"There is no magic number that will make me feel good about myself," says Bertinelli.
Food Network host Valerie Bertinelli has dealt with severe body images all her childhood. In her book Enough Already, Bertinelli wrote, "I had pretended to be the bubbly upbeat all-American girl," she writes, "but in private, I have rarely thought of myself as anything but a failure." She opened up about her childhood and how the shame regarding her weight piled on as she grew up, according to the book excerpts shared by PEOPLE in 2022. "I watched my father treat my mother badly when she would gain weight," she recalls. "I had a 5th-grade teacher poke my belly and say, 'You want to keep an eye on that.' So I learned at a very young age that when you gain weight, you're not lovable. And what I'm learning is that your body is not what makes you lovable."
As a young star on the enormously successful comedy One Day at a Time, she would compare herself to her costar, Mackenzie Phillips, telling a reporter once that she looked like "a ton of lard" standing next to her. She later became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig. "I wasn't trying to get healthy or deal with the reasons I had gained weight over the years," she writes. "I had split from Ed and I refused to take money from him. As a single working mom, I needed to make money. Jenny Craig was a good job." Bertinelli, 62, woke up one day and realized how much the weight insecurity had gotten ingrained into her thoughts. Something did start to alter two years ago when she woke up thinking she needed to lose 10 pounds. That one morning she again stepped on the scale again, but she thought to herself, "No. I can't be doing this again."
It took the death of her first husband, the remarkable musician Eddie Van Halen, who died of cancer in October 2020, for her to realize what actually counts. "The goal is to live in the moment," she says, "and not according to the scale."
"I gave up the damn scale," says Bertinelli. "I haven't weighed myself since I finished writing the book and all I know is every time I put on my jeans, they fit. I don't have to lay back and put them on! Every time I want to get on the scale, I think, 'Why would you do that Valerie?' Because it's not about the number. There's not going to be before and after photos. Whatever happens, happens."
Her sorrow led to a deeper awareness and she gradually learned to see the magic in everything — a sumptuous meal, listening to her son Wolfgang's new music or simply watching cat videos. Following her role model and former Hot in Cleveland co-star Betty White, she tries to always feel grateful. "There is no magic number that will make me feel good about myself," says Bertinelli.
Bertinelli is no longer judging herself. She's surely a lesson in being kinder and more accepting of oneself.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | John Lamparski