How a health scare caused Kiss 92FM DJ Charmaine Yee to change her lifestyle

Kiss 92FM DJ Charmaine Yee shares her transformation journey, and how she’s riding on the benefits of a healthy lunch and hard-hitting Muay Thai-inspired workout regimen

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Photo: Frenchescar Lim

When Kiss 92FM radio deejay Charmaine Yee isn’t rocking the airwaves with her husky voice and charming personality, she’s often shuttling from the studio to hosting gigs. Her spirited delivery and confidence as a presenter is admirable, but the 31-year-old tells us her decade-long career in the media industry hasn’t been easy on her self-esteem. “I was often told that I wasn’t good, skinny or fashionable enough, and I felt pressured to change who I was,” she says.

In a bid to lose weight, she then experimented with unhealthy diets, such as going carb-free and juicing, in hope of quick results. The kilos did slide off after two weeks, but returned soon after. “I tried every crash diet possible, but that wasn’t sustainable.”

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Photo: Frenchescar Lim

At 25, Charmaine was thrown her first health scare. Having experienced week-long symptoms of urinary tract infection, she decided to see a gynaecologist for a routine check-up. However, what her ultrasound revealed was a 10cm cyst that had engulfed one of her ovaries, which required immediate surgery for removal.

Six years later, she was hit with another medical emergency situation – appendicitis. “I was hosting an event and felt a sharp pain in the lower right side of my abdomen. I quickly brushed it off as harmless gastric pain but it still persisted hours later,” she recalls. These unforeseeable incidents taught Charmaine not to take her health for granted, and she’s reminded daily by the scars on her lower abdomen. This year, she made the commitment to clean up her diet and improve her fitness game with a Muay Thai-inspired training routine.





SHAPE: What sparked your decision to reshape your health?

Charmaine: I spent my birthday in July reflecting on the past year, where I left a toxic relationship, found love again and moved into my own home. Looking back at my past photos, my face was so bloated from all the red wine I had been drinking over a break up. I wanted to be the best version of myself.


S: What is your workout routine like now?

C: I’ve been undergoing personal training thrice a week at Neue Fit, a fitness and martial arts studio at Kallang Wave Mall. I do HIIT, Muay HIIT, as well as hour-long runs at East Coast Park that’s a few minutes away from my home.


S: What has been your biggest fitness achievement so far?

C: I can finally do a proper push-up and sit-up! When I first started, I would be breathless just ten minutes into any workout. Today, my stamina levels are higher and I’m proud to say that I completed my first 10km run at the Asics Relay Singapore 2018. Everything seemed impossible until I gave it a shot.


S: That’s great! Any more runs on your bucketlist?

C: Yes! I’m aiming to do a half-marathon in Melbourne in 2019.



S: What changes have you noticed since embarking on this healthier lifestyle?

C: I feel less sluggish now and I am more alert when I run from pre-event emcee-briefings to hosting my radio show and events at night. I am also now leaner, and have never felt stronger, both mentally and physically. Strong is the new sexy after all!


S: How do you make time for fitness on top of your radio shows and hosting gigs?

C: I schedule workout and breakfast dates with my friends before the day starts, meeting as early as 6.45am for a quick 15-minute HIIT session, followed by a healthy breakfast! There’s no better motivation for getting out of bed than wholesome food and quality time with your best girlfriends. On super packed days, I turn to HIIT workouts designed by my personal trainer from Neue Fit.




S: What made you choose Muay Thai-style personal training?

C: I love finding new ways to work up a sweat, but traditional Muay Thai seemed too intimidating to try. When I heard of a program that combined HIIT and Muay Thai, I tried it and loved the challenge! It is now my go-to 10-minute workout both at the gym and at home. I’ve also picked up some good self-defence moves and tips along the way.


S: What’s your favourite fitness motivational quote?

C: Once you control the mind, you can conquer the body.



S: You’ve tried many types of sports in the name of work. What has been your most memorable?

C: Skydiving in Sydney in Wollongong while promoting Tourism Australia, and bungee jumping at Sentosa’s AJ Hackett for The Maine Show, a video series on Kiss 92FM’s Facebook page.


S: And the toughest?

C: The Spartan race for sure. Even though it was the muddiest and most gruelling fitness challenge I’ve ever done, I had tons of fun and would do it again in a heartbeat!


S: What’s your current diet situation like?

C: Most of my meals are homemade in order to control the amount of sugar or salt that goes into my food. Breakfast is typically eggs and avocado, overnight muesli or homemade almond butter slathered on green apples! For lunch and dinner, I swop out heavy carbs like white rice for healthier grains or seeds, like quinoa, topped up with fruit and vegetables. When I’m eating out, I opt for less meat and avoid salty food.


S: Tell us more about #Mevolution on your Instagram.

C: What started as a documentation of my health and fitness journey is now a project I’m working on with my co-founder Grace Huang. Mevolution is a platform, community with a customisable programme that guides anyone towards achieving their goals, whether it’s weight loss, public speaking, or learning to dress appropriately for a big occasion. We want to empower people with tools and knowledge to pilot their own journey towards being ‘the best you possible’.



S: What is your biggest takeaway from 2018?

C: Change doesn’t have to be a difficult 180-degree transformation. It comes from making small adjustments that can realistically fit into your lifestyle. Sustainability is important for long-term change.


S: What’s your new year’s resolution for 2019?

C: I hope to get a personal trainer certification and complete my online course on Nutritional Science. In 2018, I realised how much I did not know about my body, which muscles I was training or straining, or how to work out properly and safely. Changing my diet and replacing certain foods with healthier options have also made me curious about nutrition.


S: What does being in shape mean to you?

C: Being in shape is more than just good health, exercise and a balanced diet. It’s the emotional, mental and physical attitude to have about yourself. For me, 2018 has been about self-discovery, and it’s given me renewed self-confidence and an extra spring in my step.


This story was first published on Shape Singapore.