Highlights From My Trip Home to Atlanta

Trips home always feel super quick. There’s never enough time to do everything any of us want. While this trip was similar in that way, we still did quite a bit all things considered.

- After picking me up from the airport on Wednesday, my mom and I drove to Vishnu’s house to have dinner with his parents. I wasn’t going to have another opportunity to see them on this trip, so we went straight there. It was fun as usual! Our dinnertime conversations never fail to make me laugh (A LOT!).

- My dad and I went back to the airport to pick up my sister on Thursday. That evening, when my parents left for a henna party, my sister and I went to Cold Stone for ice cream! I texted my sister last week telling her I wanted Coffee Oreo ice cream at some point during my trip. When it came time to decide where to go, Cold Stone was the perfect place because we could both create whatever flavor combinations we wanted. I went with coffee ice cream, Oreos, and fudge. Aekta got a mix of cake batter and cheesecake ice creams with brownie pieces.

Cold Stone ice cream
- We made a day trip to Clyde, North Carolina on Friday. My mom got an email about a temple located on Mt. Soma, so we decided to make it a family trip. The drive was really scenic with the tree filled mountains being my favorite! The temple itself was on the smaller side, but the surrounding views were absolutely beautiful. If we lived closer, I could see myself visiting regularly.

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- We tried two new restaurants over the weekend. Burger 21 was a Yelp find that turned out to be a winner all around. My mom and I split two different veggie burgers, while my dad and sister got their own chicken burgers. We also split sweet potato fries and regular fries (these came with a tasty cheese and ale sauce). I definitely want to get a milkshake next time…the Oreo one was calling my name!

On Saturday, my sister and I decided to take my parents to Antico in the city. Aekta and I had both been before when the restaurant first opened in 2009, but since my parents never really venture into the city on their own, we decided to make the drive down. And it was so worth it. The brick oven pizza is some of the best I’ve had in Atlanta. And the entire city agrees – not only was there a 15 minute line to get in, but we had to grab a table across the street because there was no indoor seating at the actual restaurant. YUM!

Antico Pizza Atlanta
- My mom made Upma (a savory cream of wheat porridge of sorts), and it was so freaking good. It’s a little spicy, creamy, and very hearty. When I went to take a picture, my dad looked at me and said, “Parita, it’s just Upma.” JUST UPMA!? Maybe to him. Haha. I had a couple of (huge) servings on Thursday as well as on Saturday.

Upma

My mom also made her famous lasagna on Sunday before my flight. Her “secret” ingredient is a can of refried beans that she adds to the sauce to help thicken it up. It’s pretty much one of my favorite things to eat when I come home!

- I am officially obsessed with The Mindy Project. My sister, knowing I would love the show, asked if I wanted to watch it with her. She even offered to start with season 1 episode 1. I am now four episodes in and in love with Mindy. She’s a little annoying and I’m often embarrassed for her, but there’s something about her that’s easy to relate to and so fun! Seriously, start watching this show if you don’t already. My sister put it best when she said that it’s the perfect way to end a bad day because you’re guaranteed to laugh!

- And finally, I have some sad news. After 12 years of togetherness, my nose ring and I broke up. As I was brushing my teeth on Thursday morning, I noticed my nose ring looked funny. After a closer look, I realized it was literally stuck in my nose. When I tried to pull it out, the area around it started bleeding. After almost 1.5 HOURS, a few tears, some pain, and a little blood, I managed to pull my nose ring out with a pair of tweezers. My poor mom was by my side the entire time helping in any way she could. We were both SO relieved when it finally came out. And while I’ll miss having a nose ring, I’m not going to get a new one. I’m done! Thursday’s experience was pretty traumatic.

Have a great Wednesday!

Focus T25 – Week 5 (Beta) + My Overall Thoughts

I am DONE with Focus T25! I know I say this about everything, but the 10 weeks just flew by! I can honestly say that I am proud of myself for (more or less) staying on schedule and incorporating some running into the mix.

Before I share my overall thoughts, here’s what week 5 of the Beta phase looked like for me:

Monday – Rip’t Circuit
Tuesday – 3.25 mile run (in the morning) + 2 mile power walk (in the evening)
Wednesday – Rip’t Circuit
Thursday – Speed 2.0
Friday – REST!
Saturday – 3.0 mile run with my sister
Sunday – REST!
Monday – Rip’t Circuit

*For a more detailed explanation of what each workout entails, please read my week one beta post.

This week was a little all over the place. My sleep schedule was completely off, we took a day trip on Friday, and the heaviest dumbbells at my parents’ house are 3 pounds. So I adapted. The run with my sister was killer – GA heat and humidity will do that to you! And because I want to say that I finished the program in its entirety, I completed my final T25 workout this Monday.

I’ve thought a lot about the program over the past week – what I liked, what I didn’t like, if I would recommend it to others. I even talked to Bijal (my cousin), Erin (my coworker), and Robin (my friend) about their experiences since they also did some of the program with me. And it’s funny because for the most part our thoughts align.

What I liked about Focus T25:

  • I could do all the workouts from the comfort of my own home. And if you travel, this is an easy program to take with you. I was able to do the Alpha workouts in my tiny NYC hotel room.
  • You don’t need a ton of equipment – just a mat and some dumbbells (for the Beta phase).
  • You sweat A LOT! I loved knowing that in just 25 minutes I was getting a good solid workout.
  • Shaun T is a great instructor – very motivating and fun.
  • The modifier option is awesome. I loved how every workout came with a modifier and that it was the same person. Very helpful, especially in the beginning.
  • It’s just 25 minutes…and they honestly fly by!
  • I was able to incorporate some running into the weekly plan.

What I didn’t like about Focus T25:

  • It’s A LOT of cardio. I love cardio as much as the next person, but I know for a fact that my body responds better to strength training, so that was little frustrating in the beginning.
  • Not all the workouts are challenging. Don’t get me wrong – by no means was this an easy program. I just felt that some of the individual workouts were a little on the less strenuous side. If I’m only going to work out for 25 minutes, I want to work as hard as I can.
  • Risk of injury is high if you aren’t super careful. Because I have a knee that acts up every now and then, I took it easy when needed. I know that Robin and Erin both experienced some leg pain when doing some of the moves, so it’s a very real possibility.
  • This is probably more my issue than anything else, but I didn’t get the results people talked about on the Focus T25 forums. Of course, I didn’t follow the nutrition plan nor did I drink the Shakeology drinks. I ate the way I usually do (which is healthy for the most part) and started watching my portion sizes around week 3. I most definitely feel a lot stronger, especially in my quads and even my core, but the inches didn’t melt off the way they supposedly did for some people. Erin and Robin also felt the same way. Vishnu thinks it’s because we didn’t have a ton to lose in the first place. Regardless, not the most devastating thing but I definitely pictured my final results to be a tad bit different. Haha.

Would I recommend Focus T25 to others?

So here’s what I think. If you are someone who needs a structured plan to get you back on track in terms of exercise, this is a great program to help you do so. If you have substantial weight/inches to lose and are willing to put in a lot of hard work both in terms of exercise and eating, this may be for you.

If you are prone to injury and have had issues in the past, Focus T25 may not be for you. If you are already in decent shape and are looking for something to take your results to the next level, this may not be for you. If you don’t enjoy tons and tons of cardio, this is definitely not for you!

Would I do the whole 10 weeks again? Probably not. Did I enjoy it? For the most part, yes and am glad I tried it.

My final results:

I honestly didn’t weigh myself on a weekly basis but can say with 99.9% confidence that my weight remained the same. I still fluctuate in the same range I did pre-T25.

And I think I lost a total of 4 inches. I say think because my way of measuring is not an exact science. I tried to be as consistent as possible but I could be a little off here and there. Not too shabby I suppose.

If you have any questions regarding Focus T25 and/or my experience, please feel free to email me at any time!

And that is it…no more Focus T25 posts! If you’re interested in reading my weekly recaps, please find them below…

Alpha Week 1
Alpha Week 2
Alpha Week 3
Alpha Week 4
Alpha Week 5
Beta Week 1
Beta Week 2
Beta Week 3
Beta Week 4

CK Mondavi + Risotto

Since meeting Robin last year, I’ve really gotten into wine. And by “really gotten into wine” I mean I actually pick something other than a Riesling when given the option! Robin’s super knowledgeable and has taught me a lot about different types, the way they’re made, how different regions affect taste, etc.

So when I was recently given the opportunity to try four different kinds of CK Mondavi wines, I jumped on it! And I invited Robin over for a personal tasting.

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Before I share more about the types of wine we tried, I have to mention a few special facts about CK Mondavi. CK Mondavi is the only American made/grown win in the “supermarket wine under $10” category, AND it’s sold nationwide in every US state. If you’re “really into wine” like me, this is the perfect time to try CK Mondavi wines because a percentage of each bottle sold between May-August is donated to Intrepid Fallen Heroes (up to $50,000), an organization that supports the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families.

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Robin and I had the pleasure of trying the following CK Mondavi wines: Blonde Five, Chardonnay, Scarlet Five, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our thoughts…

Blonde Five – very fruity with a sweet aftertaste. This was Robin’s favorite out of the four we tried. We thought it would pair well with white meat, fish, and summer vegetables.

Chardonnay – a little oaky with a mix of fruity and citrus flavors. We both liked this one and thought it was fairly refreshing. This wine would pair well with a heartier meal – pasta and a creamy cheese sauce perhaps.

Scarlet Five – a full-bodied and well-balanced wine with hints of cherry and plum. Surprisingly, this one was my favorite. I loved the bold flavor and aftertaste. This wine is special as it based on five red varieties – Cabernet, Merlot, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc, and Malbec. Personally, I think this would go with any food pairing!

Cabernet Sauvignon – slightly more full-bodied, oaky, with hints of lemon. Again, this wine was also refreshing but a little bolder than the Blonde Five. This would pair well with some chicken/seafood and creamy pasta.

Overall, we were fans of all the wines and agreed that we could see ourselves buying a bottle…or two…in the future.

Not only did I try the wine, but I cooked with it as well! I made what is quickly becoming mine and Vishnu’s favorite homemade meal – risotto. It’s rich, creamy, and delicious. And when you use a good wine, it increases the flavor so much!

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A quick tip for cooking with wine – pick something you like to drink. I’m not a pro by any means, but that always works for me.

This particular risotto was made with the Chardonnay, shitake mushrooms, and basil walnut pesto. I honestly could’ve eaten the entire batch myself! It would pair perfectly with a side salad and a glass of wine for the perfect summer meal. You could also serve it with baked chicken/fish for some extra protein.

One more tip – remember to be patient when making risotto. This is a dish that can’t be rushed. When the recipe says to allow all the liquid to absorb before adding more, make sure the liquid is absorbed! Just trust me on that!

Shitake and Basil Walnut Pesto Risotto
Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
10 ounces of shitake mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 cup Arborio rice
2/3 cup Chardonnay (or wine of choice)
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup basil walnut pesto
½ cup parmesan cheese

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and butter and allow to melt. Add shallots and mushrooms and cook until shallots are translucent (about 5 minutes).

In a separate saucepan, heat broth over medium heat.

Add rice to shallot and mushroom mixture and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add wine and allow to cook for another 3-5 minutes until wine is absorbed. Keep your eye on the rice and stir frequently. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/3 cup broth to rice mixture and stir until broth is absorbed (don’t stop stirring!). Repeat until all the broth has been incorporated and absorbed. Turn the heat down to low. Fold pesto and parmesan cheese into the rice mixture. Adjust seasonings as needed. Enjoy!

Basil Walnut Pesto
*Note: this pesto will be a little thicker than usual because it is being added to the risotto.

1 cup basil leaves
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Add basil leaves, walnuts, and parmesan cheese to food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add lemon juice and olive oil and process until the mixture is creamy in appearance. Season with salt and pepper as needed.

If this doesn’t make your mouth water, I’m not sure what will!

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I hope you enjoy lots of wine and delicious homemade meals (made with wine!) this summer.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.