Ruby Gettinger captured the hearts of Americans from all walks of life on her acclaimed show “Ruby,” the highest rated program on Style Network. I spent the entire month of June watching her incredible series on Netflix with my best friend Ray, and I cannot begin to explain what a transformative experience it was for the both of us.
At her heaviest, Ruby weighed over 700 pounds. With the help of professionals, family, and friends, Ruby has lost over 400 pounds. She is the author of “Ruby’s Diary: Reflections on All I’ve Lost and Gained,” a poignant and comical memoir. Ms. Gettinger also travels across the country to deliver her inspiring message of self-empowerment. Here, the Indy finds out how Harvard students can find time to put themselves back on their to-do list:
1. Harvard students face daily stresses that undoubtedly put a strain on our ability to take care of our bodies. How do you deal with difficulties in daily life that may trigger intuitive eating?
Our health is so important. Just because you are young does not mean that bad health habits will not sneak up on you. One of the worst things for the body is stress, and the first thing we may want to do is crawl in bed, hide, and never get out! Another big mistake [is] to find a substance to make you avoid or forget your problems. We must force ourselves to do the opposite. Find someone to talk to, or walk, ride a bike, etc. The most important thing we must do is start training our bodies while we are still young and it is easy to move. Find something you love doing, whether it is running, dancing, walking, riding a bike, tennis, etc. Do it four to five times per week for 45–60 minutes. It is the best hour you can give to your body and to your health (physical and mental!). If you are stressed, move your body! I am finding out that moving your body frees your mind.
2. How can we build a community where we all are committed to each other’s health, especially when academic and personal pressures may get in the way?
I feel it should be mandatory for high school and college kids to have a group of their own peers to meet once a week or at [the] very least, every other week. [During] my journey, I realized how important it was to talk with someone about what you’re going through. I have started doing boot camps and “Real Time with Ruby.” My goal for the group, before I leave, is to have them commit to meeting with each other to exercise, and, most importantly, to leave them with a group of people from their area to meet and talk with. There is so much [you can] learn when talking with a group of people. You find you are not alone and you find people that have gone through some of the same struggles that you go through. Together, you help each other and keep one another accountable. High school and college kids go through a lot of changes, and they are left trying to figure it all out on their own. They [come] from the only place they call home, and also [bring] a lot of baggage along with them. A lot of college-age kids have “the perfect child” syndrome, and feel that they can’t make any mistakes or they will let their parents down…They are starting their adult lives without dealing with their mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical problems. They may think that by leaving home they can leave it all behind, but it will sneak up on them. Instead of dealing with it, they bury it in alcohol, drugs, overeating, under-eating…and getting involved with every destructive behavior that helps them avoid what’s really going on! Their behavior becomes compulsive and they are only creating bigger problems for themselves that they will eventually have to deal with. So, why not make a place to talk, vent and share? Once someone starts sharing, everyone begins to get help in listening, venting, etc.
3. What is the most inspirational thing someone has told you?
One of my biggest issues was overeating. Oprah said to me, “You have to find out what you’re feeding!” WOW! It was truly eye-opening and haunting! That’s what we are all doing, in some way or another, if we do not deal with our inner pain and hidden issues. We have an empty hole in us that we are trying to fill instead of face.
4. If you could give college-age Ruby one piece of advice, what would it be?
I wanted to be a psychologist! I went to college for two and a half years and dropped out because I started getting too big to fit in the desk. I would have said, “Ruby talk to someone! Get help now!” But, I didn’t, and time does not wait for you. Do whatever it takes to pursue that burning feeling that is so deep inside you! It’s that hope, dream, wish that will not let you go. Fight to live out your passion. It’s your life, your God-given destiny! You can do anything. You can do this; do not drop out. Do it for you! Fight to live your passion! When it is hard, you stay in the boxing ring and fight…if you stay in the ring you will be the last one standing! Then, with your arms up, you will be saying, “I did it! I really did it!” There is no greater feeling or happiness or completeness in life than fighting for your God-given destiny and never giving up! You can do this! Do not drop out! Fight to live your passion!
5. You have often stressed a message of personal empowerment. How can we remind ourselves that we are worthy of living healthy, happy lives?
I believe we all have a God given destiny! We all have something inside us that tugs at us! We all have a purpose and were created for a reason. Do not let family, friends, strangers, substance and time steal it from you! Write something daily to yourself that is positive and keep telling yourself you can do this. Yes, it is hard work but hard work is what will get you to your goal! Yes, you can do the impossible! It is important to write it down daily, and not only read it, but also write it so it will be burned in your soul forever. Do not doubt yourself. Fear will keep you frozen in time! Run to the edge and fly to your freedom.
For more information, see http://www.rubygettinger.net.
William Simmons ’14 (firstname.lastname@example.org) thanks Ruby for her honest and passionate portrayal of a struggle that so many of us face.