TV star Belinda Chee used to be called fat

So the camera really adds 10 pounds-it's the only reason why anyone would call 49kg lightweight Belinda Chee "chubby" or "flabby". "There have been times when people have said I have big thighs," groaned the 30-year-old TV host and two-time entry into FHM magazine's Malaysia's Most Wanted Women list.

One look at her now, however, and fat is the last word you'd use to describe the girl from Kuching. Lean and fit are two that we'd use for this former sportswoman, who was a competitive swimmer from age eight to 16 and represented Sarawak twice at the Sukma Games.

She told Daily Chilli she had never faced any pressure to be thin until she got into showbiz. "To be honest, I had never dieted in my life. Being in competitive sports helped build my self-esteem and an athletic body. But in showbiz, there's always pressure to fit a mould and look a certain way. People just expect you to be thin."

Still, unflattering comments about her weight didn't drive the former face of Astro Hitz Blast Off and 8TV Quickies to the gym right away. "I don't let it get to me because I know I'm not fat. I know my own body and I know this is my shape," she said.

She did, however, want to lose some weight seven months ago after she had her first baby, Danielle. Recalling the moment she decided to diet, she turned to her husband-businessman Joe Yeow who she married in 2010 after a nine-year romance-and put him in that critical "Do I look fat?" moment.

"Look at my tummy and all these stretch marks!" she told him. "And he was like, 'It's OK. Those are battle scars'," she said, laughing.

"[After pregnancy] you suddenly see parts of your body you've never seen before and it's like, hey, what are you doing there?" she added. "I had cellulite on my thighs, and it's scary that no amount of exercise will get rid of it. I needed help because I wanted to get back to work after having the baby."

Getting back into shape didn't mean starving herself. Her key to managing her weight was a healthy eating plan by the nutritionists at Marie France Bodyline, where Belinda is a brand ambassador. Of course, it helps when your mother-in-law cooks all your meals. She also treats herself to one slice of cake a week.

To her surprise, she's eating more than before. "I used to skip breakfast. Now even if I'm in a rush, I have a slice of bread or warm drink." And as for exercise, she jogs three times a week. "Sometimes I push the baby in the pram in the park. It's a form of exercise, too!"

Motherhood has become a full-time job for Belinda, who is putting her TV career on hold. She made a name for herself with a bunch of Chinese TV serials, like last year's A Time To Embrace, but right now it's just mummy and daughter bonding time. "I'll probably act again once Danielle turns one," she said.

Meanwhile, Danielle has already landed a sponsorship deal with toy brand Fisher-Price Malaysia. "Don't worry, I'm not overworking my daughter. I organise her schedule very well so that she only has one thing to do every week!" Belinda joked.