Datin Dian Lee: Haute Hippie

Datin Dian Lee is the consummate eco-inspired domestic goddess who crunches property developments. By Sharmita Summugam.

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Datin Dian Lee with her gorgeous little brood

On a crystal clear day in Kuala Lumpur, team BAZAAR descended upon Be Urban Wellness for a shoot with Datin Dian Lee, the founder of the wellness centre, fabulous entrepreneur with a sharp eco-conscious mind, and super mum in Louboutins. No stranger to the pages of BAZAAR, Dian, 31, made her first exclusive appearance in a feature about her 26th birthday party, which showcased her eco influences with a green theme, and of course, there was her starring role in Malaysia’s Most Stylish Women in 2008.

A quote that resonates through her modern hippie lifestyle: “Shrug off the restraints that you have allowed others to place upon you. You are limitless. There is nothing you cannot achieve” is also her company, The Clearwater Group’s mantra. A unique group of friends from different fields such as architecture, the hotel line, and other design-inspired fields formed the chic company that creates small exclusive apartment developments.

Dian and her husband, Jared Lim, 43, are also the brains behind two of KL’s hottest eateries: Ploy and Way Modern Chinois. “Indulge in things you like but at the same time, it is important to be mindful about what you put into your body. Eat with a conscious mind of what is good and bad for you,” says Dian. “It was when we started Be Urban Wellness that my lifestyle really changed. Life now is more balanced and I am able to feel good about myself through working out, yoga, and pampering at the wellness haven. We are really what we eat – I believe in a plant-rich diet of more greens, nuts, and beans – and it’s important to be mindful of what you put into your body, and to keep yourself active.”

Dian started becoming health conscious after she went to Anthony Robbins’s seminar, ‘Date with Destiny’ almost 10 years ago while she was in college in Australia. “I decided then that health would be a lifestyle priority, and that I would do whatever it takes to be healthy,” recalls Dian of what started her on the journey to her alternative way of living. “I quit smoking cold turkey, started eating better, and even stopped clubbing because I didn’t want to drink anymore!

“Being a mother to Jed Isaiah (nicknamed Jedi after the characters from Star Wars, of which Jared is a huge fan), Jora Dream (the former means ‘autumn rain’ and the latter because she is my dream come true), and Jaan Justice (a combination of both our names, it also means ‘life’ in Sanskrit; and Justice after the Justice League) has also made me realise it is important to show a good example of everyday living to my kids if I want them to adopt a healthy way of life when they are older. Whatever I am practising comes from an awareness to connect with my body and mind, and I believe it’s the way to live a fulfilling and happy life.”

In order to keep her mind at peace while busy launching Phase 2 of her property project ‘Dreamcity’, Dian regularly practises yoga. “I had been afraid of being upside down for 30 years and finally decided to open my mind to it. It was quite a liberating experience,” she laughs. “The other day I asked Jedi what he did at yoga class and his reply was fascinating. He answered, ‘Painting with my toes,’ and explained that it was to learn not to get frustrated while doing it.”

A well-curated diet is as important as keeping fit. For this, trust business-savvy Dian to incorporate her love of fresh healthy meals and online shopping. Her new pet project, Healthy Ever After, serves a purpose-driven eating plan that includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner. “I love eating really cleanly every now and then for some balance, but there wasn’t anything out there that appealed to me. Come to think of it, I guess you could say that I started Healthy Ever After for selfish reasons as well as wanting to share the amazing healing qualities from a raw, vegan plant-based diet.” Her latest obsession? Raw cacao. “It’s basically raw chocolate that tastes like dark chocolate, and it is really quite hard to believe that something so tasty can be extremely good for you. Currently, my Healthy Ever After kitchen is stirring up a storm experimenting with different kinds of raw chocolate desserts and I am pretty excited about what’s to come.”

In a bid to teach her children balance, they retreat to a private villa in Ubud every summer, where the family is trained by an instructor from Radiantly Alive Yoga Studio.

“Through our travel adventures, we have learnt about so many different ways of life, culture, and food. For instance, in Hawaii people are really environmentally conscious; we were there on a whale-watching trip when a plastic bag accidentally flew into the ocean. The crew onboard looked as if they had just seen a baby being thrown overboard. Whereas in Ubud, people are very spiritual and health-conscious.”

Dian believes it is important to connect with Mother Earth. “Amazing things happen when you do that and it helps you centre yourself, fill your heart with gratitude, and recharge your energy. In KL, Be Urban Wellness is where I go to recharge myself, whether it’s a simple massage or an hour of therapy in the oxygen chamber, I always feel great after,” says Dian with a serene calmness that can only be the result of the chic alternative lifestyle she leads. And make no mistake, she is grooming a well-rounded family for a bright, emerald green future.

Image: Aaron Lee

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