If you're a reality TV fan, you may need to reset your TiVo after meeting Oprah's guests—men, women and kids who've won over millions with their honesty and humor.
In November 2008, Ruby Gettinger helped put the Style Network on the map when her original series, Ruby, had the biggest debut in the network's history. "It seems America has fallen in love with Ruby," Oprah says.
For 10 to 12 hours a day, cameras follow Ruby as she deals with the daily struggles of losing weight. At her heaviest, this Savannah, Georgia, native weighed more than 700 pounds. After dropping almost 230 pounds, she landed her own show and set out on an odyssey to lose 300 more. "I'm going to die if I don't change this," Ruby says. "That's pretty scary."
Ruby's open, honest approach to weight loss attracts millions of viewers. "I just want to tell the truth because it's the biggest struggle," she says. "There's so many people that suffer from the same thing."
In eight months of filming, Ruby lost 112 pounds from her nearly 500-pound frame...but she's not stopping there! "This is about me transforming," she says. "It's going to be a huge transformation."
Ruby says she barely remembers a time when she wasn't overweight. She says she weighed between 250 and 280 pounds as a teenager. Then, over the years, the number on the scale continued to climb.
"I always want to know what I'm going to look like. Just like what it feels like to wear certain clothes, what it feels like to cross your legs," Ruby says. "I never knew how limited my life was, because I was always happy."
After years of indulging in fried, fatty foods, Ruby says she was inspired to change her lifestyle—once and for all—after seeing an episode of The Oprah Show. "I watched the show, and I saw these women that were crying, saying they never went out of their homes," she says. "I've always been the kind of person who is happy. I live my life. I know people are cruel and mean, but I want to see my family and friends, so I go out. So I was like, 'I've got to be the guinea pig to find out what is going on. Why is there a problem in America?' ... I wanted women to come out of their homes."
Since her show premiered, Ruby says her hope for other obese Americans has started to come true. "It's starting to happen," she says. "That makes me happy."
Losing weight and inspiring others aren't Ruby's only goals. With the help of a therapist, Ruby is also hoping to discover why she's addicted to food.
For years, Ruby says she thought it was all about the food, but like Oprah, she's come to realize there's more to the story. "The unexpected surprise is when I went to the therapist, and I found out it was more mental than I thought," she says. "It's not about eating. It's not about the food. It's about something deeper. It's an addiction."
Watch Ruby discuss her new diet after the show.
Ruby says this is one reason she opted not to have gastric bypass surgery. "If people want to do it, that's great for them, but if I do it I'm not going to find the problem. I'll just get surgery, and what happens afterward? How am I going to learn what to eat? How am I going to learn what the problem is? I need to find out what made me this way."
Thousands of Ruby's fans are struggling to lose weight right along with her. Kathy, a Florida woman who's been watching since the first episode, says Ruby inspired her to take control of her health.
Kathy says she's been struggling with weight since she was 8 years old. Now, at 44 years old, she says it's time to finally start living. "I've been afraid to go outside sometimes because I don't like people staring at me," she says. "I've tried every diet program you can imagine, and it can't be a diet anymore. It's got to be a life change."
After seeing Ruby do everything from swim to ride motorcycles on her show, Kathy took action and lost more than 50 pounds. "Ruby was my aha! moment," she says. "I was watching her show, and I was like, 'God, I can't believe she's that big and she's doing all these things.' ... I need to know that there's other people out there that are living my life."
As Kathy heads outside for her daily walk, she has a special surprise waiting—Ruby! The two women take a stroll down Daytona's main street, something Kathy says she's only done once before.
During their walk, Kathy tells Ruby why she doesn't fly on airplanes. "I don't like going in planes, because it's just humiliating sometimes," Kathy says.
"I want you to fly for me and meet me at The Oprah Show," Ruby says. "Think of everybody in America that thinks they can't. You can be the person to show them you can."
With a little encouragement, Kathy did just that!
Jen Arnold and Bill Klein are also taking reality TV by storm as the newlywed stars of TLC's Little People: Just Married and The Little Couple.
Jen and Bill say their parents never treated them like they were different as they grew up. "My parents expected me to do chores and to do everything else like any other child would," Jen says.
Showing that little people also have big dreams, Jen thrived in school and went on to become a successful pediatrician. Bill, a New York native, started a lucrative sales and telemarketing firm.
In 2006, the pair met on a dating website and hit it off. They planned a dream wedding—complete with a custom designer wedding gown for Jen—and a honeymoon in paradise. When they returned, TV producers came calling.
"The best part was the opportunity to bring awareness and, hopefully, break down barriers," Jen says. "In my job as a pediatrician, I was hoping that other parents could see that their child may be born with a disability or dwarfism or something and know that their lives can be great. ... They can find love and live happily ever after."
Jen and Bill may be smaller than the average couple, but their first year of marriage is very familiar. Cameras capture the couple holding hands, arguing, grocery shopping and cooking. The show also highlights some daily challenges of dwarfism.
When they go to the grocery store, Jen climbs shelves to reach items, while Bill prefers to throw things toward the top shelf and knock down the food on their shopping list.
Finding clothes that fit can also be a challenge. "Jen's taught me a lot about shopping off the rack. She's done some amazing things with children's clothes," Bill says. "I've introduced her to custom clothing, which is kind of nice."
Many people born with dwarfism also have to deal with a lifetime of health concerns. "Bill and I have both had about, give or take, 30 surgeries—all of orthopedic nature—so that we can walk and stand straight and get around as well as we do," Jen says.
When Jen and Bill's show debuted on TLC, their story inspired Samantha, a 5th grader from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Samantha, who was also born with dwarfism, says Jen and Bill made her believe she can do anything she sets her mind to.
"It inspired me to want to be a teacher when I grow up and help animals," she says. "I like you guys so much because it made me feel that I'm not the only one who's little."
When she grows up, Samantha tells Jen she'd like to be doctor like her, but instead of treating babies, she wants to help puppies.
In February 2008, The Oprah Show flew the Gosselin family to Chicago to share their incredible story. Millions of TV viewers know the Gosselins from TLC's Jon & Kate Plus 8, a reality series that documents the lives of parents who are raising twins and sextuplets.
After Jon and Kate had twin girls, Cara and Maddy, they wanted to try for one more...but got six instead! Hannah, Joel, Leah, Collin, Alexis and Aaden are unexpected blessings who have won over viewers around the world.
Read an excerpt from Jon and Kate's book, Multiple Blessings.
Since their first trip to Chicago, the sextuplets turned 5 years old and started school. The Gosselins also moved into a new home and welcomed two new members to the family, puppies named Shoka and Nala.
To keep some semblance of order in their Pennsylvania home, Kate has strict rules for her family...and the production crew.
1. Cameras aren't allowed past the island in Kate's kitchen.
2. Shoes off. Crew members shoot footage for the show in their socks.
3. No filming in the bedrooms. The kids—and parents—need privacy.
4. Typically, there's no shooting on Sundays because the entire family goes to church.
5. If there's something they don't want to be filmed, the Gosselins can put up their hands or ask the cameramen to go away.
Jennifer and Kevin, a couple from San Antonio, Texas, are Skyping in to ask Jon and Kate for some advice. Jennifer is pregnant with quadruplets—two boys and two girls—and the couple already have two other children!
"I would say it's definitely doable," Kate says. "As our babies were coming home, I remember when we got up to four—we brought two and then one and then the fourth one home—things started to get a little hairy. But I've always said, 'Between us, we have four arms.'"
Kate says parents of multiples may also need more time to bond with each child. "I can honestly say, looking back, it took a full year until I felt solely and completely bonded with each of my babies," she says. "You don't have enough time in the day to sit and do that bonding."
While there's never enough time, sleep or money, Jon says he wouldn't change a thing. "That was our decision [to keep all the babies], and we would never take it back ever," he says. "Never regretted it."
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Printed from Oprah.com on Wednesday, December 11, 2013
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