A Biggin Hill mum has shared her inspirational body transformation, culminating in her stepping into the shoes of her weight-loss consultant.

Sophie Dunbar, 34, weighed in at 17-stone after giving birth to her second and youngest son, but found herself “desperately unhappy” with her body.

But since joining Slimming World, Sophie has managed to shed four-and-a-half stone and even went on to replace the consultant at her local group, after it was nearly forced to shut down during the pandemic.

“My weight had always gone up and down a lot over the years, but I’ve often been the ‘bubbly’ one of my friend group just because I’m the biggest – when people say those kinds of things enough, over time, it becomes a bit of a shield really”, the mum of two told News Shopper.

“What a lot of people don’t realise is that despite being that ‘bubbly friend’, you’re still an actual person and it does take its toll when you are constantly treated differently. I would always be out with my skinnier friends and wishing I could look like them.

“I’m not being sexist, but being a bigger woman you just don’t really get the looks when you’re out – it does feel like there is a double-standard where it is seen as more acceptable for a man to be a bit more chunky.”

News Shopper: Sophie said she tried "every diet under the sun" before finding success with Slimming WorldSophie said she tried "every diet under the sun" before finding success with Slimming World

Sophie said her weight had fluctuated a lot when growing up, but when she became a pastry chef she referenced her “terrible food choices”, and admitted that Greggs was her comfort food of choice.

But it was only when Sophie became pregnant with her second child that she realised she needed to take action, after she battled with a series of debilitating health problems including gestational diabetes, displaced hips, as well as Hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) – the same condition suffered by Kate Middleton during pregnancy, which causes severe nausea and sickness.

“Having come through that awful pregnancy, I knew I needed to change something”, she continued.

“The local Slimming World group met where I was working at the time and I did their teas and coffees – but would always hide behind the bar and listen to them.

“It took five to six months for me to finally come out from behind the bar and first speak to the group’s consultant.”


Gills amazing #fakeaway tonight... I know where I’m going for dinner after lockdown!

Posted by SWBlundells - Sophie Slimming World on Saturday, 14 November 2020

Sophie said she approached the consultant just before Christmas that year and expressed her doubts, having tried “every diet under the sun” in the past and never achieving lasting results.

Deciding to give it a go, she lost half a stone in her first week – despite being allowed to eat unlimited amounts of the “free foods” outlined in Slimming World’s nutrition guide – which include fruits and vegetables, but also meat as long as the fat is trimmed off, as well as high-carb foods like pasta and potato.

“Having lost half a stone, I quickly realised this was something I wanted to do – going back each week and getting a new certificate each time felt very rewarding and I still got to enjoy my Christmas and have all the things I loved!

“After that the weight just kept falling off – it had never happened to me like that before.

“As I lost weight, I started to get more active – I started playing racketball and am on a team now, every pound I was losing was giving me more of my life back.”

Having been recognised as the group’s “biggest loser” for achieving slimmer of the year in 2019, things hit an unexpected turn this year when the coronavirus pandemic hit.


Real-life group re opening on 2nd Dec! New members session 4:30pm half price joining fee save £5! #slimmingworldfeeling

Posted by SWBlundells - Sophie Slimming World on Friday, 27 November 2020

She admitted that when lockdown hit and the face-to-face meetings were suspended, she “got into a really downward spiral” – struggling to get many of the “free foods” outlined in the Slimming World book during the panic-buying that followed the announcement of lockdown.

The problems continued when the consultant leading the group had to suddenly step down for personal reasons, effectively spelling the end for future sessions.

A short time later, Sophie first became aware that Slimming World were seeking a new consultant – and decided she’d “bite the bullet” and give it a go.

Having attended a training session in Derby after the summer, she came back and restarted the group with 48 members and has now increased the numbers up to “a solid 50 to 60 members”.

Leading the sessions herself, she was able to quickly adapt and hold them virtually via Zoom throughout the second national lockdown last month.

Now Sophie is encouraging people from Biggin Hill and the surrounding areas to give it a go.

“I think the secret to Slimming World is really the accountability that being part of the group brings”, Sophie added.

“Having to get on the scales in front of someone else might sound terrible, but when you know everyone else is in a similar position, you know there’s no judgement at all.

“We may not all be in exactly the same boat, but we’re all on the same ocean.”

The group welcomes members of all ages, with current members ranging from as young as 11, all the way up to people in their 70s.

You can get free membership when you first join, with a 12-week countdown.

After that it is £14.95 for the first week, which comes with all the Slimming World books and mealplans – devised by their nutritionists.

From then it is £4.95 a week, which includes group image therapy, a mid-week consultation, a barcode scanner app for use when food shopping, and access to exclusive social media groups and websites.

You can find out more at: https://www.facebook.com/SWBlundells