I can still remember exactly where I was when news broke that most, if not all, colleges and universities nationwide were closing campuses due to the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was the most normal of evenings as I sat at the desk in my dorm room, writing a research essay for one of my journalism classes and arranging weekend plans with friends over the phone.

A mix of shock, confusion, and excitement filled the dormitory halls as the freshmen students at Emerson College checked their emails to find out that classes were being moved online and talk of shutting down resident buildings was circulating. Many of my peers were devastated at the thought of being separated from their friends and missing out on their extracurriculars.

I didn’t share the same dismay, however.

My freshman year of college was undoubtedly the most challenging year of my life, both physically and mentally. In the months leading up to that email from Emerson, my life had been completely turned upside down upon tearing my left meniscus in a college soccer match; never in my athletic career had I experienced a serious, season-ending injury. When I was forced to sit out the rest of my freshman season, I felt as if I had completely lost touch with who I was. The sport of soccer had defined me for nearly my entire life.

My knee ultimately healed, but the internal struggles I was facing weren’t so quick to resolve.

If I was no longer going to be a competitive soccer player, then how would I be known by those around me? More importantly, what did I want my own identity to encompass?

The school shutdown relegated me back to my childhood home in Tualatin, Oregon, which I couldn’t have been happier about. It was finally an opportunity to catch my breath, spend time with family and focus solely on myself.

There were many lonely days. For the first time in years, I had more free time than I knew what to do with. No schoolwork, no soccer practices, and minimal social interaction. Just the opportunity I needed, however, to start prioritizing the passions that I had consistently put on the back burner.

Thus, my health journey began.

Like many others, I was overwhelmed by all of the nutrition and fitness advice across various forms of social media. Everyone I followed had very different opinions about the “best” diet, the “best” workout method, and so on. It wasn’t until I came across Nutritionist Simon Hill, author of his best-selling book “The Proof Is In The Plants,” that I found clarity in what would work best for me when transitioning into a healthier lifestyle.

After reading Hill’s book, which discusses a plant-based diet’s ability to help one eat better and protect our planet’s future while doing it, I was sold. I officially went vegan, started an Instagram food blog used to share nutritious meals & recipes, and haven’t looked back for a single second since. Making this transition has truly changed my life for the better.

Almost a year later, it feels amazing to express my strong passion for all things health, fitness, and wellness through all aspects of my daily life. They helped guide me here to Boulder, where I now attend college (Sko Buffs!), do what I love for work, and have an amazing fitness community.

All of this brings me to where I am now, writing for this site! I’m so excited to be joining the AboutBoulder.com team as the new Head of Health and Fitness blogging, with my very own column releasing weekly on Wednesday mornings. There are so many topics to cover, and I look forward to diving into something new each week!

My ultimate goal is to help provide people with the tools they need to build healthy habits and ultimately live a happy, balanced lifestyle. Focusing on these things has allowed me to take my life back despite all of the challenges in recent years, and I hope to encourage others to do the same.

Meghan MacPherson is a third-year journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder. Raised in Portland, OR, Meghan's interest in media journalism, news reporting, and print writing has been lifelong. Her ultimate goal is to pursue a career in broadcast journalism as a news correspondent or television personality for a major media network. Sports have always played a major role in Meghan’s life; she played for Emerson College’s NCAA D3 women’s soccer team for one season and is now a part of CU Boulder’s club soccer program. Meghan is the founder of her own Instagram blog, Meg's Planted Kitchen, where she posts nutritious plant-based recipes, wellness tips, and fitness inspiration.