Malaysia’s former beauty queen talks about the health habits that help her maintain her graceful physique and upbeat mood.

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When it comes to the world of high-fashion and style, Deborah Henry is not a new name. 

The former beauty queen who represented Malaysia at Miss World 2007 and Miss Universe 2011, says that beauty pageants are so much more than just selecting gowns and walking on runways in sky high stilettos.

“It is all about dedication and commitment, to yourself and your goal,” says Deborah Henry who has been modelling since she was 15.

With a working schedule that revolved around long days and irregular times, the up and coming beauty queen soon started facing the pressure and struggles of showbiz that took a toll on her health.

“Physically I had the right height and frame to meet the industry expectations but I was far from being fit. My stamina levels were dropping, I was developing an unhealthy relationship with food, and I felt less enthusiastic about myself with each passing day.”

Fast forward a few years, Deborah Henry today leads a life that is full of energy and purpose, a large part of which she attributes to adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Between interviews, meetings, writing assignments and managing her school for refugee children, Deborah Henry lets us in on the habits she sticks to and the ones she stays away from for her overall well-being.

Your current fitness goal is…

At present, I am very comfortable with my body type. My fitness goals involve getting leaner and toning muscles that improve my body strength.

I see a lot of young women today who are skinny with petite frames. It often makes me question whether they have the right stamina and energy to get through the day. Your fitness goals should be focused on improving your daily robustness and not about achieving a ‘target weight’ deemed necessary by others.

What is your workout routine like?

I like to mix my workouts to keep things interesting.

Currently, I do yoga twice a week to stretch my muscles and to work on my flexibility and agility. Yoga also helps me to feel more positive and peaceful.

I alternate my yoga classes with a 45-minute intense training session at Fire Station. The workout there is a mixture of stride, floor exercises, TRX and functional training that gives me a rigorous full body workout and gets my heart rate up and going.

How do you start your day?

The first step to a healthy lifestyle is starting your day right. I start mine with a glass of warm water and a slice of lemon. To improve my digestion, I also take a spoonful of psyllium husk and water. I tend to have a small breakfast and then follow up with some fruits and nuts.

Would you recommend the use of diet pills that are flooding the shelves of supermarkets these days?

I’m not really a nutritionist to comment on which health products work and which don’t. I would advise doing your own research before you start using any. Personally, the idea of taking pills to burn fat or build muscle does not really appeal to me.

If you are considering using a pill or a health product, it is best to approach a professional who can guide you in getting your facts right.

Your go-to health drink would be?

I believe that an unhappy gut is a key to many health and skin problems. So, I prefer a product that helps to aid and improve my digestion.

I like to sip on a colon cleanse organic tea blend from Tea Bird Tea after meals because it calms my stomach and prevents acid reflux. After workouts, instead of gulping down packaged fruits juices that are loaded with sugar, I prepare my own chilled version of the firecracker tea, from the same brand, that comes with a hint of chilli and acts as a fat burner.

I also like to sip on green tea throughout the day and sometimes include a probiotic drink in my early morning routine.

Tell us about what your daily diet includes.

I try to keep my diet clean and healthy, including a lot of fresh vegetables in my meals.

At times, when I am having a very busy day, I substitute lunch with a vegetable smoothie topped with coconut bits and fruits and occasionally I also give in to my cravings and indulge in a slice of sinful chocolate cake.

Most days I eat everything and just make sure that my meals are well balanced.

If you start introducing small alternatives in your diet bit by bit, you will realise that eating clean is not really that big a deal.

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Food that you avoid would be…

Anything that is fried, processed or loaded with salt is a big no-no for me. It starts to make me feel bloated and uneasy.

What is a quick fitness hack that you always stick to?

Drink lots of water. Period.

Staying hydrated does wonders for your body, skin and hair, especially in the hot tropical weather we are subjected to.

Mental peace vs. physical fitness. Which would you prefer?

My fitness journey started way back in my early modelling days primarily because I realised that my mind and body were not in sync. For me, when I say fitness, I mean strength- both of the body and the mind. One cannot function without the support of the other.

(Photos: Deborah Henry)

 With the growing number of health products around us, what really works well? Find out who wins the health food battle. 

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