weight loss, weight gain, fat loss, hard gainer, how to gain weight, strength training


If you have been following Hygieia’s social media pages for a while, you might remember me documenting my attempts to gain weight. You can watch it here to refresh your memory. Unfortunately, these projects have failed spectacularly because of my lack of consistency.

The next logical step for me was to hire a nutritionist for better accountability. During that time, I was prescribed specific macros after tracking my food for three days. To hit those macros, a daily “sample menu” was given. I weighed the ingredient of each meal, entered them into MyFitnessPal, sent photos of the food when I ate out (without any feedback given), and reported weekly “reflections” of my food.

It worked for a few days before I became sluggish in measuring everything to ensure I hit the prescribed macros. And sure, I can blame it on my busyness or even laziness, or even blaming the nutrition coach who doesn’t seem to care if I didn’t do my check-ins. I just felt that something was off, but I didn’t know what was wrong.

A few months later, Shaun mentioned that he wanted us to start collaborating with a dietician so that clients who are looking for nutritional advice can be referred to someone we can trust to take good care of them. Having a dietician that understands what we do here at the gym means better communication between us and improved outcomes for you, the client.

Shaun found a doctor specialising in dietetics and anti-ageing and asked me to contact him for a consult, so I can understand how he works. I was not excited at all. I have given up with the idea of adjusting my nutrition/diet because I know that I will fall off the program, and it will result in nothing again.

Long story short, Shaun kept reminding me to meet him. A few weeks later, I finally contacted the doctor. I just thought that if Hygieia wants to recommend someone to help our clients with their nutrition, they better be damn good. So I came to the consultation ready to be very critical and to reject working with him if he performs the same way as my old nutritionist.

Conclusion: He is good.

I got more out of him within 1 hour versus a few months with my ex-nutrition coach. Here’s what I learnt and appreciate from our meeting.


1. He addressed the issue right away.

After a detailed interrogation of my daily activity and how I consume my food, he concluded that I struggled to have enough food frequency.

To do this, I must eat my breakfast (which I tend to skip) and finish five snacks. I immediately got an actionable plan! On the contrary, prescribing a set of macros feels more like – JUST EAT MORE!


2. He talked in my nutrition language

I hated the process of planning the menu and measuring ingredients for every single meal to know its macros. The doctor knew it right away. He said that I didn’t describe my food portion in terms of macros at all. Thus, he will not give the solution in terms of macros. Instead, he explained that one snack serving could be a fruit, a handful of nuts, or three pieces of rice crackers. He dumbed it down to my level so that I can take action.


3. He created a framework and let me “solve part of the issue”

For me to have my breakfast, the doctor created a few plans. Plan A is to have the breakfast smoothie that I usually have on 2-3 out of 7 days. Plan B to get something on a hawker centre. I probably do this 1-2 out of 7 days.

How about other days? He asked me what do I have in the gym for food preparation? I said, “None.”

How about food storage? I said, “We have a fridge.”

How do you like yoghurt? I said, “I’m OK with yoghurt.”

Then he recommended me to get 1kg tub of yoghurt every week and eat it in case plan A and plan B fails.

He then asked, who does your grocery? I said, “My wife, but for this yoghurt, I can just buy it at a shop nearby.”

And done! I have a foolproof breakfast plan. I have 3 plans, and I have no reason not to have breakfast.

Similarly, with snacks, he asked me what I can get around the gym. And we then created a list of possible snacks to fulfil my 5 snacks per day plan.

In the beginning, I clearly needed guidance but as I am doing it, I started to realise, “Hey! The amount of macros that I get from this snack is actually the same as a glass of milk! I love milk! I could substitute it with milk if I ran out of snacks.”


4. I am more accountable because I can participate in this plan.

I like all of the plans that the doctor drew out. I think it’s simple and it fits my lifestyle. I don’t need to cook anything special for myself. Instead, my commitment is limited to preparing some snacks to put in my bag and yoghurt inside the fridge.

Before leaving the consultation, I told him that I could foresee myself tracking the number of snacks I have in my journal. So then, I started having some checkboxes for breakfast and snacks. Overall, my weight has steadily gone up, even during the Phase 2 HA, where I need to be outdoors most of the time.

I am sure that this is not the last time that you will hear about my weight gain journey. There will still be challenges in the future, but it’s always good to look back to understand what went wrong and what can be different now. However, this time, I learned that the best plan is a plan that you can commit to.


We will be announcing our collaboration with our dietician over the next weeks. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to stay up to date.


My interest in fitness started when I was around 19 years old. Being overweight for most of my growing up years, I decided to do something about it. After months of not being able to achieve the desired results, I began poring through books and articles about training and nutrition. The more I read, the more interested I became in this field, and got better results when the the newly discovered knowledge was applied. After 1 year of persistence and hard work, I lost 24kg and felt fantastic. The sense of achievement motivated me to pursue a career in working with people to help them achieve their own fitness goals.

After achieving my weight loss goal, I tried a variety of training programs for a few years, looking for a new goal to train towards. After aimlessly moving around from program to program, I chanced upon a book called Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, written by renowned strength and conditioning expert, Mark Rippetoe. Little did I know that this book was about to change my life and coaching career.

At that point, I had experience training with barbells and was relatively familiar with it but never have I come across any material that gave such explicitly detailed explanations of how to perform the barbell lifts. I devoured the book and modified my lifting technique and program. In just a few months, I was pleasantly surprised by how much stronger he had become. I now had a new goal to work towards – getting strong.

With full confidence in the efficacy of the Starting Strength methodology, I began coaching my clients using this program and got them stronger than they ever thought was possible. The consistent success my clients achieved through the program cemented my confidence in Mark Rippetoe’s teachings. I then decided to pursue the credential of being a Starting Strength Coach and I’m currently the first and only certified coach in Singapore and South-East Asia

In my 9 years of experience, I have given talks and ran programs at numerous companies and worked with a diverse group clientele of all ages with a variety of goals. Today, I specialise in coaching people in their 40s, 50s and beyond because it brings me a great sense of satisfaction to be part of the process of improving this demographics’ health and quality of life by getting them stronger.