Steve McMillen of Conway struggled with his weight for many years, but as a minister, weight loss, for him, came down to practicing what he preached.

McMillen works full time in materials at Snap On in Conway, but in his spare time he has a prison ministry and a nursing home ministry and also fills empty pulpits when needed.

He said, "As a preacher, you tell people to do what God says. The Bible says to treat your body like a temple. I just started believing what I was preaching."

McMillen was at 354 pounds and struggling with several health problems when he decided to start going to Weight Watchers in January 2012. Since then he has lost 118 pounds and has seen dramatic improvements in his health as he draws near to his goal weight.

"For every pound you’re overweight, it’s four pounds of force on your knees," said McMillen, who hurt his knee in the Army in 1984. He had been through two reconstructive surgeries, and his doctor told him he needed knee replacement surgery. However, he needed to lose some weight before he would be a good candidate for surgery. By August of 2012, he lost enough weight to have the knee replacement. It took a total of two years and seven months to lose 118 pounds, which put him only 16 pounds away from his goal weight.

He reflected on his earlier years.

"I was a typical teen. I loved sports. I ate like a horse, but I was always active," he said.

Around 1981 his weight was 205, and he started to settle into adulthood.

"When they put me behind a desk I really started to put on the weight," he said. "When I was a field service technician in Las Vegas, it was nothing for me to stop at Taco Bell between calls and get a bag full of whatever was on sale. I had really developed an unhealthy way of eating."

His wife, Tamara, a second-grade teacher at St. Joseph School, lost 50 pounds since McMillen started his weight-loss journey. The couple says they do everything together.

"I’m really proud of him," Tamara McMillen said. "He’s very diligent about counting his points. If we’re going out to eat, he checks the menu before hand. I think it’s good we did it together, because it taught me how to cook. We’ve learned that every time you get together with people it doesn’t have to be about food."

The couple said McMillen found himself in some embarrassing situations because of his weight. Once he got on a ride at Silver Dollar City, and the workers couldn’t get the safety harness to fasten around him. He had to get off the ride and walk past all the people waiting in line. Flying also became uncomfortable, as the seat belts on airline seats were not long enough to go around him, and he had to ask for an extender. Both situations were very humiliating, he said.

"Until someone has been there, they don’t understand," he said.

He had a goal of going back to Silver Dollar City and riding all the rides, and he did it.

"I marked that off my bucket list. My back hurt for a month," he said.

He also plans to go on some mission trips now that flying will be easier. He said trips to India and Mexico are already on his list.

McMillen was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes a few years ago, and he has been taking medications for his blood pressure and cholesterol. At a recent doctor appointment, he said, he was down to half a pill on his blood pressure medication, his doctor lowered his cholesterol medication, and the doctor said he would probably be able to stop taking blood sugar medication in the future.

While he is happy with the results, McMillen said it has not been easy. He goes to the gym five days a week (sometimes more than once) and keeps a food diary. He also saw plenty of people wash out of Weight Watchers in the time it took him to lose 118 pounds.

"There’s no magic pill. It takes discipline," he said.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to Send us your news at