After three kids and 16 years of no exercise, 40-year-old Amy Kozle of Hartland said she was ready for a lifestyle change, which propelled the local mother to take the stage in her first bodybuilding competition last month.
After months of intense training, a strict diet and unwavering commitment, Kozle transformed her body into a lean mass of muscle, showing off her efforts in a bikini competition where she placed in both divisions.
As a mother, posing on stage in front of an audience and judges, Kozle admitted it was a nerve-racking experience, but said hearing the cheers from her husband and children in the audience helped her get through it.
“If you zoom into one of my pictures, you can see stretch marks on my belly and I can’t hide that,” she said. “And I didn’t want to hide that. I’m proud of that and I’m proud that I’m a mom.”
It was a journey that started last October when Kozle says after a couple years of regular exercise, she became determined to enter the competition. After months of prepartion, Kozle says the last 12 weeks of her training were the hardest and most intense.
“When I’m bulking I eat like seven times a day,” she said. “But then I went through a shredding phase where you eat the same foods every day, all day long for 12 weeks."
The road to her competition was a hard one and Kozle said her biggest cheerleaders were her family who turned it into a group effort, supporting her through her “crazy” meal plan, hours spent at the gym and posing practice in the family room.
“They never complained,” she said.
Watching their mother train and transform her body is a lesson in healthy choices Kozle said she hopes her children will remember and learn from.
"I don't want them to look at their body image as being fat, but more for health reasons," she said. “So instead of wanting a candy bar for a snack, they’ll grab an apple or an orange.”
The day of the competition was also the moment where her children were able to see their mother reach a goal through hard work and determination.
“My teenage daughter came up to me and said she was proud of me,” Kozle said. “And that’s rare for a teenage daughter to say.”
Focus and commitment helped Kozle reach her goal and said the competition was a “great” experience and does have plans to enter another one by the end of this year, hoping to move a step up to the figure competition.
“If I can do it, anyone can do it,” she said. “Sixteen years of no exercise and then I decided to do something about the muffin top I had and that’s how it all started.”