Olympic cham­pion helps oth­ers reach goals

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Lori-ann Muen­zer, Canada’s only Olympic cy­cling gold medal­list, is still help­ing cy­clists train, but she is also teach­ing peo­ple to look for their dream job.

Peo­ple have re­ported feel­ings of de­pres­sion, grief, fear, panic and anx­i­ety dur­ing the lock­down, but it might be sur­pris­ing to have an Olympian ride to the rescue.

“I have never made a secret of hav­ing had my own men­tal health is­sues,” says Lori-ann Muen­zer, 54, who won her medal at the 2004 Athens games.

“An Olympic gold medal didn’t get rid of my de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety, nor did it make it eas­ier to deal with my own in­ter­nal demons, fears or mon­sters.”

Some 24 per cent of Cana­di­ans in a Sta­tis­tics Canada crowd­sourc­ing sur­vey re­cently re­ported fair or poor men­tal health, while a 2018 sur­vey had found only eight per cent of Cana­di­ans re­ported fair or poor men­tal health.

Muen­zer now coaches clients to train and con­cen­trate their minds like an Olympian, be­gin­ning with hav­ing them focus on what they re­ally want in life and not just on get­ting by.

“We seek to iden­tify an idea that makes peo­ple want to jump out of bed ex­cited in the morn­ing,” she says.

Muen­zer found “free­dom, bliss, and hap­pi­ness” in cy­cling and be­gan rac­ing at age 22. She quickly be­came an elite cy­clist, even though her ca­reer nearly ended when she plunged off a six-me­tre cliff while moun­tain bik­ing.

Her goal was to cy­cle for Canada within two or three years and win an Olympic gold medal. In­stead it took 18 years. “I reck­oned if I rode ex­cep­tion­ally hard dur­ing train­ing ses­sions, I’d be to­tally ex­hausted and wouldn’t have to face my demons,” she said. But self-doubts would al­ways creep in.

“I had feel­ings of iso­la­tion from trav­el­ling alone and they trig­gered anx­i­ety in me,” she said. “That led to feel­ings of anger, re­sent­ment, ir­ri­tabil­ity, rest­less­ness and even paral­y­sis.

Muen­zer sought advice, and was di­ag­nosed with Cy­clo-thymic dis­or­der, a mood dis­or­der that causes ups and downs.

She is now a sought-after mo­ti­va­tional speaker.

“The way to start is to set a goal that re­ally ex­cites and scares you at the same time,” said Muen­zer. “Just like a com­puter, one’s mind needs to be up­dated.”

Muen­zer is host­ing a free, in­ter­ac­tive on­line ses­sion on June 15 at 6:30 p.m. De­tails are avail­able by writ­ing to info@lori-an­n­muen­zer.com.

Lori-ann Muen­zer

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