05/06/2014 01:33 EDT | Updated 05/06/2014 03:59 EDT

Weight Lost: Retired Woman Drops 168 Pounds

Patricia Church

WHO: Patricia Church, retired retail customer service representative

AGE: 61

CITY: Scarborough, Ont.

By The Numbers: 331 at my heaviest, and currently 163, total weight loss of 168 pounds

The Weight Gain: My weight was normal to slightly heavy growing up. I was active in softball, volleyball and basketball in elementary school, but then not so much in high school.

I started to gain weight after the birth of my third child in 1975. I was 207 pounds when my son was born, and the pounds just sort of crept up. I tried counting calories and dieting, but it was not too successful.

The Final Straw: I remember walking down the street one day and a man was walking towards me. Being a friendly person, I smiled, and he said, "How did you ever get so fat?" It made me upset, but his comments didn't stop me from continuing to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I was hungry.

The tipping point for me was in December 2011, when I was at my grandson's hockey game and another "hockey Gramma" came up to me and said, "Trish, I've watched you struggle for the past couple of years. You're short of breath, need to sit down after walking only a few steps, and I wish you would see my doctor ... he helped me lose 75 pounds" Jo was a few years older than me, and I thought if she could do it, I could do it. I had high blood pressure, acid reflux, sleep apnea, bad back and knees, and thought maybe this doctor could help.

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The Plan Of Attack: I went home that night and searched for Dr. Poon's Metabolic Clinic (after Joy's referral) and my husband and daughter told me to try it. The next day I made an appointment. It was close to Christmas, so I told myself I would walk into Dr. Poon's office in the new year.

On Jan. 3, 2012, I started my journey to better health. I weighed 328.8 pounds and in two weeks I had lost 18 pounds through eating better. I set myself goals and was thrilled that by husband's birthday in September, I had lost 100 pounds.

My health improved incredibly as well — by April 2012 I was no longer snoring, and by June I was off all blood pressure medications, no acid reflux and my knees and back stopped aching.

The Food Element: I ate copious amounts of leafy green veggies and extra lean protein for the first six weeks, then carbs were slowly added in. I gave up all refined sugars and cut back on most carbs and salt. I miss potatoes and all my junk snack foods like chips, pretzels and ice cream. These days I munch on salads.

I didn't need to focus on calories. If I was hungry, I would eat extra lean protein. For example, I would always try to have hard-boiled eggs, cooked chicken and salad ready to go If I was hungry. I can honestly say I have never been hungry with this lifestyle.

The Exercise Factor: I did not join a gym but I do love to walk. I have wonderful parks nearby so whenever it is possible I walk, sometimes even run. I am hoping to take part in the Run or Dye 5K this summer with some friends.

The Current Day-To-Day: Today I am happy and healthy. I am recovering from a hernia repair surgery and it was much easier because of the weight I lost. The hospital staff was amazed by my achievement. I was even able to fly to England last July for a wedding — no seat belt extender needed and the food tray didn't have any problems.

I love being able to walk around for hours, not worrying about losing breath or having weary joints. I am very proud of the new improved me. I am able to play with the grandkids and travel with my family.

My advice to others would be you need to be in the right place at the right time. There is a program out there for you and if I can do it, you can do it!

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