The Story Behind Kirstie Alley's Weight-Loss Journey

Before her sudden and tragic death following a devastating colon cancer diagnosis, sitcom star and award-winning actor Kirstie Alley was known for being an open book — especially regarding her struggles with her weight. "If someone's attacking me for my weight, I go flourish and prosper somewhere else in the universe. I'm the master blaster of turning lemons into lemonade," she famously told Women's Health in 2014 about the scrutiny she received about her weight from various tabloids throughout the years. But that didn't mean she wasn't willing to drop a few pounds when she deemed it necessary. "OK, so you gained 40 or 100 what? The good news is, you can un-gain it. You can change your condition—you can always change it," the self-proclaimed "Fat Actress" advised. 

But what's the real story behind Alley's highly publicized and sometimes controversial weight-loss journey? Here's what we know... 

Kirstie Alley enjoyed major success as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig

In 2004, Kirstie Alley announced she was embarking on a journey to lose weight with the famous American weight loss company, Jenny Craig. "I had a great time getting fat, and now I'm going to have an even greater time losing weight," Alley declared, per the New York Post. And that she did!

Following a 33-pound weight loss, Alley confessed to talk show host Oprah Winfrey that the program proved to be a "godsend" for her. "I needed a game. I'm one of those people that if you give me a sport or a game or make something really fun for me, then I'm on board... And this has been so much fun because they have 8,000 things you can order [to eat], and you get your own consultant!" she gushed. But make no mistake — Alley wasn't done yet. By 2006, Alley appeared on "The Oprah Winfrey" show rocking a bikini and a dramatic 75-pound weight loss, per People.

Alas, that wouldn't be the end of Alley's weight-loss journey. In 2014, Alley announced she was joining Jenny Craig once again after gaining 30 pounds back. "I was good for a while and then I wasn't good, and the weight crept up," Alley told People. "Like I say in the ad, I'm not circus fat. I didn't hugely screw up. I didn't gain 75. I gained 30," she explained. And speaking of that infamous ad...

Kirstie Alley received backlash over a Jenny Craig commercial

Kirstie Alley's weight loss journey wasn't all rainbows and sunshine... she certainly experienced her fair share of stormy weather.

In 2014, the "Look Who's Talking" star faced significant backlash for coining the term "circus fat" in a controversial advertisement with Jenny Craig. "Jenny, I wanna come home. No, no, no. I'm not like circus fat. I just wanna lose 20 pounds. 30!'" the actor pleaded in the tongue-in-cheek commercial, per Daily Mail. As one can imagine, not everyone was pleased with Alley's choice of words. But in true fashion, Alley made zero apologies. "That comment was relating to me, about me," she told Diets in Review. "I grew up [in Kansas] in a generation of not overweight people...I grew up in an era where my dad took me to the Kansas State Fair or the circus — they had actual fat ladies in the circus," she maintained.

Unfortunately, the scandal and controversy surrounding Alley's weight loss didn't stop there...

Kirstie Alley was sued

In 2010, Kirstie Alley rolled out her very own weight loss plan aptly titled Organic Liaison. "I am proof of its success. I've lost a hundred pounds on organic liaison, and I can honestly say that this time I know exactly how to stay this way for the rest of my life," she boasted in a video for the weight loss system.

But not so fast. Not everyone was buying Alley's claims, and in 2012 Alley was sued for "false advertisement."  As reported by the Los Angeles Times, the class-action lawsuit alleged that "Ms. Alley's weight loss is not due to the Organic Liaison Program but rather is the result of an above average exercise regimen and extremely low calorie diet, including her time on the television program 'Dancing With the Stars,' where she spent five to seven hours a day exercising as part of the competition." YIKES. While Alley's legal team initially denied the claims, calling them "patently false," they later settled and took the "proven product" phrase off of the labels, per Fox Business

Kirstie Alley served as an inspiration to many

All controversy aside, however, many fans still looked at Kirstie Alley with a great deal of admiration for the way in which she navigated her personal issues with weight on such a massive and public scale. 

"Kirstie Alley's well-documented struggle with weight loss and recovery was an inspiration to us all. You will be missed, Queen," one Twitter user penned after learning of Alley's tragic death. Meanwhile, another credited Alley for playing an integral role in her mother's fitness and health journey. "My mother has struggled with her weight all her life and Kirstie Alley was an influence in her starting to lose weight to extend her life," the user wrote. Still, another couldn't help but think about the unfair criticism Alley was subjected to regarding her weight. "Full disclosure people were brutal and mean as hell when Kirstie Alley gained weight. Like just mean," the user tweeted.

RIP, Kirstie Alley.