and knowing He’s there for me,” she says. “Even when it seems like things will never get better in the toughest times, if you have faith and continue pushing, you can eventually get through anything.”

McKenna Biliti, 15, is one of many victims of bullying who found strength from Velasquez’s story. When she happened to bump into Velasquez one day, she broke down in tears. “I just told her that she’s one of the main reasons that I’m still here today and she’s helped me through so much without even realizing it,” she recalled.

You can find out more about Lizzie Velasquez via her documentary A Brave Heart, which was released in September earlier this year. .

References: 1. ABC News. Available at 2. Breathe Cast. Available at 3. People. Available at 4. Variety. Available at

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Keira Knightley… Begins Again

Keira Knightley… Begins Again

May 8, 2022   Return

That sweet smile of Michelle Monaghan’s has charmed many hearts. She is, after all, famous for flicks such as Mission Impossible III and Ghost Protocol. With a calibre like Michelle’s, you would think she truly has nothing to worry about.  But, that is not true at all. There is a battle this American star has been fighting, albeit secretly. And, it is a battle against skin cancer, melanoma.

Be safe, be protected

The “Slip, Slop, Slap” slogan can never be truer. This slogan, made to increase awareness about the importance of sun protection against skin cancer development is a hit in Australia, even in the present days. And like many other Australians, Michelle’s husband, Peter White, is well aware about sun protection and melanoma.

“A few years ago I had a mole on the back of my calf and my husband, Peter White, was adamant that I get it checked. In Australia, they’re very aware of skin cancer. I finally went and it was skin cancer,” said Michelle.  The back of the calf, where Monaghan had hers, is one of the areas often overlooked when checking for mole abnormalities. Therefore, it is important to have a yearly mole examination with a dermatologist, especially in “hidden” areas such as the scalp and inside the ears.

“I had quite a chunk taken out of my leg. I’m so grateful he noticed it. He has a keen eye –I wonder what other imperfections he’s noticing!” Michelle jokingly added.

Skin cancer is prevalent in the United States and melanoma is the deadliest form of them all, with more than 76,000 people diagnosed with it. To increase the awareness for skin cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society encourages people to look for shade, wear a hat, a pair of sunglasses and apply sunscreen whenever being out in the sun. Be sure to select sunscreens that are of broad spectrum protection (able to protect against UVA and UVB rays) and those with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

The battle against skin cancer has left an impression on Michelle. She is now more alert about cancer and regretted her smoking stints. “I smoked for almost 10 years. I really regret that. Thankfully, I came out on the other side. I hope my lungs are repairing themselves now”, Michelle said.

That aside, being a mother of two has encouraged Michelle to aim for a healthy lifestyle. She has even rounded up the whole family to do the same. “For the first time, I thought about my well-being. Now I’m trying to instil healthy eating habits in my daughter, so by default my husband and I are eating healthier,” Michelle noted, adding that hiking is her favourite type of workout.



American Cancer Society. Available from

Everyday Health. Available from

Mail Online. Available from

Medical Daily. Available from

People. Available from

Sun Smart. Available from

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Surviving Melanoma

Surviving Melanoma

May 8, 2022   Return

That sweet smile of Michelle Monaghan’s has charmed many hearts. She is, after all, famous for flicks such as Mission Impossible III and Ghost Protocol. With a calibre like Michelle’s, you would think she truly has nothing to worry about.  But, that is not true at all. There is a battle this American star has been fighting, albeit secretly. And, it is a battle against skin cancer, melanoma.

Be safe, be protected

The “Slip, Slop, Slap” slogan can never be truer. This slogan, made to increase awareness about the importance of sun protection against skin cancer development is a hit in Australia, even in the present days. And like many other Australians, Michelle’s husband, Peter White, is well aware about sun protection and melanoma.

“A few years ago I had a mole on the back of my calf and my husband, Peter White, was adamant that I get it checked. In Australia, they’re very aware of skin cancer. I finally went and it was skin cancer,” said Michelle.  The back of the calf, where Monaghan had hers, is one of the areas often overlooked when checking for mole abnormalities. Therefore, it is important to have a yearly mole examination with a dermatologist, especially in “hidden” areas such as the scalp and inside the ears.

“I had quite a chunk taken out of my leg. I’m so grateful he noticed it. He has a keen eye –I wonder what other imperfections he’s noticing!” Michelle jokingly added.

Skin cancer is prevalent in the United States and melanoma is the deadliest form of them all, with more than 76,000 people diagnosed with it. To increase the awareness for skin cancer prevention, the American Cancer Society encourages people to look for shade, wear a hat, a pair of sunglasses and apply sunscreen whenever being out in the sun. Be sure to select sunscreens that are of broad spectrum protection (able to protect against UVA and UVB rays) and those with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

The battle against skin cancer has left an impression on Michelle. She is now more alert about cancer and regretted her smoking stints. “I smoked for almost 10 years. I really regret that. Thankfully, I came out on the other side. I hope my lungs are repairing themselves now”, Michelle said.

That aside, being a mother of two has encouraged Michelle to aim for a healthy lifestyle. She has even rounded up the whole family to do the same. “For the first time, I thought about my well-being. Now I’m trying to instil healthy eating habits in my daughter, so by default my husband and I are eating healthier,” Michelle noted, adding that hiking is her favourite type of workout.



American Cancer Society. Available from

Everyday Health. Available from

Mail Online. Available from

Medical Daily. Available from

People. Available from

Sun Smart. Available from

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Still Having Those Election Blues?

Still Having Those Election Blues?

May 8, 2022   Return

Words Lim Teck Choon

May 2018 saw the making of a historical milestone in Malaysia’s political landscape, as the country witnessed a change of ruling power for the first time in 59 years. The road to this milestone had been a tumultuous one, however, and regardless of which side of the fence one may be on, some people may still experience or are starting to experience anxiety long after the election results. If you are one of these people, read on to find out what the experts have to say on getting over these election blues.

Last Year Was Quite Distressing for Some Folks in the US and UK


Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017, and even more than a year later, he remains a polarizing figure both in the USA and outside. In the months prior to his inauguration, he engaged in acrimonious debate with his political opponent Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the resulting fallout saw their supporters engaging in heated debate on social media. The mainstream media took sides, as did Hollywood, and dirt was flung from each side in a no-holds barred fight.

It was then mental health professionals noticed an unfortunate trend: more and more Americans were becoming anxious. The American Psychological Association (APA), in fact, noted that they saw the anxiety rates in the US increase for the first time in a decade!


Many people reported that they became addicted to following political news on social media, but doing so resulted in greater stress levels. As a result, many became less interested in work or school. Others became very worried about their livelihood and future. This phenomenon was not restricted to people who supported a certain political party: it affected people regardless of their political affiliation.

It did not end after the elections. As President Trump remains a controversial figure, everything he says and does is scrutinized by both social media and mainstream news, regardless of whether it is something he ate for dinner or his stance on some international crisis. Many Americans remain glued to these news, and continue to become mired in anxiety.

Similarly, the Brexit results in the UK caused a rise in anxiety among some people in the months leading to the referendum as well as the months after.

And This Year, Some Malaysians May be Affected Too 

Even before the election was announced, the Malaysian social media landscape was a fiery arena, as most of us could surely attest. Issues such as the economy, press freedom and religious tolerance saw an upsurge of fiery debates (and mudslinging) among users. Things became more heated when politicians entered the fray.

It’s not unlikely that quite a few of us may be affected by the constant furore that continues even to this day, as the new government begins to settle into its roles and responsibilities.

But Why is All This Anxiety Happening? 


Two words: social media. It is very easy to access Facebook, Twitter and other social media to follow and discuss election news. These platforms are constantly updated around the clock, and as a result, many people feel a compulsion to check for updates regardless of whether they are at work or at home. As a result, the election can become a constant fixture in our mind.

Often, the topics covered are divisive and contentious. There is also the tendency in social media to exaggerate or distort or spread outright false news and conspiracy theories. Since we are constantly thinking about, discussing or engaging in heated conversations on these topics, we can become overwhelmed and stressed out. Additionally, people often forgo social niceties because of the relative anonymity afforded by the Web, so we may find ourselves dealing with name-callers and trolls as well – all of which can only increase our anxiety.

Therefore, while in the past political talk may be limited to the people we meet and spend time with in real life – and hence, we can avoid them if we choose – it is now harder than ever to avoid these political discourses unless we completely log off from the Web. (And let’s face it, not many of us are willing to consider that very notion!)

We can become anxious about the future. Are the conspiracy theories true? Are our jobs going to be affected? Will the economy ever improve? Because everything becomes exaggerated and magnified in the microcosm of social media, it can be hard to stay rational after being exposed to the digital media circus for so long. Hence, anxiety.

However, don’t worry if we are affected. Here are five tips to ditch the blues and look to the future with a greater degree of optimism.

Know that you’re not “crazy”. Many people are affected by anxiety due to being bombarded with political news and rumours around the clock, and anxiety by its very nature does not have to be rational. Therefore, don’t be afraid to seek counselling if your anxiety is affecting your ability to carry out your daily routines as well as your relationships with other people.

Limit your exposure to social media. Limit your social media time to, say, 10 minutes a day. Temporarily unfollow news sources and Facebook friends who are constantly discussing politics (don’t worry, your friends won’t know that you have temporarily unfollowed them). If you are in WhatsApp groups that are devoted to such discussions, mute notifications if you do not want to leave those groups. If all this does not work, it may be worth considering cutting off these sources of your anxiety for the time being. Some people even delete their WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media apps on their phones.


You can try to minimize real life exposure too. For example, when reading newspapers, skip the local news section. Politely ask friends and family members to avoid talking about politics during get-togethers, if possible, as such talks can quickly turn into arguments.

Find common grounds instead of drawing battle lines. When friends and family members are unable to reconcile their different political beliefs, relationships may become fractured. Instead of demanding that the people around you conform to your beliefs, try to find and appreciate things that you have in common. Remember, your affection for these people is not rooted in political beliefs!

If you find yourself affected by the victory of a candidate that you do not support, look up that person’s political stances and see whether you agree with that person on anything. Finding common ground will make it easier to lose your bitterness and reduce your anxiety.

Think: what’s the worst thing that can happen? Write down the worst-case scenarios that you think can happen after the election results. Will you lose your job? Your house? Will your children find it harder to enter the universities of their choice?

Once you have listed down these scenarios, write down the chances you think they will happen. Also, should they come to pass, write down one or two things you can do to deal with them.

By the time you finish your list, you will realize that either the worst-case scenarios are very unlikely to happen, or that you have ways to deal with them and hence they aren’t as terrible as you initially assumed. Either way, you will find some relief from this exercise, and it will be easier to deal with your anxieties from thereon.

Dr Gurdeep Grewal
Consultant Psychiatrist

Anxiety is an adaptive physiological reaction to forewarn us of trouble or danger. This current political turbulence is certainly a major stressor to most adult Malaysians and some may find their levels of anxiety crossing over from normal to one that is pathological. So here is how to spot if the anxiety is excessive and when you need to seek help:

  • Feeling constantly “on edge” and unable to relax
  • Feelings of worry that are persistent and extend into other facets of daily life
  • Physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweaty palms, increased rate of breathing, dizziness or tingling sensations, dry mouth and nausea, to name a few
  • Inability to focus on other matters leading to deteriorating performance at work or school
  • Fatigue, muscle tension and difficulty falling asleep
  • Compulsive need to keep updating yourself on current news and getting irritable if this need is not met

A visit to a mental health professional to get counselling and to learn relaxation and adaptive behavioural techniques will usually suffice. In predisposed individuals, the stress and uncertainty of the current political landscape may precipitate a full-blown anxiety disorder that may warrant a trial of medication in addition to the techniques described above.

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The Reign of Jane

The Reign of Jane

May 8, 2022   Return

Words Hannah May-Lee Wong

When you first meet Jane Teoh, you are immediately taken aback by her height. She stands at a lofty 5’ 10” or 178cm – taller than most Malaysian men! – but looks surprisingly delicate. The lanky lass is only 20 years old, but has gone far in the world of pageants and modelling.

A true Malaysian beauty, Jane was born and bred in Penang. Her gentle and demure nature makes her easy to talk to, but under the gentle exterior is the discipline, determination and tenacity that brought her to where she is today.

She started as a part-time model in her hometown, but was bitten by the pageant bug after participating in her first one. “I was sent to Mongolia to compete,” she shares. “I wanted to expand my modelling career through these pageants, and Miss Universe is one of the most recognized. What better platform to get where I want to be?”

Behind the scenes

Some may think – how difficult can it be to compete in a beauty pageant? All you have to do is stand around and look pretty.

Well, there’s a lot more going on than most of us realize. Jane tells us about the rigorous preparation she and the other contestants had to go through. “The top 18 finalists had to go through a boot camp, which was televised as a reality TV show in October last year. Many challenges were crammed into a short span of two weeks. Our training sessions included photo shoots, video shoots, catwalks, personality challenges and more.

“There was also a lot of mental preparation involved. It gets very tiring because we are rushed here and there and we get little sleep. In order to get through those tightly scheduled activities, we had to stay physically and mentally fit.”

What about the Q&A part of the contest, we asked. Do pageant contestants know the questions they’ll be asked beforehand? Do they prepare their answers in advance? “The questions are given at random… they could ask anything,” Jane reveals. She chuckles as she tells us about having all the right things to say in her mind “so that when it comes out, it doesn’t sound stupid or ridiculous”.

“I prepared by researching the common questions, then writing down my answers and practicing them. But my answers are real… they are my real opinions. If my mind is in the right place, I can give honest answers that come from within.”

Looking good = being fit

Jane shares that after the boot camp, she realized that she needed to work out more. “About three months before the finals, I started upping my fitness,” she says. “I have personal trainers. And I go to the gym as often as I can.”  

Her workouts include HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and strength training. “For HIIT, I do burpees, push ups and mountain climber, which is like mountain climbing in the air. For strength training, I do lunges and more push ups, and also lift weights and dumbbells. The exercises are quite intense, but helpful in building up my stamina.”

Super strict diet? Not necessarily

Models and beauty queens are known to be strict with their diet; some even go to unhealthy extremes. Jane, however, does not go down that route. “I don’t count calories because deprivation methods don’t work for me. I need to have my desserts, but I don’t overeat. Portion control helps me eat what I want without going overboard.

“I make sure to have a balanced portion of nutrients, which include rice, meat, vegetables and fruits. Don’t skip on carbs, because you need carbs to function throughout the day. Currently, I’m trying to take more foods that are high in protein, to build lean muscles and help muscle recovery after workout sessions.

“Goji berries and cherry tomatoes are my favourite snacks! Sometimes I pack them with me so I can have them on the go. My breakfast must-haves are milk, cereal or avocados. When I’m in a rush, I grab a muesli bar.”

Being her beautiful best


According to Jane, her beauty regimen is a relatively simple one. “My beauty routines are quite basic, actually. I use toner, moisturizer and serum for the face. Eye serum is very important for me, especially after applying lots of eye makeup during the day. The eyes and lips are the most delicate parts of the face; therefore, I treat them with extra care. I always use a lip scrub and leave it on for a while before applying my lipstick. The must-haves in my makeup bag are my eyeshadow palette and lip balm. As for hair, I put on a hair mask every day. Occasionally, I’d go for professional hair treatment.”

Fun facts about Jane Teoh

  • She is the middle child; she has an older sister and a younger brother.
  • She is the tallest person in her family.
  • She eats healthy, but once in a while she treats herself to her guilty pleasure – hamburgers.
  • When it comes to dessert, she has a soft spot for ice cream.
  • She recently started playing the piano again.
  • She avoids sweet drinks and alcohol, and stays hydrated by drinking lots of plain water.
  • She finds travelling alone exciting and challenging and hopes to do it more.
  • Her hobbies include reading and listening to oldies.

Fame isn’t always pretty

The journey to winning the title of Miss Universe Malaysia was not an easy one, especially in the unpredictable (and sometimes cruel) space known as the Internet. Jane describes herself as shy and quiet, with just over 400 followers on Instagram. Today, she has 11,000. Inevitably, fame changes the way a person carries herself in public.

“When I first won, there was a large group of people who were very dissatisfied with the results. They were bashing me online, on my social media profile,” Jane recalls. “Some said ‘you’re ugly’ and ‘you don’t deserve this title’, others said even more hurtful things.”

She did the smart thing by simply not reacting. After some time, the public began to see how Jane continued to improve herself in preparation for joining the world stage. The negative comments have lessened and continues to fade, while support from her followers strengthens and grows.

The lesson she learned was that: “You can’t control what people say. As long as you’re positive about yourself and you’re confident, you’ll be ok. Look at the silver lining behind the cloud. The support I got from my family, my followers and my team really keeps me going.

“When I feel discouraged and need to give myself a boost, I would remind myself that this is what I want. I’ll tell myself that I’m here, I’ll do my best and make the most out of this year.”

Putting to good use her personal experience with nasty comments on social media, Jane joined other Malaysian celebrities in the “Sebar Fakta, Bukan Dusta” (Spread Truth, Not Lies) campaign held in April 2018 to raise awareness on cyberbullying and counter the spreading of fake news.

Next stop: going international

The future is bright for our girl from Penang. After she has established her career in modelling, Jane plans on completing her degree in accounting and finance. But first, she is set to represent our country in the international Miss Universe pageant later this year.

“I am definitely excited about the upcoming Miss Universe pageant,” she gushes. “I’m looking forward to that moment when I get on stage, on an international platform, and shout out “Malaysia!” 

Jane, we wish you all the best and look forward to watching you on the world stage.

In the spirit of a beauty pageant Q&A session, HealthToday prodded Jane with some deeper questions. (World peace, perhaps?)

Do you think beauty pageants are only representative of superficial beauty? What does true beauty mean to you?

No, I don’t think it’s superficial at all. It’s a platform to tell people who you are. True beauty to me is something that takes courage. It’s the boldness to express yourself fearlessly. Not everyone can do that.

Behind the scenes, it’s all work, not just beauty. To even get into the competition requires lots of effort and, in a way, it focuses a lot on the representation of an individual. Personally, the hardest thing I had to work on was my confidence. I was not a chatty or talkative person when I started. But slowly, by communicating with more and more people, I have improved that aspect of myself.

Who is your role model?

I would say my Mum. I know it’s not easy to juggle between roles, and my Mum is a mother, daughter, wife and also a teacher. She’s doing a great job. Although she has a career, she takes care of the family very well. I really admire how she stays passionate about everything she does. She’s also very supportive and open-minded about the industry I’m in… not at all how you’d think a teacher would react.

What have been your proudest achievements thus far?

Of course, winning Miss Universe Malaysia! (said cheerfully). It’s the biggest competition I’ve ever joined, I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and I hope to do much more.

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The Pop Star and the Friend that Saved Her Life

The Pop Star and the Friend that Saved Her Life

May 8, 2022   Return


Words Hannah May-Lee Wong

From child star to Disney teen to pop princess, Selena Gomez, 26, has risen to be one of the most recognizable faces in the entertainment industry. If that’s not enough, she is a childhood friend of Demi Lovato, best friends with mega-star Taylor Swift and was once the girlfriend of Justin Bieber (many moons ago). Name dropping aside, beneath the glitz and glamour portrayed on stage, Gomez remains down to earth, using her fame as a platform to speak about serious issues such as mental health and the obsession with perfection on social media. She uses her voice not only in song, but to speak about issues she struggles with, particularly her life-threatening autoimmune disorder and her journey through a kidney transplantation process.

Upcoming child star

Selena Marie Gomez was born in Texas on July 22, 1992 to parents Ricardo Joel Gomez and Amanda Dawn Cornett. When she was only 10 years of age, she appeared in Barney & Friends (between 2002 to 2004), singing, dancing and performing duets with the friendly purple dinosaur. That was also where she met and befriended fellow starlet, Demi Lovato.

A mere few years later, Gomez broke into the Disney scene, appearing regularly in the hugely successful and popular series Hannah Montana. It wasn’t until 2007 that she earned a starring Disney role, playing one of the lead characters in the series Wizards of Waverly Place. In the show, she was the beautiful and sassy teenage wizard Alex Russo, a character she played for four seasons (she even sang the theme song for the show).

Moving on from the successful TV series, Gomez blossomed into a star in her own right. She appeared in movies such as Monte Carlo (2011), animated film Hotel Transylvania (2012) and Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015). Beyond acting, she also garnered more popularity on the music charts with catchy tunes such as “Kill Em With Kindness”, “Come & Get It” and the ever-popular collaboration with Charlie Puth, “We Don’t Talk Anymore”.

Unfolding mental health issues

In the middle of 2016, Gomez made the difficult decision of cancelling part of her Revival tour, the tour that was to promote her second solo album. It was revealed that besides her health struggles, Gomez was dealing with mental health issues as well, struggling with her very public personal life and the high expectations of maintaining her image, especially online.

She spoke up for the first time when she won the award for Favourite Female Artist at the American Music Awards 2016. She said, “I think it’s safe to say most of you know a lot of my life, whether I like it or not, and I had to stop. Because I had everything and I was absolutely broken inside… I kept it all together, enough to never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”

In an interview on Vogue, she talked about her depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. She said, “I started to have panic attacks right before getting onstage or right after leaving the stage… I felt I wasn’t giving my fans anything, and they could see it.” Gomez underwent therapy for three months where she undertook a social media cleanse while receiving dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), a psychotherapy where patients learn to manage emotion and conflict.

Struggle with lupus and transplant operation

It was 2015 when Gomez first talked about lupus, telling Billboard magazine that she had been diagnosed with the disorder and had been through chemotherapy.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease which typically affects women of childbearing age (between 15 to 44). The immune system normally protects the body from pathogens, but in people with lupus, it starts to attack healthy functioning cells by mistake. Currently, there is no cure for lupus, though research on the disease continues. In Gomez’s case, it severely affected her kidneys.

In September 2017, Gomez posted on Instagram that she had undergone a kidney transplant procedure, receiving a kidney from her close friend Francia Raisa. In her post, she said, “So I found out I needed to get a kidney transplant due to my lupus… It was what I needed to do for my overall health… there aren’t words to describe how I can possibly thank my beautiful friend Francia Raisa. She gave me the ultimate gift and sacrifice by donating her kidney to me. I am incredibly blessed.”

Following up, she spoke out in an interview on NBC News. “I had arthritis, my kidneys were shutting down, my mentality was just to keep going,” she said tearfully. Her friend Francia Raisa also shared, “One day, she (Gomez) came home and she was emotional… I knew she hadn’t been feeling well. She couldn’t open a water bottle one day, she chucked it and started crying. I asked her what was wrong and that’s when she told me.” Gomez told Raisa that the waiting list for an organ was seven to 10 years long. That’s when her friend offered to get tested to find out if she was a suitable donor.

After physical and mental evaluations, Raisa had to prepare a will in case she didn’t wake up from surgery. Raisa recalled waking from surgery and feeling calm. Gomez, on the other hand, woke up suffering excruciating pain. She had to go for a second surgery because her new kidney was shifting abnormally in her body.

After recovering from surgery, Gomez was understandably emotional. “My arthritis went away, and there’s about a 3-5% chance that my lupus will ever come back. My blood pressure is better, my energy and my life has been better… I don’t think what we went through was easy, I don’t think that it was fun. I hope this inspires people to feel good, to know that there’s really good people in the world.”

Killing ’em with kindness

Gomez has been a UNICEF ambassador since 2009. Amid her many collaborations with the non-profit organisation, she has travelled to Chile in support of helping Chilean families break free from poverty and violence within the home. She has also travelled to Ghana with UNICEF to visit children in need. In 2012, Gomez held a charity concert, raising US$200,000 which went to therapeutic foods, clean water, medicine, immunizations and education for underprivileged children worldwide.

The road ahead

Keeping busy, Gomez was an executive producer for the series Thirteen Reasons Why, a 2017 adaptation of the novel of the same name. It tackles taboo topics that affect teens all over the world including suicide, depression, sexual assault and bullying. The series aired on Netflix, becoming an instant and phenomenal success, so much so that a second season was released in 2018. Her newest and latest song release, “Back to You”, is featured as part of the soundtrack to Thirteen Reasons Why Season 2. On screen, she will reprise her voice acting role as Mavis in Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, coming to theatres in July.

An expert’s take on organ transplant

Dr Hirman Ismail

Honorary Secretary of the Malaysian Society of Transplantation


What type of organ transplant did Selena Gomez undergo?

In Selena Gomez’s case, she received a kidney transplant from an unrelated living donor, which was her best friend. Organ donation is divided into two categories: living and cadaveric organ donation. Living organ donations are further divided into related and unrelated donors. In the Malaysian context, we have defined related donors as someone who has a first- or second-degree relation with the recipient or a legal spouse. First-degree relatives are parents, siblings or children, while second-degree relatives include grandparents/grandchildren, aunt/uncle or niece/nephew. Unrelated donors are donors who have no blood relations to the recipient. That said, distant relatives such as third or fourth cousins (though they are to some degree blood related) are distant enough to be classified as unrelated in terms of organ donation.

What are the assessments involved for organ transplantation?

For a live donation, a donor will be thoroughly assessed clinically by the attending physician, for example, a nephrologist. This involves a full laboratory test including compatibility test and imaging procedures. Psychosocial and psychiatric assessment will also be done to ensure the donor understands all information given to him or her to make an informed independent decision. Such details are very crucial to make sure all possible risks are identified and minimised.

Can this kind of transplantation be done in Malaysia?

In Malaysia, if you are an unrelated donor, you’ll have to apply for approval from the Ministry of Health. It’s an extra step of assessments. In general, we do not encourage living unrelated organ transplantation. However, if the attending physician believes that it may be fair to allow the case, it will be referred to the ministry for further assessment. It is decided on a case-by-case basis. Cases will be assessed by a team of independent donor advocates which consist of a physician, psychiatrist and medical social worker. A physician will check the donor’s understanding of the organ transplantation process – what it entails and the risks involved. If there are any gaps in knowledge, the doctor will re-emphasize and explain the important things a donor needs to know. A psychiatrist will need to check if the donor has made the decision truly out of his or her own free will. The decision to donate has to be voluntary and self-motivated. The medical social worker will evaluate both the donor and recipient’s socio-economic status to identify any inappropriate gap. The final report from the assessments will be further reviewed by a panel of doctors who will then evaluate cases from an ethical perspective.

In other countries that allow unrelated living donation, there are strict laws governing procedures on living organ transplants. In Malaysia, the laws on this matter have not been laid out yet. Currently, there aren’t any laws that prohibit organ trading – they are only governed by ethical guidelines. The scope of Human Tissues Act 1974 is restricted to deceased organ donation and not living donation. Since other countries have already established laws on this, physicians are more comfortable in carrying out unrelated living organ donations because they are covered by laws that prohibit donations in return for incentives. The Ministry of Health is in the process of drafting a new law on organ transplantation in Malaysia.

Who needs an organ transplant?

Usually, people who have end-stage organ failure. End-stage renal (kidney) failure can be caused by many diseases including diabetes (most common cause of kidney failure in Malaysia), hypertension and other less common diseases such as autoimmune disease or congenital diseases.

What are the risks involved?

There are risks, but they are minimal. There are possible risks of surgical complications (for example bleeding, infection, anaesthesia related complications) that may turn fatal, but it is very rare. Living donors for liver transplants have higher risks compared to kidney donors. Patients tend to recover and resume their normal activities in short periods of time.

Would the donor’s health be affected in any way post-donation?

Thus far, there is no evidence that those who donate a kidney are affected negatively. Before donation, donors are usually screened under very stringent health requirements. If donors have chronic diseases such as diabetes or cancer, they won’t be eligible for living organ donations.

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The Fame Meets Fibromyalgia

The Fame Meets Fibromyalgia

May 8, 2022   Return


Words Hannah May-Lee Wong

Lady Gaga has a reputation. She’s eccentric, enigmatic and perhaps excessively bold; you’ll never know what to expect from her. A chameleon in her personal style and music, she stuns us with her face-covering head pieces and surprises us with her male alter-ego, Jo Calderone. And we haven’t even talked about her meat dress. Much like her influences Madonna, David Bowie and Michael Jackson, her artistry is a blend of music and visuals, which explains her myriad red carpet styles. Music-wise, she is just as diverse, dabbling in techno pop, jazz and lately, country.

Her first album in 2008, a dance odyssey titled The Fame, was an instant hit, winning multiple Grammy Awards and launching her into (ironically) fame — the singer became a household name and has not slowed down since. Recently, her style and music has mellowed as she opens up more about her family and health struggles. Gaga in the past has spoken about suffering PTSD but in 2017, she had to cancel part of her tour due to fibromyalgia. Touching base with her fans about her family history, her latest album Joanne is named after her father’s late sister. She even collaborated with her loved ones in creating a family cookbook. Having said all this, we’ve only scratched the surface of what this busy woman has been up to (she’s got a few more surprises up her sleeve).

When Lady was A Girl

Lady Gaga was born Stefani Joanne Angeline Germanotta in 1986 to parents Cynthia Louise and Joseph Germanotta. Raised in the upper west side of Manhattan, she learnt to play the piano from as early as four years of age. In a 2012 interview with Oprah Winfrey, she recalls asking for a grand piano for her 13th birthday. Her wish was granted after learning to master a difficult Beethoven piece in order to prove her seriousness in music to her parents. By her early teens, her parents were accompanying her to open mic sessions in clubs – going all out to support young Gaga in chasing her dreams. But underlying the fearless persona on stage, Gaga says she wasn’t all that popular in school, even recalling being thrown into a trashcan – an event which inspired her to initiate the Born This Way Foundation, a cause supporting bravery and kindness among youths.

She shares that starting the Born This Way Foundation came naturally to her, being someone who struggles with insecurity and mental health. She says in an interview on Oprah’s Next Chapter, “No matter all the fame and fortune, the praise that you receive, something inside of you is always scarred by those experiences. I work every day to become a more confident human being… when you experience the feeling of being picked up and thrown into the trash in public, something like that can really stay with you for life, and it really stayed with me.”

Born This Way Foundation

It started as a song. Lady Gaga released her third studio album Born This Way in 2011, which included the hit single of the same name. The song topped charts all over the world, staying put for weeks. At the launch of the foundation held at Harvard University, Lady Gaga explains, “The song (Born This Way) came about as a dialogue that existed between myself and my fans. After I wrote the song and put the album out, the conversation ignited even further… I was sent messages, emails, letters saying ‘I want to help, I want to be brave. I want there to be more tolerance in the universe, more acceptance.’ What I realized more than anything was that I’d never want this dialogue to end. And I thought, how can I keep this conversation going and how can I do the research and become an expert of this field so that I can genuinely have an impact on empowering young people?” Thus, the Born This Way Foundation was created in 2012. Gaga has also said that the foundation is not an anti-bullying campaign but a movement in promoting environments for youths that are safe and tolerant, filled with kindness and love.

The foundation, co-founded with Gaga’s mother, supports research in partnership with various organisations and hosts evidence-based programmes in youth communities. It also provides resources for those suffering mental health issues.

Battle with PTSD

In 2016, the singer took part in the #sharekindness campaign. Through the initiative, she took the opportunity to raise awareness and talk about a mental health issue she had been personally dealing with – PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). She paid a visit to a centre for the homeless, bearing gifts and the message of hope. She tells NBC’s Today show: “These kids are not just homeless or in need, many of them are trauma survivors. They’ve been rejected in some way. My own trauma in my life has helped me understand the trauma of others.”

Lady Gaga has shared that she was raped when she was 19. The experience has scarred her but also inspired her to write the Oscar-nominated song, Til it Happens to You. She has found that the reinforcement of positive thoughts and meditation helped her go through the dark times in her life. To those going through the same, she shared that they are not alone and they are loved. “The kindness that has been shown to me by doctors as well as family and my friends… it’s really saved my life.”

Fighting Fibromyalgia

After keeping her silence on the matter for a period of time, Lady Gaga revealed in her Netflix original documentary (released late last year) that she had been dealing with a chronic and painful medical condition. The documentary, named Gaga: five foot two, follows the singer in preparing for a Super Bowl halftime show, making her upcoming album and coping with her health condition. Although it was not mentioned in the documentary what the illness was, she took to Twitter to say “…the chronic illness I deal with is fibromyalgia. I wish to help raise awareness and connect people who have it.”

Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder where its main symptom is widespread musculoskeletal pain. Those affected by the disease may also experience fatigue, increased sensitivity to pain, difficulty sleeping, headaches and trouble with memory. The cause of fibromyalgia remains unknown; thus it is a disorder that is difficult to explain and its victims are often misunderstood.

In September 2017, news broke that the European leg of Lady Gaga’s Joanne world tour would be cancelled. In a heartfelt apology to her fans, she posted on her Instagram, “I use the word suffer not only because trauma and chronic pain have changed my life, but because they are keeping me from living a normal life. They are also keeping me from what I love the most in the world: performing for my fans. I am looking forward to touring again soon, but I have to be with my doctors right now.” Gaga has reported that she is receiving medical treatment and hopes to get back to performing for years and years to come.

More Music and Making Movies

The singer’s most recent album, Joanne, released in 2016 was dedicated to her aunt Joanne on her paternal side. Joanne died of the autoimmune disease, lupus, at the age of 19 in 1974. Gaga’s middle name is named after her. On the album, Lady Gaga said on her Instagram, “I wrote Joanne to help understand my physical and emotional pain through my family’s history… to heal me and find the strength to power through everything, with the determination I learned from my Italian immigrant family.” The album’s lead singles, Joanne and Million Reasons, take a more toned-down acoustic, vocally rich performance. With heartfelt lyrics and a simple melody, the album is indicative of self-discovery, reflection, an outpouring of emotion to her fans and perhaps a reset of what we have come to expect from her as an artist.

Branching out from singing, we can expect to see Lady Gaga star in her first romantic film alongside Bradley Cooper later this year. The film, A Star Is Born, is also Bradley Cooper’s debut as a producer and director. A remake of the 1937 film of the same name, it follows successful country singer Jackson Maine who meets Ally, a singer struggling to get into the industry. They fall in love, but as Ally’s career begins to take off, their relationship takes a toll. Lady Gaga will be singing in the movie, but so will Bradley. Catch Lady Gaga in her movie debut in cinemas this October.

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Five Minutes with Bill Rancic

Five Minutes with Bill Rancic

May 8, 2022   Return

Words and interview by Lim Teck Choon

Bill Rancic first captured the attention of fans of reality TV when he became the winner of the very first season of The Apprentice back in 2004. He was handpicked then by the man who would eventually become the 45th President of the United States. Regardless of how one feels about Donald J Trump, Mr Rancic has since demonstrated that he is an entrepreneur through and through, certainly worthy of the honour of being the Apprentice. His business interests include the restaurant chains RPM Italian and RPM Steak, various real estate ventures in and out of the US and speaking engagements. Additionally, he is occasionally a TV host, an author of the family drama novel First Light and a full-time father and husband.

2018 marks another first in Mr Rancic’s impressive list of milestones, as he and his wife, TV host Giuliana Rancic, embark on a partnership with pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma US to select the recipients of the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize. Mr Rancic is among the judges that select, from among the many entries submitted from all over the world, the best proposal for a solution or technology that can improve cancer care for patients and their loved ones.

When Mr Rancic came to Malaysia recently with the rest of the judging panel, HealthToday managed to sit down and have a short chat with him.

(And yes, he still sports that very bright and disarming smile.)


Bill Rancic and his wife Giuliana.

HT: Judging a global challenge that focuses on inspiring non-treatment ideas to improve cancer care is very different from what you normally do. What motivated you and your wife to be a partner with Astellas for this particular challenge?

My wife Giuliana was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer in 2011. The experience not only changed our lives, it also spurred us to become more involved in promoting awareness and making a difference in the lives of those with cancer.

When Astellas approached us with the opportunity to partner with them, we didn’t hesitate too long to say yes! As an entrepreneur, I am always willing to support efforts that lend a hand to small entrepreneurs and even students – which is what the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize is all about.

HT: How would you describe your experience in the judging panel?

It was both an inspiring and humbling experience. You have so many worthwhile ideas, and it is tough to have to narrow them down to pick three finalists and, ultimately, the grand prize winner. As I went through the entries, it often crossed my mind that, if the proposed solutions existed back when Giuliana was undergoing her treatment rounds, things would have been different, easier even. You can say that, for me, there is also an emotional investment in choosing the finalists because of the experience my wife and I went through.

HT: During an interview with Glamour back in 2012, your wife mentioned that there wasn’t much being done to support caregivers of women with breast cancer. Do you think things have changed for the better since then?

Oh yes, these days it is so much easier to find information as well as support, thanks to the Internet and social media. Being a caregiver doesn’t have to be an isolating experience like it might have been in the past.

There are also improvements in terms of treatment options as well as options and solutions to improve cancer care. This is why I’m excited for initiatives such as the Astellas Oncology C3 Prize – it will be exciting to find out, 10 years or so later, the impact that can be generated once these ideas are given time, opportunity and resources to develop into concrete solutions that can improve the way we care for cancer patients.

HT: Mr Rancic, one last question before you go. You’ve been heavily involved in all kinds of business ventures. After this, are you planning to start anything medical-oriented?

Well, there is nothing planned at the moment, but you never know!

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