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Imagine a 10-year-old girl, chubby fingers on the keyboard of her Apple IIe, punching out a three-page newsletter for her sixth grade class. That was freelance writer and editor Heather Boerner’s start in journalism more than 20 years ago. Though she accepts the teasing about it now, Heather is still romantic about reporting and her career in it.

Heather has written horribly self-righteous editorials for her high school newspaper, faced down her fear of cold calling at her college paper and, in 1997, received her master’s degree from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. For seven years, she sharpened her skills as a reporter and deadline drive at weekly and daily newspapers in New York, New Jersey and California.

If you get Heather alone at a cocktail party, she’ll tell you her greatest hits from that time in her life—staking out a city official’s house late one night as he was indicted on corruption charges; covering the anniversary of school desegregation in a district that found itself unwittingly segregated again; starting commercial and residential housing coverage for the Santa Cruz Sentinel and editing a team of five reporters and interns. But those are just a taste.

In 2004, two things happened: Heather left the daily newspaper grind to become a freelance writer, and she changed her approach to food. As a side effect of the latter, Heather slowly shed 85 pounds. Does she think losing weight makes her a better person? Absolutely not. But taking control of her health has changed many things in her life, not the least of which is her approach to her work. Health coverage is one of her favorite beats. Sure, that means she reports on nutrition and healthy relationships with food, but it also means that she writes about sexual health for publications like the San Francisco Chronicle, Planned Parenthood’s teenwire.com and Yoga Journal. Over time, her health focus has shifted to chronic health conditions such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis, writing both about the science and the social effects of living with a chronic illness every day.

When she’s feeling lofty about her work, she approaches it with eye toward covering difficult and often taboo subjects with journalistic thoroughness and human compassion. But most days, she’s simply looking for stories that can help people live healthier, fulfilling and fun lives. And she’s always searching for the proper venue through which to share them.

When she’s not finding new stories or pounding away at her keyboard, she’s cultivating a life that supports her own health — meditating daily, breaking a sweat at the gym, continuing her 10-year love affair with yoga, making her famous black bean soup, and visiting the dog park to play with the puppies.