I understand. The boot camp is difficult, it’s frustrating, it’s not worth it, you don’t need it. I get it. Really. It’s much easier to fall back into old regular habits than it is to adopt new ones… especially when we’re set in our ways and comfortable with the current cycle of which we are a part.

That is, except for the health and wellness part. Because our current habits don’t promote proper health for ourselves, they aren’t promoting emotional and physical wellness and they certainly don’t promote weight loss. Regardless of whether or not it’s five pounds or 135lbs that needs to go.. it’s not going to go away without a little difficulty and frustration.

But why? Why does it have to be so hard? Why does it have to be so frustrating? Honestly, I’d rather address why we feel like “it’s not worth it” and “we don’t need it” before anything else. The difficulty and frustration wouldn’t matter if we understood how important our health is, and recognized that it is not guaranteed. For some reason, American society (and, even more so, Black culture) simply does not place a priority on health. I can probably offer up several guesses as to why this is the case, but the bottom line is that this is the case. It’s left us to believe that wellness [as well as weight loss] is supposed to be easy and the moment that we’re reminded that it is not easy, we start making silly excuses as to why we aren’t going to put forth the effort. Oh, no, they’re silly excuses alright.

“I look fine the way I am.” “My man loves my body.” “I don’t have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or any of that other crap.” “I don’t want to be uncomfortable and miserable trying to diet.”

Please. Spare me all that.

First and foremost, we all need to be well, and we need to not take it for granted. That means this: thinking it’s okay to act up now because we “appear to be okay” now doesn’t mean we’ll always “appear to be okay,” and it certainly doesn’t mean we’ll “be okay” tomorrow. We all have an obligation to ourselves to do what we know is best for our bodies, and trying to wash that reality away by saying things like “Well, what I’m doing is fine because I don’t have [insert long boring list of ailments]” – specifically when we’re saying things like that to excuse what we know to be bad behavior – isn’t smart. Trying to put our own comfort levels over our health would sound ridiculous.

Wellness isn’t about looks. It’s about having proper energy levels. It’s about waking up in the morning without being groggy or grouchy. It’s about being able to make it through the day without a tray of pills, energy drinks or a thousand cups of coffee. It’s about getting as close to avoiding needing medication to regulate your bodily functions as possible. It’s about being free from using food like a drug… hunting for a high. It’s about losing the weight, and never being in a position or situation that allows for it to be put back on again. Wellness needs to be a priority.

If wellness were a priority for us all as a culture, we wouldn’t be struggling with the realization that after two decades of “low fat/no fat/fat-free” products, we’re still… well, let’s just say there’s still plenty of fat. If wellness were a priority, we wouldn’t be torturing ourselves over buying the “original” version of something instead of the chemical-laden “low/no fat” versions. If wellness were a priority, it would sound foolish to say things like “I don’t like vegetables” as an adult. (Not “I don’t like a vegetable,” but “I don’t like vegetables.” Plural.)

If wellness were a priority for us all, there would be more of us out there who could help our close loved ones learn how to care for ourselves when our health appears to be failing us. Being a healthy height and weight wouldn’t be seen as uncommon. Being overweight wouldn’t be justified and shrugged off as “genetic,” as if it is our fate… written in our genetic code… never to be defeated.

If wellness were more of a priority, those of us who are fit wouldn’t be like “unicorns.” We wouldn’t be “rare.” We wouldn’t be looked at with side eyes and remarks like “she must not eat” or “she must not work” or “ugh, she’s too skinny” or “she looks like a man… women are supposed to be [insert descriptor that makes the person saying it feel more comfortable with themselves].” If we were all familiar with wellness as a challenge and not just an ideal, those of us who understand wouldn’t mock or berate those who don’t and conversely, those of us who don’t have it wouldn’t mock those who do be telling them they’re “too small.” If wellness were more of a priority, healthy and nutritious dishes wouldn’t be promptly written off as “white people food,” as if the idea that because white people do it or eat it means that it is unacceptable for anyone else. (Sorry, but my life isn’t ruled by such stupidity.)

If wellness were more of a priority, type 2 diabetes wouldn’t be the future of approximately half of the children born since 2000. Let me say that again: if our culture placed wellness as more of a priority, approximately half of the children born since 2000 wouldn’t be facing type 2 diabetes. Why is that so? Because their parents would not only place wellness as a priority in their households, but they would be shielding their children from the foods most likely to cause them to be unhealthy. If wellness were a priority, those parents would know which foods are “most likely to cause them to be unhealthy.”

If wellness were a priority to us… if we were a priority to ourselves… we certainly wouldn’t allow external validation like “I look fine” and “My man loves me the way I am” to interfere with our internal health. (And really, a man who “loves you the way you are” can certainly love you if you wound up losing a little weight, right?) If we were a priority to ourselves, we would do what we can to ensure that we are here as long as possible… and not let discomfort or difficulty or “I’m okay today” syndrome get in the way. We can do that, right?