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Amanda Keller on her kids flying the nest

Good Health logo Good Health 9/10/2019 Paul Ewart

Amanda Keller sitting next to a fence: TV and radio star Amanda Keller speaks exclusively to Good Health about morning hunger pangs, motherhood, and the recent mental health revelation that changed her life. © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd TV and radio star Amanda Keller speaks exclusively to Good Health about morning hunger pangs, motherhood, and the recent mental health revelation that changed her life. A special message from Microsoft News Australia: Unknown to some, 3 million Australians are living with anxiety or depression. We are dedicated to ending the stigma and helping sufferers continue to get the support they need to survive this daily battle. We've partnered with the giving platform Benevity to raise funds for Beyond Blue who provide information and support to help Australians achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. You can support Beyond Blue by donating here or visit our Mental wellbeing matters section for more information on healthy minds.

Confident, courageous, funny, and ridiculously talented – at 57, Amanda Keller has scaled the ladder to become one of the country's most successful women in media. 

In between co-hosting WSFM's top-rating breakfast show, and long-running TV program The Living Room on Ten, she's also built a strong marriage (one that's just shy of its 30-year anniversary) and conquered fertility struggles to raise two happy boys.

Suffice to say, this is one busy lady. So how does she find internal equilibrium amidst all of these commitments?

Turns out, it's pretty simple. She's learned to say 'no'.

"I've realised the value in terms of mental wellbeing of just being in my own home on the weekend with nothing to do," the blonde beauty tells Good Health & Wellbeing. "No one coming over, no plans, no social events to get to… it's just bliss."

Mental time out

Amanda Keller in a yellow dress © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd This is typical Amanda. Rather than hanging out with celebrities or attending glitzy red-carpet events, she'll take dog walks and TV-watching sessions on the sofa with her hubby and two teenage sons, any day of the week. Ironically, learning how to achieve this mental headspace was fuelled by adding to her workload when she signed on to co-host the recent series of Dancing With the Stars earlier this year.

"At 57 you don't get offered many new opportunities or get to test yourself," she says. "So, I thought I'd take up the challenge, and I'm glad I did. I absolutely loved it. But for the 10 weeks the show was on air, I shut my social life down. I thought, 'Okay, to preserve my sanity, I'm gonna shut up shop a little', so I didn't go out on Saturday and I didn't see people on Sunday… and it was so good for me.

"Before, I would cram social stuff in every weekend and I'd end up stressed. If I couldn't meet someone for a catch-up, people would ask, 'Well, if you're not free this Saturday, when are you free?' And I'd look at my diary and panic, because every weekend had a dot in it for something. I don't want my social life to make me panic!"

The power of 'no'

Amanda says it was the pressure of trying to meet other people's expectations that she had to let go of.

"Ultimately, the power to change this is within me and I need to be stronger to just say 'no', she explains. "When I'm saying yes to everything and pleasing everybody, I end up being cranky, so it's up to me to choose my time wisely, make a decision and stick to my guns."

Basking in the newfound joys of doing, well, nothing, the bubbly personality is putting her health epiphany into practice most weekends.

a person standing in front of a window © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

"I'll get up in the morning, meet a girlfriend down at the beach, and we walk the dog," she says of a typical weekend.

"We might have a cup of coffee and my husband might join us for breakfast. I'll go back home and bake a cake, then do the washing, and then I might read a book and have a nap. That evening I might cook something for dinner or get something out of the freezer or order takeaways. We'll watch TV together as a family, and I think, 'This is my dream day.' There's nothing that gets me more excited than looking at my diary on a weekend and realising that I've got nothing on. It thrills me."

Armed with her tools for mental resilience, when it comes to staying in shape physically, Amanda says she's a reluctant gym-goer. When she does exercise, it's done in as little amount of time as she can get away with.

Time is precious

a close up of a person holding a baby: Amanda shared some sweet throwback photos for Liam's 18th birthday. © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd Amanda shared some sweet throwback photos for Liam's 18th birthday. "I go to the gym twice each week with a trainer," she reveals. "But I would never go to the gym if he wasn't there. When he goes on holiday, I don't bother. I'm very lazy. The only motivation is knowing

that he's there waiting for me – that's what gets me to the gym!"

While exercise isn't a fixture in Amanda's off-time, family time most definitely is. At the centre of her world are her two boys, Liam, 18, and Jack, 16. Her eyes light up when she talks about them.

Motherhood was hard-won for Amanda. It took three years of gruelling IVF before she finally became pregnant with her first child, Liam, at the age of 39, with Jack following two years later.

"Liam just turned 18 and it really hit me emotionally," she admits. "I went through IVF for years to conceive him and his brother, and when he turned 18 the stress and pain it caused us at the time came back again. I looked at this extraordinary young man and it seemed like minutes ago that we were going through all of this heartache to try and get him."

Amanda's aware that time with her sons under the same roof is fast running out and is already feeling empty nest pangs.

"It's very hard," she concedes. "I'm trying to be one of those mothers who say, 'Well, whatever you need to do is fine', but I'm aware of the clock ticking on them living at home. I realise that our time together – dinners as a family and the last of the school football games – is running out. I'm quite emotional about it.

"It's funny knowing this now. My mum passed away about 14 years ago and I wish I could say to her, 'Thanks for letting me go.' Because it's a very casual way that you leave home – you don't think about your parents, I know I didn't. But now that it's happening to me, I wish they'd stay at home until they were 40!"

Amanda Keller, Xavier Moya sitting around each other © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Love and support

During the parental journey, Amanda's pillar of support is her husband, Harley.

Meeting on the set of the TV series, Beyond 2000 where she was a reporter and Harley worked behind the scenes as an editor, the pair tied the knot in 1989. Fast-forward three decades, and they're now approaching their 30th wedding anniversary. A three decade-long marriage is, unfortunately, increasingly rare, so what's her secret? True to form, Amanda's answer is characteristically straightforward.

"I don't think there is a secret," she says. "There will be challenges in every relationship, but you have to roll with the punches. If you're expecting someone to make you happy every minute of the day, then that's impossible. No relationship, whether it's romantic or a friendship, can do that."

Amanda Keller et al. sitting at a table posing for the camera: Amanda and her husband Harley with their sons Liam and Jack. © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd Amanda and her husband Harley with their sons Liam and Jack.

The strength of their marriage is evidenced by Amanda's brutal working hours. As co-host of Sydney's highest-rating breakfast show, her weekday 4am starts would test any relationship. And that's not the only potential risk with a daily pre-dawn wake-up call.

"With these hours, you have to be careful," she reveals. "You wake up tired and, when you're tired, you need food. If you don't watch yourself you could end up having 18 meals each day. But I've realised as I've gotten older that I need to work at my diet more and I don't eat as many carbs as a result."

Dietary tweaks are Amanda's only real concession to getting older. Indeed, her energy belies her 57 years. And while she grapples with the hallmarks of age, she refuses to complain about them.

"I will never whinge about getting older," she says. "I've lost friends who would have done anything to have had one more year. We're lucky to be here. When you get older, you learn perspective. Yes, you might look in the mirror and think, 'Geez, I look old,' but we should never whinge about it."

Amanda Keller in a red dress talking on a cell phone © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd

Life perspective

It's partly because of this knowledge that Amanda isn't a subscriber to the 'five-year plan' school of thought.

"I can't ever imagine not working and I'd like to keep doing the radio. I love it. There might come a time when I work a bit less, but I'm not someone who plans for the future."

Clearly it's a system that works, so it's hard to believe that the confident media triple threat was once a "daggy" teen.

Amanda Keller wearing a dress: Amanda was nominated for a TV WEEK Gold Logie Award this year. © Provided by Bauer Media Pty Ltd Amanda was nominated for a TV WEEK Gold Logie Award this year.

"I was nominated for a gold Logie this year," she says. "If someone had told a 15-year-old me that I'd be doing this now I wouldn't have believed them. Instead, I would have pictured myself as a dressing gown-wearing grandmother. I feel very lucky. I'm thrilled that I'm still professionally viable… and to still have my own teeth!"

But it's away from the spotlight where Amanda feels she does her most important work. Her family unit, she says, is the measure of her real achievements.

"That's the core of everything for me… my family has always anchored me, that's what really matters."

Pictures: Foods that help combat stress, anxiety, and depression (StarsInsider)

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