11/06/2006 at 12:00 PM EST
Before losing 75 lbs., Kirstie Alley – who makes her bikini
debut on The Oprah Winfrey Show
on Monday – was trapped in a cycle of binge eating that at one point had her tipping the scales at some 220 lbs.
"Twenty sugar-free Popsicles. Twelve grape sodas. Chips. Two burritos. A tostada. I was eating six, seven, eight thousand calories a day," Alley, 55, tells Life
magazine. "I had a holiday mentality. I ate with wild abandon."
But Alley's breakthrough began with a simple thought: "I'm old, I'm fat. What am I worth?"
Repeating those lines to herself, Alley, who struts her newly svelte figure on Oprah
in a mauve bikini, thought it sounded like the beginning of a good television series. Inspired to create what would become the Showtime series Fat Actress,
Alley wrote into the script that she would join Jenny Craig and attempt to lose the weight, which she did.
Alley tells Winfrey that her weight loss has changed how she sees herself. In fact, she says when she was younger – and more slender – she never would have modeled swimwear in front of millions of television viewers.
"I was so introverted about my body," she says. "When I looked back on my movies and things (I thought), 'Wow, you had a really nice body.' But, at the time, I was (feeling) not good enough."
However, these days, she tells Life,
"I feel happy with the way I look and feel. For me, that's the greatest thing that's happened."