You'd never know from looking at him, but morning show host and celebrity turned entrepreneur Alejandro Chaban struggled with obesity as a young man--weighing over 300 pounds in his teenage years.
After trying multiple diets, he eventually dropped down to a mere 115 pounds. At this point, he was so fearful of gaining the weight back that he became afraid to eat at all--creating a new problem: he was now bulimic and anorexic. The struggle to find the middle, healthy ground was very real. Once he did, he became one of Spanish Language TV's most successful actors, making the cover of Men's Health magazine and being named one of the "Most Beautiful" and "Sexiest Men" by People Magazine En Espaol and Cosmopolitan. But this didn't change his mindset.
"When I first looked at those magazine covers, I wondered why they would ever choose me," Chaban recalls. "I still feel like I did when I was an overweight teenager. So I've made it my mission to help people get healthy and feel good about the body they have--no matter what size it is. I have even more passion for this than I did for acting."
Chaban used his stardom to open a dialogue with the Hispanic community about obesity--telling his personal story at two weight extremes. His honesty inspired many of his fans to change their eating patterns, which prompted Chaban to become a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Going even further, he worked with a team of experts to create a diet plan and nutritional products that would help others become more healthy.
"Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig are great, but they don't resonate with me as a Latino. It's not the kind of food we're used to eating," he says. "So I started by hyper-focusing Yes You Can! to the Latin family- using the food and physical activities we like to help people stay healthy, happy and active."
Alejandro used his past experience and passion to create a gap in the diet industry - and it certainly paid off. His Yes You Can! Diet Plan achieved over one million in sales its first year. Two years after that, it grew by 1,000 percent.
"Our culture is inclusive--it's all about good food, dancing, and being with your loved ones. We wanted to create a healthy lifestyle with a Latino flavor to share with everyone--not only Latinos," he says.
Chaban's demographic is astronomical. Today, more than two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight and one-third are obese. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 20 million women and 10 million men in America struggle with an eating disorder, such as anorexia and bulimia--which is equally harmful. One of the most difficult aspects of food-related addiction is that you can't remove yourself: you have to eat. This is why having the right mindset is so crucial to staying healthy.
"Helping people love themselves and optimize their health is what fuels me to keep innovating," Chaban says. "Entrepreneurs cannot make any real change unless they themselves are passionate."