129: Power of Positivity, Support, and Overcoming Fear | Ruby Gettinger

Award-winning reality star Ruby shares about the power of positivity and support, how she conquered a 719-lb peak weight, and plans for the future.

“Your weight does not define you.”

Weight Gain Background and Contributing Factors

Ruby shares that her weight gain really started when she was 13. Dealing with her emotions as a teen was when she started putting on weight.

She says that her “drug of choice” was food, and bad food is the first thing kids can get their hands on when they have some independence. Kids often seek out food when they have bottled up emotions that are too difficult to deal with. During this time, food became Ruby’s “best friend.”

Today, Ruby feels that someone should have seen her problem with food and talked to her about it when she reached 350 pounds in high school. (159 kg) She urges parents to keep healthy food in the house for the kids and to model eating healthy in front of kids. If you notice that kids are having issues with food, encourage them to talk openly about their troubles, and don’t let them get into a negative spiral with food.

Despite past weight issues, Ruby has always stayed socially engaged and active. She thinks that even if you are very overweight, you still have to do the things you want to do in life.

“Don’t let your flaws define you.”

Ruby shares that, when she went out socially at 500-600 pounds, she had to psyche herself up and focus on the fun parts of her outing, making herself go even though she knew she might hear comments about her weight. When Ruby was out with a person who was self-conscious of Ruby’s appearance she could sense it, and that drew attention from strangers.

She says that you can’t let negative people like that stop you from living your life. Ruby feels that weight is a walking billboard of pain and addiction to food.

“If you stay in your house and you don’t come out, guess what—your problem’s going to get bigger.”

Ruby reached a peak weight of 719 pounds in her 20s. She decided to quit college because she couldn’t fit into the desk any longer. At this point in her life, to lift up even a can of soda was incredibly heavy. Ruby slept all the time and was always in pain.

After her mom begged her to visit a doctor, Ruby was told that she was a “walking time bomb,” with highly elevated A1c and a fatty liver. But, as Ruby says: “We were made to survive things.” It’s not easy to turn the eating switch off.”

To Ruby, we are in a battle, fighting our own fear and the mental issues that our eating is covering up. Oprah asked Ruby “what are you really feeding?” on her show, and that gave Ruby pause for a long time. What are you feeding—is it love, is it someone else’s hurtful action? Until you deal with the root of the trouble, Ruby says, you will just keep feeding the addiction.

“Fear keeps us frozen in time.”

Food Addiction

While Ruby feels that all addictions including drug and alcohol, etc. are rooted in the same place emotionally, food is extremely challenging because as humans we are just simply around food a lot. We still need to eat.

Ruby encourages people to get into the mental aspect of overeating and find out why you are doing it. Anorexic, bulimic and overeating behaviors are all the same actions at their root.

However, Ruby feels that often people with anorexia might get more compassion when they are approached for their illness, vs. people who are heavy who might be told simply and unhelpfully—stop eating so much. Regarding food compulsion, Ruby says:

“It’s addiction, like a cocaine addict or an alcoholic.”

Ruby likes the Harriet Tubman quote: “I freed thousands of slaves. I could’ve freed thousands more if they had known they were slaves.” And so Ruby asks,

“How many of us are slaves to our addiction?”

Ruby emphasizes that food addiction really is a disease. She says that when you want to eat you will manipulate, you will lie, you will do anything to get that ‘drug.’ Seeing that about herself was “scary” for Ruby.

“If you keep suppressing it, if you keep trying to hide behind the food, the problem’s never going to get solved. There’s a reason we are eating.”

The Journey

Ruby thinks that waiting for the New Year or a time in the future to change your pattern with eating is “poison, poison, poison.

Ruby went on her journey to discover what was going on with herself to gain all that weight in the first place. Ruby describes her weight as a “prison,” like she was trapped in a cell and the cell door was barely cracked. She wanted someone to come and open the door, and in her journey discovered that she herself was the only one who could “unlock that cage.”

Ruby’s advice to people in that same place in their life right now is:

“Fear is a lie. Don’t let this fear keep you here. What are you scared of?”

Ruby quickly found that this journey was all encompassing—mind, soul, and body. Ruby shares that talking is critical when you are getting close to failure on your journey. “Tell people exactly what’s going on with you.” Telling others can be powerful, as people like to hear that others are going through exactly the same things as you. The accountability Ruby gets from her friends and followers on social media inspires her to keep going every day.

Ruby thinks that the “hard way” is the best way, in weight loss, and warns others to not fall prey to quick fix diets. She says that it’s not about the eating, it’s about the mental, it’s about reaching out. The weight is caging you. You are in a cage or a shell and that can create fear. The weight, the bulimia, the disordered eating becomes a security blanket. Ruby says that you must open you mouth and release the beast, because if you just hold on to it, it will kill you.

“We all have within us a survivor kit.”

You have to tell people you need help. Overeaters Anonymous can be helpful even if you just listen to people tell their own story. Ruby encourages you to start a blog, to reach out for help from family and friends. Ruby shares that some days it’s every minute of the day that she has to deal with the mental issues. “You have to eat healthy the rest of your life.”

Ruby shares that she thinks that it takes 90 days to start a new habit instead of the typical advice that it takes 30 days.

Support In The Journey

Ruby likes to emphasize that you have absolutely no need to go on this journey alone. Seek inspiration and reach out to others for help and support every day. Ruby has the philosophy that there are ‘balcony people’ and ‘basement people’. She urges others to try and stay around balcony people more in your life, not basement people who are trying to bring you down.

At some point in her journey, Ruby says:

“Whatever the scale said was who I am and what I’m about, because everyone around me was making it about that.”

Ruby refocused herself about the original reason she was embarking on the journey, which was to find out the truth about herself. Helen Keller was a great inspiration to Ruby, and Hellen Keller’s movie was the inspiration for Ruby to video herself in her journey. The Oprah show about obese shut-ins was also “eye opening” for Ruby.

Counseling

Ruby likes the description of therapy as ‘one wounded soul helping another wounded soul,’ and says therapy has had an immensely positive effect on her life. Ruby wishes she could go back in time and tell herself to find someone to talk to. She needed someone to see her for who she was and to ask her questions about the reality of her life.

Ruby now sees her weight gain as a cry for help. Ruby encourages people to speak to someone in a sensitive way if they notice a person is putting on lots of weight, as having someone to talk to might help more than you know.

“The power in letting them release what they are really feeling will give them the wings to fly, honey…It gave me the wings to fly.”

Exercise and Checkups

Ruby’s primary advice about exercise is very practical: you don’t have to kill yourself. Walking is a great activity, and is so good for your joints and keeping yourself limber.

Even losing one pound off your joints is great for your body. Ruby wears a body media band and encourages others to become more aware of how much they move or are sedentary throughout the day. Moving around and walking is just really good for your joints, even if it’s just 20 steps down the hall.

Ruby encourages you to go visit a doctor, despite how uncomfortable and embarrassing it may be. Just go to the doctor to get a sense of where you are and what kinds of activities are safe to get you started with exercise.

Ruby’s Advice For Your Journey

“You can do it. And… yes, it is so hard.”

Contacting Ruby

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