Salty Tart owner Michelle Gayer hoisted peanut butter cookies at her Midtown Market bakery. Somehow, she manages to avoid temptation.

Marlin Levison, Star Tribune

Pastry chef now living the sweet life

  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • October 8, 2011 - 5:33 PM

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."

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