Meet Stephanie Bovis, the energetic host, yogi and fitness model with the megawatt personality.
In a time where it seems as though everyone is busy keeping up with appearances, Stephanie Bovis is refreshingly candid. There are no airs about her and what you see is what you get. The 29-year-old fitness enthusiast, yogi, model and host arrives early in our office without any makeup on and there’s just something instantly likeable about her. Maybe it’s her warm smile and two perfect dimples. Or perhaps it’s how easy it is to talk to her – it feels as though we’re catching up with an old friend and soon we’re chatting about everything from workouts to… poop. Yes, we went there.
The Malaysian Chinese-British beauty lived in multiple countries including Hong Kong, India and England before settling in Singapore. Growing up, she was already athletic but her time was split between sports and music. Stephanie played the piano, flute and cello from a young age but eventually stopped pursuing music to dedicate more time to develop her fitness passions. She’s currently well-versed in many sports and exercises like yoga, Brazilian jiujitsu and touch rugby, and is now working towards completing her first half-marathon in under two hours and 15 minutes come May.
With a constantly packed schedule and so much on her plate, just how does Stephanie juggle it all without burning out? We find out the rules she’s living by for a healthier, fitter and more mindful year ahead.
Get out of your comfort zone
When the opportunity to take part in the upcoming Osim Sundown Marathon 2018 came around, Stephanie took it. Completing a half-marathon has always been on her bucket list even though running isn’t normally her go-to exercise. “I wanted to challenge myself, plus the quest of doing something completely new excites me,” she says. “I am not the most avid long-distance runner so I’m aware that this will take a lot of preparation.”
In order to condition her body, Stephanie now includes short- to- moderate-distanced runs twice or thrice a week. She’s also following a running plan by health and fitness app Active8me as a build-up to her half marathon. Prior to this, the longest distance she’s ever clocked was at a 10km fun run back in 2015. “I actually thought that distance was pretty easy,” says Stephanie. “I felt as if I could have done more.” But before you dismiss her as just one of those natural-born runners, know this: Her fitness level is something she’s worked hard to maintain over many years. Her weekly workout schedule already includes strength-training or HIIT classes every other day, and yoga classes an additional three to four times a week.
A girl who eats is a girl after our own heart. Halfway through the shoot, we break for lunch and it’s something of a curiosity for the team when we see our cover girl digging into pizza and meatballs. “Sometimes pizza just hits the spot,” says Stephanie gleefully. And though she loves her kombucha and warm turmeric water, she also has no qualms admitting that her favourite foods are all carbs. “I love carbs. I love potatoes, sweet potatoes, pasta, quinoa, brown rice… the works. I’m only strict with my diet if I’m preparing for a gig or a shoot like today’s,” she says. “It’s about maintaining balance. If I have a hamburger for lunch, I’ll just pick something lighter for dinner.”
As a self-professed thrill-seeker, there’s nothing that fazes Stephanie. Skydiving? Check. Bungee jumping? Check. Eating insects? Check. (“Grasshoppers are delicious!” she adds.) She’s always up for an adventure and she’s all for living on the edge and pushing boundaries. “I love it because it’s insane,” she says. “I know that when I’m 60, I’m not going to want to do the crazy things I’m currently doing at 20 or 30 anymore. And since we’re only in this world for a short amount of time, we have to make the most of it.”
Know your body
Back in 2017, Stephanie embarked on an intensive two-week exercise and diet regime to get ripped for a fitness photoshoot. In order to look her best, she did high-intensity interval training (HIIT) exercises daily and drastically altered her macronutrient intake, sodium, and water levels prior to the shoot. “I remember feeling like a carnivorous fiend when I had to do protein loading. I ate the amounts of a whole chicken, a Philly steak omelette, and a hefty protein shake all in one day alone,” says Stephanie. “That said, the hardest part of this crazy dieting was dehydrating myself as I neared my shoot day.”
In order to get the most obvious muscle definition, abstaining from water is actually one of the quickest ways to get the body to appear leaner. Our cells hold on to water and dehydrating yourself not only dries up the skin, but also makes your skin stick tighter to your muscles to give them a more defined appearance. And though the results may seem promising, Stephanie warns against adopting this as a weight management technique. “Honestly, living like that just isn’t sustainable,” she says. “I was moody and agitated all the time. It’s important for people to realise that body builders and physique models only maintain that ‘peak body’ for a few hours. You only achieve that kind of definition through food and water manipulation which oftentimes involves long periods of dehydration. It’s not healthy.”
Strike a balance
Turning to alternative therapies was the norm for Stephanie around four years ago. For a period of time, she was a huge believer in meridian points, chakras and sound therapy, even going so far as to regularly practising coffee enema (a colon cleanse where you shoot a specially brewed coffee concoction up your butt) to detox her system. “It was introduced to me by friends in my meditation community and I did it three or four times a week,” says Stephanie. She only stopped after a few weeks when her body had an adverse reaction to the practice and she broke out in pimples and suffered from inflammation and bloating.
In recent years though, she’s learnt to stop blindly following these new-age practices. “I’ve definitely changed as a person and I’ve become more grounded,” she says. “My partner influenced me in a good way. He’s an extremely logical person but was very respectful of my beliefs. It was only when he asked me things about them like ‘why is the heart chakra green?’ that I realised my head was probably stuck in the clouds. I couldn’t answer him properly and I realised that I actually didn’t know anything about what I believed.” These days, Stephanie describes herself as having a much healthier relationship with reason and the unknown. “It’s okay to believe in alternative practices,” she says. “But it’s also good to take a step back and not base your entire life on it.”
Be kind to yourself
“I am a firm believer of adjusting my wellness regime depending on the phase of my cycle,” says Stephanie. “Women need to realise that our bodies undergo massive changes in a month thanks to hormonal fluctuations.” As such, she has no qualms scaling back her workouts if she doesn’t feel good and treating herself to her favourite foot massages if she’s feeling crappy. Slowing down doesn’t mean that you’re a failure, and it’s normal to have good days and bad days.
Inspired? Here are four easy steps you can take if you’re keen to cut out “noise” from your life.
1. Listen to yourself
Take the time to quieten your mind and ask yourself how you’re honestly feeling. Find an outlet to organise your thoughts. “As an emotional person, I used to have a tendency of lashing out at others when I was upset. Nowadays, I’ll write down what I’m feeling point by point in order to process my thoughts. By doing so, I can decide if I want to just let it go or turn the situation into something bigger than it really is.”
2. Slow down
Living life in the fast lane can sometimes feel like a mad rush, which paves the way for burn out and carelessness. “Something I’m really working on this year is to stop rushing through things,” says Stephanie. “I normally finish my meals in just three to five minutes but I’m currently in the process of learning to move, eat and do things slower.”
In our social-media obsessed world, it’s easy to start living in a digital bubble where everything can be a post or a status update. It’s important to disconnect once in a while and focus on the present. There shouldn’t be pressure to share and constantly update your feeds just to maintain a certain image. When in doubt, ask yourself who you’re really trying to impress, says Stephanie whose Instagram account is set to private at the time of the shoot. “I just don’t post as much anymore. I want to be more present with people instead.”
4. Learn to say no
You don’t have to please everyone. It’s really okay to say ‘no’ sometimes. “Know your own bandwidth,” says Stephanie. “There were times in the past where I’d pack my schedule with back-to-back gigs and projects and in the end, I felt like I wasn’t giving my 100 per cent.”