Firefighter, Mother, LEO Spouse, First In Family: Kori Kelly


Being First In reminds me that I am part of something bigger than myself, by putting myself first."

Tell us a little bit about yourself... ​

Kori, 33, a little bit of all over Connecticut.

I am a Career Firefighter/EMT for the past 12+ years as well as a Fire Instructor part-time.

I am married to a Police Officer, and we have 2 VERY active children: Quintin, 6 and Andi, 4.

What brought you to the First In Family initially?

I came to First In from another program, which worked ok, but then felt like it lost its ‘homeyness.’ I loved how First In has this amazing community and familyl feel to it and I knew I wouldn’t be just a number or a payment each month.

Tell us a little bit about your background and history with food.

I was absolutely a yoyo/fad dieter. If there was a commercial for it, I tried it.

The Shakes, the meal plans, the pills. Sure, some would help drop a few pounds here and there but nothing was sustainable, and I would end up putting back on the weight and then some.

I had always struggled with my weight, but it became more apparent after I had my first child. Postpartum depression set in, trying to be everything to everyone and forgetting about myself was my biggest problem.

What was the turning point in your life when you realized you needed to make a change?

The moment I knew I needed a change was when I needed to order a size up in uniform pants. I absolutely did not want to have to go up another size in less than a year.

I was also always completely winded just doing the simplest of tasks on a fire ground. I knew if I was going to be a more successful firefighter and mom, something needed to give.

What was the journey like and what changes did you make?

There were many changes that were made, of those I think my mindset was the biggest, and hardest to change. As far as the food, I began truly looking at food as a way to sustain myself, no longer as a treat.

Dinners started to get planned ahead of time, no more just throwing things together. Meals became actual meals, not just standing at the counter and eating whatever I could reach.

My training, while I already had been doing so much, became more regimented, especially with the addition of Fully Involved Training.

I no longer have to think, no longer have to say “well I have no plan so I am not doing anything.”

How do you feel after making those changes?

After making the changes, it took about three months for me to really start feeling, or noticing differences, mainly due to my own mentality of ‘I’ll never actually follow through with this,’ and ‘this isn’t actually going to work but then I can say I tried everything.’

Once I started realizing my pant sizes were going down and noticing people looking at me differently my confidence started to rise. I no longer tried to blend into the background.

I think the entire mentality was my biggest change. Shortly after joining First In, my world was rocked with some really bad calls, when I realized that masking my emotions with food only made me feel worse. The scale went up, I felt bloated, sluggish, and guess what, I was still depressed.

I knew that I could no longer use food to comfort me and realized that I needed different outlets for the stress and better ways of coping.

What did your friends/family think of your transformation?

There was some resistance from friends and family, I was doing something new and foreign to them. I had just had a family member start inpatient rehab for an eating disorder so food was high on everyone’s radar, or what everyone was eating and how much, I should say.

At family functions my mother would think that I had an eating disorder, but once she saw me eating food that was considered ‘junk’ she realized that I just had started eating everything in moderation.

At the station the guys would poke fun at me weighing all my food in the beginning, but quickly realized that whatever I was doing was working when they saw the pounds slide off and saw me keeping them off.

Were you active or did you workout during your journey?

For the most part I was active. More towards the ‘end’ than in the beginning.

I go through spurts of being really on task and working out at least once if not twice a day, then I could go not working out for a clip as well. I do definitely feel better when I do workout: it keeps me even more on track with my meals and sanity.

I go through waves, the first thing to take a back seat now, is exercise. However, it is usually due to my kids schedules, and then with that, I make sure I keep an even closer eye on my food knowing my history and how I connect both of them mentally.

What does being First In mean to you?

Being First In reminds me that I am part of something bigger than myself, by putting myself first.

It reminds me that there is a whole world of like minded people who just want to make themselves healthier, for themselves.

Yes, in the end it benefits my kiddos, my husband, my professional life, but it makes me more grounded, more mentally checked in and ready to conquer the world when I know I am truly in full control over my body.

Where do you think you'd be right now had you not joined the First In Family?

I KNOW if I wasn’t First In, I would be on a butt load of meds for depression and anxiety. I would be a wreck and not as successful in my career.

I would be afraid to try and step up and do new training, do new things that would challenge my then bigger body.

I would be afraid to even teach knowing that I couldn’t be the true role model I wanted to be for my students.

What was the biggest challenge or change when you started with First In and how did you overcome it?

Not stress eating has been my biggest challenge. There was nothing I loved more than coming off a 24/48 hour shift, sitting on the couch and just eating. I would eat away any stress or emotions that happened during the shift.

I still struggle with not going into the pantry when I come home, so instead I do my best to plan my day that I get out of work to a T. Everything from what I am going to eat as well as what I am doing that day.

What do you feel kept you from making the progress you desired before First In?

The cost was always a huge factor. I have never spent so much money on myself, but quickly realized that I have not put myself first and needed to change that to be a better mother.

There were other things I could put on the back burner, but my health and fitness which played into my mental wellbeing was a non-negotiable.

What’s next for you and where do you see this journey taking you in the future? ​

I always have something I want to strive for, next is wanting to put on more muscle.

I want to be able to bulk up a little bit, to lift more and heavier, to ensure that I will always be able to perform on the fire ground, as well as showing my children that their mom can do everything the boys can do.

What are your top 5 "secrets" for success?

1. Give it three months. Three months, no alcohol, sticking to the numbers, just being ALL in.

2. Plan your food ahead of time, but allow wiggle room – especially if you have kids.

3. Plan your day. Down to leaving your pre-weighed snack food out on the counter. You want a snack you grab from the bowl, bowl is empty, you are done snacking for the day.

4. Take the first picture. I hated myself in my very first picture – it was my wake-up call, I looked and felt. Now, I cant stop looking at my latest progress picture.

5. Do not be afraid to fail. If you’re afraid to fail, you will never start.


Any advice for someone thinking about getting started?

Do It. Give it three months, be ALL IN.

Eat, sleep, think, and live First In for just three months, it will change your life.


Join the First In Field Notes email list and we will hook you up with something awesome to keep you on the path to progress! A copy of Tips From the Trenches: Secrets to Becoming an “Overnight” Success... a book featuring tools, tricks, and testimonials from those who have walked the walk. Members of the First In Family!


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    Testimonials were given freely and service members did not receive any preferential treatment, discount, or other benefit due to the nature of their service, rank, or position and in no way are the views or beliefs of any branch of the armed forces or uniformed services.