Valerie Bertinelli Explores Life After Diet

"Finding It" (Simon & Schuster, 272 pages, $26), by Valerie Bertinelli: The latest from actress Valerie Bertinelli on her journey from fat to fit, is a breezy, entertaining account of her effort to keep off the 40-plus pounds she famously lost as a Jenny Craig diet spokeswoman. Losing weight, Bertinelli found, was the easy part; staying thin while confronting life's challenges proves more daunting but ultimately more rewarding.

Bertinelli's pluck and girl-next-door charm have made her a fan favorite in the decades since her star turn as the teenage Barbara Cooper in the 1970s comedy hit "One Day at a Time." And so it is with this book, a sequel to her best-selling 2008 memoir, "Losing It."

In "Finding It," Bertinelli shares her insecurities about parenting (she has a teenage son, Wolfie, from her first marriage to rocker Eddie Van Halen); her lack of formal education; and the fear that, as a 48-year-old woman in youth-obsessed Hollywood, she will never find work again.

In darker days, Bertinelli, a self-described binge eater, would have turned to the fridge for comfort and relief. But now, determined not to embarrass herself after her well-publicized Jenny Craig triumph, Bertinelli learns to confront her demons in healthier ways _ hiking outdoors, becoming closer to her parents and boyfriend Tom Vitale, and exploring a new relationship with God.

"I was still hungry _ as hungry as I had ever been," Bertinelli writes. "It was a different kind of hunger, though: one that I couldn't satisfy with food, and had no desire to."

Despite its spiritual strivings, "Finding It" is ultimately more about Bertinelli's body than it is about her soul as she agrees, reluctantly, to pose in a bikini for Jenny Craig's new ad campaign.

Once that deal is struck, the book becomes a chronicle of Bertinelli's preparation as she hires a full-time trainer to help her whittle away inches that would never disappear through diet alone. Her workout regimen is so intense and her obsession with her "muffin top" and derriere so extreme, by the time she steps before the cameras in a skimpy blue bikini, you're relieved the whole ordeal is finally over with.

"Finding It" is witty, warm and conversational, as Bertinelli takes the reader into her confidence and exposes more about her life than we may want to know (from her late night sexual romp with Tom that gets recorded on her digital calorie counter to her musings about why asparagus makes urine smell strange.) It's a feel-good crowd pleaser with a likable, self-effacing protagonist who always seems more like a sister than a star.