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Media Spot-Lite: Ruby and the Weight-Loss Journey

April 2, 2013

Although it has since been cancelled, the reality TV show “Ruby” that began in 2008 is one of the most intimate and honest portrayal of the journey of significant weight-loss that I have seen. Other shows, such as “My 600 Pound Life” (which I just watched recently), try to condense and almost glorify the struggle, as they tend to gloss over the immense psychological and physical issues that these severely obese people face every single day. “Ruby” delves deeper, exploring the many realms and facets of family, friendships, childhood, adulthood, food, exercise, mental well-being, career, relationships that play roles in the weight-loss challenge.


“Changing her life to save it.” That’s an important motto that I think everyone, even those who don’t struggle with weight issues, can learn from. The changes she needs to make are absolutely vital.

[Ruby] starts the show weighing more than 477 lbs (she originally weighed over 700 lbs.) Ruby works with nutritionists, doctors, and trainers to lose weight, all the while commenting honestly and often humorously about the experience. The show also deals with the everyday life issues a morbidly obese person can face, such as the difficulty in using airplane bathrooms.

Each episode I have seen (and this has only been a few, but I’m still intrigued and inspired) has dealt with unique issues: a support group for obese women, a rekindling with an old romance, the question of whether motherhood is even an option when her weight is so out of control, supporting a teen to compete in a plus-size beauty pageant. And the episode that most impacted me was “The Thinner Child,” where Ruby and her friends go to a six day weight-loss retreat to deal with the emotional and physical impact of their history on their weight. They engage in talk therapy as well as alternative therapy opportunities, such as psychodramatics, while being coached and encouraged in their diet and exercise.

A role-playing game done for one of the participants proved successful. [One friend’s] father abused her mother when she was a child. Other participants played the parts of the family, while [the friend] took out her anger by beating a cushion with a bat. And, she felt her negative feeling released from her body.

The group also had another session of “gentle eating,” which we saw in the previous episode. It’s about eating a meal slowly, smelling the food, and no talking.

The last of the “life mapping” was Ruby’s. Needless to say, it was an emotional undertaking as she went over her missing childhood and heartbreaks in romance. The theme in Ruby’s life is that “everybody leaves.”

The women left the six-day intensive retreat with a newfound confidence that they can better control their eating habits.

I found this to be very powerful, especially since I worked at a weight-loss camp (and, for older clients, a “retreat”) and found it extremely frustrating that the psychological aspects of weight-loss and weight gain were barely dealt with. Getting to the root of why your relationship with food is the way it is, why your relationship with your body is destructive and painful, and why each individual must go through their own unique journey in order to come to terms with themselves is crucial and too often ignored. And even though this show is no longer on the air, it contained a powerful message: that there are many facets to the change that is required for significant and long-lasting weight loss and that this process if most definitely a journey. And by sharing this process (with her friends and her audience), this journey does not have to be made alone.


(Image courtesy of Patheos)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sexy Curmudgeon permalink
    April 8, 2013 4:23 pm

    Unlike shows like the absolutely horrific Supersize vs. Super skinny, which throws in one faux therapist in who will add a couple of lines about depression to make up for the fact that the show doesn’t remotely deal with the psychological root of most eating/weight problems, this seems to take a truly honest, effective approach to dealing with these issues. I truly hope that in the future we see more examples like this in the media: making a hugely important issue visible, but doing so in the right way.

  2. July 27, 2013 6:54 pm

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