It’s no easy feat being this toned and svelte, even if you’re blessed with good genes. Model Aimee Cheng-Bradshaw spills her stay- slim strategies in this candid interview about all things Shape.
At 176cm with legs that go on forever, aimee cheng-Bradshaw is the envy of many women. though it seems like her willowy figure boils down to perfect Dna, aimee has worked for it. the 23-year-old psychology undergrad at King’s college london first made headlines when she represented singapore in Asia’s Next Top Model 3. During an episode, a judge criticised her for being “lazy” and asked her to work out more. compared to other contestants who were shorter and petite, aimee says she was considered “big”.
No matter. she eventually came in third, but the judge’s remark sparked a turning point. today, aimee’s the embodiment of health and fitness, and also a sterling adidas ambassador. her current fitness routine consists of high-intensity interval training (hiit) six times a week, and yoga four times a week. she rattles off about healthy eating with ease. impressive, for someone who started modelling with neither an exercise nor diet plan.
SHAPE: Tell us about the unhealthiest point of your life.
Aimee: That would be during Asia’s Next Top Model 3 in 2015. i wasn’t fat by any means, but i ate a lot of fried food and didn’t really exercise. i thought i could eat whatever i wanted, like in high school, but i was wrong. i didn’t take care of myself, and it showed.
S: What was it like, being slammed for your figure on international tV?
A: It was super tough. the criticism on the show led to negative and mean comments on my instagram from people who watched it. But i’m stubborn and wanted to prove that despite the drawbacks, i can still be a top model. after the competition, i got my health in control and found my passion for fitness.
S: How did that happen?
A: During asia’s next top Model, i met a friend who was super into working out. She asked if i wanted to wake up at 6am to work out with her, and since i was bored at that time, i said “sure, why not”. that’s how i got started with exercise. after the competition, i took an online course in fitness and nutrition, where i learnt about different food groups, healthier food options, portion sizes, and how to eat right for my body type.
S: What’s your favourite workout now?
A: Hiit and yoga. i love how fast-paced and effective hiit is, and the calming effect of yoga. for hiit, i follow a lot of BeachBody insanity workouts by american trainer Shaun t, either in a small gym in my condo or in my driveway. When i’m in Singapore, i usually go to Yoga+. i love vinyasa flows, and recently discovered the goodness of yin yoga.
S: If you have only five minutes to work out, what would you do?
A: Stair sprints, non-stop! i’m guaranteed to sweat and feel the burn in my glutes and quads.
S: How do you motivate yourself to work out when you feel lazy or tired?
A: When i started working out, my younger sister ella would scream motivational quotes at me. My favourite one to date: “Suck it up today so you don’t have to suck it in tomorrow.” i find it hilarious, and it works as a pretty good motivator.
S: What’s your proudest fitness achievement so far?
A: In yoga, i used to focus a lot on external motivation, like simply being able to do a pose. i would get frustrated when a pose wasn’t happening. But lately, i’ve learned to slow down, listen to my body, and focus on the practice rather than the product. the poses will come to me when my body is strong enough and ready for them. this realisation is something i’m super proud of. progress, not perfection.
S: What types of diets have you tried? What’s your favourite and least favourite?
A: I’ve tried the paleo diet, which is to eat what hunter- gatherers had before the agricultural revolution – and i loved it! it was tough to maintain at first since it involves no dairy, wheat, grains or soy, but it made me feel so energetic. i’ve also tried going meatless and doing teatoxes. My least favourite is definitely counting calories. it was so stressful and made me feel guilty about eating everything, so i knew had to stop and reconsider how i think of food.
S: What’s your diet situation now?
A: I’m a lot more mindful about what i eat. Most of the time, i ensure that i’m eating for good health, instead of satisfying cravings. for breakfast, i have either banana and peanut butter or old-fashioned greek yogurt and granola. for lunch or dinner, i love having salmon with asparagus, or something local like yong tau foo. on days when i do hiit or feel like having something decadent, i’ll go for hokkien mee or laksa.
S: Any other indulgences?
A: I love chocolate – Lindt, ferrero rocher, kit kat... anything chocolatey!
S: What are your best tips for flawless, glowing skin like yours?
A: Drink tons of lemon water, be gentle with your skin (don’t overscrub!), always moisturise, and never underestimate the importance of a good toner.
S: And your must-have beauty products?
A: I absolutely cannot live without my nivea hydro Care Lip Balm. that, and my neutrogena hydro Boost Water gel. Both go wherever i go.
S: What does being in shape mean to you?
A: Being in shape reflects the self-care and self-love i have. i care about my health and my body, so i strengthen it, train it and feed it with good food to make it stronger. occasionally, i treat it with something indulgent.
"SUCK IT UP TODAY SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO SUCK IT IN TOMORROW."
Crop bralette, from puma. ivy park cotton sweat shorts and sequin nylon jacket, from topshop.
SHAPE’S ULTIMATE HAWKER FOOD QUIZ: WHICH IS HEALTHIER?
Aimee may have been born in England, but the British-Chinese considers herself a singaporean at heart. she’s a fan of local food, listing hokkien mee, prawn noodle soup and laksa as some of her favourites. While she sure knows her quinoa from her couscous, how does aimee fare when it comes to picking healthier hawker fare? We put her to the test with this ultra tricky quiz, with input from Jaclyn Reutens, a clinical dietitian and founder of aptima nutrition & sports Consultants. Here’s the report card.
1. ROASTED CHICKEN RICE OR ROASTED DUCK RICE?
Aimee’s answer: Chicken rice
Correct answer: Duck rice
The dietitian says: Duck rice is much healthier than chicken rice, which is often cooked with a substantial amount of oil. You can reduce your fat intake by removing the skin. duck is a also good source of iron – it has almost thrice the amount of iron in chicken.
Calorie-saving tip: Ask for less sauce or skip the sauce altogether.
2. NASI BIRYANI (WITH CHICKEN THIGH) OR NASI LEMAK (WITH FRIED CHICKEN WING, IKAN BILIS AND FRIED EGG)?
Aimee’s answer: Nasi biryani
Correct answer: Nasi biryani
The dietitian says: This is a tough fight between similar dishes. Both contain rice cooked in fat (coconut milk for lemak and ghee for biryani) and are served with protein foods and minuscule amounts of vegetables. however, you’re better off opting for nasi biryani as the rice is lower in calories and saturated fat. the grains used in this dish (basmati or long-grain) are also better for controlling blood sugar levels. When it comes to chicken, the wings are higher in fat than thighs.
Calorie-saving tip: Remove the skin on the thigh and eat only half the amount of rice served.
3. CURRY CHICKEN NOODLES OR LAKSA?
Aimee’s answer: Curry chicken noodles
Correct answer: Laksa
The dietitian says: Laksa is actually more nutritious than chicken curry noodles. Besides being significantly lower in fat, it contains more vitamin a, calcium and iron.
Calorie-saving tip: Drain the tau pok of excess gravy before eating it.
4. OYSTER OMELETTE OR FRIED CARROT CAKE?
Aimee’s answer: Carrot cake
Correct answer: Oyster omelette
The dietitian says: Calorie for calorie, the oyster omelette offers more benefits as the shellfish is rich in nutrients such as vitamin a and iron. Carrot cake is essentially fried starch with some protein from eggs.
Calorie-saving tip: Share the oyster omelette with friends!
5. FISHBALL NOODLES OR BAK CHOR MEE?
Aimee’s answer: Fishball noodles
Correct answer: Bak chor mee
The dietitian says: Although a serving of fishball noodles contains fewer calories than the noodles with mushroom and minced pork, pick the latter for its higher nutritional value. Mushrooms are rich in selenium and B vitamins. fishballs are high in sodium and often contain fillers, flour, flavoured additives and very little fish meat.
Calorie-saving tip: Ask for less oil and more vinegar so the flavour won’t be compromised.
6. MEE REBUS OR MEE GORENG?
Aimee’s answer: Mee goreng
Correct answer: Mee goreng
The dietitian says: With vegetables and meat mixed in, mee goreng is a more complete meal. it offers more than four times the vitamin a in mee rebus. for meat, choose seafood over chicken or mutton as poorer-quality cuts are typically used. Mutton is also especially high in cholesterol and fat.
Calorie-saving tip: Trade yellow noodles for bee hoon.
7. CHAR KWAY TEOW OR HOKKIEN MEE?
Aimee’s answer: Hokkien mee
Correct answer: Hokkien mee
The dietitian says: Hokkien mee is a better choice as you get quality protein from eggs, prawns and squid. although cockles are rich in iron, char kway teow is substantially higher in fat, with more than four times the saturated fat found in hokkien mee.
Calorie-saving tip: Skip the lard and drizzle with more lime juice instead.
8. CHENDOL OR BUBOH CHA CHA?
Aimee’s answer: Buboh cha cha
Correct answer: Chendol
The dietitian says: Chendol contains red beans, which not only offer extra dietary fibre but some vitamin B too. While both desserts are coconut milk-based, buboh cha cha is a heavier option with extra carbohydrates in the form of yam, sweet potato and tapioca flour.
Calorie-saving tip: Share half with someone. Avoid mixing the palm syrup into the coconut milk so you take in less sugar.
AIMEE’S SCORE: 3/8
"MOST OF THE TIME, I ENSURE THAT I'M EATING FOR GOOD HEALTH, INSTEAD OF SATISFYING CRAVINGS."
PHOTOS ZAPHS ZHANG
STYLING DOLPHIN YEO
ART DIRECTION RAY TICSAY
MAKEUP GINGER LYNETTE, LANCOME
HAIR EILEEN KOH, HAIR PHILOSOPHY, KEVIN MURPHY