As a licensed undertaker, Scott Ruby knows all too well about mortality. Maybe that was one factor that made him decide to lose more than 130 pounds in the last few years, to stave off obesity-related illness later in life and possibly premature death.
A picture of a super-fit weekend warrior now, the 46-year-old American is a stark contrast to the bulky couch potato of only a short time ago.
He weighed 312 pounds and the blubber was piling on inexorably. Doritos were his best friends. Nobody would have thought then that he would now be planning ultra-distance races and triathlons in the next few months.
“I knew I had to lose weight, but did not know how out of shape I was until I used the stairways instead of waiting for the lift,” Ruby said.
“I figured I could climb five flights of steps, but had to stop and catch the lift on the third floor. I thought I was going to have a heart attack and really didn’t realize I was a 300 pounder.
“That day I stopped and put myself under some very close scrutiny. I did not care for the way I was living my life.”
A daily intake of a handful of pills to feel better and two packs of cigarettes was the norm.
That was the point, just before Christmas 2009, when a promise was made to change. Even now, he is not taking anything for granted and keeps his promise daily.
With three kids, Lauren, 20, Claire, 17, and Grace, 15, and a loving wife of 22 years, Miles, Ruby now wants to fully enjoy family life and continue inspiring them to follow his lead.
“It is said misery loves company, but so does achievement,” Ruby said. “Although Miles is not into running ultra marathons, she has done very well in diet and exercise and dropped 20 pounds of her own.
“She is so supportive, it would be so much harder to maintain this fitness schedule without her understanding and support. When it comes to ultra running, there is no better crew chief than Miles. She knows what I need before I do.
“The favorite part of my long run Sunday is Miles motoring alongside me at some point with a wink and a banana. ‘Just checking on you,’ she says.”
Ruby now typically attends CrossFit 7 Mile five mornings a week, James Murray’s Boot Camp on Tuesday evenings, runs and cycles or swims Wednesdays and Thursdays and somehow finds the energy on Sundays to do a long run of 18-plus miles.
“Most times I go and run the East End loop. I also do a tire dragging session weekly of 6-10 miles. Yes, I’m the silly sod dragging the tire down West Bay Road.”
This amazing transformation is in contrast to a man who would not even walk the dog, and watching more than 30 hours of TV weekly was as active as he got. Now it’s an average 25 hours of exercise.
From one extreme to another, he is truly happier now and feels immeasurably better. No more pills, smoking is snuffed out and with all this activity, there is no time for TV.
But it goes further; learning to push himself and hold himself accountable for his own well being is a new philosophy.
“I found that the limits one feels are only self imposed and I am a better example to my children. I also like the way my wife looks at me now.”
Surprisingly, he eats more than before, but the quality has improved immeasurably. No junk food, virtually no empty carbohydrates and lean protein is eaten in moderation. Plenty of nuts, raw vegetables and fruit.
He does not pander to the notion that a patty, cake, or pizza is deserved because he earned it from excursion. “Why is it a reward has to be bad for us? I work too hard at CrossFit and running to give it back in a brownie.”
Since his transformation, Ruby has made a new set of friends, particularly triathletes Pam Abbott and Johan Heath who have instilled optimism since his first short races.
“Their faith in me washed away the doubts I had in myself. My family has stood by me steadfastly too. Everybody has been most supportive and I endeavor to pass this forward. I want to help people to help themselves.”
He was a marshal at the Try This Tri event earlier this year, which introduces small children at Camana Bay to a mini-triathlon circuit.
Before the end of the year, Ruby is in the Halloween 30K Run and Cayman triathlon and marathon. After Christmas, it’s the gruelling half iron distance triathlon in East End, a 50K run and a 53-mile run (his favorite distance) and the Keys 100-mile run all before late spring.
His advice to other middle-aged people intending to get fit is to “join CrossFit 7 Mile, it’s that easy.” Under head coach Chris Spigner, Ruby has honed his body into enviable shape.
“Of the programs I have done, this is the one I have benefitted most from,” Ruby said. “There is a misconception that you have to be a fitness monster to join CrossFit.
“It is the other way around. If you join, they will help make you into the person you want to be. From elite athlete to beginner and everybody in between, the community aspect and scaling of the workouts assures each member is getting their individual needs met daily.
“The sessions are constantly monitored, you are not just given a key fob and have at it and instead of ‘eat right’, I say, ‘don’t eat wrong.’ You don’t need a doctor to tell you how to make the first steps in cleaning up your diet.”
Ruby also advises not to be too hard on yourself and make realistic goals. “It took me years of neglect to get as out of shape as I was, so getting fit takes time too. Enjoy the results as they come and cherish your hard work. Setbacks are momentary, don’t dwell on them. Every time you choose to exercise, you have made an achievement.”
He feels anyone wins just by showing up and no one should worry about others who are stronger, faster and slimmer.
“It takes courage for the out-of-shape to step up and start a program. Take the word ‘can’t’ out of your vocabulary and replace it with the word ‘willing’ and use it in a sentence, it puts a new light on just how much we can achieve. “My new mantra is ‘the only difference between ordinary and extraordinary is the extra.’”