Sophie’s Woman of the Year after halving her bodyweight

  • Sophie Higginbottom, 30, has been named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year after losing almost 9st and halving her bodyweight
  • The trainee psychologist lost most of her weight during lockdown, enjoying home-cooked meals and long walks with her two rescue greyhounds
  • Since joining Slimming World Sophie is happier than ever and is looking forward to marrying her fiancé, Ale

A woman from Ellesmere Port who used to actively avoid the camera because of her size has lost an amazing 8st 11½lbs, almost half her bodyweight, to be named Slimming World’s Woman of the Year 2021.

Sophie Higginbottom, 30, had reached the stage where her weight was holding her back from everyday aspects of life – such as socialising with friends, having her photograph taken and even applying for jobs.

She says: “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.”

Sophie Higginbottom, Slimming World's Woman of the Year 2021
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 Higginbottom, Slimming World's Woman of the Year 2021

At first, Sophie didn’t tell anyone except her partner that she had joined Slimming World. She says: “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. 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. 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 says: “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. 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. I’ve done an American feast of burgers and mac ‘n’ cheese, a big family Greek night and we still enjoy a cooked breakfast. It really has slotted into our lives so well and neither of us feel like we’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!”

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.

Sophie Higginbottom, Slimming World's Woman of the Year 2021
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.
Sophie Higginbottom, Slimming World's Woman of the Year 2021

And another adventure is on the horizon soon, too. Sophie says: “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.”


Name: Sophie Higginbottom

Age: 30

Height: 5’5”/165cm

Starting weight: 17st 11.5lbs/249.5lbs/113kg

Current weight: 9st/126lbs/57kg

Weight loss: 8st 11.5lb/137.5lbs/56kg

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.

Before menu

Breakfast: Nothing

Lunch: Shop-bought sandwich

Dinner: Filled pasta with a creamy sauce and garlic bread

Evening: Crisps, chocolate, sweets, biscuits

After menu

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast with mushrooms

Mid-morning: Fruit and yoghurt

Lunch: Leftovers from a home-cooked meal the night before e.g. chicken casserole

Dinner: Hunter’s chicken lasagne with salad

Evening: A sundae made with fruit, low-calorie ice cream and crumbled meringue or a Slimming World Hi-Fi bar


Notes to editors

  • This story is NOT for syndication to any magazines without the consent of Sophie Higginbottom and the Slimming World press office (details below).
  • Slimming World and Sophie Higginbottom retain copyright of all images attached to this press release.
  • For further information please contact the Slimming World press office on 07833 684131 or email lucy.fisher@slimmingworld.co.uk

About Slimming World

Slimming World was founded by Margaret Miles-Bramwell OBE in Derbyshire in 1969 and has become the UK and Ireland’s leading weight loss organisation with more people choosing to attend a Slimming World group each week than any other weight loss programme. We support hundreds of thousands of people, both in our groups and online, to lose weight and to adopt new habits to stay slim for life.

Over the years our founding principles haven’t changed:

  • Our unique programme is based on a powerfully motivating support system called IMAGE (Individual Motivation and Group Experience) Therapy. Underpinned by a deep understanding of the psychology of overweight people, and incorporating the most effective sustainable behaviour change techniques, IMAGE Therapy is designed to inspire and motivate slimmers to make positive changes and to develop new, healthier habits around food and activity.
  • Food Optimising is our healthy eating plan, based on the liberating concept of Free Food. We encourage our members to fill up on those foods that are naturally lower in energy density (calories per gram) and also highly satisfying while limiting foods that are highest in fat and sugar and are less satisfying, so they lose weight without ever feeling hungry or deprived and without having to weigh, measure or count everything they eat.
  • Our activity programme, Body Magic, encourages members to become more active, more often in ways that they enjoy, until regular physical activity becomes an intrinsic part of daily routine.

Above all, at the heart of everything we do, lies our passion for treating every member with genuine care, empathy and respect.

We’re proud to work with the NHS, Public Health England, The Royal College of Midwives and others to help shape the future of weight management in the UK.

For further information please contact the Slimming World press office on email public.relations@slimmingworld.co.uk