Body & Soul: Valerie Bertinelli Finds Her Happy Place

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How Hard Work Paid Off

"There was no hiding behind Spanx for that one," Bertinelli says of the swimsuit reveal for Jenny Craig last spring. "I was hesitant, but I was working out so friggin' hard." Her trainer had her walking up to 20,000 steps a day and she monitored every morsel on her way to a remarkable 123 pounds. Why a bikini? "I thought, 'Why not show this body off?'" Bertinelli says. "I'm almost 50 and I haven't felt this good about myself since I was 16." The image of Bertinelli in a green two-piece that appeared on the cover of People last April was so jaw-dropping that bloggers tried to prove her head was secretly Photoshopped onto the body of a younger model. It was not.

But it's more than just her svelte figure that has Bertinelli bopping around like a teenager these days. After decades in a rocky relationship she has found a steady partner in Vitale, an investment fund manager whom she met in 2004 while she and Van Halen were separated. He's now her workout buddy as well as the rudder that helps steer the large blended family the couple has assembled (including four children from his previous marriage). Meanwhile, Bertinelli is using her renewed career momentum to develop a TV talk show and a workout DVD, which is due this month. "If my life's work is being an inspiration to people, then hell, I'll sign up for more of that," she says.

Bertinelli heads downstairs and into a living room replete with stunning views up and down the coast. "There are a lot of ways to eat. If you use food for comfort, that's not okay," she says, curling up on an oversize sofa. "I'm Italian and food is love, food is family. But food also makes you a real fatty if you're not careful."

She's quick to admit she has no answers -- only strategies -- for what works for her: Stop eating when you're full. Eat what you want (within reason) but in small portions. Don't leave tempting foods lying around. "It's a constant challenge," she says. Asked what she has learned by watching the former Jenny Craig spokesperson Kirstie Alley gain back her weight, Bertinelli says, "I understand it. What woman doesn't? I told her to come work out with me. You need support. Otherwise it's 'I'll start tomorrow, then tomorrow,' and tomorrow never comes."

Bertinelli looks to her trainer and Vitale to keep her focused. She and Vitale recently completed a half marathon, which is still a sore point for Vitale. "She's older than me, yet somehow I finished eight minutes after her," he says, laughing.

Continued on page 3:  Feeling Good About Herself


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