Finance professional Chloe Lim and her maternal aunt Julia Ann shared a love for food and also a struggle of trying to lose the weight they put on from eating excessively.
They went for buffets together and put themselves on fad diets and tried meal-replacement options.
But their weight-loss methods proved ineffective and Madam Ann died in 2013, at age 47, of weight-related health issues.
The death of her aunt led Ms Lim, who weighed as much as 140 kg, to seek a healthier lifestyle. The self-professed junk-food lover who used to eat six meals a day, said she was hit hard not just by the grief of losing a loved one, but also the reality of the ill-effects of obesity.
"It was after my aunt died that I knew I had to do something about my lifestyle," Ms Lim, 28, told The Sunday Times. She said she started to cut out unhealthy foods from her diet and to exercise regularly, learning from her past short-lived attempts at losing weight.
First, she bought a stationary bicycle and worked out from home.
Starting out was not easy, she said. "Just half an hour riding on the bike was already a challenge for me, considering that I was so heavy."
SPURRED BY A LOVED ONE'S DEATH
The least I could do in memory of my aunt is to live healthily.
MS CHLOE LIM, seen, above right, in a photo with her aunt Julia Ann who died of weight-related health complications at age 47. Ms Lim weighed 140kg then.
Ms Lim, who is 1.81m tall, also started swimming, which became one of her favourite forms of exercise as it does not put pressure on the joints and is "great for losing weight", she said.
Some friends asked if she felt self-conscious about people staring at her body at the pool. "I didn't care about what people thought. I just went, did what I needed to do, and left," said Ms Lim.
Within a year of her aunt's death, she lost 50kg and weighed around 90kg. She now weighs around 80kg, down from her peak of 140kg.
Her best friend of seven years, Ms Yvonne Ong, 27, who also works in the banking industry, recalled how the two could go shopping together following Ms Lim's weight loss.
"She didn't have to go to plus-sized outlets to shop any more, and places like Topshop and Zara would carry her size," said Ms Ong.
Yet, some time in 2014, when everything seemed to be progressing well, Ms Lim was hit by another bombshell.
She was diagnosed with endometrial hyperplasia, or thickening of the uterus lining, at the pre-cancerous stage. The knowledge stripped her of her motivation to live healthily, she said.
Also, one side effect of the medicine she had to take for her condition was weight gain. She put on 15kg, which made her feel "depressed for a while", said Ms Lim.
However, in September last year, with Ms Ong's support, the two friends went for a jog together - and Ms Lim has not looked back since. Now a regular jogger, she will be taking part in the Safra 10km race next month and hopes to complete a marathon.
She describes her exercise regimen as "random" - she does not stick strictly to a single activity. She swims, runs, and does CrossFit, a high-intensity fitness programme.
While she confesses that she misses indulging in eating, especially her favourite guilty pleasure - potato chips - she said she would feel "demoralised" whenever she put on weight.
Having Ms Ong - who is also her colleague - around has also helped her stick to her fitness goals. "Both of us have banned Old Chang Kee and LiHo from our diets and would remind one another of it," said Ms Ong, referring to the local brands famous for their fried savoury snacks and bubble tea, respectively.
A recent visit to the gynaecologist also suggested that she was cleared of her condition. She believes the improvement is in part due to her new, healthier lifestyle.
She added that "life is all about balance" and has "cheat days" when she would eat some of her favourite foods.
Ms Lim, who has four siblings, said her weight has never come in the way of her love life or her ability to make friends. "People who like me, like me for my character," she said.
She was also quick to emphasise that living a healthy lifestyle brings about benefits that go beyond physical appearance.
"Even when I was chubby, I never thought that I was ugly. Losing weight should never be because you want to look good, but because you want to feel good."