How The Sowells Got Their Groove Back: Intimacy Through Health And Fitness

Featured image: TONL
Developing a wellness regimen with my husband brought us closer than ever before.

I was in the middle of folding laundry on a Saturday afternoon when my husband came over and began to plant soft kisses on my neck. I giggled and glanced up at him. He had that look in his eyes. Despite physical intimacy being the furthest thing from my mind at the moment, I turned to fully face him, smirked and warmly welcomed his advances. 

He picked me up from the back of my thighs and led me to our bedroom. He softly put me down next to the bed and paused. His face went from playful and flirtatious to hard and serious. Putting his big brown hands on both sides of my face, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Bria, I need you to stop talking so poorly about my wife.” Stunned at the abrupt change in direction, I tilted my head and held his gaze, waiting for further explanation. He continued, “I love your body. I love all your curves. I crave and want to devour you all the time. You are so beautiful to me.” I blushed. “I understand that you are unhappy about how you look and feel right now. We can change the way we eat and start really working out. I can help you with that, but I really need you to stop talking badly about your body in front of me.” 

And then it clicked. 

A couple of nights before, I stood in the mirror picking at myself at how much weight I had recently gained. I was unhappy with the way I looked, with the way I felt and especially with the way my clothes were no longer fitting—and my husband was in earshot of all of it. 

Furthermore, he had been there when the negative comments about my body insidiously began to creep into our daily conversations. He watched me cringe when family members would comment on the “happy weight” I had gained since our wedding. He had front row seats to my meltdown on our one-year wedding anniversary night as I spiraled about no longer being able to fit into my bridal lingerie. He couldn’t bear to hear the self-deprecation anymore. 

I sighed, looked down and nodded my head in understanding. He picked my head back up by my chin. “Okay?” “Okay,” I replied in agreement. And proceeded to make love to me, he did. 

Putting our money where our mouths were, my husband and I joined Eager 2 Motivate—(E2M) Fitnessa month later. It’s a virtual weight loss-based program for adults that includes workout and meal plans designed to help clients develop the discipline necessary to create a sustainable healthy lifestyle. After watching a trusted friend healthily lose 20+ pounds in two months on the program, we decided it was well-worth a try. 

“When you have other people assisting you with your health journey, the likelihood of you sticking with it and staying involved for a long duration is higher when you’re not trying to do it by yourself,” says Jeff Witherspoon, the founder of E2M.

Bria and Jamell Sowell after an in-person workout at E2M.

My husband and I began to tag-team on getting groceries and cooking meals. Recently, we came up with a system that I am responsible for cooking Sundays through Tuesdays and he’s responsible for Wednesdays through Fridays. On Saturdays, we eat leftovers and/or eat out for our celebration meal. We quickly came to realize that figuring out a system was critical to our success. Not having something in place was actually a setup for temptation to buy fast food or eat something outside of the meal plan. Realistically, neither of us had time to cook every night so we had to be intentional about meal prep. Quickly, it became a part of our routine and how we function in our home.

We decided working out during the morning hours would be best. We knew it would be hard (neither of us are morning people), but it was a sacrifice we were willing to make to keep each other on track. It became a part of our daily quality time. When I thought I couldn’t do another v-sit, he would tell me to keep going and give him 10 more. When I would see his legs start to shake from lunges, I’d shoot over and say, “Come on baby, we got this.” Sweat, funk, heavy breathing and all, we’d get through the workouts and feel united and very connected. Plenty of times we’d get in a quick post-workout lovemaking session because we felt so drawn and attracted to each other. 

“What I’ve heard from talking to couples is how it brought back some of the spunk in their love life,” says Witherspoon. 

That was certainly the case for us. My husband and I also saw results within a week of beginning this regimen. Some of our victories in an overall five-month span include:

  • Bringing alcohol intake from 7+ drinks a week to an average 2-3
  • Upping dumbbell weight from 5-8lbs to 10-15lbs
  • Increased energy and physical stamina
  • Ability to play full court basketball and join a basketball recreational league 
  • Losing 30lbs between the two of us 
  • Improving blood sugar levels
  • Lowering blood pressure levels 
  • Improving mental health 


Pursuing those goals together didn’t always come easy. Many times my husband and I argued over when and how we were going to workout on a particular day; what we were going to eat for our celebration meal; or simply about the different ways we view discipline. These moments were frustrating but they were teaching us how important self-differentiation is. We can be invested in one another’s results because we want each other to be healthy and see one another accomplish our goals. However, we are still two different people with our own thoughts, perspectives and feelings. We grew up with different relationships to food and exercise and if we’re going to thrive as a couple, that has to be respected. It has called us to be less defensive about how we’ve traditionally done things as individuals and more willing to understand the other’s perspective. We’re figuring out what it looks like to have the same core values while also respecting where and how we’re different. 

In the short-term, we aspire to run a Tough Mudder and Spartan Race together. Our long term goals include building 6-pack abs (just so we can say we did it), losing around 40 lbs collectively, and more importantly, living healthy, energetic lives for each other and for our future kids. 

It is 1000% worth doing together—in whatever way works for you.

Day-in-the-life Journal:

  • 6:00am: I woke up and crawled into a kneeling position to pray. I try to make it a point to daily thank God for another day before my feet touch the ground. 
  • 6:15am: I woke my husband for the first time and threw on workout clothes. 
  • 6:25am: I woke my husband a second time, turned the TV on in the living room and flipped to the MadFit channel on YouTube to get in a quick warm up. I have learned that warming up the body before a workout is critical, especially when working out first thing in the morning. Otherwise, you’re looking to pull a muscle or potentially make yourself vulnerable to a more serious injury. 
  • 6:30am: I opened up Facebook and headed over to the E2M Personal Training group to catch Coach Mandy’s live HIIT workout. (I woke my husband for the last time—I told y’all we’re not morning people.) 
  • 6:35am: Grabbed two pairs of dumbbell weights for my husband and I and began the HIIT workout – 5 rounds of 5 minute HIIT intervals. 
  • 6:45am: My husband joined me in the living room at the top of round three.
  • 7:15am: We caught up a bit over a shower because I was in bed before he arrived home the previous night. He had a counseling session and Bible study to attend, which made him arrive home later than usual. Two things we’re big about outside of our physical health and fitness is our mental health and faith. For us, they all work together. 
  • 7:45am: We met at the door to say goodbye and “I love you” with a hug and kiss.
  • 9:00am: I took a call with my supervisor while in transit to New York City for a work meeting. 
  • 9:45am: Read and prayed through Day 3 of Yes, No, & Maybe, a reading plan in the YouVersion Bible app. Before the work day gets started, I usually like to spend time with God in my cozy corner at home over a cup of coffee, but today I was on the go so I got it in where I could fit it in. 
  • 11:00am: After a 30-minute drive, one train and two subways, I arrived at my office. 
  • 11:10am: I settled in and ate the oatmeal I brought for breakfast. On an intermittent fasting schedule, we daily begin our eating window at 11am. 
  • 12:00pm: I had virtual therapy. 
  • 1:30pm: I ate a jerk shrimp bowl that I packed for lunch—the recipe was provided by an E2M chef. 
  • 4:10pm: I made my way to the subway to catch an express train out of the city. 
  • 5:45pm: I departed the train, hopped in my car parked at the station and called my husband. We chatted about our day as we separately commuted home. We find that even when we don’t have the energy, it’s important to check in. It’s in the mundane moments of each other’s day that we learn what excites, inspires, bores and frustrates one another. It also manages expectations about where the other person’s mood and energy levels are and how we can best support one another during the evening hours at home. 
  • 6:30pm: I arrived home. Hubby was still out running errands. Within 10 minutes, I was snacking on roasted peanuts while I prepared broccoli to eat with the Dijon mustard salmon I cooked the previous night. Meal prep truly is my saving grace. 
  • 7pm: I ended my eating window with dinner. 
  • 7:30pm: My husband and I logged onto our church’s virtual Wednesday night service. This week, we broke out into small groups based on life stages. The young married group, which my husband and I are a part of, continued with our intimacy series where we’ve been discussing the different types of intimacy within a marriage; the challenges we can face when fostering intimacy; and the solutions we can implement to overcome those challenges. This particular Wednesday night, we dove into the scriptures and discussed sexual intimacy. 
  • 11:00pm: After getting some errands done around the house, we called it a night.

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