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Ruby Gettinger

Photo courtesy of Style Network

TELEVISION

'Ruby': My 500-Pound Life

By Belinda Elliott
CBN.com Senior Producer

CBN.com - Ruby Gettinger wishes she could do the things that many people take for granted: relax in a bubble bath, go horseback riding, wear jeans, and polish her toe nails. At a weight of nearly 500 pounds, these things are impossible for the Savannah, Georgia, resident. But she is setting out to change that, and a new reality series on Style Network is chronicling her journey.

At her heaviest, the exuberant Sunday School teacher weighed 700 pounds. She said that since age 10 she has struggled with obesity, a foe that she calls “the beast.” Though she has tried numerous diets, and successfully lost some weight, she repeatedly gained it back. Now she is ready to tackle the problem with a new level of intensity.

Recently, doctors diagnosed Ruby with diabetes and told her she will die unless she is able to drop the extra pounds. With such an alarming prognosis, Ruby says it became clear to her that it was time to take action. And this time, she believes she has the tools necessary to succeed.

Previously, her attempts to lose weight have always been for friends or family who were concerned about her health. Several times she also tried to lose the weight for boyfriends.

“So many guys have come into my life and they would say, ‘Ruby, if you lose weight, I’d marry you. Please lose weight.’ And then I would try, but I just couldn’t do it. The difference (this time) is that for the first time Ruby is doing this for her,” she says.

Throughout the nine-episode series, Ruby will work with a dietitian, physical trainer, and psychiatrist to gain control over her weight. Viewers will follow her as she learns to cook healthy meals and begins an exercise program.

She says this is also the first time that she has looked beyond physical reasons for her obesity. Though she was skeptical at first about visiting a therapist, she says it is helping her identify the underlying issues that have contributed to her weight problem.

“I just really want to know the name of this beast and why it is so big,” Ruby says. “Why has he been there forever, and why has he conquered me? And I’m doing it for everybody else out there too because this is a disease. People try to say that this is not a disease like alcoholism or drugs, but it is. It’s bigger than me, and I need to find out why.”

In the show’s first episode, Ruby explains during her first visit with the therapist that she can’t remember most of her childhood before age 10. She learns that perhaps this is because her mind is blocking out a traumatic event that may have occurred during that time. Though she says it is somewhat unnerving to find out things like that for the first time while the world watches, she hopes her experiences will help others who may be dealing with similar issues.

Through her research, Ruby says she has learned that 96 million Americans are suffering from obesity, and experts predict that by the year 2010, 75 percent of Americans are going to be obese. Like other addictions, it is something that can rob people of their lives if they let it.

“Do not let your addiction define who you are,” Ruby says. “Who you are is who you are on the inside. Just because you have fallen short, just because you do have a problem, don’t let that define who you are. You are created by God. You are a beautiful person. It’s just that something has got control over you, and we’ve got to find a way to get control back over it.”

Ruby says her faith in God is her primary source of strength as she confronts her weight problem, and it was important to her that Style Network executives included that in her story.  

“For them to even be talking about God on a reality show is huge to me,” she says. “I really feel like this is God-orchestrated.”

She hopes that her story will inspire others and encourage them to seek help if they are battling an addiction.

“Find someone to talk to,” she says, “because if you keep it silent, and if you keep it a secret, it gets bigger. And before you know it, that’s how it gets control over you, by the silence, by not sharing it. That’s exactly what Satan wants you to do. He wants you to hide out and let it get bigger and bigger.”

Style Network has developed a Web site for the show where viewers can not only follow Ruby’s journey and watch behind-the-scenes features, but they can also interact with her and with each other on message boards. Ruby says she hopes this will become a place where both Christians and non-Christians can share their experiences.

“This is a platform for all of us to get out on,” she says. “There are so many people already writing on there. We can really help them. We can pray for them and show them the power of God.”

She also asks that Christians keep her in their prayers as well. “Pray for me on this journey, and for this show that it will reach who God wants it to reach.”

Ruby premieres Sunday, November 9, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on The Style Network.

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