Sangita Patel has a glamorous gig on TV and regularly meets celebs, but, you know, her priorities are just like the rest of us—she’s focused on fitness, being a great role model for her daughters, and pursuing her passions.
The first time I meet Sangita Patel, it’s at a panel we’re both attending at the Toronto International Film Festival. And with her busy schedule—you’re probably familiar with Sangita as the entertainment reporter on ET Canada and host of HGTV’s Home to Win—you might expect and excuse her for being a bit low on energy in the middle of this intense flm fest. (Did we mention she has two daughters and spends much of her time travelling for work?)
But that’s not the case at all. She’s full of energy and is focused on a director and actors sharing their insights about their movie showing at TIFF. And the next time we speak is no different: she’s carved out time in her hectic day while she’s driving through heavy traffic so we can chat. “I’m on my way to see a friend before I host an event tonight; it’ll be nice to see her face!” she says.
So, skyrocketing career (you may have heard that earlier this year Sangita became the latest Canadian with Cover Girl as the face of their Simply Ageless Collection) and she’s a great girlfriend too? And she’s got an impressive commitment to her health and fitness? It’s as though all the qualities we want in a bestie are embodied in Sangita. If you check out her Instagram, you can understand why she’s gained a loyal following; you get a glimpse into her glamorous work and home life and also get to witness her dedication to fitness with her Fitness Tuesday posts. We’re eager to chat with her about workouts, her career in the spotlight, and her previous life as an engineer.
You’re a fanatic about CrossFit. What about it do you love?
I was fairly fit before; I was very active, I didn’t work out but I was doing volleyball and stuff like that. And after my second kid, I was down and out a lot–I was bigger than I’ve ever been. Then I came across a gym that was called CrossFit. I had no idea what CrossFit was at the time. And I realized how much I loved weight training. And here I am at the beginning, deadlifting just 100 pounds but the concept of saying “I just deadlift 200 pounds” changed my mind more than anything else. Physically it was just me trying to find time for myself and do something that I absolutely loved, and that was my hour of being Sangita again. I’ve been doing it about eight years now, at the same gym. But I have also changed my workout; I’m doing more lightweight, higher reps, trying to figure out different ways of working out. I travel a lot so I have to come up with workouts I can’t do at the gym. I try to go four to five times a week to CrossFit and now I do kickboxing; that’s another new thing for me. That’s my cardio. Being able to kick and punch things, it’s a great mental exercise.
I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ACTIVE. I’VE ALWAYS LOVED SPORTS AND I DID LIKE FITNESS RIGHT BEFORE I STARTED CROSSFIT. I STARTED WORKING OUT REALLY HARD WHEN I WAS ABOUT TO GET MARRIED.
So have you always been into fitness?
I’ve always been active. I’ve always loved sports and I did like fitness right before I started CrossFit. I started working out really hard when I was about to get married. I was in university and you know, in university, you don’t care what you’re doing. You do whatever you have to do to survive, and I was an electrical engineer, so I didn’t have time to go to the gym. It wasn’t until after my secondchild that I committed it to my schedule.
What about your diet?
My diet sucks. I’m a foodie. I love sugar, I love dessert. I work out because I love cake. Three years ago I started my macro diet and it changed my life. It doesn’t limit you to what you can eat, which is such a good way of life because I travel so much and I don’t have access to healthy food all the time. I now have an understanding of how much protein, carbs, and fat I’m eating. Seventy percent of the time, I am following a macro diet.
Speaking of travel and what you eat, how often are you on the road?
Oh wow. A lot. I would say probably at least twice a month. It depends where work takes me. The short trips? I don’t mind the short trips, but I can’t get on a plane with an empty stomach. Last year I went to Africa. I got some type of IBS, some bacteria. And I can’t have the foods I used to eat like broccoli, cauliflower, and onions, it’s not part of my diet as much anymore because it causes that bacteria to grow. So there’s that whole new learning curve for me as well.
You mentioned studying electrical engineering, but I’ve heard that you always were interested in being on TV.
I’ve always had a passion for storytelling. There was something about how every day you will learn something new. And that’s how I was brought up; I wasn’t that child who didn’t talk to strangers. I talk to strangers all the time. And that’s where I got knowledge about life. I was this kid who would do things on my own. I’d get on a bus and go to school on my own at a very young age. You meet all these people and so that’s part of what I’ve always had a passion for.
But the smart thing for me to do when it came to how was I going to survive financially? That was to become an engineer because I loved math and science. There weren’t a lot of girls who did this. I was up for that whole
feminism movement and I told myself, “I’m going to be that girl in electrical engineering and I’m going to graduate from it!” But I also applied for journalism and I got into both programs, and at the end of the day, I sat down with my dad and said, “What’s the right thing to do?” And he said where will you get a job, where will you make a living. And of course, that was engineering. But what I’m doing now, I’m living my passion. That passion has always been there and it’s just, I kind of got myself an education knowing that hey, if anything ever happens, I have that to fall back on. And now I’m blessed; I get to live my passion. So it’s pretty spectacular.
And you worked as an electrical engineer for a while.
Yes, I have my PEng. and I still wear my engineering ring on my pinky. For five years I did that. But at night time, I was volunteering as a TV reporter for Rogers TV. I was living two different lives!
So you turned 40 earlier this year. Was that something you were uneasy with? Was it something you looked forward to?
I don’t feel 40. I don’t even know where it came from. I just, I have no idea how I got to 40. I just don’t feel it. I guess 40 is the new 30; I don’t know if there’s truth to that. But it sneaked up on me. I didn’t have a big celebration for my 40th because I just didn’t feel it. So I was excited, but not to the extreme of hey, it’s my four-oh. That was just another birthday.
Tell me about your passion for fast cars.
So as an engineer, we talked about hot girls or we talked about hot cars. And so I thought, Well, let’s talk about hot cars. So I just had a hobby for cars. We’d be talking about them all the time, about the new cars. I just love it. I love the adrenaline of driving fast, expensive cars.
Your two daughters, do they have the same passion for fitness that you do?
That’s a really interesting question because when I was growing up I never saw my parents work out. I never saw anybody work out; we weren’t exposed to it. But my kids are and they were for a while, doing CrossFit on the weekends with us on Saturdays. But then they got too teenager for us and they said, “We don’t need to do this.” But my older daughter is in rep volleyball now. So now she’s understanding the concept of how being fit and gaining muscle helps her to be able to play. My other daughter plays soccer and she wants to join the volleyball team as well. So they’ve been exposed to it and they’re very active girls. It’s great that they understand what it means to be fit and what it means to be outside and enjoying life rather than being on a sofa and playing on the computer or whatever. Mind you, I love being on the sofa and watching a movie. That’s my thing for sure.
And so now you do CrossFit with your husband?
When I started, he didn’t join me. And I told him you should try this, you may like it. And he didn’t come with me until two years after I started. And he said he made that decision, but that’s not true. It’s because I pushed him.
We’re very competitive. So you know, in the morning when I call him when he’s at work, I say, “So how’d you do?” and he says, “How’d you do?” We are very competitive, but it changed his life too. Both of us are at the gym every weekend together. I try to go with him in the morning; he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and goes for the 6:00 a.m. class. I kind of like sleeping, but I’ll start going with him in the winter again.
You’re busy! You have your two girls. Your work. You’re traveling. How do you manage to fit it all in including workout out?
I get that question a lot. But I think what happens is once you don’t think about it as fitness you think of it like brushing your teeth. It’s part of your schedule. If you don’t do it, you feel like you haven’t finished for the day. I don’t think about “Okay, do I go to the gym today or not?” It’s just part of my life and It’s not a question. I’m at that point where I don’t even have to question it anymore.
So when do you fit in sleep? Are you a morning person?
One of the most important things is sleep. I will not sleep fewer than eight hours a day. And if that means going to sleep early, and just laying in bed, I will do that. I think for me, sleep is a very important factor, just mentally, anxiety, and all of that stuff is gone.
Because you seem so high energy. Would you say you’re always a high-energy person?
I think so. But then again, like yesterday, I had the day off and I said, you know what, I’m going to sit down and watch a movie. And I sat there in my pajamas with a blanky and our little hedgehog and I watched two movies. I’m learning now at 40 that I do need to have some time for myself. And that can be just being in my pajamas on my bed and just focusing on myself a little bit. I think that’s important.
Being in the public eye, you kind of open yourself up to criticism. How do you manage that? Would you say it affects you or are you able to just let it roll off your shoulders?
I think we all, in general, when we deal with certain negativity, especially when someone targets what you’re already vulnerable about, it’s something that bothers your ego. Like someone said something about my lower stomach. And it actually hurt me because I’m like, yeah, you know, I do have that and it’s been a problem area since I had my kids. But someone pointed it out. It did hurt me. And I wondered if I should talk about it on social media. And I thought I’m going to. When I first started using social media I didn’t really understand Instagram. What do I do? Do I just post an outfit of the day? What am I supposed to do with it? And then I realized real talk does help other people. And so I will post pictures of me without makeup, I will post moments that are vulnerable. I’ve talked about getting my breast exam, I’ve talked about my IBS, I’ve talked about my daughter’s allergies, and it’s relatable. So it’s great if someone could get something out of it, even like Fitness Tuesday. I didn’t know there’s an inbox on Instagram. And then one day I learned there are 200 to 300 emails about Fitness Tuesday and how it’s helping people to get to the gym or focus on their bodies. And this one lady, I didn’t know her but we would text each other every week, and she lost 40 pounds. So that made me realize that Fitness Tuesday does have an impact on other people. It’s making people realize, hey, if I can do it, you can too. I’m not a trainer, I’m not a coach. I’m someone who loves to go to the gym and try new things. So, hey, if it works that way, that’s the way I want to use a social platform..
Photos By CHRIS V. LINTON Follow (@CHRISVLINTON)