It’s hard to believe that Valerie Bertinelli, who became America’s favorite sitcom sweetheart as a teenager on One Day at a Time, will be celebrating a milestone birthday this month. “It’s always about moving forward,” says the actress and Food Network star, who will turn 60 on April 23. 

When she blows out the candles on her birthday cake, Valerie will be making a special wish that this new decade becomes her happiest yet. “The truth is — and this is hard to admit — it’s been a really hard few years,” says Valerie, who felt emotionally overwhelmed following the loss of her beloved father, Andy, in 2016, followed by her mom, Nancy, last June. 

“The sadness from her passing and the last few years combined grabbed a hold of my heart and stayed there for a bit too long.” Grief led Valerie, a former Jenny Craig spokesperson who has always been open about her lifelong battle to maintain a healthy weight, to backslide into some unhealthy habits, like comfort eating. “I’ve used food as a way not to feel the sadness or the stress,” she confesses. “But by eating something away, all it does is make me feel worse about myself.” 

Valerie Bertinelli honoured with a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, America - 22 Aug 2012
Jim Smeal/BEI/Shutterstock

Fortunately, Valerie isn’t alone. She counts on support from her husband, Tom Vitale, 52; her son, Wolfgang “Wolfie” Van Halen, 29; and a circle of close friends — including her ex-husband, guitarist Eddie Van Halen, 65. “She surrounds herself with healthy people — and no drama!” says an insider. Valerie admits that knowing she has her family and a group she can depend on really helps. 

“I don’t want to get through the hard times by eating it away anymore. I want to get through the hard times by leaning on people,” she says. The host of Valerie’s Home Cooking and Kids Baking Championship has also been making some positive changes in her habits. “She has a new diet from her nutritionist. She feels at this age that working with a nutritionist is the best way to go,” explains the insider. “But she tries to not beat herself up — she’s human and she loves to eat!” 

Valerie has also upped the amount of exercise she gets. Not only is a workout a great way to torch extra calories, but the activity helps lift her mood. “She has a gym at home and works with a trainer,” says the insider, who adds that Valerie enjoys doing stretching, weights and yoga. “Long walks with her husband and her beloved dogs, Luna and Kylie, are also a favorite.” 

Nobody is immune to difficult times — the current coronavirus pandemic is proof of that — but Valerie understands that it’s easier to survive periods of stress, grief or hardship by following healthy behavior and choosing positivity. “Finding pure personal joy is a challenge in this world where there are always things slapping us upside the head, but we have to figure out a way to find it through all of that,” she says. “Things can go wrong and then you can put them right.”

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