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Fitness Journal: Quickie pays off

1.42 mi run in 13:31 min (pace: 9’31″ / mi)

Music: Corsten’s Countdown by Ferry Corsten Episode 263



I almost skipped the gym today until I say to myself, heck with it, just go.

One of the many things both pro-athletes and the average Joe still find challenging is motivation. Our goals are always changing, depending on what we want to achieve at that time.

Right now I want to train myself to be a more tolerant person and to have more energy on a day-t0-day basis – mentally, physically, emotionally. I also believe that I can run a 5.5-mile distance by the end of the week. I am determined to achieve this goal I set for myself.

This video is a heartwarming collection of the many honest reasons why runners do what they do.




So despite the cramps from my period, I still make today count:



4.26 – 1.42 = 2.84 mi to go until Tuesday, 4 September 2012



I have faith that I can go that distance, so I run it. I’m not confident whether I can run it all at one workout, but I know I can break the distance down into bite-sized pieces so that, in the long run, I still get stronger.

I didn’t regret my quickie workout today.









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Dating Scene

I don't think I've ever asked a guy out on a date in my life.

But I got turned down by lots of publishers by now, which grew on me as a habit and a motivation to write better. It takes many letdowns to achieve a trophy.

So I feel you, boys.

Don't stop at one rejection – keep moving. Before you know it, you're building up a rock-hard confidence!

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Fitness Journal: Slow but sure

1.24 mi run in 12:06 min (pace: 9’45″ / mi)

 Music: International Departures with Myon & Shane 54 Episode 140



5.5 mi – 1.24 mi = 4.26 mi to go until Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Not bad… I’m back to a sub-9:00 again since the last time I checked in with the mosquitoes. My solution? Decorating minced garlic cloves by my bedside. It works wonders – mosquitoes hate me now :D

Today I strictly focused on my agility and flexibility of my legs, as opposed to the usual full-body strength and speed. I’m not confident yet in terms of my endurance, but I’m pretty sure that can build up in the long run.

Another ultra-buff staff PT approached me. In less than a year so far, the same gym has offered me three free personal training sessions. Each session consists of two nonconsecutive days, so that equals to six days of the year I was offered free personal training sessions. (This is one) (This is two) (And then there’s today). I didn’t count all those times I got approached when I have not started accounting my workout sessions in the previous years before, when I wasn’t even a member yet at the gym. Every time the approach goes the same way: “I saw how you train and it seems like you’ve been trained somewhere else. Care to share where?” I try my very best to be friendly each time (with each different trainer) because deep down I’m extremely annoyed. I repeat to myself: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Still working on that and will keep on working.

Let me make it clear once and for all: It’s not that I know any better than they do at bodybuilding, because I’m no bodybuilder. And it’s not that I’m more agile, more speedy, more flexible, more enduring, or much stronger than the certified professionals (duh), but the main focus out of my workouts now is to release life’s stress, train my mental power, and feel relaxed after that (because I’m bad at relaxing myself, and every one’s temperament is different). Over time, my fitness goals are really not that ambitious anymore, and not so much to build my physical strength, but for resistance of the mind. For me the gym is just a training ground for life, not life itself, whereas PTs make a living out of the gym. Life is difficult as we know it, and I want to earn a living too, the way I do in my dreams, so it’s no wonder that I’m always seen sweating like a pig at the gym. All these efforts to be consistent follows through in all areas of my life, and I just try to discipline myself in any way that I can.

I train myself to be self-directed and increase my self-control, physically and mentally, so that I can apply that into my life. I know that those are the essential skills everyone needs to succeed, especially for freelancers who need to master time management.

I know I’m going out of topic, but to me it’s all the same. Pretty much like how all the PTs say the same thing (except the one I had in SF): “Try intervals at 10+km/h”, and/or “Try the machines at the weight room.” OK, I confess: In the four years I’ve been going to the gym, I’ve never, ever, ever used the fanciest machines in the weight room, except those that target my weakest muscles like my hamstrings and the inner and outer thighs. I’ve always relied on dumbbells, kettle balls, and the mat. And all the cardio machines. That’s it.

Why focus on individual parts of the body when you can do it all at once? Well, with the exception to the individual muscle groups I’m weakest, I pretty much always do circuits and stretching or the usual weights and cardio combo, as long as I’m not bored and my workouts are always different, but challenging.

Sometimes, temptations come into our lives in the mask of challenges. We thought it’s a test of our tolerance, but if you’re not confident about it from the beginning, you will fail. If someone challenges you to run a 5-min mile when you’re 50 pounds overweight, and you take that challenge, it will only harm your self-esteem in the long run as you fail repeatedly. Why am I saying this? Because I see people like this everyday and I myself used to be that kind of person. Now I’d rather look ridiculously stupid but sooner or later I can run a 5-min mile at my own time, at my own pace, which is why I refused all those personal training offers.

Over time, I try not to stress my body anymore, but to listen to it and respond accordingly. I heard that regular 30-minute-or-more exercise lowers stress, strength training slows down aging, and that you should never underestimate rest and recovery in your training: Canadian Olympians who maintain good sleeping habits from early on perform better than those with sleeping problems. America’s renowned marathoner Ryan Hall says: “Sleep is huge in my sport. Recovery is the limiting factor, not my ability to run hard. I typically sleep about eight to nine hours a night but then I make sure to schedule 90 minute ‘business meetings’—aka naps—into my day for an afternoon rest,” whereas most endurance athletes tend to experience insomnia on most nights.

Amanda L. Ebner, MA, MEd, tells Everyday Health: “If you focus only on the old-fashioned cardio-and-weights duality, you will miss out on some amazing workout alternatives, such as power lifting (strength), high-intensity interval training (speed), team sports (agility), marathon/triathlon training (endurance), and yoga (flexibility).” Her advice? “Try to identify the areas of fitness in which you are weakest and take up a workout activity targeted at building those missing skills.” (Source)

The most important lesson I learned is that prevention is better than cure, in fitness and in life. That’s a quote from my boyfriend, and I have a lot to learn from him. He’s cautious and I’m risky. He’s careful and I’m careless. And so on. We have very different temperaments, that’s why I think we go well together.

Ever since I’m with him, I have tried and will keep trying to stay safe with my workout progress, knowing that I can go further and faster in time but not right now. I’ll go slow like a turtle and get approached by personal trainers who offer free training sessions so that they can stop the perspired hog from huffing and puffing.

If you want to know whether I’ve improved, well, I have. Last time I measured, my waist-to-hip ratio was 0.78 (25.5 and 32.5). Now it’s 0.72 (25 and 35). That’s close to a sweet spot of 0.7, which is the ideal proportion for a woman.


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Authentic pho’ sure

Summer rolls: This has been my third or fourth time here. Each visit brings more customers. When it used to be relatively deserted, Pho’ House is now receiving its due recognition. Location-wise they’re strategically nestled in the heart of Pluit at Muara Karang, where local neighborhoods especially favor foods from the Orient (most inhabitants like my family are the Hokkien-speaking migrants from Medan in North Sumatra). For the appetizer, we normally order the classic ricepaper-wrapped shrimp roll, or gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese. Since the restaurant’s gaining more visitors, I’m not surprised they’re currently out of it. But don’t worry, this one is worth trying too. Another spin to a classic Vietnamese dish, the chả nem, or “(fried) spring roll”, is usually prepared as a wrap of minced pork, but we ordered chicken instead, and they tasted as delicious as a welcoming summer. Traditionally Vietnamese rolls are prepared with sliced carrots, jicama, and kohlrabi wrapped in salty golden-brown crisp with meat, then dipped into a sweet condiment (combination of fish sauce, lemon squeeze, vinegar, and perhaps some more sugar) to taste.
Phở bò (Noodle soup with beef): One thing I love about the pho is how little preparation it takes. It’s amazing how much natural ingredients the dish relies on to make for its signature flavor. Both chả nem (with pork) and phở are listed on the “50 most delicious foods in the world” on CNN. Pho’ House serves their rolls, quality of noodles, and its respective broths true to their original taste (comparable to the same dishes served at family-owned restaurant Turtle Tower, which won the #1 spot as The Best of CitySearch 2009 for Vietnamese Food in San Francisco). For someone who doesn’t normally enjoy eating meat, much less its flank and steak, I did not dare to try anything on this dish but the broth. Warm, hearty umami travels down my belly, then invigorated with the scents of lime juice, mint, basil, cilantro, onion cuts, bean sprouts, and chili peppers. It was a refreshing slurp (and burp).
Phở gà (Noodle soup with chicken): I love this dish. I squeezed in extra lemon juice and mixed in all the dressings into the broth. The result is a bowl of long and soft white rice noodles with fleshy but sweet chicken meat, bathed and spiced up in hot, fragrant soup. You can never stop at one spoonful – there’s a bittersweet quality to the whole combination, notably from their use of fresh produce and the wonderful textures they provide to the human teeth. From a delicate stalk of cilantro leaves to the chewy twigs of bean sprouts, the medley enriches the taste by adding a vibrant contrast to an already-fragrant broth. Simple, original, and yummy for sure. (Note: Of course I left out the internal organs, i.e. lungs and heart… but meat lovers will surely enjoy them).




Pho’ House Vietnamese Noodle Soup
Jl. Muara Karang Blok L9 Timur No. 5-6
Jakarta Utara 14450
(021) 660 2989







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The pleasant surprise I got

This is an update following my post yesterday:


They are both taped on my desk now for my daily inspiration :)


In his big bag of surprise, in addition to these fat piggy miniatures, there are boxes of Tieguanyin (Chinese Oolong tea) leaves, Chinese teapot, Chinese snacks and Chinese sweets. He’s only been gone in 4 days, but apparently home is always on his mind…


This tiny teapot is the perfect gift for tea lovers from all walks of life. Besides preserving the temperature and aroma of your tea, the pot simultaneously acts like a strainer too. The opening of the spout is so tiny it retains the tea leaves in the pot whenever you pour your tea into a separate cup.


We went to an authentic Chinese body massage last night at Yu Yuan Tang. My fixed air-con arrived late afternoon yesterday. My room is full of minced garlic to naturally drive the mosquitoes away.

#WhatMadeMyDay I slept long and well last night. I am blessed, and this is why the whole idea of gift-giving is my passion 0=)








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Goal distance for coming week

This post is just one of those self-affirming words I tell myself to improve my current state, sort of a motivation I give myself but hopefully it motivates you to take a step further too. 



Counting today, the past week my weekly distance has been:


0.96 + 1.8 + 1.03 = 3.79 mi

:( That’s insufficient to prepare for a 10k race :( The previous week I only went to the gym once, so that week the distance I covered was a sad 1.52 mi :(

Ok, ok, stop frowning, Stace. You’ve got 19 more days to prepare. Barely 3 weeks. You can do it.

Next week, I want to increase my weekly distance into 5.5 miles. That’s not exactly a baby step but it’s achievable, considering my current progress. In fact, like I mentioned, every gym visit does not only include a treadmill workout, but others too. Normally it looks like I go to the weight room first, then an interval on the elliptical for 10-15 minutes, and then the treadmill. Then some light stretches and extra leg workout, plus a bit of abs.

But I decided not to count any of those. I decided to focus on my running. That’s how much it takes me to warm up for a good run.

I can do it. 5.5 miles a week, that means going to the gym 5 times a week with roughly the same distance I’ve been running at one workout. And that’s the plan.

#WhatMadeMyDay I’m going to get a good full-body massage tonight! (Been ages). I’m also going to receive a surprise from my boyfriend! (Which I have no idea what). He just came back from China yesterday, and I just want to see him for now. That’s all.


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Fitness Journal: Feeling weak :(

0.96 mi run in 11:02 min (pace: 11’31″ / mi)

 Music Album: “Sirens of the Sea” by Oceanlab



What a difference a few days make :( I didn’t mention about the humidity of my hometown, did I? Basically you can’t really survive without some sort of fan when you’re going to spend a lot of time indoors, i.e. desk job, playing video games, etc. Ever since I came back, which has been almost 3 weeks now, the air conditioner in my room has not been working well.

Humidity, air pollution, poor sewage system and the fact that we’re along the Equator are factors that make up this one hot place.  What’s worse is a global issue in third-world countries like us suffering from malaria, which comes hand in hand with diarrhea.

Anybody who’s visited Indonesia will get bitten at least 10 times within a week. Since I’m currently freelancing, I work a lot from home, in my room, and I tolerated my malfunctioning air conditioner for almost 3 weeks (really, really hot at 17 degrees C, fan at its highest with hi-power button turned on) when it began to leak, and I had huge buckets for the water to fill up for almost a week (because during lebaran, all business are closed nationwide). Then the mosquitoes came around, and day by day they multiply. I had no choice but to keep working in my room. I sprayed insecticide every night while still working in my room.

And this morning,the result on the treadmill came.

I didn’t gain any weight or whatever. I kept on eating healthy and everything. I was still able to lift 6 kg weights and endure up to 30 reps in 4 sets for 2 kg weights. What’s lacking is my quality and quantity of sleep, and that affects my breathing rate and therefore my heart health, with the addition to sniffing insecticides every day all day long. So I had my air conditioner fixed yesterday. The workers brought them back to the warehouse yesterday. Once fixed, they will bring it back, supposedly by late afternoon today.

Deadlines are deadlines… I have to work in this condition no matter what. I learned the hard lesson: Unless you want to damage your health, you should never stay in a room with sprayed insecticide for at least 1 hour.

Everybody knows there are a lot of unsolved national problems in Indonesia. Every country does. There’s quite a few that needs immediate fix: Traffic jam, anti-corruption efforts, national security. I don’t feel I have the power to speak about any of these affairs, but I know we can all do at least something to improve the environmental issues.

When it comes to the disgusting sewage system, the basic thing to do is keep everything clean. Never underestimate the power of being hygienic. Nasty stuff grow out of your backyard sewage. I know I haven’t shared this story on this blog before, so here it is. It’s quite normal for most households near the coast to flood during the monsoon season (I live near the airport and the sea). Every year my house floods in late January to February. More than once we had eels swimming in our living room downstairs (I know!). Thank God my room is on the second floor. I will never forget them eels because they ruined my Sailor Moon comic, and not just any cheap comic but the colored version on glossy print!!! They tried to eat all the pages but they couldn’t. Stupid eels.

Always, always wash your hands AND feet. Going further on personal hygiene, I see a lot of people, even grown women, who don’t wash their hands after they do their business in the stall at public restrooms. I can’t imagine what’s happening in the men’s room. But I can imagine that unwashed hand going into your own food. Ew. In addition to that, and I know this will be difficult, I want to reduce my waste as much as I can. I don’t want the nasty mosquitoes to infest all perimeters of my house!

Also, I try my best to keep my feet clean. Mosquitoes LOVE smelly feet. Ever since I came back I haven’t been using slippers at home. I’ve started wearing them again yesterday. That way my feet remained clean when I was in bed last night. It didn’t smell good but it didn’t smell bad.

Throw your rubbish into the bin. The next thing I’m going to say is something I’m quite sensitive about, but most Indonesians, including my own family members, are extremely ignorant about it. I always throw my rubbish into the bin. If there’s no bin around, I keep the waste in my hand while I drive or walk until I see a bin. Everyday I witness drivers from all kinds of race, gender, and religion throwing out tissue papers out of their car windows on the streets. Or empty bottles and cans. Mosquitoes LOVE them. But don’t we all hate mosquitoes?

Clean water and its accessibility: I’m still hopeful for the nation’s economy to move forward, and I think the government should invest a good amount of money on improving clean-water access. It’s costly, I know, but it’s one thing that I’m confident about that will make the workforce in Indonesia stronger, and this is one of those things where a little action goes a very long way.

I believe water is a human right. Here’s the scenario when there are no clean water for every one of us: The poor will waste about 50-70% of their lifetime traveling distances just to get buckets of clean water – the same waters that might have been nested with mosquito eggs. They won’t have time for education, so as the people throughout the nation who face an unpromising future. This does not disadvantage only the needy. The rich are no different than the poor – it affects them just the same on a biological level.

Water is life. Everybody needs it. Our bodies are made up of up to 80% water, so we have to supply it with sufficient drinking water throughout the day. I myself am equivalent to an elephant, drinking (now) at least 4 liters a day plus innumerable cups of tea. When I was in the States, on average I need 3 liters a day. I am blessed that I come from a family with sufficient wealth to purchase clean water, but what about the other “elephants”?

One person will survive a day without food, but that person can die a day without water.

More than one person have died as a result of mosquito bites and drinking dirty water.


Even if you see inconsiderate people doing all these unpleasant things on the street, I think we can at least help by preventing the things we don’t want to happen for ourselves. We don’t like mosquitoes. We don’t like dirty water. We don’t like to urinate on our food. We don’t like smelly feet (imagine Megan Fox or George Clooney smelling your feet and I’m sure you’re going to clean it right away). So we must save the embarrassment from happening if celebrities want to smell our feet, or at least prevent them all in the first place.


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Photos: Wildlife within reach


This post is a photo collection from my visit to Taman Safari in Bogor, Indonesia.

It wasn’t that long ago since I last visited a zoo (San Diego Zoo). I might be a bit biased, but my Taman Safari experience had been much more memorable than what I had in San Diego. Yes, I’m biased that this is my country, but it’s way beyond that. Fact is, cars are allowed encouraged to enter the territory, so visitors are able to get intimate with the animals while staying within the safety of their personal vehicles.

Continue reading Photos: Wildlife within reach

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A Continental drift


I confess: I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a wholesome experience. I always do my reviews based only on the quality of food served, without taking into account of other factors such as the price range, quality of service, and its ambiance.

For such an eclectic approach to its concept, I’d say Ocha & Bella still has a large room for improvement if it decides to raise its standards to an international level. In the last five years, none of my San Franciscan dining experience, ranging from the most upscale restaurants to the cheapest grubs on the street, has been this poor in the service department.

(For one thing, we were still working on our plates when the waitress gave us the bills. It’s ironic considering the restaurant was quite deserted at that time, though usually overbooked in the afterhours. These waitresses were wandering around our table all the while we refused to hand out our credit cards upon finishing our meals. The courtesy when handing out bills before the customer is done is to say “whenever you guys are ready”, perhaps with a smile, right?)

Despite so, what keeps me coming back (this my fourth time, though a first for lunch) is its foreign allure – high ceilings indoor, open airs outdoor, and an open kitchen, all set under the backdrop of true blues and jazz tunes. Nestled in the heart of Jakarta, it’s an ideal location for a lunch-break rendezvous and cocktail parties alike. For most, it’s a go-to downtown escapade from the bustling city, thanks to its impressive interiors.


Complimentary tin of crusty garlic breads and cheese sticks: Excellent nosh for a starter, though a little too salty. Classic dressing of olive oil and balsamic vinegar does the trick to neutralize the sodium.
Al Salmone Insalate: This is something new on the menu. An exquisite presentation, I must say, with great attention to detail. Warm, pink salmon slices were poached just tender enough to savor slowly. Pink peppercorn spiced up the dish a bit. Double the pink with grapefruit zest spritzed on to bed of greens and radicchio. Perfect texture, but too bland. A dash of salt would go a long way for this peachy delicacy. Nevertheless a suitable salad to  (Note the clever plate design to let the forks rest nicely on each end).
Linguine al Cartoccio, Ocha style: Another polished presentation. I was curious about this dish as it was marked as an all-time favorite on the menu. Being a seafood junkie, this was close to heaven for my taste buds. Prawns, clams, squids, sea bass slices, and mushrooms tangled in linguini al dente. Traditionally, before placing the platter into the oven, it’s essential for baked pasta dishes like this to first boil the pasta just tender but still firm enough for the husky teeth to bite. Baked with herbed and spiced seafood galore, the palate was elegantly wrapped in Carta Fata for its finishing touch. The result? It’s gentle, it’s crisp. And each spoonful is biting to the lips. A definite pleasure for the romantic.
Pesce del Giorno al Cartoccio: Another latest addition to the menu. Warning: The grand gusto requires at least 20 minutes of preparation until it’s ready to serve, but it was worth trying. I lost my appetite by the time the dish finally came around. It was not written on the menu, and the waitress gave us no notice about the waiting time when she took our orders. Yet once I dug deep into the meat, I was enticed. This is a whole sea bass stuffed with sizzling dried tomatoes, drizzled over olive oil and showered in white wine, and topped off with more sprinklings of cherry tomatoes, traces of dried dill, fresh clams and mushrooms before it’s then left to bake. Dish was then bundled “in a bag”, or “Cartoccio style”, preserving the raw flavors percolated into the mild flesh. Besides binding the rich tang of seasonings together, the bag acts like an off-white canvas to complete the colorful presentation. There’s a wealth of sensations in the aftertaste. Sweet and sour, umami and bitter, ample saltiness to taste – a hearty relish for both the health-conscious and the lustful belly. Squeeze just one or two lemon zest on the soft, aromatic plump… then dig in!







Ocha & Bella
Morrissey Hotel (formerly Citadines Quartier)
Jl. KH Wahid Hasyim No. 70
Menteng, Jakarta Pusat 10340
(021) 310 5777