As the fall season wraps its vibrant hues around us, my thoughts inevitably turn to Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays as a time that encourages gratitude and giving in abundance. And it’s in this season of thankfulness that I find myself profoundly grateful to have had the privilege of working with my clients to coach and lead them through their own fitness journeys. During this time, I want to highlight and share a dedicated client’s journey that has not only transformed his life, but has proven to be an immensely gratifying experience for us both


Finding the right fitness and diet is not a one size fits all.  It’s about figuring out what works the best for your body and your goals.  Ultimately, it’s all about cracking the code that is specific to what your body needs and then developing the crave from within to execute the code.  Which leads me into sharing a heartwarming tale of one man who transformed his journey from developing culinary foods to a slim and trim “fitness connoisseur”.  A man who decided to match his gourmet talents in the kitchen with decadent workouts that proved to be life-changing.   Meet my client, David Ortiz, known as the Financial Chef, whose incredible transformation story is bound to leave you both inspired and hungry for your fitness success.


David has had a lifelong fitness journey, with fluctuations in weight and various attempts with different diets and exercise programs.

“My fitness journey has spanned my entire life. I was always the chubby kid, coming from a family of chefs and using food as comfort. I was always on a yo-yo journey of “trying” to get fit”.

At the age of 48, David’s weight reached its highest at 285 pounds, which led him to eventually having gastric sleeve surgery.  After the surgery, the weight dropped to 185 pounds!  He was thrilled with the weight of his new body but he lacked muscle.  Sadly, surgery was not the ultimate solution.  His weight eventually crept back up to 240 pounds again!  He was back in this yo-yo state which made him question what to do for his health. 

David’s weight continued to fluctuate up and down the scale for years, leaving him feeling exhausted, depressed, and beyond frustrated.  With the support of his lovely wife, Gilda, they continued to try different diet and exercise trends hoping one would stick.  The diets included keto, vegan, paleo, vegetarian, pescatarian, Mediterranean, along with the most popular and trendy workout programs… all of which failed to produce lasting results.

Fast forward to the changing times of the pandemic. There were unknown moments we all endured and for many it gave being “home bound” a new meaning!  Durning this time, David’s true fitness journey changed his life for the best.

“Prior to the pandemic, my wife and I discovered Pilates and enjoyed taking classes together five days a week.  We wanted to continue our Pilates training, but in-person classes were put on pause.  I saw an infomercial on the Total Gym and it immediately reminded me of how good it felt to exercise.

With excitement, we purchased the Total Gym Fit in hopes this would accommodate the lack of in-person classes. I also found Total Gym TV which helped guide me through new workouts with a variety of trainers. I went through many of the videos, which I really enjoyed.  This is where I found Maria Sollon.  Maria resonated with my wife and I. We were curious to see if Maria could train us privately on the Total Gym.  We found her through her website and right after Labor Day of 2021, and we started working together three days a week. 

Maria shared her philosophy, which was much different than what I believed, so I initially resisted many of her ideas.  However, as we continued to work together, I saw continuous improvement. The online training helped keep my wife and me accountable as she could train us from anywhere!  Since she was accountable to keep our scheduled trainings going at all times, we were accountable as well. 

We spent two years working together and I became completely consumed and obsessed with the Total Gym.  I stopped even thinking about a diet because of what Maria taught me.  She showed me how to find the balance between strength workouts, cardio sessions, and still be able to enjoy life.  With this balance, my mindset and goals changed.  I now understood that it wasn’t really about reaching a destination, but about the journey and making it a part of my life. That’s when everything changed.”


When I met David, I recognized him as an ambitious and passionate person who had a specific goal to lose weight and gain muscle.   One of my initial challenges was to get David to commit to a more well-rounded fitness routine that included a wider range of muscle development exercises.  What began with a goal for building muscle, David quickly understood that his workout style needed to change or his weight is going to just rebound back to where it was.  As a result, David’s goal transformed into something far more profound.  David was bought-in to our workouts which surrounded muscle development and toning, weight management, and injury prevention.  He not only mastered every movement on the Total Gym, but he also achieved the goal of this more holistic mindset.

What I loved about working with David was that he was fully committed to working with me and making a change both mentally and physically.  I give him 100% credit for his transformation because only he is in control of making a change.  And I know when he puts his mind to something, he doesn’t give up until he’s achieved the mission!

While we worked together, we re-tooled his workout-style. When I look back, it is clear that his inspiration motivated me and my motivation inspired him.  It was the perfect synergy!

His daily routine now includes Total Gym workouts, biking, invigorating pool sessions, and water exercises.  He learned the critical importance of core strength and nurturing the smaller muscles around the joints.  His transformation was also accelerated by his new dietary choices, as we all know, diet is a major part of the equation.  David’s commitment to patience and experimentation paid off as he discovered what worked best for him, maintaining consistency throughout the journey.

This is not just a story of weight loss. It’s a journey of breaking barriers. David embarked on this path at a stubborn 240 pounds, and today, he stands proudly at 181.5 pounds and holding.  His newfound physique is a testament to his inner strength, resilience, and commitment through a positive mindset.









In the quest to find the perfect recipe for success in the fitness world, sometimes all it takes is one individual’s inspiring journey to light the way for others.  I had the honor and pleasure of working with David Ortiz, the Financial Chef, whose incredible transformation and commitment, serves as an example of motivation for anyone striving to achieve their fitness goals.

Always believe in your inner power and let it fuel you to accomplish your deepest desires.

In love, gratitude, and honor,


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