Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is Your Sunscreen Safe?

Bad news for sun lovers, the number of melanoma cases has risen every year from 2000 to 2009, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Wearing sunscreen year round is a MUST to protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

Did you know, much like processed food, sunscreen can have some pretty nasty chemicals in it? Here are some ingredients and claims you should stay clear of according to the Environmental Working Group.

Oxybenzone: Some toxicology experts say this chemical may disrupt hormones, damage cells and potentially lead to skin cancer, which is what you're trying to prevent in the first place!

Retinyl Palmitate: Retinyl palmitate is a form of vitamin A. A study by the U.S. government suggests that retinyl palmitate may speed the development of skin tumors when applied to skin is presence of sunlight.

High SPFsStudies show that sunscreen with SPF 15 can block about 93% of all incoming UVB rays. SPF 30 blocks 97%. SPF 50 blocks 98%. After that the numbers plateau, so you're paying more money for not that much additional sun protection.

How safe is your sunscreen? Find your brand in the EWG's database and see if it contains any potentially harmful ingredients. If your sunscreen receives a low score, you might want to consider switching to one of these EWG approved brands.

Be well and stay safe in the sun!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Best New Ab Exercises

Is your usual ab routine turning into a snoozefest? If the thought of having to do one more sit-up or plank makes you yawn, it's time to try something new. This simple ab exercises are just as effective as the tried and true methods, but will not bore you to death!

Russian Twist with Weight
Sit with your torso and feet off the ground, keeping your core tight. Hod a 5-10 pound hand weight.
Rotate your whole torso and weight to your left, stopping in the center and then to the right.
Repeat for three sets of ten twists.

Plank Walk Out
Start in a pushup position with your hands in line with shoulders and feet hip-width apart, forming a straight line from shoulders to hips.
Engage your core core and walk your hands out to a plank position.
Pause and slowly return to starting position.

Stability Ball Rollout
Start with your elbows on the stability ball and your knees on the ground.
Use your abs to roll the ball away from your body with your elbows, bringing your knees off the ground into a plank.
Maintain a straight line from your head to your feet.
Roll the ball in towards your body and back to the starting position.

Plank Drag
Start in position with a 5-to-10-pound hand weight next to your left hand.
Pick up the weight with your right hand and move it to your right side. Return to the plank position.
Pick up the weight with your left hand and move it to your left side. Return to the plank position.

Give these a try and let me know which one is your favorite!

Be Well,

Friday, May 2, 2014

Spring Clean your Diet with These Recipes

'Tis the season for fresh and tasty produce! Spring clean your diet with these fruits and veggies that are packed with vitamins. Here are a few of my favorites and a healthy recipe to go with each one.

Cherries: Cherries are a great low-cal snack packed with antioxidants.

Crunchy Sweet Nuts

  • 3/4 pound assorted nuts
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 6 teaspoons tamari
  • 1 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Combine assorted nuts, sugar, five-spice powder, and tamari. Spread mixture on baking sheet; bake 15–20 minutes. Remove from oven; add dried cherries

Radishes: There are only 19 calories per cup of radishes! Their high water and fiber content helps fill you up.

  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 (8-ounce) container plain hummus 
  • 4 (6-inch) whole-wheat pitas, halved
  • 4 green leaf lettuce leaves, halved 
  • 1 1/4 cups thinly sliced English cucumber 
  • 3/4 cup thinly sliced radishes
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Steamed Sugar Snap Peas

Combine rind and hummus. Divide hummus mixture evenly among 8 pita halves (about 1 1/2 tablespoons each). Divide lettuce, cucumber, radishes, onion, and cheese evenly among pita halves. Sprinkle with pepper.

Sugar Snap Peas: Heart healthy, high in fiber, low in calories and good for your immune system, spring sugar snap peas make a great on-the-go snack.

Sauteed Sugar Snap Peas

  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh sugar snap peas
  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Sea salt or fleur de sel, for serving

1. Remove and discard the stem end and string from each sugar snap pod.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the sugar snap peas, salt and pepper and saute, tossing occasionally for 3 to 5 minutes, until the sugar snap peas are crisp tender.

3. Place the sugar snap peas in a serving bowl, sprinkle with sea salt and serve.

Blueberries: Blueberries are full of vitamins and antioxidants like leutin and vitamin K.

Watermelon, Cucumber, Blueberry Salad

  • 1 cup diced watermelon 
  • 1/2 cup diced Persian or English hothouse cucumber 
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries 
  • 5 fresh mint leaves, chopped 
  • juice of 1 lime 

Gently toss all ingredients together in a small-medium bowl.

What are your favorite fruit and veggie recipes? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Vote For Alex as America's Hottest Trainer

I'm humbled, excited and honored to be selected as one of Shape Magazine's 50 hottest trainers in America!

To create a little competition, Shape is asking readers to vote for who they thinks is the hottest trainer. It's super easy to cast your vote. Just head to my page and hit the like button underneath my photo.

Thank you so much for your support!

Be Well,

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

AMBTF is Looking for an Intern!

Are you a college student with a passion for health and fitness? We want you to intern for AMBTF!

Applicants must be available to work from 10 am-4 pm three days a week in our Chicago office. The internship will be 2-3 months long.

While the internship is unpaid, there is an opportunity for hire upon completion.

Required Experience:

  • Customer relations
  • Client scheduling
  • Diet planning
  • Project planning
  • Experience with YouTube and video editing

Please send your cover letter and resume to Rob at

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

No gym? No problem.

I love the challenge of coming up with workouts when there's not a gym or equipment available. What can make it especially difficult is being tight on space. These exercises can even be done in the smallest of placeshotel rooms, dorm rooms and bedrooms.

Mountain Climbers
  • Start in a push up position.
  • Bend your right knee and bring your right foot forward.
  • Switch legs, brining the left foot forward and you put the right foot back.
Scissor Kicks

  • Lie on your back with your legs about a foot off the ground.
  • Alternate crossing one shin on top of the other.

Runner's Crunch
  • Start laying on your back with your elbows resting on the ground at a 90 degree angle.
  • Roll up to almost sitting and bright your right knee to your left elbow.
  • Straighten your legs as you roll down. 
  • Switch and do the other leg.

Other ideas:
-Jumping jacks, high knees and running in place are great exercises to do in small spaces. They also get your heart rate up quickly.
-Use a chair or a bed to do tricep dips and pushups.

What exercises do you do in small spaces? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Photos: Fitsugar, Men's Health, Skinny Mom

Friday, March 21, 2014

Healthy Spring Recipe: Fish Filets with Asparagus

Happy spring! It's been a brutal winter in Chicago and I'm excited to finally see the snow start to melt away. I always look forward to the arrival of fresh produce once spring rolls around.

One way to get creative with fresh veggies is this recipe for fish filets in parchment paper. It sounds weird to throw fish and veggies in paper and cook it, but you'll be amazed by how tasty it is. And there's virtually no clean up involved!

  • 4 15x15-inch squares parchment paper
  • 4 5-6 ounce fish fillets (such as halibut or cod)
  • 12 fresh tarragon leaves
  • 1 pound asparagus spears, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. Top half of each parchment square with 1 fish fillet. 
  3. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper and top with 3 tarragon leaves 
  4. Arrange asparagus around each fish fillet. Pour 1 tablespoon orange juice over each. 
  5. Fold parchment over the fish and asparagus. Crimp edges tightly to seal and enclose filling completely. 
  6. Place on 2 baking sheets. Chill.
  7. Bake fish packets for 17 minutes. Serve.
What is your favorite way to eat spring produce? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Photo via Sidewalk Shoes