Trim Your Winter Waistline

March is officially the Month of Pudge. Old Man Winter has taken its toll, leaving a flabby, unsightly version of us behind to deal with. If the thought of shedding clothes for the warmer weather terrifies you, you’re not alone.

We asked Jay Obertance, a personal trainer and self-proclaimed gourmand, for some advice. Jay was born and raised in Toronto, OH and attended Franciscan University in Steubenville. He works at Edgeworth Club in Sewickely and ultimately plans to open a wellness center in Pittsburgh focusing on his two passions: nutrition and physical training. “You could say I was inspired to be as good a cook as the rest of my family. It’s almost like when you watch something so many times you become fascinated by it,” remembers Jay. This fascination for cooking has led Jay to assemble a collection of recipes he calls his cooking Black Book. We asked him to reach into his Black Book and find us an easy-to-make recipe that features Asparagus. This vegetable will make its way back to the grocery store shelves this month, and it’s chock-full of vitamins and minerals. Here’s what he came up with:

Warm Asparagus, Fennel, and Spinach Salad


1 medium fennel bulb (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
4 teaspoons lemon juice
8 ounces asparagus spears, trimmed
4 cups fresh spinach
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil


  1. Trim off stem end of fennel; quarter fennel but do not remove core. Place fennel in a small microwave-safe dish or pie plate. Add the water. Cover with vented plastic wrap. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) about 4 minutes or until nearly tender; drain.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, for dressing, in small bowl combine oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; whisk until smooth. Brush fennel and asparagus with 1 tablespoon of the dressing; set remaining dressing aside.
  3. Grill fennel on the rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium heat for 5 minutes, turning occasionally. Add asparagus to the grill; grill vegetables for 7 to 8 minutes more or until vegetables are tender, turning occasionally.
  4. Transfer fennel to a cutting board; cool slightly and slice into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices, discarding core. Divide fennel and asparagus among 4 dinner plates. Arrange spinach on top. Drizzle with remaining dressing. Top with Parmesan cheese and basil.

And what about getting our bodies back in shape? We asked Jay to suggest a simple do-it-at home work out that can easily be done outside as the weather begins to warm up. Here’s what he recommends.

“Use a medicine ball; it’s amazing! You can do total body workouts from your home without the clutter of dumbbells, and you can even use it for cardio so there’s no need to buy expensive machines,” starts Jay. “Also use a weight that is challenging. The balls can weigh anywhere between 5 to 30 lb. I usually recommended 8lbs for new clients.”

Squat to Pass Technique. Stand holding a medicine ball close to your chest with both hands, your feet just beyond shoulder-width apart [A]. Push your hips back, bend your knees, and lower your body until the tops of your thighs are at least parallel to the floor [B]. Then simultaneously drive your heels into the floor and push your body back to the starting position as you press the ball over your head. [C]. Lower the ball back to the start. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

Stepper Crunch. (really target core) Lie on your back with your legs straight. Use both hands to hold a medicine ball above your head and barely off the floor [A]. Simultaneously raise your torso and bend your right knee toward your chest as you bring the ball over your knee and toward your foot. [B]. Reverse the movement and repeat, this time bending your left knee. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

Medicine Ball Push. Starting in a traditional push-up position, toes tucked under, place your palms on the medicine ball, and shift your bodyweight forward until in plank position. [A] Keeping the core tight, and the head aligned with the spine, slowly lower the chest toward the ball until it nearly touches, keeping the elbows pinned tightly at your sides. [B] Finish the move by pressing upward through the arms until they’re fully extended. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

45 Degree Twist. (really targets the obliques) Grab a medicine ball and sit on the floor. Lean back at a 45-degree angle, raise your legs and feet off the floor, and hold the ball with both hands in front of your chest, your arms straight [A]. Without dropping your legs or arms, rotate the ball and your torso as far as you can to the right [B]. Then reverse direction, rotating all the way to the left. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

Medicine Ball Push up. (Adjusted) With one arm on the medicine ball do a push up. After one push up roll the ball to the other arm and repeat. Do 4 sets of 15 repetitions.

Ignacio Filippini is a Bikram Yoga Instructor since 2010. He has a past life in design and marketing strategy. He’s thrilled to be part of the magazine.