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

Sitcom star-turned-weight loss pitch person, Valerie Bertinelli, gives readers a backstage pass to her life in "Losing It -- And Gaining My Life Back One Pound at a Time."

The actress, who shot to fame as a teen on the show "One Day at a Time," talks about losing weight, her failed marriage to a rocker and raising her teenage son. Read an excerpt of the book below and click here to check out more book excerpts in our library.

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."

A picture of Valeri Bertinelli on GMA.
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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 10-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.

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