Who didn’t fall in love with Winnie Cooper, who made nerdy Kevin Arnold swoon on The Wonder Years? And just as Fred Savage has enjoyed post-show success (he’s directed episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Franklin & Bash, among others), Danica McKellar has grown into a smart, sexy bestselling author of three books (Math Doesn’t Suck, Kiss My Math and most recently Hot X: Algebra Exposed). Among other things, we asked her how guys + brainy babes = happily ever after.

MADE MAN: Your latest book hits paperback later this month. Is it something we should read, or buy for our girlfriends?
DANICA MCKELLAR: My books are geared for girls, but guys use them too! In fact, from the time my first book, Math Doesn’t Suck, came out, guys have told me that they use my books to learn not only math, but also how girls think.

MM: We hear smart is sexy. What’s the best way to chat up a smart girl?
DM: Ask her about herself! You’ll get much farther than if you spend all your time trying to impress her.

MM: What if we’re dumb? Should we pick on someone our own (intellectual) size?
DM: This is what I’d say: Don’t be so hard on yourself. If you think a girl is too smart, level up and get in the game. You can do it. “Dumb” girls are for guys who can’t deal. You deserve more than that.

MM: We hate math. What do you find so amazing about it?
DM: I’ve always found math to be like a giant puzzle—it’s stimulating! But even for those who don’t like it, this is certainly true: doing math is like going to the gym for your brain. Every time we overcome a challenge of any kind, including a challenging math problem, we get smarter and more confident in our abilities to “handle” life.  How great is that?

MM: Would you like a guy to share your passion for math, or can he score more points being passionate about, say, NASCAR?
DM: Passion is a gift! It matters less what a guy is passionate about and more what that passion inspires him to do and be. A passion for math is great, but so is a passion for music or anything that might inspire a person to take their abilities and make a positive impact on the world around them. Though I will say, if the guy’s passion is NASCAR, he’d probably rather be reading about the “other” Danica!

MM: You look great. What’s your best fitness tip?
DM: I love yoga and hiking, and I eat really healthy. I’ve never been a fan of sit-ups, so I keep my stomach flat by focusing on holding it in while doing other exercises. It’s really worked.

MM: Is it cool or annoying when people bring up Winnie?
DM: Winnie Cooper was such a beloved character, and the show meant so much to so many people, how could I possibly be annoyed? It’s a gift to have been a part of such an outstanding show, and I’ll always be grateful.