Q & A With Olivia Harlan

ESPN and Fox Sports Sideline Reporter

Olivia Harlan

ESPN and Fox Sports Sideline Reporter

Healthy Magazine (HM): College football, NBA, multiple networks, sideline NFL reporter… My first question is: how have you not gone insane? In other words, what advice do you have about juggling priorities?

Olivia (O): When it comes to priorities, I layer my to-do lists. Big picture (months, years down the line), intermediate (the current month), and far more detailed in the near future. My daily schedule is pretty exact! That being said, I schedule “me time,” and time for my fiancé, dog, family, friends, etc. I find that being rested, exercising, and eating fresh and healthy food fuels me to be better in my job and relationships.

Priorities can vary day to day as well! I think people can be too hard on themselves to be everything, every day. It’s not possible! Be present and intentional in whatever needs to happen THAT DAY.

HM: To the women who envy a beautiful TV personality, can talk about the nitty gritty of your occupation? What’s the hardest thing you’ve overcome, and what are daily challenges?

O: The glamour is non-existent, for one! Lots of flights before the sun is up, tough weather conditions for football, little sleep, and of course, lots of blisters from high heels! The preparation is rigorous and endless, the pressure is immense, and the actual game duration is so mentally taxing to be one step ahead and hyper focused. I can’t complain though, when I think about what I do for a living. My office is a basketball arena, or football stadium… and every day is different. I’m living my dream far earlier than I ever anticipated, and I am just happy to be a part of a space that I love so passionately.

Olivia Harlan reporterHM: Why are sports important?

O: Sports are important at every level. For kids, it provides a literal example of working towards a goal as a group, for healthy competition, for rules and order, and exercise.

After that, whether high school, college, or pro, sports provide a fun space to bring people together. There are stories, there are heroes, there are battles. Every neighborhood, school district, state, and country have tradition in sport. We marvel at physical aptitude, overcome adversity, and best of all… the drama of an upset!

HM: Many of our readers are parents. What advice do you have for parents of young athletes? What do you have to say about the environment athletics provide for young people?

O: As I mentioned, I find that so many good life lessons are grounded in organized sports. To be pushed or encouraged—physically, emotionally, mentally—in a safe environment is beneficial to a fruitful life. Friendships are forged, and good adult role models outside of the home can be helpful. The themes of teamwork, competition, and self-discipline are invaluable in the adult world.

HM: Your career is incredibly diverse. What’s the value to you in being involved in so many things, versus just sticking with one sport, or one team?

O: The diversity keeps me on my toes! During some months of the year, my basketball and football schedules overlap in the same week and, sometimes, day. They require different focus… especially college versus professional. I make it a priority to be caught up in all the news of the various sports I cover. Keeps me busy!

Health and Fitness

HM: What’s your favorite speed snack?

O: I love cut up cucumber with garlic salt, plain turkey roll ups, and Quest bars (the cookie dough or cinnamon flavors only)! I always try to bring snacks like these to games, so I don’t fall for the vendor food or heartier media meal (a lot of bread, pastas, hot dogs, etc.). It requires more preparation, but your body is worth it.

I also try to start each morning with a probiotic, big glass of cold water, then a smoothie after a workout. My favorite is frozen spinach, frozen blueberries, and vanilla pea protein. I like using all frozen produce so you don’t have to add ice! I vary on the protein brand, but right now I like Vega. When I start my morning with those things and a good sweat, it sets a light and healthy tone to my day. I also try not to go to bed too full (but my fiancé likes big dinners and date nights, so that’s been a happy sacrifice!)

olivia harlan football sideline

HM: What’s your go-to half-hour workout plan?

O: I use an app called “Interval Timer” that is 23 minutes of one minute, and minute-fifteen intervals. I decide what part of the body I want to work that day—arms, core, legs—and mix that in with cardio, usually on the treadmill. I design 4-5 workouts, and repeat. It’s so quick, that each one flies by, not to mention the whole workout. I really work up a sweat by keeping it 2:1 ratio cardio to weights. I also love the Beachbody DVDs. They are so easy to pull up on my laptop in hotel rooms or small hotel gyms. I also can add my own variations with different weights or slight adjustments. Essentially, they do timed workouts in a similar way!

HM: Working with athletes so much, what have you learned about wellness and fitness? What are some principles you’ve seen to be true, and what are some common misconceptions out there?

O: Being engaged to a professional athlete has given me further insight! I am amazed at the daily dedication Sam has to his body. It is no easy task, and his hunger to be faster, stronger, etc is beyond impressive. This separates athletes at that level. I’ve seen so many players put in tireless and unseen hours in the gym. That being said, Sam will be the first to admit that I have helped him make healthier food choices. Plenty of athletes don’t eat in the most beneficial way to fuel them. I see candy bars and sugary drinks aplenty in locker rooms, and dehydration is more common than you might think. Their bodies burn it up quick enough that the damage isn’t noticed. I’m no nutritionist, but I’ve done enough homework to know that they could get more out of their bodies for longer with a more disciplined diet.

HM: What are some of your favorite ways to stay active? Did you play sports growing up?

O: Like many kids, I grew up dabbling in many team sports. Even if I moaned and groaned and tried to fake sick to skip practice, I am thankful for the experience. I ended up cheerleading in high school, which I loved. I was the only cheerleader who preferred to face the field instead of the stands. I had to tell our captain when it was 1st and 10 so she could call that cheer! That experience gave me a strong feeling of being part of the team as we competed in our district and state. Such fun memories with my whole heart into the game.

Olivia Harlan sidelineHM: You’re an obvious talent, and very knowledgeable. You clearly do your research. The diet and fitness world is full of people who want results without putting in work, so I hoped you could give some thoughts on work, preparation and reaping what you sow.

O: My approach to diet and exercise is what will last. If I can’t do it for life, why do it now. I want to be fit and healthy forever, and I’m constantly learning what works best for my body and lifestyle. When I was 16 years old, I competed in and won the only beauty pageant I ever did (Miss Kansas Teen USA). The hyperfocus it put on every inch of my body (for the swimsuit portion of Miss Teen USA) at such a young, vulnerable age was not healthy for me. College years following swung the pendulum in the opposite direction. I’m at an amazing point in my life where every decision feels like mine. I know myself better than ever, and that includes knowing what I am not. That brings me such peace and happiness that translates to a healthy body image.

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