Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time

Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time

3.9 95
by Valerie Bertinelli

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Valerie Bertinelli, then: bubbly sitcom star and America's Sweetheart turned tabloid headline and rock star wife. Now: actress, single working mother of teenage rock star, and weight-loss inspiration to millions.

We all knew and loved Valerie Bertinelli years ago when she played girl-next-door cutie Barbara Cooper in the hit TV show One Day at a


Valerie Bertinelli, then: bubbly sitcom star and America's Sweetheart turned tabloid headline and rock star wife. Now: actress, single working mother of teenage rock star, and weight-loss inspiration to millions.

We all knew and loved Valerie Bertinelli years ago when she played girl-next-door cutie Barbara Cooper in the hit TV show One Day at a Time, and then starred in numerous TV movies. From wholesome primetime in America's living rooms, Valerie moved to late nights with the hardest-partying band of the decadent eighties when she became, at twenty, wife to rock guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Losing It is Valerie's frank account of her life backstage and in the spotlight. Here are the ups and downs of teen stardom, of her complicated marriage to a brilliant, tormented musical genius, and of her very public struggle with her weight.

Surprising, uplifting, and empowering, Losing It takes you behind the scenes of Valerie's acting career and marriage, recalling the comforts, friendships, and problems of her television family, her close relationships with her parents and brothers, the stress and worries of being the wife of a rock star, and the joys of motherhood. Like many women, Valerie often remembers the state of her life by the food she ate and the numbers on her scale. So despite her celebrity, Valerie's voice is so down-to-earth, honest, and appealing that you'll feel as if you're talking with a girlfriend over coffee. Funny and candid, Valerie recounts her attempts to maintain a healthy self-image while dealing with social pressures to look and act a certain way, and to overcome career insecurities and relationship problems, all of which will be familiar to the hundreds of thousands of women who struggle every day with these same issues.

From marital turmoil to the joys of a new career, from being named among Penthouse's ten sexiest women in the world to overhearing whispers about her weight gain in the grocery store, this is Valerie's inspiring journey as she finds new love, raises a terrific kid, and motivates other women as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig.

Editorial Reviews

Valerie Bertinelli has gained and regained shape before our eyes. On One Day at a Time, we watched her, as "Barbara Jean Cooper," develop from an awkward 15-year-old girl into a sexy young woman. More recently, we have shared her triumphs as she dropped pound after pound as the new Jennie Craig spokesperson. In Losing It, this popular veteran of numerous TV films entertainingly recaps her continuing fight against flab by placing it in the context of her often-troubled personal life, including the end of her 20-year marriage to rock star Eddie Van Halen. This memoir speaks candidly about the joy of motherhood and what it was like to be the wife of a music legend.

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Bring Home the Fun

Some people measure depression by the medication they take or the number of times per week they see a therapist. For me, it was different. I measured my depression with baked jalapeño-and-cheddar-cheese poppers, the brand that advertises itself with the slogan "Bring home the fun."

I'd love to meet the person who came up with that line and ask him a question. Is it really fun to see yourself blow up three dress sizes?

I suppose they wouldn't sell as many if their slogan was "Pack on the pounds." On the other hand, they may do OK with a promotion that said "Forget your ex-husband" or "Eat these instead of having sex -- since nobody wants to see your fat bare ass."

During the cold winter months of 2002-03, when I was making Touched by an Angel in Utah, those jalapeño-and-cheese poppers were my Prozac. I was on a significant dosage: at least nine a night and sometimes more. At the grocery store, I saw other women looking at me when I loaded the boxes into my cart from the frozen food case. I could almost hear them thinking Oh my gosh, that's Valerie Bertinelli. And look: she's on those jalapeño poppers.

It was true. There were nights when I OD'd on those poppers. My mouth burned because I couldn't wait for them to cool down after taking them out of the oven. Other times I savored the taste with tiny, almost sensual bites, drawing out the feeling of comfort and escape I got from eating. The bright smile that served me well for so many years went into storage. So did my size 8 jeans. And my 10s. And my 12s. And my -- well, my weight soared past 170 pounds, the highest it had ever been outside of my pregnancy.

Those were some of the darkest days of my life, and I was eating my way through them. By 2001 my marriage to Eddie Van Halen was over after more than twenty years of competing with his rock-and-roll lifestyle for attention. Our fights about his drinking had taken a toll. Discussing and solving our problems used to bring us closer, but now it wore us out. Ultimately, when he failed to help himself by giving up cigarettes after mouth cancer had threatened his life, I knew, sadly, that one way or another I was going to end up on my own.

By then I was working and living in Utah eight months of the year. Full of anger and frustration, I spent at least three nights a week on a plane so I could see our ten-year-old son, Wolfie, who stayed home in Los Angeles to be in school with his friends. That wasn't the way I wanted to live or the type of person I wanted to be. But instead of helping myself, I did the opposite. I ate my misery and turned my misery into a reason for eating.

Overweight, alone, and horribly depressed, I kept eating poppers and everything else in my path. After Touched went off the air, I returned home and became a hermit. I hid from the world, hoping no one would see that I'd gotten fat. In reality, I was hiding from the one person who could help solve my problems: me.

That was hard to believe. Over the years, I'd tried every diet on the bookshelves -- from the grapefruit diet, to Weight Watchers, to the lemon juice and cayenne pepper fast -- and all of them had worked as long as I stayed on them. But once I stopped, the weight came right back, and, unfortunately with a little extra. While I hate to admit it, I was on the verge of giving up and accepting that I was never going to look the way I wanted to -- or feel the way I wanted to either.

I used to say half-jokingly that I was going to give up, move to the mountains, and be the quirky old fat lady down the street with forty-some-odd cats.

I'm glad I didn't. Instead I ended up outing myself on the cover of the April 4, 2007, issue of People magazine by declaring, "I know what you're thinking -- I'm fat." Publicly, it was the start of a diet where the stakes were total humiliation and embarrassment if I failed to reach my goal. Privately, it was, as my fellow Jenny Craiger Kirstie Alley promised, not just a diet but really the start of a journey. She was right.

By any standard, I've enjoyed a charmed life. Even though I gained notoriety by working on TV, I shunned the spotlight in favor of a normal life, driving carpools, volunteering in my son's classroom, making dinner, and trying never to miss my monthly book club get-togethers. Of all the roles I've undertaken, none has been more satisfying than motherhood. I'm as much of a regular gal as people seem to expect -- and I like it that way.

If you walked into my house right now, you'd find my cat Dexter lounging on the sunny floor in the kitchen, a large bowl of fruit on the counter, delicious-smelling vegetable soup simmering in a tall pot on the stove, the recycling trash can ready to be emptied, and paperwork and schoolbooks spread across the dining room table. You'd also see my boyfriend Tom on the phone in the backroom, and me working the crossword puzzle, as is my daily routine.

Creating this happy picture was a puzzle that took my entire adult life till now to solve. By the time I went public as a size 14, I'd already done the hard work: confronting the fears, insecurities, disappointments, and frustrations that accounted for the three different sizes of dresses and pants I needed in my closet for my constantly changing weight. After that, it was just a matter of portion control, exercise, and self-discipline.

Since going on Jenny Craig in March 2007, I've surpassed my original goal of 30 pounds and set new targets for myself. But the weight I've lost doesn't compare to what I've gained -- or regained -- in my life. The weight loss and renewed zest for life go hand in hand. Kirstie had promised as much when she said, "Valerie, it's not about the weight. -What's going to happen is -you're going to quit hiding and discover the real you."

She was right. My relationships have never been healthier, including the one I have with myself, and I've finally found a joy that seemed beyond my grasp when I was reaching for those jalapeño-and-cheese poppers. Physically and emotionally, I'm a different person. It's like I'm hitting my stride. These days I really do bring home the fun.

In this book, you won't find me professing to have all the answers to life's problems. Hey, I'm still trying to figure out most of those. Instead this story is about the choices I've made, good and bad, and how I've grown and learned from them. There are also exciting times, emotional moments, and life as it happened. Through it all, you'll get me uncensored and unfiltered -- the good, bad, stupid, stubborn, size 14 and size 4. It's nothing more complicated, though as you'll see, it was complicated enough for me. Isn't it always that way?

If you're starving right now because -you're on a diet, ask yourself if your hunger has anything to do with food. I know the answer to that question. Look, we're all human. We go through the same things. If -you're in a dark place over some problem in your life, I hope that reading my story will help you feel less alone when you see that someone else has made the same mistakes and gotten through them. I hope -you'll relate to my story, learn from it, and, as I finally did, find the courage to change, shed any unwanted pounds, and gain all the good things you thought impossible.

Now where did I put that bag of chips?

Just kidding.

Valerie Bertinelli
November 2007
132 pounds
From Losing It by Valerie Bertinelli. Copyright © 2008 by Valerie Bertinelli. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Meet the Author

Valerie Bertinelli has been acting since the age of twelve, appearing in more than two dozen made-for-TVmovies. Most recognizably, she appeared on the long-running sitcom One Day at a Time and, more recently, on Touched by an Angel. Now a spokesperson for Jenny Craig, Bertinelli was raised in Claymont, Delaware, and in the San Fernando Valley, California, and was married for twenty years to Eddie Van Halen (they split up in 2001). Currently, she lives with her son, Wolfgang, in Los Angeles.

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Losing It: And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time 3.9 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 95 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The most crucial chapters were: 2-Tiny Dancer," how food became her comfort. 4-"You've Got The Part," her first job in showbiz. 8-"Love Lies Bleeding," how food became her drug of choice. 11-Runnin With The Devil," her early relationship with Eddie Van Halen & how quickly they got married. 13-"Aftershock," One Day At A Time gets cancelled & her depression begins. 16-"And The Cradle Will Rock," how her sons birth brought temporary stability to her family life. 17-"House Of Pain," problems with her husbands addictions leads to her gaining weight more than ever before. 19-"Black & Blue," covers the story of her divorce. 22-"Feel Your Way Tonight," how life became far happier when she meets a compatible man. 29-"Regaining My Life," how she maintains her new found weight loss via Jenny Craig & stabilized her life. This was an authentic & fast read for anyone who likes a celebrity who is grounded in reality. Bertinelli is honest with herself and she also reveals insecurities, fears, especially the fear of being fat. My opinion, that celebrities prefer the stigma of being a druggie rather than being fat. This book is not only about the weight loss, but the battle spreads into all aspects of our life. This biography is not just for gals or fans of celebrities. The author is honest & reveals her life in twenty nine brief chapters. There really could have been fewer chapter titles since the contents tended to overlap. Nonetheless, it works well. She is poignantly honest about her experiences, mistakes, weaknesses, fears & insecurities. But, she does so without the often heavy celebrity egomania. She actually comes across as very ordinary & kind.   
MommyOfMunch More than 1 year ago
Given the title, I expected the book to be more about her body image and weight struggles. While she complains about being 130 pounds (GASP!), she mostly describes her work and family. Her marriage and son are interesting. She refers to her own cocaine use like it's an everyday thing. I didn't find her very relatable, but the book was decently entertaining. Don't expect any life changing revelations or thought-provoking content, but it will amuse you.
Elle-Dinnell More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I was a little disappointed in this book. I was excited to purchase it and read it; actually picked it up in Chicago on a trip and read it within a day and half; but, I guess I thought of Valerie Bertinelli as the squeaky clean girl on TV and it turns out that wasn't true. I shouldn't have been surprised since she was married to a rock star and that scenario brings with it a whole lifestyle dynamic that would make most of us blush. I was hoping to read more about her weight loss journey and experience and what I got was a journey throughout her life and Van Halen's life. I guess it all ties in together, but I wanted to know more about her experience with Jenny Craig, the food, etc. It didn't seem to spend much time on that... maybe, the final couple chapters. Overall, it was an ok read for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is a quick read and some of the inside info about "One Day at a Time" and the Van Halen marriage is very interesting. However, there are some contradictions and such that just don't make sense. For one, I thought Valerie's remark about wishing she could win the lottery was insensitive and offensive, especially in these times. Come on. This woman has not known financial strife or even financial challenge for a single day of her life. She grew up the daughter of an executive and later married one of the richest rock stars to have ever lived. In between, she had her own successful TV show and starred in countless movies and specials. I can't believe something that stupid wasn't edited out.

Also, her incessant remarks about having strict parents got under my skin. Stric parents? Really? Maybe compared to Mackenzie Phillips, who appears to have had no parenting at all. But Valerie had sex at 15, and then went on to engage in a sexual relationship with Scott Colomby, eight years her senior. That is very nearly statutory rape in some states, and may well be stat rape in others. She was in his bed nightly until 12 midnight with her parents' approval, and she calls that a strict upbringing? And then, while still in her teens, she carried on with the much older Steven Spielberg. And all that cocaine. I don't get it.

Finally, I was bothered by the fact that she felt compelled to promptly admit her cheating on Scott Colomby to him, because "that's the type of person [she] is." Yet, if that's really the type of person she is, then why did she not feel compelled to come clean to Eddie Van Halen when she cheated on him?

Too many contradictions for me. I don't think Valerie is a bad person at all. To the contrary, I think she very much wants to be a good, decent responsible caring person. However, I think she has never been in touch with the real world or real issues, simply because she can't experience them on a like footing with other people. Weight loss is a lot easier,even under the Jenny Craig plan, if you can afford the meals. Most people I know would love to try it but they can't afford it. Also, try working your way through a troubled marriage when you have financial problems on top of everything else. This would be more inpsiring had it been written by a real person.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I agree with a previous reviewer. It sounds like she got stuck in her teens and the book reads like it. I thought she came across as obnoxious, not able to keep from blurting things out at inappropriate moments. It felt embarassed for her even reading this. Not a good book and whoever helped her write this did not do a good job at all.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I grew up watching Valerie on 'One Day at a Time' and always felt a certain kinship to her. So I was very excited to read her book, as I have put on 30 or so pounds since my early 30's. I must say that I was a bit dissapointed in the choices she made concerning the many sexual relationships that she was involved in. But it seems that she's getting her act together now that she has met her current boyfriend. And she is obviously a very devoted mother. I think her biggest problem was marrying at such a young age to a rock star. That was really the beginning of her problems. She has inspired me to lose weight, and I know how it feels to be hopeless once you get over 155 pounds. She gives me hope. Thanks, Valerie.
Miss_Daisy More than 1 year ago
Valerie Bertinelli fails to provide any surprises in her book. What she does reveal is that like many today, she is weight-obsessed. All her book does is continue the stereotype that if you're not thin, you're nothing. When I saw cute little Barbara on "One Day at a Time", I hoped that she would mature into a woman of some substance. Valerie Bertinelli reveals a shallowness that I found surprising, considering some of her performances. Alas, they were performances. Just rack this up to another in an endless series, of "Look at Me, somebody gave me free food and I lost weight". I found Kirstie Alley's book much funnier and original.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thought I'd be inspired by her weight loss story, but was bored instead by her tiresome marriage to 'Ed'Van Halen, her travels, and the worst yet, her career moves! Narcissistic and boring!
Guest More than 1 year ago
she rambles too much and all she talks about is how fat she is 'or was' when before she wasn't even fat overall i do not reccomend it it was poorly written and i didnt even want to finish reading it.valerie is a great actress and she should stick to it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im an avid reader reading 3+ books a month. This book is by far the WORST book Ive ever read EVER! Totally upset I wasted money on this crap!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amanda_P More than 1 year ago
Great book. A very fast read. Inspiring and honest. Interesting details about One Day at a Time and her marriage to Eddie Van Halen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Touching, inspiring, and motivating.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Some of the readers need to re-read the book....no contradictions...no stuck in her teens....enjoyed every minute of the book! Brought back memories of seeing myself in her,about the same age. Watched her and listen(ed) to EVH all the time....was very easy reading...couldn't put it down,liked the feeling she was "talking" to me. Sometime "true love" does come around a second time!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an easy read and I wasn't sure what to expect when I first decided to buy it. After a few pages it felt like I was having a conversation with Valerie and not reading a book. She made some mistakes along the way but we all do. I think we can all relate to her in our own ways and I can identify with her insecurities as well. It had to be hard and cleansing to talk about the issues she has had to face. Being able to have a mature relationship with your ex husband should set an example for all of us.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is horrible. It has illustrated how shallow, uneducated and narcissistic Valerie Bertinelli is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago