The night before Valerie Bertinelli prepared to step out in public wearing a bikini – for the first time in nearly 30 years! – she found herself unable to sleep. As her mind raced with insecurity ("I thought, Am I really going to do this? Can I pull this off?" the actress admits), Bertinelli tried to summon up a pep talk, telling herself, "What am I so afraid of? Come on – it's just a bathing suit!"
And yet as any woman knows, those innocent-looking strips of Lycra can be a terrifying sight – especially for someone just shy of her 49th birthday (April 23), who only two years ago tipped the scales at 172 lbs. – more than 40 lbs. over her goal weight for her 5'4" frame. But after whittling herself down to 132 lbs. in about 9 months on Jenny Craig (for whom she serves as a company spokeswoman), Bertinelli, who had last worn a bikini when she was 20, was ready for a new challenge.
"I thought, If I'm so afraid of a bikini, there’s something wrong. And so I had to get back into one!," Bertinelli says in the new PEOPLE, available on newsstands Friday.
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