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Continuing on with my interview of Will Millender, my hope is that his thoughts on obesity and it’s impact on life will help foster further discussion about the problem and how life insurance underwriters view it.

Question: There is an epidemic of obesity today. If you were raising a child, what insight and ideas would you bring to fatherhood to help your child in his or her ability to control their weight?

My children are going to be nothing like me as far as what my eating habits had become. They’re going to see all the pictures and watch the show and know the pitfalls I had. Me and my future wife, will make sure to study and follow the proper nutrition for our child so they will not only completely avoid the same lifestyle, but not even consider the possibility. I’ll make sure that when my child has problems, the answer will never be food. I’m also considering changing my major in college to nutrition or counseling which I could also bring to the table in helping raise a healthy child.

Question: At what age did you consider yourself to be the fittest that you have ever been?

I’d say I’m now the fittest I’ve ever been. Like I said, I was always the fat kid. Not really active, always eating bad. This time, I really make the effort. I am still struggling with the addictive qualities I have. At home, the weight is coming off a lot slower than some of the other marchers, and quicker than others. I’m happy with where I am at. I go to the gym, I’m gaining muscle that I didn’t have. I make the best attempt at eating right than I ever even considered doing before and I think that’s what’s important. Are the addictive qualities still there? Yes, it’s something I will struggle with for the rest of my life. The difference between then and now is that I choose to fight it. And I choose to not let a single failure, set me up for overall failure.

Question: You have told me about a person you have been helping with his or her quest to lose weight. Has it helped your own resolve to know that you are the support for another person?

I cannot express to you how it feels when someone who has the same problems you’ve faced, calls you because they want you to know that instead of getting drunk and partying, they played beer pong with Diet Pepsi and went to the gym afterwards. Or that they went to the grocery store and bought a food you suggested that they wouldn’t have tried before. So knowing that someone is taking something that I learned and using it themselves, when before they might not have done the same thing, is very empowering.

Question: From your experience describe the kind of support structure or team that is needed to be successful at weight loss.

Well the obvious person is yourself. You need to be the one to make the decisions. You need to be the one that believes in yourself. Because the people that are saying they want to change and then going to McDonalds for lunch everyday are the ones that people see right through their faux sincerity. For me personally though, when I think of someone being there for me, I think of someone that knows I’m going to screw up, or make mistakes and yet not make me feel like crap because of it. Someone that is going to pick me up instead of knocking me down. Someone that is going to go out of their way to get my butt out of bed and get into a gym, or for a walk. This can be a difficult position to give someone though. My girlfriend for example, will say something when she knows I shouldn’t be having something and sometimes I’ll know where she’s coming from and stop. But there are a lot of times where we argue. And it’s not because I think she’s wrong, but I also want to be able to make those decisions when she’s not there. I want to learn to be the one to say stop INSTEAD of her saying it for me because then sometimes you can feel like they’re an authority figure telling you you’re not allowed something rather than someone that is sincere in their caring for you. You know they care about you, but you get so frustrated that someone has to tell you to do something instead of figuring it out for yourself and using that power of control that you know you have somewhere inside you.

Question: What is your driving force behind weight loss? Is it acceptance? Is it the potential health problems that are associated with obesity?

I’ve always been comfortable with my size and who I was. I never made any excuses for being fat. I was just a guy who ate a lot, point blank. I knew, health wise though that 480 pounds was not the right way to live. I have a herniated disk in my back. My knees are shot because of that, and I don’t get around as fast as most people. I knew that I had a girlfriend at home that was so worried about my habits and would tell me on many occasions about how worried she was to have kids because I wouldn’t be able to play with them. I knew that my grandfather has suffered many heart attacks and that my mom and aunt both have a heart arrhythmia and surgeries. These should all have been motivations in themselves but for some reason they weren’t powerful enough to overcome that switch in my brain that I couldn’t turn off. So like I said before, I always knew that a controlled environment was my best chance for success, I just never had the option available. Once I got to the march, I knew that there was no way of screwing up because, seriously, where was I going to get a Snickers in the middle of the woods with no money?