Celebrating Your Best Self

I really believe that there is something special we all bring to this life. For many of us it’s not clear what that gift is but if we’re lucky enough others will guide us in the right direction or we will discover it for ourselves. I live in a small community and a lot of the men and women who inspire and motivate me have become friends. Today I’d like to introduce you to Kelly Coffey of Strong Coffey. Kelly is a personal trainer in the town of Northampton and she’s a firecracker! She’s beautiful, smart, funny, caring, and she is going to love the pudding out of you. Literally.

A couple of months ago Kelly wrote an article called 5 Things I Miss About Weighing More Than 300 Pounds on Mind Body Green and that shit went viral. Yup, I swore but that’s okay because when I hang with Kelly I can be myself and sometimes that means I drop four-letter curse words. It also means I can share my hopes and dreams and talk about the stuff that scares the crap out of me and makes me super passionate. It’s true Kelly used to weigh more than 300 pounds. Then she lost 150 pounds and has kept it off for over ten years. What’s the secret? Love. Love for herself and others.


Kelly is one of the most refreshing people I know because she will talk about pretty much anything and there is no judgement lacing the seams of her words. Kelly has many super powers and I asked her to talk about one.

Kelly: I am open to being and feeling connected to just about anyone. I’ve been through a pretty generous ration of shit in my life, and I’ve had the chance to meet all kinds of folks in all kinds of circumstances. Everyone, regardless of their particular affiliations, leanings, and even biases, everyone is beautiful under it all. I’m someone who can look beyond or beneath and see that beauty. And if you let me see it long enough, I’ll probably love you, and then you’re screwed.
Then I asked her, why is it so hard for us to love ourselves just as we are, especially for women?

When I was a kid I learned that the worth of a woman was measured by her looks and the worth of a man by his work. And there’s always someone more attractive. There’s always someone with a better job. We will always come up short if we’re comparing ourselves to other people. We will always find a lack in ourselves, and that lack will breed the opposite of love: indifference.


Love is the action we take day in and day out. In order for a woman to love herself, she’s signing on for daily demonstrations of self-care and respect. But women worry we’ll single ourselves out if we do more for ourselves, or ask for more, or express needs that are different from our peers’. We’re supremely self-conscious. We don’t want to come across as high-maintenance. To get past all that shit –the social stigmas, cultural expectations –we need to feel worthy and be willing to be forceful. We have to defend ourselves and be strong and walk confidently and speak like we know what’s best for us. And when women are powerful and clear like that, they’re often met with ridicule. Though sometimes, just the fear of ridicule is enough to keep us quiet and accommodating, not asking for what we need, and not just taking it for ourselves.

I wanted to know how her journey had cultivated love for herself and those she works with.

Kelly: At the end of the day, I want to have experienced more pleasure than pain. A lot more. I know well exactly what happens to my body and my brain when I’m indifferent to myself and my health. How I eat, sleep, move and interact in those “whatever” times leaves me tired, bitchy, hungry, angry, disconnected. In short, when I’m not acting with love for myself, I feel like shit. Cultivating love for myself is a selfish act motivated by my desire to experience pleasure. I’ve gotten better at it over the  past 10 years because I’m a dopamine fiend and I want all the yummy, all the joy, all the deep breaths, all the exquisite physical experiences that wellness affords us. Basically, I want everyday life to feel as much like good sex as possible. Self-love is the only route to get there.

Loving my clients is easy. I can always see the beauty in other people. It’s not buried like mine is under insecurity and old stories about how a fat girl can’t land a man and all that kind of bullshit. When I look at my clients I see them as they are, and they are perfect and perfectly lovable. And so are you.


The photographs of Kelly you see throughout this post were taken in my studio and we had a blast. Kelly is beautiful on the inside and outside and she has so much more love to share. I am so grateful for her super powers and for her friendship.

If you would like to have a portrait session just like Kelly’s I hope you’ll be in touch. I am thrilled to be offering BE-YOU-TIFUL sessions to all women. I promise you will feel happy, empowered, gorgeous and great love for yourself. You are beautiful and you deserve this special portrait session. Hair and makeup are included as well as a wardrobe consultation. You can even make a party of it and include your mom, sister, wife, or best friend. The sky is the limit when it comes to being your best self and I want to help you see how beautiful you really are.


e: sandra@sandraloveyou.com  | tel: 413-427-1676

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