March is National Nutrition Month. In light of that I had an opportunity to interview Latin weight loss celebrity, motivational speaker and certified nutrition consultant Alejandro Chabán. Alejandro founded the Yes You Can! Diet Plan, known as the first ‘diet plan with a Latin flavor,' that combines nutrition, movement, mental health and natural supplements to transform the lives of many without having to turn down your favorite meals. His key beliefs are to incorporate healthy eating and movement in a natural setting, without having to endure boring and strenuous workouts at the gym or trying fad diets that aren't effective.
Alejandro has been inspired by his own weight loss story of losing over 150 pounds and overcoming anorexia and bulimia and has helped teach celebrities such as Chiquis Rivera (daughter of the late Jenni Rivera) how to live a healthier and fit life. Currently featured on the cover of February's People en Espanol, Alejandro and Chiquis describe Chiquis’ success on the Yes You Can! Diet Plan that resulted in her losing over 30 pounds in just months!
1. What is the background of your weight loss journey?
When I was about 15 years old, I weighed about 314 lbs. My dad worked a lot and the only time we really bonded was over a meal. He would praise my ability to down two plates of food in one seating. It made me feel great! But, on the flip side, I began gaining a lot of weight and soon I was the target of everyone's jokes at school. I started suffering from very low self-esteem, and was on a very dangerous spiral when it came to nutrition and my health. Acquiring the love and attention I sought from my dad, became a very painful experience. The funny thing is, I didn't need to do all that; my dad loved me just as I was, I just didn't realize it. One day, I woke up and made the firm decision that I would be no longer overweight. I said to myself "Alejandro, the fat kid, dies today; a new Alejandro is born."
I then began trying anything and everything to lose weight without any success: miracle drops, injections, mesotherapy, meal replacements, counting points, etc. etc. Nothing worked. So, in the middle of my desperation and without the proper advice, I began losing weight the wrong way and later became bulimic and anorexic. It was a really scary experience, but I still lost weight and got attention, first from my parents who were very worried and then from my friends who instead of making fun of me, began including me in their activities. So, more than being scared for myself, my biggest fear was gaining weight again. While I had become skinny the wrong way, I thought it was worth it; the bullying stopped and I started my career in acting. However, thanks to my family, I realized what I was doing to myself and with the right advice, counseling and effort, I was able to find an easy, fun and healthy way to have the body I wanted while feeling great inside and out. Once I got really healthy again and was able to maintain it steadily, I realized I had found a solution that would work for me for my entire life. I now want to share my experience and that solution with as many people as possible. I don't want anyone out there who is going through the same thing I went through to think that he/she is alone. There is a way, there is hope, we can all do it and we don't have to suffer. I can definitely vouch for that.
2. Why did you decide to create the Yes You Can! Diet Plan?
As I mentioned, once I was able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep my weight, I realized I wanted to share my story. If by doing so I can, in any way, spare someone like me some of the pain I went through, I really needed to do that. So, I decided to write a book; a simple story that told my experience battling obesity, anorexia and bulimia, and some of the tips I found that helped me keep it up. When I began promoting the book, an amazing thing happened – people started relating to my story, to the way I felt then and looked at the solution I had found as something they could do as well. Thus, I saw I had an opportunity to help people change their lives just like I did. To give that bullied boy or girl looking at me from the other side of the television a chance to transform his/her life. That became my inspiration, my goal, my dream and my new purpose in life. I created the Yes You Can!™ Diet Plan because while there are many diet plans out there, none of them take into consideration the Latin culture and/or the idea that you can eat what you like and still lose weight. I wanted people to realize that dieting is not a punishment; that dieting can be fun, rewarding and very freeing if done the right way. Thankfully, to date, we've had thousands of pounds lost and thousands of people who have been able to transform their lives forever!
3. How do you feel your program makes an impact on our lives?
I feel the Yes You Can!™ Diet Plan makes an impact in our lives because it is not a fad or yo-yo diet. This is a solution; a plan that will last you a lifetime. Once you learn the concepts that the Yes You Can! Diet Plan explains, you will never forget. The solution will always be in the palm of your hands. It will be up to you to use it or not, but I can tell you most people who do transform their lives forever. The program teaches you when, how much and what to eat. It also gives you 7 steps to emotional health to help you stay focused on your diet, offers a different perspective on exercising that doesn't require you to be at the gym 24/7and offers delicious, 100% natural supplements to help you gain results efficiently. It is very complete.
4. How has the Yes You Can! Diet Plan made an impact on Chiquis’ life and what changes has she made that made her succeed?
Chiquis had battled with weight loss all of her life, just like me. Given the tough year she had with the loss of her mom back in December of 2012, she sort of lost focus on her goal of losing weight. When we met, I was able to give her a new perspective and together we worked on getting her on track towards a healthier lifestyle. How the plan impacted her life, only she can tell you, but what I can say is that every day she tells me how happier she feels and how easy it is to have the shakes, for example, help her keep up with her schedule, curb cravings, etc. She has taken a whole new approach to eating and maintaining her body and this has helped her succeed. After all, most of our success will be dependent on our attitude and how determined we are to meet our goal.
5. What is the greatest nutritional mistake people make?
Skipping meals! I cannot emphasize this enough! People think that eating once a day or skipping breakfast or not eating at night will help them lose weight fast. NO! This is unhealthy - believe me, I know - and slows our metabolism down. We have to eat 5 times a day: Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, and dinner. Ideally every 3 to 3.5 hours we should be giving our body something, preferably protein. This helps keep our metabolism working and our body burning fat. This is why the Yes You Can!™ Diet Plan protein shakes are so convenient and popular: They come in individual bottles and are intended to be taken as snacks, not meal replacements. By giving our body high–quality protein as a snack, we are boosting our muscles ability to burn fat and keep our metabolism going. Additionally, most of us have a sweet tooth and crave something sweet for snacks. The shakes taste like dessert, so they help curb cravings and keep our body fuller for a longer period of time, until our next meal. To everyone out there I say: Eat! (But learn to eat the right things)
6. If you were to give an obese person one piece of advice, what would it be?
1. If I did it, you can do it as well.
2. Believe in yourself. It all starts from there.
3. Don't get desperate. Take it one day and one pound at a time. We cannot expect to lose in 2 months the weight that has taken us years to gain. It is a process of willpower, determination and patience.
4. Your worth is not determined by a number on the scale. In order for the entire process to start and work, you have to start looking in the mirror and loving and understanding the person that you see in there. You have to believe in you. Yes You Can!