Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stone

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Sophie couldn
Sophie couldn't walk up the stairs without being out of breath and struggled to sleep before the weight loss (Image: Slimming World)

Sophie Ratcliffe tried many times to lose weight in secret because she was afraid of being judged or embarrassed.

The mother-of-two hired a personal trainer on the sly and even considered a gastric band operation to try and slim down her 23st 13lb frame.

But nothing worked and it was only when Sophie, 29, from Hayle in Cornwall, joined a slimming club that she finally managed to lose 11st.

“My health was declining rapidly, I couldn’t walk up the stairs without being out of breath or sitting down. I wasn’t sleeping and I did absolutely no exercise,” Sophie says.

“My son was being bullied at school because of my weight which made me feel so guilty, but I didn’t know where to start when it came to changing things.”

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Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stoneBEFORE: Sophie weighed 23st 13lb (Slimming World)
Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stoneThe mother-of-two had noticed her health declining (Slimming World)

She’s far from alone, recent research conducted by Slimming World found that more than half of dieters have tried to lose weight ‘in secret’ – many because of fears of being judged or failing.

Over a quarter of secret slimmers say they struggle to feel motivated (28%) and a similar number (27%) agree it’s easy to go off track because no one would know.

Still, for many covert dieters like Sophie the answer may actually lie in joining a group and sharing their struggle.

A huge 87% of those who’d tried to lose weight in secret before joining a Slimming World group said they’d been more successful after they’d joined: 73% valued the support of other members ­and 90% said the private weekly weigh-in was a key factor in helping them lose weight successfully.

Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stoneSophie couldn't walk up the stairs without being out of breath and struggled to sleep before the weight loss
Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stoneSophie couldn't walk up the stairs without being out of breath and struggled to sleep before the weight loss (Slimming World)

In September 2021 she decided to take action - to make life better for her two children.

“During the lockdowns all I did was eat and bake with my children,” she said.

“When my friends mentioned they were joining the local Slimming World group, I decided to go with them and we joined the same day.

“I’d tried so many ways to lose weight, I never told anyone though because I was sure I wouldn’t succeed – just like all the times before. I even hired a personal trainer but along with the exercise plan there was a protein shake diet that I knew I wouldn’t be able to stick to long term because it left me hungry.

“When I joined Slimming World I was embarrassed at how big I’d become, but no one in the group every made me feel this way and I left the first session feeling hopeful for the first time.

Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stoneAFTER: Sophie's weight has dropped to 12st 13lb (Slimming World)
Mum whose son was bullied because of her weight loses a whopping 11 stoneSlimming World also supported Sophie through a scary diagnosis (Slimming World)

"As soon as I understood how the eating plan worked – and that I wouldn’t have to give up all the foods I loved – and I met the other members who were such a lovely bunch of people, I knew I was safe and wasn’t going to be judged.”

Best time for exercise to boost metabolism and burn body fat unveiledBest time for exercise to boost metabolism and burn body fat unveiled

The group also provided support to Sophie during the worst year of her life. In January 2021 she was suffering from what she thought were anxiety attacks - sometimes up to eight per day - and had a major seizure which was initially misdiagnosed as brain cancer but turned out to be epilepsy.

“It was a very stressful time when I could easily have given up on my weight loss plans, yet because of the support of those around me, both in my Slimming World group and my friends and family, I knew I had to carry on,” says Sophie.

“Since losing 11 stone, I’m a completely different person, I feel I’m better equipped to deal with what life throws at me… and I’ve not had a seizure since August.

“I know I’ve given myself the best chance I can to be a healthy mum. My son isn’t bullied anymore and both children are very proud of me. When they see pictures of me before I lost weight, they ask ‘Mummy, who’s that?’”

For more information or to find your nearest group, visit slimmingworld.co.uk.

Sophie Ratcliffe

Starting weight: 23st 13lb

Weight lost: 11st

Current weight: 12st 13lb

Height: 5ft 10in

BEFORE

Breakfast: A full English fry-up with lots of ketchup

Lunch: Shop-bought deep-fried chicken and chips

Dinner: Family-size pizza, ice cream with chocolate sauce and cream

Snacks: Crisps, bars of chocolate, sweets

Drinks: Fizzy drinks

AFTER

Breakfast: Banana with low-fat yoghurt

Lunch: Chicken skewers cooked in an air fryer with pitta bread

Dinner: Slimming World’s pizza topped chicken with Slimming World chips and lots of vegetables and/or salad

Snacks: Grapes, apples, high fibre bar

Drinks: 6-8 glasses of water a day

Lydia Veljanovski

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