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[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]By Carrie Vittitoe

Heather’s outlets for stress relief  have challenged her physical strength and creativity. 

Why does Heather Rountree choose to lift (and drop) heavy things as a means of busting stress in her life?

“Punching people is frowned upon,” she says.

Heather began attending Crossfit Regeneration classes in November 2014 and says she finds them invigorating. In addition to the intensity of exerting her body and lifting weight she never thought she’d be able to lift, there is a huge sensory component that helps her dispel anxiety. The music is loud, as is the clunk of the weights as they hit the floor.

What is paradoxical is that Heather’s other favorite stress-busting activity is…

…hand-crafting wreaths, which seems terribly subdued in contrast to her Olympic-like weightlifting. Heather began making wreaths two years ago after seeing one in a craft store that was priced at $169. She thought, “I can do that,” so she bought the materials and had a go. She sold 14 of her first designs and has since created a Facebook page, Heather’s ADOORables, and participated in craft shows. She donates a portion of her profits to animal rescue organizations.

The yin-and-yang of Heather’s stress relief has come in handy over the past eight months.

The friendships she has made in Crossfit help get Heather the through tough times. 

In May 2015, shortly after turning 40 years old, Heather’s doctor notified her that she had a large uterine mass that needed to be biopsied. Although benign, the physician was concerned that if the fibroid was removed, it could not only return but be cancerous if it did. Heather and her husband, Scott, had dealt with fertility problems and decided to forego having a child together. Heather’s doctor then recommended a hysterectomy, which was completed on June 30.

During her recovery, Heather wasn’t able to attend Crossfit classes, which is when her wreath-making really came in handy. She was able to keep her mind and hands busy in a productive way during the eight weeks before she could resume normal activities. Still, Crossfit played a role in Heather’s post-surgical period because her friends from class brought her meals and checked in on her regularly. “It’s more than a gym — it’s a family,” she says. “It is cultish but in a good way.”

Heather in Crossfit class.

These Crossfit friends were also there for her on August 20 when her beloved rescue dog, Pumpkin, died of liver failure. They took a picture of Pumpkin from Heather’s Facebook page and had a bracelet made so Heather can keep Pumpkin close.

Heather wears this bracelet as a way of honoring her dog Pumpkin who died in August. 

Although they are markedly different activities, Crossfit and crafting wreaths both test Heather’s abilities. “Normally, I’m not a competitive person,” Heather says, but she likes the challenge of exerting her body in the gym and seeing if her creative ideas come to fruition when she brings together textiles and adhesives.

She says she is proud of how far she has come in both arenas. While Heather’s surgery did set her back a bit at Crossfit, she continues her three-day-a-week workouts with coaches who inspire her. In terms of her crafting, she thinks back to her first creations as a means of keeping humble. “Bless those people who bought those original wreaths,” she says. “I’m so much better now.”[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]