Living Like A Winner: Hot & Fit 100 -
By 2018 Winner Natalie Gonzalez

Let’s rewind to my last article “How I Won by Losing”, which appeared in Inside Fitness’ March 2019 issue. At that time, I mentioned that I am not a fitness coach or personal trainer and confessed that I was struggling with imposter syndrome. I received this incredible recognition of winning one of the highest fitness titles by landing top spot of Inside Fitness’ Hot & Fit 2018, but my struggle was I had no clue what to do with this title. Looking back now, seeing what I have done in the past year, I can tell you that it has been the best year of my life.

My life has never been in one conformed direction. I have lived a lot of life; suffering more in some capacities, but also rewarded more in other ways. My existence has always been to experience life at a higher level. I cannot just do things in the standard way; I need to do everything at 110%. I’m sure a lot of fitness people can relate. Yet what most of you see is a woman that posts a bunch of selfies and gym videos on Instagram. Winning a fitness competition, then becoming a cover model as well as a sponsored athlete – well, sometimes it felt a little “basic”. I really have this need to protect the things that really drive me. As if I have to take caution to keep the two worlds separate so that I’m judged accordingly.

What am I getting at here? It’s kind of a confession. For me, there is no sustainable success when you throw all your eggs in one basket. That’s too volatile and I learned that at an early age when I ran my own business. In life, you need to adapt and diversify.

When I won Hot & Fit, I felt like I had to make a career choice. Do I continue as a fitness model and influencer, try to make a living of this, or is there something more for me? Was it possible that I could do it all?

In the background, I helped manage a family business I have been in and out of since I was a teenager, and I had been laid off of my regular full-time job at the end of 2018 due to downsizing. Which was also right after winning my Pro Card and also secretly knowing that I was the Hot & Fit winner but technically unemployed. What a joke that was. I have always been used to working two, sometimes three jobs at a time. It’s just who I am, need to keep it interesting, I guess. I really had no clue where all of this was leading.

I tried not to overthink it, anyone else would be job hunting or focused on building their fitness brand. I’m completely different. My first thought was just to surrender. Surrender to the universe, surrender to opportunities, and exist in a mindset that everything and anything that is in my path is there to contribute to abundance in my life.

With that belief, it wasn’t long before my phone rang and I was offered a job at a big corporation. The position was perfect for me and my lifestyle, but I was concerned about how this corporate role would view my outside activity. I was surprised to see them embrace it, probably because my fitness accomplishments, show how driven and dedicated I am to my goals. I’m quite proud of what I accomplished through fitness so why should I hide it? I surrendered to the opportunity, no longer concerned about being judged. I continued to enjoy fitness as a lifestyle, while also working in a career that really drives me to succeed. Proving to myself that I can do it all.

The year that followed was all about letting go of fear, surrendering to the universe, and accepting all this abundance. Winning Hot & Fit set off a confidence and mindset in me that gave me the best year of my life! Opportunities came knocking around every corner, and I just surrendered to them. I have met some amazing and interesting people, travelled and seen some cool places and have just gotten the opportunity to do some cool things. All this while securing an amazing career, and crushing my squat goals at the gym, living completely switched on. What more could I ask for!

To the current winner of Hot & Fit and all the ladies that have placed, and all that are aiming to place this coming year, this is my loving message to you. You are part of the small percentage of humans on this planet that represents something beautiful. Take this opportunity to love yourself first and to believe that you have the capability to do amazing things. Live life with integrity and passion, stay humble and always surrender to a positive mindset. That alone is enough to influence the world. What we do as representatives of this competition is integral to what women believe they can accomplish. This is not based solely on photos; this is in your daily routines. Always be the best version of you and give 110% in anything you do. Congratulations to you all.

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