Ruby Gettinger Lost 400 lbs—and Took Charge of Her Diabetes

The star of her own hit former reality series, Ruby, on the Style Network, describes how to persevere through the challenges posed by a big weight loss and take control of type 2 diabetes.

Linda Childers

From 2008 to 2011, Ruby invited America into her life, week after week, to come along for the ride as she dealt with the daily struggles of losing weight. At her heaviest, the Savannah, GA, native weighed 718 pounds. Since then, Ruby, 48, has shed nearly 400 pounds—and counting—and revels in each milestone she reaches.

Her quest to lose weight isn’t just about looks—it’s about feeling better and getting more out of life. When Ruby was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it further motivated her to lose the weight once and for all (her father died from diabetes). Today, she is able to manage diabetes without medication.

“My weight stopped me from doing everything, but I’m no longer limited,” says Ruby, whose new favorite activity is biking around her neighborhood in Los Angeles. “The fact that I can move and breathe easier now is amazing.”

Here, Ruby explains her strategies for losing weight and embracing good health, both physically and emotionally.

Go to the root of the problem.
Ruby acknowledges that she has been emotionally attached to food for most of her life. “I’ve been feeding my pain,” says Ruby. Currently, she’s working with a therapist who’s helping her learn to combat depression—as well as find out why she so often turns to food for comfort. The good news is she’s making progress: “I’m losing weight from the inside out and will continue to do so until I find out what I’ve been feeding,” said Ruby. “Learning to feel good about myself and be stress-free allows me to take better care of myself.”
Success secret: If you turn to food when you’re feeling stressed or sad, your emotions could become tied to your eating habits. Keep a food diary: Write down what you eat and how you’re feeling right before you eat. Over time, you may see patterns emerge.

Pinpoint binge triggers.
For Ruby, it’s chocolate. “I can’t eat just one piece of chocolate because it makes me crave more.” To help satisfy her sweet tooth, Ruby eats grapes, strawberries or grapefruit topped with artificial sweeteners. Berries, especially, are a diabetes super-food because they’re packed with antioxidants, vitamins and fiber and are low-carb, according to the American Diabetes Association.

Get enough fiber and protein.
People with diabetes who eat 50 grams of fiber each day—particularly soluble fiber—are better able to control their blood sugar levels, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Try Ruby’s favorite salad: spinach, mushrooms, grapes, cranberries, nuts, broccoli and 4 oz. of protein.

Switch up workouts.
“If I did the same exercise routine every day, I would have given up a long time ago,” Ruby admits. “One day I’ll ride my bike, and the next alternate that with another activity, like playing badminton or tennis.” Varying your workouts may be key in managing diabetes: When people with type 2 diabetes alternated resistance training with aerobic exercise, they achieved better blood sugar control than folks who simply did one form of exercise, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Start with small goals.
Says Ruby, “When I first started losing weight, I could barely walk for five minutes without being out of breath. I started exercising by taking baby steps: Walking around my living room, then walking to the mailbox and then to the stop sign on my street.” Today, Ruby can walk three miles. A realistic, incremental road to better fitness like Ruby’s is proven to work: In a study presented at an American College of Sports Medicine meeting, sedentary adults who were told to increase their daily steps by 2,500 were more likely to stick with it than those who were asked to walk 10,000 steps.

Got off track? Keep going.
In early 2011, Ruby regained 60 pounds after dealing with her father’s death and five months later, losing Lucy, her 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier. “The best thing I can do is start over. Let things go, and start over immediately,” says Ruby, who’s intent on reaching her goal weight of about 150 pounds.
Success secret: If you suffer a relapse—which is perfectly normal whenever you try to change any behavior—remember you don’t need to start from square one. You already have the knowledge and tools in place to succeed. It’s just a matter of putting them to work again!

April 2013