Bride-to-be, 30, who avoided socialising and applying for jobs because of her 18st frame is named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2021 after losing half her body weight
A woman from who used to actively avoid the camera because of her size has lost an amazing 8st 11lbs, almost half her bodyweight, to be named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2021.
Sophie Higginbottom, from Ellesmere Port, had reached the stage where her weight – 17st 11.5lbs – was holding her back from everyday aspects of life.
The 30-year-old who avoid as socialising with friends, having her photograph taken and even applying for jobs.
But after struggling most of her life to stay in control of her eating, she finally found the motivation when she realised how unfit she was.
Sophie Higginbottom, 30, has been named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year after losing almost 9st and halving her bodyweight
She said: ‘I did well in my studies at university and knew that I wanted a career in psychology. Traineeships were so competitive though, and I just didn’t have the confidence to even apply for them.’
‘I had struggled with my weight since I was a teenager and couldn’t seem to get it under control. I would always avoid cameras and just hated having my photo taken – it was getting to the point where I barely recognised myself.’
‘When my niece, Lily, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in August 2019 I turned to food for comfort even more. Thankfully Lily recovered well, so as a family we decided to do a charity 5K to raise money for Alder Hey Hospital, where she had been treated.’
‘I soon realised how unfit I had become – I could barely finish the course and lagged about half an hour behind everyone else. It was then that I decided I had to do something about my weight.’
Before her weightloss, Sophie weighed 17st and had very low self confidence that limited her life, holding back from socialising with friends or even applying for jobs she really wanted
At first, Sophie didn’t tell anyone except her partner that she had joined Slimming World.
She said: ‘I was really scared to walk into the group on my own that night. I thought that I would be the biggest person there and that I would probably fail – which is why I didn’t tell my family and friends where I was going.’
‘That was the hardest step of the whole experience because from that moment on I was surrounded by love, support and kindness from my Slimming World group.’
‘For me, group is the number one feature of Slimming World. Without a group to look forward to every week I don’t think I would have done so well.’
Sophie with her award: The bride-to-be said that one of the best things about losing weight has been trying on wedding dresses and feeling beautiful
Sophie Higginbottom lost half her weight when she started taking care of her diet and joined a class. Pictured posing with a pair of trousers that using to fit her
‘Even during lockdown, virtual groups were the highlight of my week. Hearing about recipes people have tried or things they are struggling with, or just having someone to talk to about how you are feeling – there’s nothing like it.’
‘Most importantly, group taught me that it’s ok to love myself. The deeper level of thinking and support that group provides each week has helped me to truly understand and believe in myself in a way that I couldn’t before.’
Sophie soon got to grips with Slimming World’s Food Optimising eating plan and lost 5lbs in her first week.
Sophie’s diet before
Lunch: Shop-bought sandwich
Dinner: Filled pasta with a creamy sauce and garlic bread
Evening: Crisps, chocolate, sweets, biscuits
Sophie’s diet now
Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with mushrooms
Mid-morning: Fruit and yoghurt
Lunch: Leftover chicken casserole
Dinner: Hunter’s chicken lasagne with salad
Evening: Sundae made with fruit, low-calorie ice cream and crumbled meringue or Slimming World Hi-Fi bar
That, along with the generosity and flexibility of the eating plan which enables slimmers to lose weight without hunger or restriction, was a real motivation to keep going.
The plan encourages members to fill up on a wide variety of foods – like lean meat, potatoes, pasta, fruit and vegetables.
She said: ‘I’d tried lots of diets in the past, but nothing ever stuck because I felt so restricted. With Slimming World, I could still enjoy lots of hearty and delicious food.’
‘At first, I think my fiancé was dreading the food he would have to eat with me – but I soon changed his mind.’
‘Slimming World has changed my relationship with food for the better. I was scared of food before, now it’s my best friend.’
Sophie pictured with her neice, Lily, who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It was after doing a charity race for her neice that she decided she needed to be fitter
‘I forward plan exciting and filling meals for the week ahead and I take it as a bit of a challenge to make Slimming World-friendly versions of all our favourite foods.’
Sophie doesn’t limit herself, she’s made an American feast of burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, a big family Greek night and the family still enjoy a cooked breakfast from time to time.
She reveals the programme has slotted into their lives so well that neither of them feel like they’re on a ‘diet’.
‘We have two rescue greyhounds to walk too – so we spent a lot of lockdown eating good food and going on lovely long walks!’
Sophie pictured with her fiance. She’s excited about her wedding now that she’s lost the weight and has started trying on wedding dresses—something she wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing before
Sophie’s vital stats
Starting weight: 17st 11.5lbs
Current weight: 9st
Weight loss: 8st 11.5lb
Dress size before: 18/20
Dress size now: 8
Date joined Slimming World: January 2020
Group: Sophie attends the Ellesmere Port Slimming World group which is run by Consultant Lynsey Blackshaw.
Since halving her bodyweight, Sophie has become much more active – and is now a keen runner. She says: ‘I used to think I was relatively fit because I walk my two greyhounds every day, but the experience with the charity fun run soon changed that.’
‘As I lost weight I suddenly had so much more energy, so I decided to try Couch to 5K. I absolutely loved it and to my surprise – found I was quite good at running! I never thought I’d be the type of person to love running.’
And another adventure is on the horizon soon, too. Sophie said: ‘My partner Alex and I recently got engaged. Planning a wedding is actually something I’m excited about, I definitely think it would have been something I dreaded before I lost weight.’
‘I’ve been to try on some wedding dresses, and it was such a lovely experience. I felt beautiful and really comfortable having my photograph taken, which is a world away from the way I felt when I was almost 9st heavier.’
‘I feel like this is the version of me that I was always supposed to be. I’m so much more confident and full of life.’
‘I recently applied to become a trainee psychologist and was overjoyed when I got the position – it’s just something I wouldn’t have felt able to do before. Nothing feels out of reach anymore, and that’s an amazing feeling.’