"Who would ever think that a pro rugby player would get stuck with me and that he would change my whole life?" the celebrity chef said.

Maria Pasquini
June 22, 2020
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MICHAEL TULLBERG/GETTY IMAGES; ART SMITH/INSTAGRAM

This story originally appeared on people.com

Chef Art Smith never expected his weight loss journey would take place amid a global pandemic.

Smith, who has worked as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef for many years and written four cookbooks, recently revealed that since February, he’s lost 70 lbs. — and it’s all thanks to a family friend who just so happened to be visiting when the health crisis began to worsen.

Before returning home to Argentina, Lucas Cancelier, a rugby player and trainer, stopped by Florida for a visit with Smith, his husband Jesus Salgueri and their four children — and due to the health crisis, he decided to stay put.

While spending time together, the chef opened up about his struggles with his weight, and the pair decided to work together.

“[Cancelier] said, ‘Let’s try something!’ He put together an exercise routine for me. We ran to the sporting goods store and got some simple things like a yoga mat. And when nobody could go to the gym, we started running on railroad tracks turned into a walking path,” Smith told Today.

"Who would ever think that a pro rugby player would get stuck with me and that he would change my whole life? He's more than a coach. He's a mentor," said the celebrity chef, who weighed 330 lbs. at the start of his weight loss journey.

Smith, who turned 60 last month, now frequently shares his workouts and healthy comfort food recipes online, and has also praised Cancelier for helping transform his life.

“February 1, 2020 a friend from Argentina came to visit and saved my life,” he wrote on Instagram earlier this month. “Under his professional guidance, even with a #pandemic we met our goal.”

The chef went on to share that in addition to having his Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure under control, his weight loss journey has also helped him combat his anxiety. “I want to say thank you to Lucas for saving my life and believing in me,” he added, sharing that in the future he hopes to run the Walt Disney World Marathon.

Back in 2011, the Top Chef Masters alum previously lost over 120 lbs. Then in 2014, he said he regained 50 lbs.

Sharing some of the tips that have helped Smith, Cancelier told Today that in addition to limiting sweets and cutting out processed sugar, it’s important to come up with an exercise routine that you can do every day — and enjoy.

“If you want to enjoy eating, you have to enjoy train(ing). You train 30 minutes in your house and you can enjoy it. You make it normal," he told TODAY.

As life across the United States slowly returns to normal, Smith also says that he plans to work with Cancelier to add healthy items to his restaurant menus.

This story originally appeared on people.com