"My body back at the Playboy mansion was the most important thing in life back then because we were in the spotlight every minute," Wilkinson said. "We had to look good. The girls who gained the weight, those were the girls who didn't get the work."
Staying beautiful and thin meant a successful career for the Playboy Bunnies, and Wilkinson said some of the girls at the mansion were on extreme diets. Others had eating disorders.
"There were girls who were bulimic," she said. "Girls just became perfectionists. I said, 'You know I am not going to end up like some of these girls do and stick my finger down my throat and throw up after every meal.' That's just not me."
But behind the cameras, Wilkinson said she secretly struggled with her weight even then.
"I went crazy with the food," she said, referring to when she lived in the mansion. "We had personal chefs so, of course, I used and abused that opportunity. I was like, 'give me nachos, steak every night.'"
Wilkinson said she got into a horrible routine of overeating and oversleeping, staying in bed sometimes until two in the afternoon. Eventually it caught up with her.
"Actually Hef called me out on it," she said. "I'm like, 'I think I'm gaining weight,' and Hef said, 'ya, I can see it.' It's not like he was being mean, he was just being honest, and I was like, 'thank you, that's what I needed!'"
It was a wake-up call. Wilkinson said she started working out daily and eating healthier meals, trading those nachos for salads and giving up chocolate and soda. When she became pregnant, she slipped back into her old eating habits.
But now Wilkinson said she is finally happy with her body again. Weighing 120 pounds, she is just 15 pounds shy of her pre-baby weight. Her exercise routine includes taking regular walks and trips to the gym in Minneapolis, Minn., where her husband, Hank Baskett, plays football for the Minnesota Vikings. She added that she has cut out nearly all junk food from her diet and sticks to healthier food choices like smoothies, and even her son's baby food.
Wilkinson said she was even asked to pose for Playboy recently, but turned down the offer because she's now a mother.
Her career has gone above and beyond the pages of the magazine but her body remains at the center of it all. Wilkinson said she earns $2 million a year from her reality show. She is now also the paid spokesperson for Abcuts, a dietary supplement and has a workout DVD.
Her most important piece of advice: don't let weight consume your life.
"I stopped obsessing," she said. "I put the scale away, I turned the lights off in the bathroom. The second I stopped obsessing was the second I started to see results. I started to look good and feel good."