Ruth Gettinger Interview: Ruby

November 7, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Features

When doctors told Ruby Gettinger that she needed to lose some of her 500lb bulk to save her life, it sparked one woman’s desire to finally beat her demons and helped create a television phenomenon.

Last year’s first episode of Ruby – a show which tracked the progress of the huge woman’s battle against her bulge – was the “most-watched season premiere in Style Network’s history? – so it’s not too surprising to see the show returning this winter.

We talked to her about Jamie Oliver, meeting the President and what it feels like to be told that you could be dead within a month…

Your programme was one of the most successful shows ever, why do you think you have been so popular with the American public?

It really shocked me at first, but I think people were able to connect with my honesty. It just shows how many people out there are suffering – not only from obesity but from a range of addictions – and are looking for some sort of help.

Do you get recognised on the street nowadays?

I do! It was so weird at first but so many people all across the country have started approaching me. People would come up to me in tears because they’ve been making changes in their own lives after seeing the show. They said that I was keeping them going – to be honest they help me keep going!

It must have been a great feeling to know that you were helping people in a similar position to you…

It’s amazing. I have four different Facebook accounts now just so I can keep up with everyone! I had kids sending me videos of them explaining that they used to cut themselves and for the first time they’re getting help because they see what I’m going through. It makes me so happy to see people seeking the help they need.

What has been the hardest thing for you to face on your weight-loss journey so far?

I wanted to find out why so many people were suffering from this problem. We have every diet product you can imagine on the market, so why were things not getting any better? Originally I thought it was similar to drug addiction but I found out that the two problems were exactly the same. The worst part for me was finding out that 75% of it was a mental problem. I was always happy before, but when I went to see a therapist I was crying after 3 minutes. I didn’t realise how deeply-rooted these problems were until then.

How did you feel when the doctor said that you would die if you didn’t lose weight?

When I weighed 500lbs I felt myself dying – I felt like my body was breaking down. It seemed like there was no way I could beat this. I was like “I’ve been trying to beat this since I was 13 years old, how can I do it now.? He told me: “You could die tonight, you can’t even get your heart checked because we don’t have a table that is capable of supporting you?. Sometimes I used to wake up gasping for air – it was almost like I was nearly about to stop breathing in my sleep! He said: “Yes that’s part of this – it can happen?. That scared me to death!

What are you looking forward to doing most when you get down to your goal-weight?

I’m looking forward to looking someone straight in the eye and telling them that they can do what I have done. I can hardly imagine actually being there, I get chills just thinking about the moment when I conquer this thing once and for all.

What are we going to be seeing in the second series? Are there any twists to look out for?

People are going to see me do things that I have never done before and they’ll see a lot of my dreams come true. I ride a horse for the first time in my life and they’ll see my ex-boyfriend come back into my life. He couldn’t deal with my weight before and loads of people gave him a hard time for that, but I understood. Men love with their eyes and women love with their hearts, I believe that’s just the way it is.

So what do eat normal day at the moment?

I have a cup of oatmeal or toast with sun-dried tomatoes for breakfast and maybe grilled pork chops or grilled fish – which I would never have eaten before – later on. Basically I’m eating everything that I didn’t have before. I miss spaghetti and sweets, but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat sweets again. They really are my trigger…

Have you learned a lot about cooking? Do you think a lack of cooking skills might be one of the reasons for people becoming obese?

I had never cooked ever! But just learning how to cook has helped me so much. I had never eaten healthy food at all – I’m not kidding. I never knew that there were so many healthy options, but I love them now. It’s amazing because your palate will change if you persevere with different flavours.

Why do you think that so many people in America (and now Britain) have weight problems?

Everyone is trying to get a quick fix. People think that healthy food is too difficult and expensive – which used to be my excuse. But it costs people so much more later in life if they have health problems. One of my friends died from a heart-attack at 45 years-old and there are thousands of deaths like that every year. We need to let people know how dangerous obesity is.

There’s a British celebrity chef called Jamie Oliver who has been campaigning against junk-food and obesity for a few years now, do you think that one day you could be a national figure-head like that?

Oh definitely! I want to meet with the President and start a programme to get this message across because people are dying. I read that this generation of children could die before their parents and that’s pretty scary. All the stuff out there at the moment doesn’t seem to be working…

Sean Marland

Ruby is premiering Tuesday 10th November at 10pm on The Style Network (Sky Channel 253)