A New Valerie Bertinelli: ‘I’m Finally Letting Go Of This Demon’

(April 15, 2007) — Valerie Bertinelli is back in the spotlight, as the new spokesperson for weight-loss program Jenny Craig.

After taking a four-year break from acting, the “One Day At A Time” star has dedicated herself to not only pitching the program, but participating in it herself.

image courtesy of Jenny Craig

“I don’t know what the heck I was thinking,” Bertinelli tells Access’ Nancy O’Dell. “You know what I was thinking? I was thinking, if [the weight] ever comes off, this is the only way it’s gonna come off, because I don’t hold myself responsible, but somebody else has to.”

And while she’s happy that she’s virtually being forced to diet, the decision to lose weight in front of millions of people was not an easy one.

“It took me about a week to really think, God, do I really want to do this?,” she admits. “Once I do it, I’ve just, I’m gonna be living my worst nightmare. I’ve always been so secretive…I felt like Oh my God , they’re gonna photograph me, and the next thing they’re gonna say is, you know… ‘Jabba the Hutt.’”

She finally got over her trepidation by thinking of Kirstie Alley, who successfully lost 75 pounds as the last Jenny Craig spokesperson.

Kirstie Alley In A Bikini On ‘Oprah’

“Jenny Craig called, they’ve been trying to get me to lose weight for a long time,” Valerie says. “So my first reaction is like ‘Oh my God, everyone knows I’m fat!’ As soon as I processed it I realized, you know what? Kirstie had so much bravery doing this in front of everybody, and she looks spectacular. I’m gonna do it. Why not? I’m gonna do it. I’m so happy I said yes now.”

Alley ended up giving Bertinelli some sound advice for getting through it all. “[Kirstie] said, just be aware that you’re life is going to change,” says Valerie. “She said, you’re going to find something changing inside you that you never thought you had, because you’re gonna go on this journey and it’s gonna empower you.”

She remarks on some practical advice Kirstie gave her as well:

“She said, don’t go to fast food restaurants, even if [Bertinelli’s 16-year old son] Wolfy wants a burger, anybody wants a burger, don’t do it — because they’re going to say, you know, you’re eating the whole restaurant!”

Valerie chalks up her weight gain to simply being a devoted mother, and not caring as much about what she ate or how she looked as she did before she had her child. But, as she tells Nancy, there was a limit:

“Before I knew it, I had to buy a larger size pair of jeans and then I had to buy another larger size, and I thought , once I got to size 14 I’m not doing it again, that’s it. Once the 14’s got tight, I gotta do something about it.”

And while Bertinelli’s goal is to lose 30 pounds, she recalls a time when she was younger that keeping weight on was an issue for her.

“There was a couple years there where I just didn’t eat. Almost anything,” she reveals. “And I got down to 98 pounds… and that’s not good either.”

It was her former husband, Eddie Van Halen, who alerted her to the fact that she might have a problem, as she recalls:

“Ed said to me, ‘you know what? I can’t, I don’t even like holding you, I can feel the bones, you know in your back.’ So that gave me free reign to go to Carney’s and go everywhere I wanted to go and eat. So a couple years later I was [larger], then I was just up and down, up and down.”

So, what does her ex-husband think about her choice to do Jenny Craig?

“He just said ‘congratulations, good for you,’” she tells Nancy. “He said, ‘I got sober, you’re getting thin, this is great!’”

And Valerie does feel great, as she proudly reveals:

“It’s only been a little over a month for me right now, and [Kirstie] was right. I feel so much stronger and happier that I’m finally letting go of this demon I’ve had for almost all my life.”

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