Michelle Gayer, Salty Tart owner/pastry chef, newly fit mom, 41, Minneapolis
For 20 years, Michelle Gayer nibbled her way through her work days as a pastry chef. When she was nominated for a James Beard award in 2010, she decided she didn't want to be the fat girl on stage. When she saw an ad for a trainer painted on the side of a car, she rang up Michael Stoltzman, made sure he worked with "normal people" and went from a sedentary, sweat-makes-me-uncomfortable lifestyle to the mom who drops her kids off at school and runs around the lake before 8 a.m. -- and the chef who goes weeks without even a bite of broken cookie.
No experience necessary: "My fitness background? I have none. Zero. I just made the decision one day to do something about it and hired a trainer -- because it doesn't work when I say I'm going to the gym or I'm going to start walking. None of those things ever worked, so I needed someone to be the boss of me and show up at my door."
Spice girl: "Before I'd be like, 'Oh, no, I don't sweat. That sounds uncomfortable.' Now I'm like, 'Another time around the lake!' It's my new Sporty Spice personality. I want to try every sport in the world! It's fun. I want to go canoeing. I snowboard in the winter. I ate a lot of snow at first. My friend and I go when the kids are in school because we're the two old ladies on the little bunny hill. By the end of the year, I could do the chairlift and get off without them having to stop it. I like to say I'm the fittest fat person I know."
No excuses: "I have a treadmill smack dab in the middle of the living room. I try to run Monday through Friday -- that'd be a really great week. I work out with the trainer two times a week; it used to be three. [Getting a trainer] changed my world. I couldn't even do a split squat the first day -- I had to hold onto chairs."
Finding willpower: "I face land mines all day: broken cookies on a sheet pan, the end of a baguette near some open brie cheese; it's just unfair. Before, I just did whatever I wanted -- and I cleaned my 9- and 10-year-old daughters' plates. And I drank wine every night -- I'd tell myself, 'You deserve two or three glasses of wine; you're cooking dinner for the family!' I cut out all the fat, white flour, sugar, liquor. I cut out all the fun. And drank lots of water. And stopped eating after 6 p.m., and started having smaller meals because my day starts at 5 a.m. We put whole-wheat bread on the menu at Salty Tart so I could have a plain turkey sandwich."
... Most of the time: "I had a cookie today. The whole-wheat peanut butter one with party sugar that cracks and looks so pretty -- it was just one of those days. But I've gone weeks at a time when I don't have a cookie. I was super diligent for nine months, and lost 50 to 60 pounds."
Family support: "I still have 20 pounds to go. My daughters like that they can hug me a lot better. But it's been a progression; it's not like I got my hair cut short."