Body & Soul: Valerie Bertinelli Finds Her Happy Place
Bertinelli slides open the doors of her bedroom closet and lets out a mysterious sigh. Satisfaction? Distress? It's hard to tell. At 49 the actress, mother, best-selling author, and weight-loss superhero looks as adorable as ever standing barefoot in a tie-dye sundress inside her Malibu beach house. Her face is naturally youthful, save for a few well-deserved laugh lines, and she still has the feathery brown hairstyle ("I color it but...whatever," she laughs) she's worn since the '70s sitcom One Day at a Time. Still, as she flips through clothes arrayed neatly on red and white plastic hangers, it's clear that Bertinelli and her closet have had a love-hate relationship.
"This used to be my misery collection," she says, blowing a wisp of hair from her face. "For years I hated all my clothes and how I looked in them, and I hated myself for it." Bertinelli plucks out a pair of skinny-girl jeans and smiles. "Now it's my inspiration cabinet," she says. "I look in here and everything fits. It's kind of a miracle."
A miracle built on self-discipline, sweat, and faith. Only two years ago, around the time she and rocker Eddie Van Halen divorced, 5-foot-4 Bertinelli weighed 172 pounds. She had a wardrobe heavy on puffy sleeves, elastic waistbands, and what she and her boyfriend, Tom Vitale, called "granny panties." Now she's a rock-solid 128 pounds with no plans to return to "dressing in drapes," as she puts it. "The weight is off for good," Bertinelli declares, shutting the closet behind her. "My stick-to-it number is 132 pounds. But if I hit 130 on the scale, it's time to lay off the mozzarella and get my butt out for a serious run."
Bertinelli first chronicled her weight-loss adventure in the 2008 best seller Losing It, and now comes the sequel, Finding It: And Satisfying My Hunger for Life Without Opening the Fridge. This one tracks Bertinelli's rise as a diet guru of sorts. "It's definitely easier maintaining your weight when a couple million people are looking over your shoulder," she says of her public commitment to stay lean. But Finding It is also the story of a down-to-earth mom juggling 1,001 everyday situations and setbacks. She freaks out when her teenage son, Wolfie, now a bassist for Van Halen, asks to spend the night at his girlfriend's place. She worries when her aging mom faces emergency surgery. The highlight, though, is Bertinelli's scramble to get into bikini shape for the whole country to see.