A woman from Hayle has lost an amazing 11 stone in weight after joining a local slimming group after years of trying.

Sophie Ratcliffe, 29, tried many times to lose weight in secret because she was afraid of being judged and was embarrassed about how much weight she felt she needed to lose. She even secretly hired a personal trainer, but nothing worked long term.

Fed up with trying to lose weight on her own and weighing 23st 13lbs, Sophie visited her GP who recommended a gastric band. When the date for the surgery came through though, Sophie decided not to go ahead with the operation.

Falmouth Packet: Sophie Ratcliffe from Hayle before the weight loss weighed 23 stoneSophie Ratcliffe from Hayle before the weight loss weighed 23 stone (Image: Colin Higgs)

She was determined to be healthier for her two children and develop long-lasting healthy habits that she could pass on to them too. So instead, she opted to join her local Slimming World group in September 2021, where she went on to lose 11st.

She says: “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.  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.

“During the lockdowns all I did was eat and bake with my children. When my friends mentioned they were joining the local Slimming World group, I decided to go with them and we joined the same day. 

She said she tried so many things to lose weight, even hiring a personal trainer and using protein shales but nothing worked because she was always left hungry.

She said when she joined Slimming World she was embarrassed at how big I’d become but when she met other members she felt safe and supported.

“Before joining my local group, I’d experienced one of the worst years of my life,” she said. “In January 2021, I started having what we believed to be anxiety attacks, regularly around eight a day. I also had a major seizure which was initially misdiagnosed as brain cancer and turned out to be epilepsy. I was put on medication to control it because the seizures could have been fatal.

“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.”

Falmouth Packet: The incredible transformationThe incredible transformation (Image: Colin Higgs)

She says since losing 11 stone she had become a completely different person and better equipped to deal with what life throws at her. She says she’s not had a seizure since August.

“I feel like Slimming World has given me a new family and 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?’

“When I saw both my epilepsy nurse and my neurosurgeon recently, they couldn’t believe my transformation and they tried to impress on me that it’s saved my life.”

She says she believes the weight loss has also saved her marriage

“My husband was so upset as he said he was watching me lose the bubbly person I used to be.” says Sophie. “My children are so much healthier now as well and it’s brought us together more as a family.”

Falmouth Packet: Sophie before and after comparisonSophie before and after comparison (Image: Colin Higgs)

She says she has dropped eight dress sizes, going from a size 26 to a size 12.

“Losing weight has changed my life,” she said. “I feel like a door has been opened and I’m excited to keep exploring what’s on the other side. Now when people see me out and about, they ask me what my secret is and how I’ve managed to lose weight and I can’t wait to tell them – and it’s funny my secret is that my weight loss goals aren’t a secret anymore!”

Charlotte McCleary runs the Hayle Slimming World group and is Sophie’s Slimming World Consultant.  Charlotte says: “When Sophie first joined my group she was with some friends, and she didn’t seem convinced she was going to lose any weight at all. From that first week she just flew though and she’s become such an inspiration for all of us as we’ve seen her reach her target weight, losing an incredible 11st! We all care so much about her, she’s an amazing woman with a big heart – even with everything Sophie’s been coping with herself outside of group, she’s not stopped sharing tips and recipe ideas and caring for and supporting other members.”