Standing out among the standard stick-thin blondes in the O.C., the curvy brunette beauty didn't hold back on the Bravo show. She shared the ups and downs she was experiencing in her marriage to husband Shane — and the challenges she was facing with her health and weight gain.
Embarking on a focused fitness journey, the Ohio transplant hired trainer Paulina Taylor to help transform her lifestyle. By early 2020, Simpson was proudly showing off an impressive 15-pound weight loss and even modeled her new svelte figure in a sexy shoot for Sun Kitten Swimwear.
But when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit, while filming season 15 of RHOC, the 44-year-old admitted to OK! she struggled to keep up her new healthy habits.
"It’s definitely been a journey, and I use that word because it wasn’t anything instantaneous," she exclusively told OK!. "I struggled during quarantine. I ended up gaining more weight and weighing more than the year before, when I gained 30 pounds, so it was definitely ups and downs for me."
Simpson said the extra pounds began to accumulate while in lockdown. After all, she passed the time at home by baking cookies and banana bread with her daughter Annabelle and twin boys Luke and Keller. But once she was able to come out of quarantine and start filming again, she was hit with a second wave of motivation.
"I really got into this health kick where I was eating healthier, being really conscientious of what I was putting into my body," she said. "I started working out with my trainer at 6 a.m. three or four times a week, I bought a Peleton, and I really just committed to it."
Her hard work is clearly paying off. On October 14, she stunned in a one-shoulder LBD and strappy sandals at a private party with OK! to celebrate new season.
"It’s made a difference, and I’m finally starting to see it," she gushed. "There is nothing more rewarding that being in your mid 40s and your jeans from 10 years ago still fit. Little things like that mean a lot, especially in 2020."
Staying healthy was hardly the only challenge the cast of RHOC — which also includes Shannon Beador, Kelly Dodd, Braunwyn Windham-Burke, Gina Kirschenheiter and newcomer Elizabeth Vargas — faced in the era of coronavirus. The pandemic forced production to shut down for a while, and once it resumed, the ladies were often left filming themselves.
"Season 15 was unique, and it was challenging, but I think it’s a really good season because we had to adjust constantly to deal with the obstacles and challenges that 2020 presented," she said. "I think it’s the realest season because it’s raw, it’s authentic. There’s a lot of self-filming, just dealing with the current issues going on in 2020, and fans get a bird's-eye view of all of it."
Simpson, who counts Kirschenheiter as her closest friend in the cast, revealed the pandemic also affected the group's dynamic.
"I would say relationships that weren't really strong before are definitely solidified now, and maybe some friends that were really good before have been tested," she said. "I think that’s just indicative of 2020 in general, everyone trying to do their best, make it through and figure out how to get through this year."