Ruby's Life Changed After Shedding 400 Lbs.

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Mar. 16 2011, Published 12:12 p.m. ET

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Now that reality star Ruby Gettinger has dropped a whopping 400 lbs. plus since her weight loss journey began two years ago, she notices that people treat her much differently than they did when she was 716 lbs.

She also talks about her new body image, why saying goodbye to the extra poundage made her feel like she lost her best friend, what motivated her to slim down, how she conquered diabetes, her goal weight and what she tells other who are inspired by her amazing dieting success story.

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For Ruby, who chronicles her weight loss experience in her self-titled Style Network reality series, the way others treat her better now that she’s dropped weight is shocking.

“I think they have a different respect,” she tells me. “One thing I will never understand is how people are treated that are extremely overweight because of the way they look. It’s not about laziness, it’s not about glutton, it’s not about a person … this is an addiction. Now people do treat me with respect now since I’ve lost weight, and people that used to not talk to me, talk to me because they’re so excited I’m losing weight and doing something about it. It’s strange, and you know it is. The people who would never talk to you before, who were embarrassed to be around you, want to be around you now.”

She continues, “They look at someone who is morbidly obese and they go ’they’re lazy, they’re a glutton, they’re disgusting.’ There’s something wrong with that. I think we put so much on the way people look physically. We judge too much on that. You can miss out on the best friend, the best person, the best lover by doing that. People have no idea how much they miss out on just by doing that, because you look at the way someone looks.”

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What stuns her is that society doesn’t hold the same disdain for those who are too thin.

“The crazy thing about it is that it’s like being anorexic. We are the same. An anorexic person and a person that is like me – we are the same - even though one is starving themselves to death, the other one is eating themselves to death. Neither one of us knows why, we’re out of control thinking we do have it under control, but it’s not, so if you look at the anorexic person, people look at them, they feel sorry for them – they’re going to die just like the obese person. They look at them and feel sorry for them, and have compassion for them, but they look at someone who is morbidly obese and they go ’they’re lazy, they’re a glutton, they’re disgusting.’ There’s something wrong with that.”

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Even though attitudes have changed with the number on the scale, she still can’t believe she’s less than half her size.

“It’s so weird,” she says. “Even though you lose all that weight, you’re still living in that body. You’re still feeling like you can’t do certain things, but you can. Things that you were not able to do before, like I cannot believe that I can fit in pants. I never was in pants; I was never able to move around as much as I can, and now I’m living in a different world. For me, it was almost like ‘this is normal.’ This is totally a different life, I’m loving this life. I feel good in my pants, I’m able to wear outfits, I’m wearing vests, and I’m like ‘who is this?’ It’s almost like a freedom took over me, and I’m like ‘oh my gosh, I love this life.’ I’m no longer limited, but I was.”

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She adds, “But the fact that my friends had to say to me – we go into a restaurant, and I’m looking for chairs without arms, and they said ‘Ruby, you can sit in that.’ I said ‘no I can’t,’ and they said ‘yes you can.’ By them saying that and me sitting in a chair, that’s how I found out I was able to sit in a chair.”

More benefits of slimming down: She can walk three miles on the treadmill whereas before she could only walk for five minutes.

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“I love the feeling that I can walk up a mountain. I may be dying, but I love the feeling. I’m able to get in cars and drive.”

Still, she’s not completely comfortable with her new figure. Because she’s carried around extra weight for most of her life, Ruby likens her transformation to losing her best friend.

“To me, my best friend is Ruby at 716 lbs.,” she explains. “It’s almost like that’s a part of me, and that girl that I knew had to learn how to survive in a world that would not accept her. She had to find out how to fit in this world. This girl had to fight through many things – just because she had this shell, and she was not going to fit in this house and be a shut-in. I was filming my life, and even though people laughed at me, and people made fun of me, I was going to have friends, I was going to be a part of  the world, even though society doesn’t want me to be.”

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She adds, “I thought that girl was so strong, but she wasn’t. It was almost like she was blind. She was strong in certain areas where she could survive in a world that would not accept her. I liked that part of her, but she was blind to her own disability. She was blind to what was going on with herself. She was blind to the fact that she was dying, and that she’s limited her life. Her life was passing her by.”

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For Ruby, obesity didn’t happen overnight. She noticed her size had become a problem beginning in high school.

“It’s always been a struggle,” she says. “I was 217 lbs. and 258 lbs. at 14 and 15. I was an outcast. I told myself that I was going to fit in no matter what. I was going to make sure that I was involved in everything because I didn’t feel like I was different. People who were only 50 lbs. overweight would stand by themselves or sit in the corner because they were feeling bad about themselves, and I would befriend them. It’s crazy to me because sometimes we feel so bad about ourselves that we shut people off. We make people not come up to us because we’re acting iike we’re different. Don’t act like you’re different, because you’re not defined by your shape or your body. You’re defined by who you are as a human being, and if you would keep yourself knowing that, you do fit in. Sometimes we feel like we don’t fit in, and we shut people off.”

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In fact, the opposite sex clued her into the fact that she could live a fuller life if she were thinner.

“I knew I was overweight, but I didn’t look at it as a problem until the first time I was 16 and a guy said to me – because I had a lot of guy friends – and a guy said to me ‘if you would lose weight, I would date you. If you would lose weight, we’d be perfect together,’” she confesses. “I was like ‘wait a minute’ – that’s when I started noticing my weight, and it became the struggle of a lifetime where I would lose, gain, lose, gain.”

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She adds, “By the time I was getting old, I’m 716 lbs. and going ‘what in the world?’ and I’ve come to find out that the journey is so much to do with the mental. Your brain, your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It can make you believe whatever you want it to believe, and that’s dangerous.”

One food that she couldn’t resist as her weight began to rise was chocolate.

“I started becoming diabetic, and when that started affecting me, I felt like I didn’t know what I was doing to my body. There came a time when I could not even lift up a can of Coke, it felt so heavy to me. I started sleeping a lot, I became weaker. Candy’s supposed to give you all this energy, and a high. When I started eating chocolate, my body started shutting down on me because I started having sugars. My sugars were 500-800 a day.”

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Still, she didn’t feel motivated to lose weight until her life was at risk.

“I’ve always tried, since I was 716 lbs., I tried losing weight. I just could not … it’s one of these things that I could not get control over. First, it was a guy thing. A guy said to me ‘Ruby, if you lose weight, you’d be the perfect girl,’ so I would try to try to lose weight, but I really wasn’t doing it for me. I wasn’t thinking of Ruby – I wasn’t thinking of Ruby’s health, the way Ruby wants to feel. There’s a better life out there, because all I ever knew was 716, 500 pounds.”

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She continues, “One of the things that the doctor told me is ‘you’re going to die. Your diabetes, your AC1 is 9-point something because your liver is adding tissue and everything’s breaking down. You’re going to die.’ I thought to myself ‘well, I try to eat good. There’s no way I’m going to be able to beat this – there’s no way.’ I tried forever – this is going to make a difference now? And then something kicked in and said ‘yes, you are going to try again – you’re going to do this.’ So I started trying again, I said ‘OK. I’m going to go in there full force, I’m going to try this one more time.’ That’s what happened – I wanted to do whatever I was supposed to do. I want to find out the truth about obesity, what this has to do with, why is this controlling me, why is this one thing in my whole life controlling me … and everything else I have control over, except this.”

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Thankfully, she’s no longer diabetic.

“After a month of changing my eating habits, I took control back,” she says. ”I don’t have to take pills anymore. But if I decided to eat a dessert or have a Milky Way or do something really bad for your heart, my sugars would go up. If I did it just one time, it’s different, but you can become a diabetic in three or four days again. If I started eating like I used to, it would come back, but now that I’m eating right and controlling it that way, it’s not going to go back.”

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Staying motivated is key through her ups and downs.

“I struggle daily. There are some days when I feel like I’m on top of the world. I’m fighting, but I’m winning this. But there are other days that it’s like ‘oh my God, I am crawling like a baby, and I don’t think I can get up ever again.’ But I get in there, and you just have to not give up.”

She adds, “If I don’t give up, I’ll win. If I listen to the lies in my head, the lies of everyone out there saying ‘the odds are against you,’ then I will fail. I have to get somewhere in my head, and find the strength that I know I have and say ‘you’re going to beat this … no matter how many times you’ve fail, you’re going to beat this.’”

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Fueled by her diet success, she’s on track to reach her goal weight.

“I don’t have no idea what I’m going to look like or feel like, but I want to be 100% not limited to anything,” she says. “I want to make sure that I’m healthy. I don’t know if that will be 175 lbs. or 150 lbs. Doctors tell me I should weigh 150 because I’m 5’9” and that’s their goal for me, but I don’t know. I think it’s going to be between 150 and 175. I would say it’s when I can do anything that anyone else can do. When I am no longer limited, I am very healthy, and then I’ll know I have reached my goal.”

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What would she tell others who are inspired by her?

“Keep going – never give up. If people would just not give up no matter what, and don’t listen to the lies that you’ve told yourself in the past – let go of the past – let go of all the failed times, because trust me, I have failed one million times at this. I’m winning. I‘m  going to win this no matter what. Don’t look at the past, live today and beat it today.”

Pick up the OK! on newsstands now for a feature on Ruby’s remarkable transformation as part of our Spring Makeover Special. The cover line is “Jennifer Aniston: A Baby On My Own.” And, catch Ruby in her self-titled series on Style Network, airing Sundays at 8/7c.


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