Calorie Count Interviews Ruby!
You might know Ruby Gettinger from Savannah, Georgia, star of “Ruby”, the reality TV show on the Style Network. The show documents Ruby’s personal struggle with obesity and her success – so far. Ten years ago, Ruby weighed 716 pounds. In April 2008, at the start of filming her “inspirational weight loss journey”, Ruby weighed 477 pounds. Now, according to her Facebook page, Ruby weighed 328 pounds on August 28, 2009. (Ruby is 5’9” and age 34.) The show had its 2nd season finale on September 6th. Calorie Count’s Erik Fantasia and Mary Hartley spoke with Ruby to learn more about her weight loss journey.
Why did you decide to do the show, and what is it like to be losing weight so publicly?
I got the idea to do the show after watching an episode of Oprah. It was about very heavy people who became home-bound because they could not bear to feel society’s hatred when they went out in public. But my experience was different; I always went out and lived my life. I didn’t let my weight define me. I wanted to get to the bottom of the issue: What is extreme obesity about – medically, physically, mentally, and emotionally? I thought I could show regular-sized people that big people are the same, and maybe I could inspire other people by sharing my journey. And so I asked my friend Jeff to videotape me and I sent the tape to my friend who works for the Style Network in LA. Style bought into the idea, and they promised to keep to my TRUTH.
Back when you weighed 700 pounds, did you look in the mirror?
You know, the only mirror I owned was a “skinny mirror” in my bathroom, and so I couldn’t see all of me. I guess I was numb to myself. But then I moved into a new house that was full of mirrors and I was shocked to see myself! I think the best way to see yourself is in videos and pictures.
Why didn’t you want weight loss surgery?
My doctor told me that I was going to die if I didn’t do something. I considered weight loss surgery, but the surgeon told me I’d have to lose weight just to get on the table. I am not against surgery for others, but when I learned that 75 percent of the weight loss is up to the person, and then they regain the weight if they don’t change, I decided that it wasn’t for me because I wanted to understand the reasons for my weight.
What did you eat before the start of your journey?
I used to eat processed food, chips and sweets. I would tell myself that fast food is cheaper. I was probably eating 5,000 calories a day. I never looked at the food label or thought about it. Many people in rural areas don’t think about the calories in food. Sugar is big where I live. My friends Georgia and Jeff would go out to Denny’s and bring home fast food and sweets. Since I started my diet, Georgia lost 20 pounds and Jeff lost 10!
What do you eat now?
My food is cooked by a chef from Ourlife Fresh. I feel lucky and thankful to the Style Network for that because most people don't have the luxury of a chef. But I never knew how to cook anything! It was terrible! Now, I eat 1700 calories a day and I have to write it down. If I don’t journal, I gain 3 to 5 pounds immediately, I swear! When I started to eat healthy food, I felt awful! I couldn’t taste anything because I was used to so much sugar and salt. I had bad headaches; I was shaky, achy and angry. I was angry for three months! But after 3 months, something kicked in, and I began to crave asparagus, salad and fish. My chef has taught me how to cook a few things. Now I can fix an egg white omelet with spinach and tomatoes, fish and asparagus. They cook up so fast! But, I still don’t go to restaurants.
What do you do to stay active?
I started out walking for 5 minutes but I can do two miles on the treadmill now and I ride my bike. My trainers, Drew and Shazia, have me doing activities in 10 minute intervals. I wear a heart rate monitor to make sure I am burning fat. They have me dancing and boxing. It feels great! People have to find what they love to do.
Sometimes, your team of experts pulls you in different directions. How do you deal with it?
Too many people gave me too many things to do all at once! I hated to be told different things. I needed someone who knew how to handle Ruby and give me respect and control. And, I don’t want anybody to be mean to me! My old trainer, Reese, is a nice person, but he had me lifting 70 pounds and that was wrong. Then I met my new trainers who told me to do more cardio and that felt right. It was up to me to choose the right advisers.
With so many challenges, how do you maintain such a positive attitude?
I have always been happy. Of course, you can have a broken heart, but I work hard to be happy. I believe we are all born for a specific purpose and this is mine.
Ruby, thank you for taking the time on your journey to chat with us!
Do you know Ruby? Has Ruby inspired you?
Editor's Note: Calorie Count and the Style Network highlight each other's content through a joint promotional relationship.