Current Progress

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Scarlem Weekly Meetup

So starting in December a few of my Canadian friends get together to cook dinner on Wednesdays and rotate houses and chefs every week. Today was my turn and what a turn out it was :) I even have a special guest hanging out here for the week whom I hadn't seen for 6 years!

I've never been on time for the dinners but since I'm the chef cook this time, I planned to head home an hour before everyone came over. No such luck, I was only home 10 min before people arrived. So I recruited everyone to pitch in to clean, cut, boil, peel and mix. An hour later...dinner is served :)

Two items were on the menu tonight:
1. Polynesian crab salad
In a large bowl,
- dice 1 avocado, 1/2 onion, 4 roma tomatoes, 1 mango, 1 cucumber, 1 red pepper
- mix in: green onion, basil, cilantro
- and crab. So in my search for crab (I didn't want imitation crap or to boil and break open an actual crab) - I found this frozen wild korean crab meat at Ranch 99. I defrosted it all day and just stuck it in the microwave for a few minutes to cook. It was cheaper than the imitation stuff and tasted pretty decent.
- add dressing for the salad: Apple Cider Vinagrette, Lime juice, Garlic salt, pepper, hot pepper, ginger and some water. I really made this one up on the spot combining random spices in my spice rack.

I think the salad was well received. It was a decent helping for 7 people. I really liked the freshness of the mango, avocado, onion and lime. There was a lot of different textures and flavours. I'd definitely make this again.

2. Spring Rolls
This is my trusty backup plan when I don't want to experiment with new food. It's been a crowd pleaser at previous gatherings and I've got the recipe down to an art so I decided to go with it. I really like this meal because you don't have to do that much work and everyone gets to pitch in to make their own meal. I guess this is the Vietnamese version of a burrito or taco.
This time we boiled shrimp and fish balls and rice noodles. Also cut/wash carrots, cucumber, head lettuce, basil, cilantro. I put each of these items into a plate for everyone to make their own rolls.

The peanut sauce is the only other thing to prepare: heat up hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, hot sauce, minced onions. Add in some crushed peanuts and stir.

Just boil some water and dip in the rice paper. That's it, the rest is up to each person to come up with their own creation.


So I always talk about food and traveling. What am I actually DOING to lose weight and get fit you ask? I'm glad you asked...

Monday - Rest.
Tuesday - 7am wakeup for 45 min bike ride.
Wednesday - 6am wakeup for 45min swim.
Thursday - 7am wakeup for a 45 min run.
Friday - 6am wakeup for 45 min swim.
Saturday - 7am wakeup for 1 hour boot camp
Sunday - outdoor activity: tennis, hiking/biking trails, beach volleyball

I need to add two gym slots either at lunch or in the evening. Also maybe tennis/volleyball once a week too.

Also, I try to park as far as possible from my destination. I try to take the stairs instead of the elevator. I also try to walk between floors and buildings a few times a day. This is all because of the pedometer and my goal of 10,000 steps a day which is only a little annoying when you're late.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The best sashimi in california

Toro, Abalone, Lobster, Toro, ??

Ahh I absolutely love my visits to San Diego! This time I wanted to write this down before I forget. Scott took us to the best sushi place I've ever had outside of Japan. It's this tiny restaurant right by a 7-Eleven called Sushi Ota. Of course we ordered the premium stuff...the lobster, uni, toro and baby abalone were simply the freshest I've ever had. I wish something like this was available in the bay area. Although, I guess I would be tempted to go there all the time.
Salmon, Toro, and a whole tuna

Roppongi for half price happy hour was oh so good too. I'm going to try to make their Polynesian Crab Stack next week!!

No - eating is not the only thing I did this weekend. We squeezed in a bit of hiking...err well walking at Torrey Pines State Reserve and the Wild Animal Park.

Friday, January 23, 2009


It's done and booked!

I'm headed to visit Puno and Machu Picchu in June. It's something I've wanted to do for years now and it's finally going to happen! I couldn't have picked a better year since I'll be in tip top shape by June (or so I hope).

Mission Peak will now be added to my weekly training or other nice hikes in the Bay Area. Feel free to join me!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Vegetable Fried Soba

Since I'm headed down to SD for the weekend, I had to use up some of my vegetables tonight. I was originally going to toss up a salad: spinach, mushrooms, onions, garlic, green onion, tofu and whats left of my fake chicken. But then I decided to bust out the wok and make "fried rice". Then instead of rice, my soba noodles were right there on in my pantry so I boiled that up instead.

I mixed up what was supposed to be my salad with some grapeseed oil and added in the soba noodles. Oh and I added a very thin egg-white omlette! I topped it off with whats left of my spicy sprouts and cucumbers.

As a side, I fired up some Trader Joes Butternut Squash Low Sodium soup. I added a bit of garlic and green onion to it as well.

It was a tasty dinner with plenty of left overs for tomorrow lunch/dinner.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Say NO to Food

This is a lame article to blame being female for not being able to say no to food. Although I must admit, suddenly having room for desserts seems to be a common trait amongst women :),8599,1872584,00.html?imw=Y

In other news, I'm going to be an aunt in June! So excited!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Whole Wheat Pita

I find that I really like whole wheat pita so I experimented with what I could use it with this week.
Sunday Lunch: Whole wheat pita with spicy sprouts, tofu chicken and Spinach

- curious as to what fake chicken from Safeway would taste like, I grilled it and put it into my pita. The chicken tastes like tofu and nothing like that awesome fake chicken burger I had in NYC. I also sauteed some spinach to put in.

Monday Dinner: Whole wheat pita with Falafel and Tofu with Tsatziki sauce

- I never knew how simple Tsatziki sauce is to make! Since I had some Greek yogurt for my morning smoothies, I decided to make it!
- Crushed 5 pieces of garlic
- Used the cheese grater to grate half a cucumber into fine strips
- Combined 1 tablespoon of olive oil and squeezed half a lemon and a little zest
- Added the garlic, yogurt and cucumber
- Mix it up! And that should last you a week.

All I did was heat up some Costco falafels and cooked my tofu slices and added my spicy sprouts and spinach to the mix. Dinner was so yummy.

You know, before I hated cooking for myself and I'd overestimate portions. But now, well it's kind of hard to convince anybody to come over for dinner when there's no meat on the menu. Making healthy food and just enough for one is not so bad after all.

Thank you!!

Woo hoo, on the same day I received mail from the American Diabetes Association telling me that if I raised $50 by this week I'd get an In-Training shirt for the Tour De Cure - JerBear and Mario-san tipped me over that mark!!! THANK YOU!!

Thank you Kiran, Gene, Melody who started it off :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Goal #1 - 149lbs. Reached!

I FINALLY broke the 150lbs mark today!!!!!
This calls for a celebration!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Intense Saturday

My day started at 6:30am to get ready for my first bootcamp session with JJ at Glen Park at 7:30am. I have never gone to boot camp and had no idea what to expect. It turned out to be an amazing but challenging experience! I met a really good group of supportive people. Also JJ was such a good motivator. He was starting me off slow, modifying the exercises and drills. I think I'm going to look forward to every Saturday morning for the next while!

We finished at 9 and I decided to wake up my SF friends to go play tennis, as if I could still use my arms and legs. Chris took us to basketball/tennis courts by Lombard which overlooked the golden gate bridge and all of SF. It was BEAUTIFUL - the weather and the view. So after an hour of that, we ended up doing stretches and yoga poses.

After heading back, they came up with a bright idea to walk to get food. We walked along embarcadero for about a mile or two to my favourite Cross Roads cafe. It was great to see the sun out and so many people. After finishing off an ahi tuna salad, we headed over to the farmers market to wander.

I'm so excited about the CSA we signed up for. They had a stand at the market and had some really awesome looking fruits and vegetables. We're getting our first delivery next week and I can't wait. We even stopped to get a snack of 2 oysters at the Hog Island stand. Yumm!

Of course we had to walk all the way back the way we came.

I rewarded myself by getting some fresh salmon and scallops and wakame from the Japanese grocery store on the way home. I also made some Soba noodles, fried tofu to go along with my feast. Yummy.

Sous Chef at the Palms

Last night as a mini housewarming celebration, I was the sous chef at my friends' new condo in SF. We got off to a late start but hopefully the food made up for it :)

The menu consisted of

French Onion Soup
- Slice red onions into thin slices and caramelize them on a nonstick frying pan. (Just sautee until they become brown)
- Add some thyme and minced garlic and saute for another few minutes.
- Bring Free Range Chicken Broth to a boil and add the caramelized onions.
- Add salt, pepper.
- Preheat oven to 400F
- Put soup into ramekins
- Add toasted whole wheat sprouted bread ripped into small pieces
- Also add shredded Gruyere cheese
- Bake for about 10 min (until cheese is completely melted)

Whole Wheat Pizza
- It was easier to feed 8 people this way.
- Whole wheat pizza dough and tomato sauce from Trader Joes
- Used whole wheat flour on the pan before rolling the pizza dough into a pizza shape
- Mike/Tomoko took care of the rest: sautee chicken, mushrooms, tomatoes - you want to try to drain/dry out as much of the ingredients as possible
- Add olives, salami (to half of it), basil, sage and mozzarella cheese.
- Bake for 25-30 min at 450F.

Sweet Potato and Sage Frites- Gladys/Karena helped cut the sweet potatoes into fries-like strips with my new ceramic knife
- Mixed olive oil, apple cider vinegar, fresh sage, pepper together.
- Marinate the sweet potatoes with the sauce.
- Put in an aluminum wrapped baking tray and let it sit for 30-40 min.

There was also dessert of Boston Creme pie and fruits but I was fast asleep. Cooking for 8 is already tiring, I wonder how it'd be to actually run a restaurant!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Egg white with salt, pepper and onions omlette. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and a heated whole wheat pita bread. Yum!

Blend frozen strawberries, 1 orange and soy milk. So simply delicious.

2009 - Booked.

Jan 1-4 Boston
Jan 9-11 Las Vegas - Zion and Bryce Canyon
Jan 23-25 San Diego
Feb-May(Saturdays): Bootcamp @ 7:30am. Chinese class @ 11am.
Feb 13-20 Barcelona
Feb Lake Tahoe
April Yosemite
May 3 Tour de Cure in Napa
June Peru
July Wedding
August Wedding
September PEI
November Wedding

So the year seems practically booked up. I might be too social for my own good which is why I decided to take a class every Saturday for 4 months to keep me from getting on a plane.

Back to Reality

So I've been on the ground for one whole week and the rest of the coming week too which is a nice change from visiting airports and changing timezones. I'm trying to feel out what sort of routine I can realistically fit into my schedule. Coincidentally, I'm back into the full swing of busy work life again which means longer hours, less time for my master plan of exercising twice a day and cooking everyday.

This week I managed to hit the gym twice for some cardio and swim twice. I don't know when I can squeeze in weight training. I'm also checking out bootcamp this weekend and beach volleyball in Santa Cruz. The end result is that I have to wake up at 6am and sleep like a baby by now.

I managed to find some time to buy some groceries and still take my time to make breakfast in the morning. Lunch is definitely at work. I bring snacks of carrots and pistachios and peanuts. And I've only cooked dinner once this week - French Onion soup for the first time! I'm making it again tomorrow night so I'll describe it then. It's so simple and yet so tasty. Other dinners have been salad (at work and at an Italian restaurant).

It still gets some getting used to and figuring out what my priorities should be. I can say I'm feeling much more awake, alert, clear headed and happy. Hopefully it all won't be too overwhelming!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tour De Cure in Napa Valley

I'm going to bike 25 miles on May 3 for the Diabetes Tour De Cure in Napa Valley!

You should also join me!

Or please sponsor me:

Monday, January 12, 2009

Sin City

I've gone 24 hours without sleep - bright ideas of booking flight out of Vegas at 6am and staying up all night don't seem so bright after the fact.

Yeah that's not so good for my health. Vegas was a semi-success to maintain my weight and body fat. I went to two steak houses and tried my hardest not to notice the dry aged steaks and opted for Salmon and Ahi Tuna Salad on those occasions. I ate a lot of simple carbs though in lunch sandwiches, pitas, wraps and even some potatoes and a bag of chips!! :( To counterbalance, we walked at least 15,000-20,000+ steps a day. Plus, I took a look at what I would've potentially done in Vegas in a previous life: buffets of meats, desserts, alcohol and I most likely consumed 1/4 of that - so that's positive. So YES I did say no to alcohol and smoking but perhaps didn't cut my vice of gambling.

The strange thing in Vegas is that hotels cost so much, they give you really awesome amenities but yet the GYM is extra. At the MGM it cost $10/day during the weekday and $35 to hit the gym on a weekend. So Buffets are cheap, alcohol is free when gambling, but the gym is not? Why don't they just install slot machines and blackjack into screens in the gym and make their money back that way? (Funny how I've been to Vegas 20+ times and only noticed and ranted about this now)

Anyway, it's nice to be back and not flying anywhere...until next weekend!

Btw, Anybody wanna bike with me in Napa for the Tour De Cure 2009?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

2 vs Vegas - Round 1!

The land of indulgence, excess, addictions and especially this week, a sausage fest of silicon valley marketing. In a past life, this would sound amazing to me!

This year, it's just a free hotel room and pit stop for a trip out to Bryce Canyon for me. And also a good time to see old friends.

I also played my favourite I Dream of Jeannie 5 cent slots and won $2 - a sign of good things to come.

I must admit that I'm only human and the smell of smoke and free alcohol is quite tempting. So is the thrill and excitement of money exchanging hands so quickly. Bring it on Vegas.


Friday, January 9, 2009

Community Supported Agriculture

The first thing that came to my head about CSA is the Chinese Student Association, like in school - however thats not what it stands for. CSA is a club or way that local farms directly deliver their fresh, organic crops to city dwellers close by.

It's like shopping at the farmers market except it gets delivered to a dropoff location close to you weekly or biweekly. The best part is you know exactly which farm it came from and everything you're getting is in season and ripe and not picked early to sit for weeks in the grocery store. Nor has it been riding in random trucks or trains or planes to get into your tummy. Once you're part of a CSA club, you can also visit the farm to see where exactly the food you consume is grown.

I'm mostly interested in the variety of vegetables and fruits that I'd normally not pick up because I have no idea what it is or how to cook it. This will allow me to find new recipes and whip up some great meals. Some clubs even publish newsletters with suggested recipes. Also, the prices seem pretty reasonable especially for organic food and minimal fuel to get the food.

I'll be splitting this with a friend and will start as soon as possible!! I can't wait!!

Here are some that we found:
  • Eatwell Farm
  • Two Small Farms
  • Live Earth Farm
  • Terra Firma Farm

    It's funny how things work out - I had only found out about CSA through a book last week. I also used to give people a hard time when they refused to eat meat. Now I fully embrace this new exciting lifestyle.

    Oh...If you're part of a CSA, tell me what you think.
  • Thursday, January 8, 2009

    Breakfast of Champions!

    Thursday: Blackberry Yogurt
    Blend: 0% Fage Greek-style yogurt, blackberries,frozen strawberries
    Top with: Flax seeds, granola, blackberries.

    It tastes so great to make your own flavour of yogurt.

    Wednesday: Mango and Blood Orange Smoothie

    Blend: Frozen Mangos, 1 fresh blood orange, soy milk

    Also had a side of egg white scrambled egg with onions.

    Brussel Sprouts and Tofu Whole Wheat Spaghetti

    Dinner on Sunday: Whole Wheat Spaghetti, Tomatoes, Mushrooms

    Dinner on Monday: Sauteed brussel sprouts, spinach, extra firm tofu, mushrooms, onion

    Dinner on Tuesday: Sunday + Monday (Brussel Sprouts and Tofu Whole Wheat Spaghetti)

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009


    Now that vacations are over and I'm back in the bay, it's time to get into a good routine for cooking and working out. To prepare, I've ordered 3 cookbooks:I've also went on a shopping spree at Target (Blender, Food Processor) and at World Markets for nice plates, bowls and utensils to make my pictures of meals look even better! (Everything was 50% off at World Markets, so check it out!!) I've never had a blender but it's a $15 well spent!! Goodbye Jamba Juice, thuSmooth(ies) are waaay better! I recommend getting the frozen strawberries and mangos at Trader Joes. They're perfect for making tasty icy smoothies.

    I use this to map out jogging routes in my neighborhood and mapped out at 1.5 mile and a 3.5 mile run to try out.

    Also, I really like the pool in Sunnyvale I tried out this morning.

    Luckily I have a gym at work where I'm spending at least 1 hour everyday (4-5pm) to do weights and elliptical.

    I haven't set in stone which activities in which day - but we'll see how it goes.

    I've shared my tracking spreadsheets here just for accountability :)

    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Feeling Good - Michael Buble.

    Michael Buble perfectly describes how I feel right now.

    Birds flying high
    You know how I feel
    Sun in the sky
    You know how I feel
    Reeds driftin' on by
    You know how I feel
    It's a new dawn
    It's a new day
    It's a new life
    For me
    And I'm feeling good

    Fish in the sea
    You know how I feel
    River running free
    You know how I feel
    Blossom in the tree
    You know how I feel
    It's a new dawn
    It's a new day
    It's a new life
    For me
    And I'm feeling good

    Dragonfly out in the sun you know what I mean, don't you know
    Butterflies all havin' fun you know what I mean
    Sleep in peace when the day is done, that's what I mean
    And this old world is a new world
    And a bold world
    For me

    Stars when you shine
    You know how I feel
    Scent of the pine
    You know how I feel
    Yeah freedom is mine
    And I know how I feel
    It's a new dawn
    It's a new day
    For me

    And I'm feeling good.

    (I think I've used up my 9 lives by now - gonna treasure this one)

    Positive Reinforcement

    What a great feeling, I just came back from a visit with my Endocrinologist. Before the holidays, I did a blood test (which was a month into my lifestyle changes). It's been 2 weeks of anticipation of my results to see if I really have diabetes or not.


    And furthermore, my cholesterol is in normal range and my liver is working !!!! I still need to not drink for at least 3 months but everything is going in the right direction!

    I'll get everything tested again in 3 months and keep on doing what I'm doing. She wants to see me lose another 10lbs for the next visit.

    It sure is a great day in a great new year for Thu.

    Saturday, January 3, 2009

    Happy New Year!

    Where to begin, 2009 has been great so far! After the delicious steak dinner at Ben and Jack's, we tried to head into Time Square to bring in the New Year - except the Police had blocked every street leading into Time Square. Crap! Apparently to get in, you had to show up in the early afternoon. At 11, we made a decision while almost reaching 59th St that we really weren't going to see Hilary Clinton. So we hopped in a cab and headed to The Park. No lineup, decently packed and $25 with a free drink. To my surprise, as we walked in, we saw Jia Fu! It happened that we all knew each other from San Diego. What a coincidence. So we brought in the new year (sans countdown) with his friends (and got my 20000 steps a day!)

    Joe and I barely made it to the bus terminal the next day to take the megabus to Boston. Our round trip between NYC/Boston only came out to be $18/person on a clean bus. Not a bad deal. When we arrived in Boston, (#@&*!! it was so bone chilling bitterly cold. We spent 3 days touring MIT, downtown Boston's Freedom Trail and Harvard. Aside from packing along fruits, going to the gym at the Sheraton and getting my average of 20,000 steps a day - I didn't do anything else healthy :| I'm referring to the food I consumed - it was oh so tasty but I did break the no simple carbs rule multiple times.

    1) Legal Seafood - oysters, lobster, clam chowder (The PEI oysters were delicious - The clams and mussels were DISGUSTING and full of sand.)
    2) Starbucks oatmeal breakfast
    3) SamraatTandoori Naan, Basmatic rice with spinach/chicken
    4) Pomodoro - Antipasto appetizer and a seafood linguine (LOVED the food and decor here)
    5) Leo's Place - egg white omlette and salad (soo good)
    6) TeaLuxe - great selection of teas.
    7) Shabu-Ya - tasty shabu shabu without the rice of course.

    Pictures to come.

    So, my 5 day trip in NYC/Boston resulted in over 100,000 steps on my pedometer!!! (And hopefully not an equal amount of calories!)

    Currently, I'm waiting to go to the airport and finally go home to Santa Clara where I can get back to a somewhat normal healthy routine...until Vegas next weekend :|

    Happy 2009!

    Friday, January 2, 2009

    Self control

    When I look at how I got myself into this unfortunate situation, it all comes down to my weakest quality of self restraint and restricting and compliance to self set boundaries. Actually it's the inability to set boundaries. I've always been the flexible one, eager to make other people comfortable, happy and create the least amount of resistance. I've always been good at supporting other people/company goals. I've also relied on very close friends in the past to set boundaries for me and keep me in check. In the absence of such boyfriend or friends, I dig a deeper hole for myself.

    A long time ago my uncle told me that in order to take care of other people, you have to take care of yourself first. I had always thought this was the most selfish piece of advice. But now I see that it's the best piece of advice that I should've listened to.

    Making a routine schedule for myself which include early morning activities, a semi-strict diet and an early night's rest is tough and I'm still learning how to say no to things that are not on my schedule or diet.

    I just wonder how to get myself to overcome this urge of compliance, group-think. That would involve breaking things down to what my worst fear of saying no is?
    - Is it my low self esteem that I think I'm going to lose all my friends and not be accepted anymore?
    - If I don't eat this or show up to this will they carry a grudge and not forgive me?
    - Is it because the thought of eating that or doing that activity brings back good memories of the incidents that I performed that act?
    - Is it because there might not be another time do this again?
    - Is it because it's free? And my natural asian cheapness makes me need to accept it or else I'd be criticized later?

    The textbook and logical answer is very clear
    - Who gives a $*(!#*? If other people don't understand that you have a certain regiment and schedule then they don't really care about you anyways. They're not your friend and you don't have to bother with them or sacrifice anything for them.
    - Be truthful about why you can't make it, can't drink, can't eat that bowl of Pho. Again if anybody has the balls to make fun of you, they're jerks and you don't really need them in your life.
    - Well at the end of the day, if I lose all my friends because I'm finally set in my ways - have preferences and opinions, that's unfortunate but at least I'll live, be fit and healthy. But it's very unrealistic that I have such a bad selection of superficial acquaintances. Being an outcast is something I've always been used to since I've always managed to be the "different" one in school, at home, with different circles of friends.
    - Sure, I have great memories of restaurants and home cooked meals all over the world in the past. Also of clubbing and drinking and all the smiles and bonding that happened because of alcohol. But I'm at a stage where I've been there, done that. There's no need to eat that steak at dinner, because it really won't compare to Uncle Jack's steakhouse in NYC. There's no need to eat that bowl of pho in the neighborhood restaurant, my grandma's and the little restaurant behind this church in Saigon is absolutely tastier. There's no need to wake up beside a toilet after a night of not remembering anything.
    - Not being able to do things again because of natural disasters, diabetes, just fluctuations in the economy/jobs would definitely suck. And if the activity in question is that important and beneficial to your later memories and living with no regrets, I'd go for it. Fortunately, a lot of requests aren't in that dire urgency to be done today or never again.
    - Free!=Good for you. Buffets, all you can eat, other people paying, expensed, all those words used to work like a charm for me to get me to ingest anything or do anything. It might be a very natural reaction growing up poor and asian. It is one natural reaction that I know I still need to overcome.

    Actually let me rephrase by looking at myself in the third person, the logical answer is to GROW UP Thu. Your social smarts is like that of a teenager - full of insecurities and the need to impress to gather acceptance and feel good about yourself. Look why you even maintain a blog - its probably because of the good feedback and comments you get. Stop looking outwardly to gain acceptance. Look at the people you look up to and respect and admire. They all have very set opinions and values and never really need to mold or change themselves so they can get words of encouragement or positive feedback from you. If you accomplish your own goals and milestones, it feels rewarding as well. You don't need to be held accountable through other people's eyes if you respect your own judgement and take yourself seriously.

    This is probably my biggest character flaw. However it really is the one quality that has let me live the life that I did - meet the people that I have - and more importantly learning and being privy to their secrets, experiences, generosity and advice. Taking my thoughts, challenges and goals more seriously shouldn't be mutually exclusive to being sociable, approachable and likeable and experiencing the world.

    There you have it, the most personal post so far. I can't believe you found it.