We recently caught up with three inspirational women in their respective fields – model and entrepreneur Irene Kim, actor and lululemon ambassador Naomi Yeo, and Paralympian and model Mei Ichinose – to chat about their wellbeing practices and how pursuing their passions has shaped their journeys to be well.
Model, Entrepreneur, Goalkeeper
Larger-than-life confidence and indomitable work ethic balanced with a humble sense of gratitude; these characteristics define Irene Kim – best known online as Ireneisgood. For Irene, wellbeing means being present and being self-aware of what's going on and how one feels without worrying about the past or the future.
Whether on the runway, on screen or on the football pitch, the Korean-American credits her ability to excel everywhere she goes with a matching full-time commitment to balance, wellbeing, and health.
Many people do not seem to realize what goes on behind the scenes.“I think people think I wake up like this, but I don't. When people on social media say, ‘oh, you look so healthy,’ I'm like, ‘yes, because I work out every day and I make sure that I am healthy.’ It’s an effort and an investment.”
From dancing and playing volleyball in her teens to practising yoga and Pilates today, Irene emphasises that staying active has helped maintain her energy levels and her mind functions better when she is active.
During the pandemic, she started meditating in the mornings to help with her insomnia. “You have to be selfish in a way and do things that make you happy. That's the core of mental balance.”
Today, health is more of a priority than ever for Irene. “Amidst all the fashion content, I will focus more on wellbeing and balance topics because I do feel like I am a different version of myself than I was a year ago. And I think that’s something that I want to work on for 2023.”
Yoga Instructor, Actress, lululemon Ambassador
For Singaporean actor and lululemon ambassador Naomi Yeo, having the support she needs to explore and grow has been key in her wellbeing journey.
As Naomi recalls her formative years, she is grateful for the space her parents gave her to make mistakes and try different paths along the way – all of this ultimately crystallizing her direction in life.
One moment stood out in particular. When her friends were setting off for university and she was more interested to go backpacking in New Zealand, her father saw that she needed more than just school and let her explore life overseas.
Today, Naomi has come a long way since landing on the Singaporean entertainment scene at 18 years old and frequently wears multiple hats across acting, voice acting, singing, and hosting.
Naomi believes having that support – even if it is just one person saying the right thing that resonates with you – can make a world of a difference to wellbeing.
Elaborating on that pivotal backpacking experience, Naomi reveals that it has taught her how to talk to herself and look into ways to be more positive when she feels alone, steps which are helpful for her mental wellbeing.
This has set the tone for how she now deals with challenges in her life. Naomi stresses the importance of being present and taking time to communicate and motivate oneself. More importantly, she acknowledges, “I’ve allowed myself the space to grow at my own pace.”
Similarly, when it comes to Paralympian and model Mei Ichinose, her achievements came on the back of self-awareness, not letting her disabilities stop her from leading a fulfilling life.
“When I was nine, somebody told me about this cool thing called the Paralympics. From then on, my goal and my dream were to get there. I started training and swimming competitively from that day on.”
At the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, Mei accomplished her lifelong dream of swimming at the highest level.
In Mei’s words, it is society’s perception which creates disabilities. “My disability isn’t my short arm, but it’s the swimming club that didn’t allow me to join and the people that would just stare at me when I walk outside.”
She admits that in the past, she used to worry a lot about what other people thought of her, what her coach would think, and what other people expected of her.
“My thoughts, my words, my actions weren’t all in alignment. Now, when I feel those three factors align perfectly, I feel an immense sense of wellbeing,” says Mei.
That was the realization that struck her when she stepped on the starting block at the Paralympics. Regardless of other people’s opinions and expectations, she is the one swimming the race – and the only person who will take full responsibility for the outcome.
Likewise, in life, she started taking steps to focus on herself more and be more honest with her feelings and words. “There’s no quick fix to finding wellbeing and balance. Sometimes you have to go through all the chapters and live your own experiences.”
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