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TV's Ruby Comes to Town

Ruby will continue her national walking tour Saturday, June 13, at Georgetown University. (Courtesy of the Style Network)

Since November 2008, viewers of the Style Network's reality show "Ruby" have followed the weight-loss journey of Ruby Gettinger, a Savannah, Ga., resident who weighed about 500 pounds when the show began. (That's down from her all-time peak weight of more than 700 pounds.)

Red-headed Ruby (who won't say how old she is) has shed about 150 pounds and is determined to lose more. As part of her own weight-loss effort and her campaign to draw attention to America's obesity problem, she'll be in D.C. on Saturday leading a walk, starting at 9 a.m. on the Georgetown University campus. Anyone's welcome to join in the free event, which promises to accommodate walkers of all ages and fitness levels.

I corresponded with Gettinger by e-mail during production of an episode for the show's second season, which starts July 5 at 8 p.m. Here's what she had to say in response to my questions:

The Checkup: You're down to about half your all-time heaviest weight, right? How different do you feel? Is it hard to believe you were ever as heavy as you were?

Ruby Gettinger: At my heaviest I was 716 pounds. I am now under 350 pounds for the first time in my adult life and I am feeling great! I can get around a lot easier and am much more physically active. I didn't fully realize how much excessive weight hampered my quality of life, until I started to lose weight. I used to not be able to walk more than a few minutes without being out of breath. Now I can walk more than a mile and I feel fine.

checkup: Can you summarize your current approach to diet? And to exercise? Are you doing things that others could easily try, too?

ruby: I don't like the word "diet." For me I am learning a new way of living that I will use for the rest of my life. I still use a meal plan with fully prepared, calorie-conscious meals. But I have weekends off and supplement with my own snacks. I focus on lean protein (I love fish), as well as vegetables and fruit. I am learning a lot about portion control and how to avoid foods that make me want to cheat.

Something that everyone can do, regardless if you are on a diet or not, is to keep a food diary. I write down everything that I eat, every day. You might be shocked to see where the calories come from. And most importantly, encourage yourself each day. Tell yourself you can do it. There are too many people out there expecting you to fail.

As far as exercise goes, I exercise every day. I go to the gym regularly, but prefer physical activities that are fun to do, like biking, boxing and walking. Find something physical that you enjoy doing and do it, daily. Walking is a great form of exercise and something you can do with friends. I am walking in D.C. to show people what a great form of exercise it is.

My last bit of advice: If you fall off the wagon, get up, dust yourself off and get right back on. Don't put things off until tomorrow. Tomorrow will never come. Do it today. It is the only way to beat "the beast."

checkup: Sometimes our weight-loss efforts get sabotaged by the people we love and those we live with. Have your friends and loved ones made adjustments to support your weight-loss campaign?

ruby: When you care about someone, enabling bad eating habits is an easy trap to fall into because you want that person to be happy. Practice tough love! If poor diet is killing someone, you can't give in.

My friends and family have all changed the way they eat. My best friend Georgia has lost more than 20 pounds and my roommate Jeff has lost 12 pounds. There are a lot more healthy food options around and we all exercise together often.

checkup: What did the doctor tell you at your visit today?

ruby: The doctor told that I am making good progress. My diabetes is under control and my cholesterol has improved. I used to take multiple medications for diabetes and now I am down to just one and expect to not have to take it much longer.

checkup: What will you be wearing in Georgetown on Saturday? I've written a bit about the lack of nice clothes for overweight and obese women. What's your experience been with trying to find clothes?

ruby: I now fit into a size 26x28, but finding nice clothes is still challenging. I hope that by sharing my story and experiences, I can help change this. At the walk, I will be wearing a work-out dress with a white pullover summer shirt and of course, my Team Ruby t-shirt!

checkup: What activity do you want to try for the first time this summer?

ruby: Kayaking. And I love biking -- something I had not been able to do in years because of my weight.

checkup: What's your favorite, healthful summertime snack? How about a pre- or post-workout nibble?

ruby: I love pineapple, strawberries and blueberries. Fruits during the spring/summer are so amazing and I can't get enough of them. Sometimes after a hard workout, I will allow myself a Glucerna snack bar (but those calories can add up, so put it in your food log and be careful). By the way, I eat sushi now! A far cry from the fast food I used to eat.

Ruby's walk starts at 37th and O streets NW on Saturday, June 13, at 9 a.m. Take the G2 Metrobus to the Georgetown University stop, right in front of the gates of Georgetown University, or take Metro to either Dupont Circle or Rosslyn, from which you can grab the Georgetown Metro connection bus ($1.50) to Georgetown. The closest Metro stop to the University is 34th & M (Cady's Alley); walk a few blocks north on 34th to O Street and then a few blocks west on O Street to the front gates of the university. For those who'd rather drive, parking is free in the main visitor lot located off the Canal Road entrance to the university.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  June 10, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Nutrition and Fitness , Obesity  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: To Manage Your Diet, Tell Food to Say "Cheese!"
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Ruby's story should be inspirational to people who need to lose major amounts of weight. The medical literature says most obese people her size would need bariatric surgery. I'm glad she's the exception to the rule.------Her reduction of diabetic medication usage is predictable. Thanks for sharing.

-Steve Parker, M.D.

Posted by: SteveParkerMD | June 10, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Congrats to Ruby for her progress and I wish her all the best.

I have been wondering about something ever since her show started, though: Where is all the money coming from?

Ruby has access to prepared, balanced, prepackaged food. She has a gym membership and a personal trainer multiple sessions per week. She has multiple specialist doctors, including a nutritionist/dietary consultant. She has a psychologist. Yet she is unemployed (or was for Season 1 of her show). Is all this covered by insurance? The insurance I have through my employer wouldn't pay for a all this care and assistance! And if it's all covered by Style Network or her production company, well, that's great for her but most of us don't have a personal TV show to pay the bills.

Truly, I'm pleased for her progress and in many ways, she is an inspiration. But for those of us who have to work a fulltime job and whose insurance wouldn't cover (or who couldn't afford on our own) such in-depth assistance, I feel her example isn't very realistic.

Posted by: PharPhlungPhillyPhan | June 10, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Dear PharPhlungPhillyPhan:

You raise good questions. I sent them to the folks at Style, Ruby's network, and got this response:

Ruby is so thankful for all of the support people have shown her. The core of Ruby’s weight-loss program is designed to be accessible to everyone. The major keys to Ruby’s success, including keeping a food diary, monitoring portion size, choosing healthy food options and engaging in no-cost forms of physical fitness (such as biking or walking), can be utilized by everyone regardless of income. Please do consult a physician prior to starting any weight-loss plan and do not feel that success has to be limited by the size of one’s budget.

For what it's worth!


Posted by: Jennifer LaRue Huget | June 11, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

PharPhlungPhillyPhan brought up some valid points about the exorbitant cost of pre-packaged meal plans and gym memberships. Unfortunately, too many people let that be the "reason" they can't lose weight.

Losing weight doesn't have to involve cost a lot - especially during the warm summer months when we can get outdoors. But, having a plan, having access to the proper tools and having a support system is essential.

Tammy Slater-Kendrick
Tens Diet founder

Posted by: TensDiet | June 13, 2009 12:48 PM | Report abuse

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