Kirstie Alley’s Big Life Has the Makings of a Big Flop


Kirstie Alley has battled her weight very publicly for the last few years. You may remember she went on Oprah a few years ago at nearly 230 pounds and was Jenny Craig’s celebrity spokesperson until Valerie Bertinelli took the baton.

We saw Alley lose weight through a montage of timely commercials. After losing 75 pounds she modeled her new svelte figure on Oprah in a bikini. Then she gained back the 75 pounds, and 10 more.

Now Kirstie’s back with the hope to lose it all again and document it through a reality show, Kirstie Alley’s Big Life (A&E). While I don’t know what kind of entertainment this will provide, I’ve already seen, or should say heard, the seeds of what will likely undo her again.

Promoting her show and new line of organic diet food products on the Today Show, she told co-anchor, Meredith Viera, “I created my diet program so I will not crave food and not eat lots of food.” Her two major obstacles with weight loss.

But what Kirstie was actually saying was:

I’m putting all my energy on what I’m trying to avoid – my cravings and eating a lot.

Why Kirstie will likely fail is:

I am focused on my obstacles not on my goals.

Well, you don’t have to be clairvoyant to see the boulder lurking up ahead on this road to thinness.

Focusing on what we don’t want in this case, cravings and eating a lot, rather than what we do want (slim, fabulous me), neuroscience tells us makes the problem bigger and the goal smaller. Whatever you focus on tends to grow bigger. You know what happens if I ask you not to think of a pink elephant. Exactly, now you can’t get that beast out of your head. We move in the direction of our focus. Also, the energy required to avoid something we don’t want is exhausting and unsustainable.

Typically I write about diabetes and I see the same problem-focus all the time in health care.

Many doctors try to motivate patients to manage their blood sugars to avoid diabetic complications. Again, focusing people on what they don’t want. This is so energy-depleting and not very inspiring.

Imagine however your doctor encourages you to focus on the life you want to be living – one where you are vital, fit and active, involved in your community, living happily and healthfully. And your doctor helps you determine one very small and manageable step you can take toward your goal.

Focusing on positive goals inspires you to take more positive actions and to keep taking them. Taking small steps allows the brain to side-step immobilizing fear. We are able to move forward with hope and enough confidence to experience a small success that can then be built upon.

Don’t go down the wrong path again, Kirstie. Keep your eyes on what you want, not on your demons. Who knows, it might just inspire a whole new kind of reality show.

Originally published in The Huffington Post
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