This is a multitasker extraordinaire: the natural-foods chef, former Real Housewife, and star of the hit spinoff Bethenny Getting Married? is also the best-selling author of healthy-lifestyle books Naturally Thin and The Skinnygirl Dish. The 39-year-old is, as you'd expect, friendly and hilariously candid. (She nursed her 4-month-old daughter, Bryn, as we talked, joking about her breasts, 'You're not special, everybody in the country has seen them by now.')
Check out this video of our cover shoot with Bethenny Frankel!
Swigging Kombucha tea, bare feet propped on the coffee table, Bethenny dished on her diet history and favorite guilty-pleasure reality show.
Q: You look great! Was it hard to lose the baby weight?
A: No. I gotta attribute it to being healthy before and healthy during [pregnancy]. I just weighed myself for the first time-I don't have a scale-but I'm probably three or four pounds more now. Maybe that will take a long time to come off, and I don't really know that I want to take it off. I'm just kind of not even concerned about it.
Q: Many women who have struggled with body image in the past find having a baby triggers a relapse. How did you avoid that?
A: The one thing a baby brings on is what's really important. I don't look the same in a bikini as I used to, but it's not like I'm running around in a bikini. You just need to look decent in your clothes! I think it's very selfish to be obsessing about your body when you have a new baby.
Q: How did it feel to have people accusing you of losing the weight too fast?
A: I definitely got crap for it, but if I had 80 pounds still on me, people would be showing fat pictures of me in magazines. You can't win for losing, no pun intended. I've heard rumors of actresses who don't want to have kids because they're scared their body won't come back. But you know what? It's not that big of a deal! And I used to be 20 pounds heavier and could never get the weight off, so no one's going to say 'she's just naturally thin.'
Q: You've said your mom took you to an obesity clinic when you were nine. How did that affect your body image as a kid?
A: I always was obsessed with wanting to be thin. I knew about every single diet-the five-day diet, the flight attendant's diet. I was obsessed with being thin. Obsessed.
Q: Now you're anti-diet. You've said the low-carb diet is the 'most absurd fad ever.'
A: It's moronic. The only reason it works is that you're eliminating 75 percent of what's going on in your diet! Any diet that says watermelon is bad and a protein bar made with 500 ingredients you can't pronounce is good is idiotic. I can't believe so many people bought into it.
Q: What's your trick for revving up your sex life after baby?
A: Well, a cocktail doesn't hurt. [Laughs.] I'd say exercise, because you feel better about yourself. I was really blobby for a while after. I have [to go] to a lot of events (I don't like it, but ...), so I have to look nice once in a while, but other times I'd be an animal. So you can really get into that rut. Take a bath, put on some lingerie. And go on a date once a week, even if you bring the baby.
Q: Do you feel you have your sexual mojo back?
A: I don't, but I'm not like a wild-and-crazy, over-the-top sexual person. [Pauses.] I don't want to say I'm not a sexual person. It's more that I move so quickly that it's hard for me to stop! So when we're in the moment, yes, I have my sexual mojo back. It really does relax me and makes everything else go away and makes your relationship better. It's like working out-you should just do it.
A: I really know who I am, and I'm not afraid to be honest about who that person is. And I'm a businessperson first. I think a lot of reality shows are fool's gold. People think it's going to make them rich and famous, [but] the truth is, you have to have something to back you up. You can't just decide 'Oh, I'm going to have a pillow company because I'm now on TV.' Because the viewers are very smart. No one's mad at me for being successful, because I work like a dog, day and night.
Q: In terms of the other Housewives, who is really a friend and who isn't?
A: [We just had a] Skinnygirl Margarita party at the Montauk Yacht Club and Alex and Ramona and Mario and Simon were all there. That's normal. We're not best friends, it's not like I see them all the time, but if there's an event that I'm doing I'll always include them. I'm always happy to see them. They support me, and did through a very rough, rough third season.
Q: What reality shows do you watch?
A: I like The Hills. Isn't that embarrassing? I don't like watching competition shows, I find them tedious and repetitive. I don't like "American Idol." I don't even watch the other Housewives shows.
Q: What do you see yourself doing in three years?
[Jason walks by and immediately says, 'having a baby.']
A: Jason would like to. Let me make that clear.
Q: How about you?
A: I don't know. We're talking about it. I don't want to do it for the wrong reasons, but Jason gets focused on things. He was focused on having sex on the six-week point we were allowed to. He was like Rain Man about it. Now he's Rain Man with baby number two. So that. And a cooking show. And a talk show.
Q: Do you ever second-guess yourself about featuring your baby on a reality show?
A No. She's a tiny little peanut. Do I work so hard so I don't have to be on a reality show in a couple of years? Yeah. By the same token, it affords me a lot of great things, and she'll be able to travel all over the world. Don't bite the hand that feeds you, for sure.
Q: What is off limits for you?
A: I didn't actually give birth on camera. That to me was off limits. Other people have done that. But my water broke, and that was not off limits. We didn't get engaged on camera because that was between the two of us. But we got married in front of people anyway, so did I care if another million people saw it? It was our own strange logic.
Q: Have you ever regretted anything the cameras caught on your shows?
A: No. A lot of women are helped by knowing it's OK to be in your 30s and not know exactly who you are or where you're going. You don't have to be married in your 20s or have kids in your 30s. You can meet your husband in a nightclub. It's about saying, 'I'm no better than you and didn't have it any better than you as a child, and I'm making it happen, and you can, too.'
Bethenny's Favorites Right Now
Workout clothes: I like this company, Alo. It's the most comfortable clothing. And Fila has really functional, nice things.
Jeans: Levi's skinny jeans.
Snack foods: Pretzels, black licorice, Kind bars, Larabars.
Web sites: Ebay.com, Saks.com, Target.com, Ikea.com, Oldnavy.com.
Pajamas: Oh, it's a bad scene. I wear Victoria's Secret, but they're several years old.
Music: My iPod just sits there. I know nothing about anything new, but I know the words to every single song before 1998.