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A work in progress
by Estelle Low

That's how self-confessed perfectionist Jaymee Ong sees life. She shares the throes of one nasty break-up, motherhood and a recent health scare with Estelle Low. 

It's 7.55am and a fresh-faced Jaymee in a maxi and flipflops arrives five minutes ahead of time. She waits patiently for the makeup and photography crew to roll in. An hour later, the Australian-born Chinese is transformed into a smokin' hot bikini babe, making us momentarily forget that she's a mother to three-year-old Juliet.

During the two-hour photo shoot, Jaymee preens and poses like a pro, her megawatt smile never waning. In between, she hovers over the images of herself, cautioning the photographer against using those that might show her (non-existent) armpit fat, mummy tummy, fat thighs and cellulite. Our response: Where got?!

Life's looking up for Jaymee. The part-time actress and current ambassador of True Yoga and True Fitness is in talks with Mediacorp to be part of an "exciting drama"; she declines to give more details. She's also enjoying her job as main host and writer of AXN's entertainment programme eBuzz. And, yes, Jaymee's even slimmer than her pre-Juliet days. At 1.66m, she weighs a mere 51kg.

Sexy bod, cute blonde daughter and a dream job - "75 per cent mother, 25 per cent working individual". So what gives? After some prodding, the 34-year-old reveals that she's had her fair share of life's hurdles, just like anyone else.

"No cheating involved..."

When she was 21 and modelling in Los Angeles, a serious three-year relationship crumbled. "I've had boyfriends in high school but this one really affected me. It was hard-hitting," she says. "There was no cheating involved. It just wasn't the right time and place for either of us."

This was Jaymee's first major challenge. "I didn't have my own friends - only his - so I had to start from scratch. I considered going back to Australia but then I thought: 'Screw that. I'm going to prove to myself that I can do it on my own'. That's when I got my own place, had my own friends and created my own life," she recalls proudly.

It was also around this time that yoga became a big part of her life and she started doing it three times a week. "It was just what I needed. It was really empowering and made me feel I could get through things on my own." And she did - with "lots of girl time, parties and vacations".

"Walking around in a fog..."

It's hard to imagine cool and composed Jaymee being helpless, but that's exactly what she felt after having Juliet. "Even though I was looking forward to her birth, it was a huge life adjustment," she confides.

For the first time ever, Jaymee says she felt like she was "walking around in a fog. If there's a problem, I'd usually find a solution and stick to it but, with a kid, that goes out the window. Things change from day to day."

Initially, she dreaded leaving her house with a newborn in tow. "I really lost my confidence, but forced myself to do it. Sometimes it was easy and sometimes it was a nightmare," she recalls. "Now I've learnt to just roll with the punches. What's the worst that can happen? You just have to go home," she muses, referring to a time when Juliet threw herself to the floor in Vivocity.

Adding to her post-natal stress, the exercise lover - she lives for the post workout adrenalin rush - was advised by her doctor to refrain from doing intense activities for the first six weeks following her C-section delivery. "That drove me up the wall," she says.

What's more, it took Jaymee nearly three months to fall in love with her mummy status. "Having a baby is the most incredible thing I've ever done. It makes me see what's truly important," she gushes; her eyes welling up.

Health awakening: "It was very frightening..."

Another heart-stopping moment: When her Australian husband, Matthew Heath, suffered a mild stroke while they were attending a wedding dinner in Perth last October. "It was very frightening. He doesn't smoke, he is fit and he doesn't have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. I thought to myself, 'What was happening? What would I do without him?'," she tells us.

"We'd been flying in the last 24 hours before the dinner and then he'd been drinking. Doctors also found a hole in his heart. There was no definite cause, just a perfect storm."

This was a wake-up call for the couple, who started to appreciate loved ones more. Jaymee says, "It's one of those life lessons that puts everything into perspective and teaches me never to take life for granted."


1. She worked as a part-time waitress...

"while modelling in Los Angeles in my early 20s. I made lots of money - at least $200 a night in tips, and that was just in a bar! I did that for about nine months. There was lots of alcohol. It was really, really fun!"

2. She was a receptionist at a dating agency...

"... for two days. I thought it'd be fun and funny. Instead it turned out to be a bit weird." (laughs)

3. She lifts weights...

"... of 10kg to 15kg. It's one thing women are really scared of, but it's really good for the bones. I don't want to be super skinny. I like being and feeling strong."

4. She was a heavy smoker...

"... for two years in my early 20s. I quit when I started trying for a baby. Like drinking, I just stopped."

5. She hates rude people...

"... especially drivers who don't signal, don't give way or tailgate. They drive me nuts!"

Get a copy of Shape for more interesting stories. Shape, published by SPH Magazines is available at all newsstands now.

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