"I love my life, I love it but the physical part - I can’t do the things that other people can do. My body's telling me it’s do or die - time’s running out for me and I know it."
A new docu-reality show called Ruby premieres on The Style Network
(Tuesday, 10 November) at 23h00. At the centre of the action: Ruby Gettinger ...
- who's facing a real and fierce battle against her weight. At 500 pounds/227 kg Ruby's situation is hectic: either she loses weight or she loses her life.
To scoop out more about the show and what we can expect I caught up with Ruby in between filming. We're starting with Season 1 - she's currently filming Season 2, which we'll see too:Tashi:
How did you come to do the show?Ruby:
I was watching Oprah and there were these women on her show - I’ve struggled with being overweight since I was 13. The women on her show were like 350 pounds and at the time I was 715 pounds/318 kg.
They were talking about how they can’t lose weight, how it’s the biggest struggle for them, that they never go out with their friends and family because society doesn’t accept them.
I was so sad for them because I live my life no matter what weight I am but I knew what they were talking about. I know how people can be cruel, especially strangers out there, so I said to my friends: “I want y’all to follow me around with a camera so I can find out the problem to all this ... I want to find out the truth: is it physical, mental, emotional, spiritual?”
I was going to call it The Truth Will Set You Free - follow myself going through it and then when I’d reached my goal, show it to the world.
My friend Brittany from LA saw me doing this, she told a producer friend of hers who talked to somebody at Style - they approached me and said: “We really love what you’re doing, we see your vision, we would love to follow you.”Tashi:
Is it a weight-loss journey?Ruby:
It is, it’s also about friendship - it’s not a depressing story. You’ll see me getting emotional but if I were to put it in words I’d say that it’s a happy show about friends - getting together, supporting each other.
In the meantime I’m fighting the biggest beast of my life. Trying to survive and live - to conquer it once and for all. I’m trying to find out the truth - everything I find out, y’all find out for the first time too - it’s pretty crazy sometimes.
“No matter how many times I try to beat it, I can’t ... I’ve tried, I’ve done thousands of millions of trillions of diets, exercises, everything but I just never win with it. Sometimes I think ‘Is this it? Was I just meant to be overweight?' ... This is what I want to find out.”
Yes, referring to your addiction to food as The Beast - how did you come up with it? Why?Ruby:
I’ve always called it that - since I was 13 years old - I wasn’t one of those children that wasn’t accepted. I was accepted by friends, I’ve always had friends and I’ve always been happy but the thing is I’ve just fought this forever, this eating - I’ve been on diets and it’s felt like forever - it’s like this beast that I’ve been fighting.
Every time I think that I’m beating him he comes out and attacks me and I’m back down on the ground again, trying to get out. I never knew that this journey was going to affect so many people - so many people can relate to this.
You know, I’d never heard of the disease where kids cut themselves and they write me and send videos that say they cut themselves because their reality and life is so awful they’d rather cut themselves than face that.
Someone else wrote to me saying they lost football scholarship because of cocaine and they want to get help for it - I think we’re all struggling with something we want to beat.
If the beast weren’t food for you - would it be something else?Ruby:
No I couldn’t imagine it would be something else. I’ve realised that it’s 75% mental and that's where I’m at now - I’m trying to figure out: what is it that I’ve been feeding? What kind of protection or security blanket was I getting from it? What was I needing that I wasn’t getting?
I think that’s what addictions are all about - they’re something that we need so bad, they give us something we’re not getting somewhere else.
You say you’ve had lots of friends and been happy - has there been any impact on your relationships as a result of it all?Ruby:
I feel like I’m on a journey with so many people, I’ve met people who are only 20 or 30 pounds overweight and they’re still prejudiced against. I’ve met someone who had a suicide note all written out.
I can understand why people stare at me when I’m 700 pounds because it’s not normal but I don’t understand why they have to be mean.
I feel like now, since I’ve been doing the show, I feel like meeting all these people - we’re all on the same journey and we’re going to finish at the finish line together. They inspire me and keep going too. The biggest thing is that I’ll never give up.Tashi:
What’s your take on the reality show Biggest Loser?Ruby:
I like it and I have nothing against it but the difference is, not everyone can exercise eight hours a day. I’ve had wives of contestants writing me saying that their husbands gained their weight back after the show and now they’re in depression.
When you go back to your job and real life, you can’t keep exercising eight hours a day and you will gain back weight - that used to be me - quick fixes: the grapefruit diet, the cabbage diet - the fact is, I realised that if I don’t get to the root of the problem I’m going to end up in the same place.
It is about eating healthy and exercising but it’s deeper than that and I think a lot of people are finding that out.
What's been the biggest moment for you on the show?Ruby:
I think the unexpected part of it is going to see a therapist. I’ve never remembered anything about my childhood, from before I was 13.
I’ve always thought it was a normal thing - I’ve heard about my childhood from my family but I can’t remember - and that’s been a very unexpected part of the journey.
That was the biggest shocker ever for me - I was so weirded out by even seeing a therapist because I’d never seen one before. I went back and now it’s made me investigate - I’ve gone back to my old school, my neighbourhood.
There’s a recurring nightmare I had always that I’ve written about in my book - that’s one thing I do remember so I tell about that but everything else I can’t. There were people in my life and right now I’m trying to find them.
Everything’s leading to more questions and I don’t know the answers: maybe I was sick as a child, maybe something happened to me, something’s not right. Right now I’m trying to connect the dots and I’m determined to do it.
“People look at me, who’re not my friends, and go ‘How in the world did that girl get so big?'"
Tashi: What’s been the most difficult question you’ve been asked in an interview?
Ruby: I think it would be the memories because that is a sensitive subject. I’ve had a couple of people ask me “Do you think you were molested as a child? Or do you think someone abused you? Someone in your family?” and I don’t think that at all. Since I was 13 and above - we were the closest and best family ever so I don’t think that at all but that’s one of the hardest questions.
Also when I’m being interviewed on television and you have to look at a clip on video - knowing it’s really happening to me, it’s hard for me not to burst into tears - when you see the clip with the doctor - it’s scary, it’s all so unknown to me.
Tashi: What’s been the most life changing thing about doing the show?
Ruby: The people - the people that are making the changes with me: the kids to the adults to all size people, all addictions - realising that every one of us face something.
I never knew there were so many lonely people in the world either - people are really by themselves, they’re making themselves shut in because of society. I’ve had a beautiful girl telling me she’s ugly and she’s anorexic - they hide from the world because they can’t be the perfect person they see on a magazines.
It’s been life-changing because people are getting help, I can help them to get that, I just love people - I always have and I love them even more now. I’m also finding out that there are more good people in the world than bad.
Tashi: If you were to give people who are going through the same thing one important tip of advice - what would it be?
Ruby: I would tell them two things: start today, not tomorrow. I don’t care what your addiction is or if it’s a dream, do not wait for tomorrow because it’ll never come or it’ll come 10/15 years later and you’ll have wasted so much of your life and your dreams.
Start today: whatever the problem is - start fixing it today. Go to the root of the problem - go to the mental because that’s the first place you need to look.