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My take on "Ruby" - the show & aftermath

Monday, January 28, 2013

This is a long one, but I was feeling a bit ranty.

So I'm usually not much on reality shows. I see enough craziness in everday life without having to watch Here Comes Honey-Boo-Boo or Jersey Shore.


Anyway, a few years ago I ended up catching a show on Style called "Ruby." For those of you not familiar with Ruby Gettinger, the show chronicles her weight loss starting at 477 pounds (she had a previous highest weight of around 700 pounds). It documents weigh-ins and vists with her workout, nutrition, obesity specialists and psychiatrist. Not only does it cover weight loss, but it also shows major life events like Ruby driving for the first time in years, getting a job, and trying to remember her childhood.

I actually thought it was an interesting show and while some of Ruby's mannerisms can be grating (who's wouldn't be on a show - I know you all would get annoyed by my habits if I was on a reality show), she definitely has a warm personality I think most people would like and I admire her for doing a show like that. I only watched a few episodes though. Eventually I wound up cancelling my cable service and had forgotten about the show until I saw it on Netflix Instant this weekend. So I decided to go back through and am about to watch the third season (they don't have season 4 for some reason).

I thought I would get online and see how she's been doing since the show was cancelled. I was rather surprised to find a really recent article concerning a spot she did on 20/20.

20/20 article:

Turns out she was involved in a starving/binging cycle to make weigh-ins. She also figured out how to shift her body weight around to cause the scale to display smaller weights. She also had an off-camera goal to get down to 128 pounds because she wanted people to think she was anorexic. Style eventually cancelled the show because she was not getting the weigh-in results and because she was backsliding.

There are so many things wrong with this scenario, I barely know where to start. But I'll just hit on 3 main points.

#1 This is the main problem with weight-loss reality shows. People have slip-ups. People plateau during weight-loss efforts. Some even gain. Life happens whether you are in a reality-show bubble or not. The pressure to show big loss numbers on the scale each week is not going to help the individual achieve their goals. More likely than not, it's going to cause them to backslide even more.

#2 I don't think Ruby and/or Style network really understand the importance of getting your head in order before you get your body together. I learned that lesson the hard way. If there is some trauma or eating disorder situation in your life, you HAVE to get that mess processed and reprogram your brain in order to be continuously successful at weight loss.

I think this was Ruby's biggest issue. She started out strong and it's OK to try to lose weight while you are working through something like that. But if you don't acknowledge it, work through it, and grow as an individual, you will eventually resort to the same behaviors because you are conditioned to do so. I'm not judging, I'm not going to even try to diagnose her because I'm not a medical professional. However, I have LIVED through childhood trauma and the resulting emotional eating and hiding behind a layer of fat because of it. If I had not taken on the excruciatingly difficult task of facing that trauma and reprogramming my reactions to my feelings, any weight loss efforts would've resulted with me back on the couch, wallowing myself in a vat of spaghetti. Not saying I don't still have my random moments, but it's 20% of the time instead of 100%.

And it's usually an only slightly inappropriately-sized (not quite cheap & tawdry, LOLATURTLE) serving, not a vat.

She has no memory of her childhood before 13. That is a huge indicator of trauma. Her family doesn't seem to be very forthcoming about filling her in on what happened, but she needs to find a therapist or someone who can help her try to get those memories back. And she has to be 100% willing to take them on. I wasn't. It took me twenty years and two divorces to face my childhood abuse. I had to hit rock bottom first.

#3 This is yet another example of "reality shows" not being real. You cannot expect to have that kind of press, exposure, pressure, and expect people to be 100% real. It is just not human nature. And unfortunately, the person who gets hurt in all of this, Ruby, usually does not have anyone to help after the camera crews have left. Not saying she shouldn't shoulder some of the blame. But this is also an issue with networks and our blood-lust for reality show drama.

From what I can tell, however, Ruby managed to get her old trainers to help her and she is trying again to lose the weight. She is currently involved in a 90 day challenge and is encouraging others to get involved with their own challenges. She has also partnered with Visalus (Body by Vi) and uses some of their products, but is also cooking and eating well-balanced meals.

Ruby's blog: ruby-gettinger.blogspot.

For all of the issues I have with what Ruby did, I don't judge her on it. I see a lot of who I once was in her. Dealing with the deaths of close family members. A childhood trauma that she doesn't want to remember (though I unfortunately knew about mine). Plus, we all get so much misinformation about losing's easy to see how she could get confused about what she should do with nutrition and working out. I really hope that this time she finds a plan that works for HER, no matter what it is and as long as it's healthy.

So am I still rooting for her? You bet. We all make mistakes on the road to success. Hers just happened to be more publicized than most.

Edited to add: After seeing some of season 3, it looks like the show's creators and Ruby really did turn a focus to the mental issues Ruby was facing. Tenny McCarty that comes to Ruby's Fat Night does some fantastic activities and emphasizes the focus on eating disorders. Dr. Jane's suggestion for Ruby to write a letter to her inner child was also excellent advice. So it does look like the counseling help was there...I just don't know if Ruby actually took advantage of these great services then. I hope she is now.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • KIMBERLY19732
    I'm not a big reality show person either. I watched a few episodes of Ruby, not enough to give any opinions. I am rooting for her though.
    I will try to go to the 20/20 link and get caught up.
    1911 days ago
    Yes, I used to love to watch Ruby. I was sad when they cancelled her show. I could really relate to her.....

    I saw the 20/20 interview and I was so shocked at what she admitted to.
    1912 days ago
    Excellent blog! I hope a lot of folks take the time to read it. I'm so glad you revived Ruby, I seem to remember as she was losing it she was a bit of celeb with some of the day shows but seemed to be quickly shunned as the scale went back up. Sad that style didn't stay with it or another network didn't pick it up. I'll check out her blog and try to keep up with her.

    You keep up the good work yourself!
    1913 days ago
    Thanks for your post. I enjoyed reading it!!
    1913 days ago
    This is why I will rant to pretty much anyone that will listen about why I wont watch Biggest Looser. I don't care if the guy does weight 400 pounds, it isn't safe or healthy to expect and encourage a 16# weight loss in a week. It gives people an unrealistic expectation and sets people up to fail. I don't like that.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your continued support for Ruby.
    1914 days ago
    I only saw a few episodes of Ruby. It was interesting. Off to read that article you posted now :)
    1914 days ago
    I recently watched Biggest Loser for the first time... I loved it at first, but then figured out something is wrong...

    Reality shows are very dangerous for the people who participate and for the people who watch them. We should always try to understand what is scenario and what isn't. But in the end, it's like many aspects of life: it's not about the tool, it's about how you use it emoticon
    1914 days ago
    I agree.
    1914 days ago
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