Aden Liu, 39, is the Creative Director of a boutique Media Agency, which he co-runs with several business partners. During his free time, he coaches guys on style and image. He is also the author of Sorry, It’s Not Too Hot To Wear A Suit, a critically-acclaimed guidebook for classic menswear.
Aden Liu is the author of Sorry, It’s Not Too Hot To Wear A Suit, a critically-acclaimed guidebook for classic menswear. Photo: Aden Liu
Despite sporting a lean frame these days, being trim and fit was not always the case for the media entrepreneur. Prior to 2016, Aden’s diet and fitness regimes would fluctuate over different periods, dependent on his work and personal commitments. Like so many Singaporeans, there was a heavier emphasis on studies and career over exercise, and 'good food' meant salty, oily and strongly-flavoured cuisine. Sports and nutrition were not commonly discussed topics within his household.
Aden shared: “There were times whereby I would hit the gym one to two times a week and run on Saturdays but the activities were not very intense. It was more about maintaining a base level of fitness. Also, it was kind of an obligatory habit to lessen the guilt of binge eating. Up till my mid-30s, I did not really have a desire to watch my diet.”
That all changed sometime in 2016 when it dawned on him that age was catching up with him and that his metabolism was not what it used to be. Prior to that, he also had a chance meeting with a competitive body-builder who was a strong proponent of working out and proper nutrition.
Aden had rather innocently asked her if she ever ate Char Kway Teow (fried noodles) and she queried why anyone would consume anything that was not good for the body? This and other incidents laid the foundation for an epiphany in 2016 where he decided to switch to eating clean and increase his physical activity. He now works out four to six times a week, including a weekly 2.4 km run at IPPT 'test speed', as well as a weekly 100 m or 400 m sprint.
Aden's choice of food when eating out includes healthy grain bowls. Photo: Aden Liu
Added table sugar, conventional carbs and deep-fried foods are greatly reduced in his diet, substituted by plain salad, vegetables, fruits, low GI carbohydrates and nuts. Whenever he eats out, he avoids gravy and soup where possible. Soft drinks and juices are substituted with black tea and he opts for white meat like fish and chicken breast.
Aden quipped: “My wife and I have almost completely stopped going to buffets too. And when we do cook, we simply boil, poach or grill with no added oil, very little salt and maybe just some pepper for seasoning.”
When asked what was the greatest challenge with this lifestyle change, Aden shared: “There was a strong internal motivation so I did not feel any resistance from within. My girlfriend then (now my wife) was enormously supportive so that made it even easier. She also helped to research into the topic of nutrition. And we went and still go for runs together. She was more than happy to join me in the new regime.”
He added: “If there was one obstacle, it would have to do with the rest of the family! (laughs) I hated to come across as a wet blanket every time I had to turn down food when we were having meals together. So, I had to make allowances by eating extra clean on my own knowing that once or twice a week, I had to compromise a little.”
Aden working out in the gym. Photo: Aden Liu
Fast forward to the present day, Aden loves the fact that he has made a measurable difference to his health and physique, giving him a better sense of well-being and allowing him to focus on work, life and family better.
Of course, a lot of his clothes had to be ‘decommissioned’ but he sees that as a good problem. He now tailors most of his shirts, pants and suits, and keeping slim means his clothes are consistently well-fitted.
At the same time, he finds that it is a privilege to share the steps he took with others and it gives him great joy to know that they too are embarking on their own healthy living journey.
So, what does this style guru think of activewear for men?
Aden in activewear. Photo: Aden Liu
“Go for it especially if you are an active sort of guy! Whilst many people know me as an advocate for suits and classic menswear, I do don active wear quite often. On my off-days or when I am chilling out with the family, I love to put on some street wear or sporty outfits. It is comfortable, looks edgy and keeps me mobile!” said Aden.
For those who are looking to improve their fitness and health in 2020, Aden feels that they should do it for themselves, treating the process as a mini-challenge to themselves - and reaping the rewards of improved health and physical appearance.
And if you are looking for fashion tips when hitting the gym, Aden had this to share: “As always, put on well fitted clothes! And don’t show too much skin! Get a great pair of training shoes to complete your look and please do not ever wear anything that is torn or with holes! I once saw a gym instructor wearing joggers that were at least 3 sizes too big for him and the hem of the joggers were all torn and frayed from him stepping on them. I did not think that was a good look for him or anyone else for that matter. Just have a ton of fun with your style. Who says you cannot dress to impress even in the gym?”
Gary Yang is a myActiveSG Editor and Presenter. Gary started his career as a suit cum copywriter at an advertising agency, followed by a successful stint in Corporate Communications with Singapore Press Holdings and Asia Pacific Breweries, before eventually joining the editorial team at Sport Singapore. He now turns his attention to fitness and wellness headlines and sniffing out news angles in the sporting arena. Follow Gary on Instagram @thisisgaryyang