Body

Amanda Keller reveals struggle to start a family: "I didn’t want to be defined by IVF"

The breakfast radio and TV presenter opens up about health, her struggle to fall pregnant and staying fit in her 50s.

By: Paul Ewart

Despite decades at the top of her game as one of Australia's most well-known media personalities, during which she's conquered both the small screen and the notoriously cut-throat world of breakfast radio, Amanda Keller remains decidedly unaffected.

Add to this a loving husband and two healthy teenage sons, and the 56-year-old seemingly has it all.

But the talented journalist is quick to affirm that her life hasn't always been perfect. Amidst the highs, there have been epic lows, including health woes, childhood insecurities and a lengthy battle to become a mum.

And then there's the daily 4am starts…

Hilarious, warm, cheeky, and as straight talking as they come, Amanda Keller is the ultimate anti-diva.

When Good Health chats to the smiley presenter straight after her top-rating WSFM Jonesy & Amanda show has wrapped, talk quickly turns to this particular downside of life as a breakfast radio heavyweight.

"From the minute I wake up I'm already thinking about when I'm next going to get to sleep!" she bemoans. "Which isn't the best start to the day."

While yoga and meditation are off the cards as mental coping mechanisms ("Nooo! Though I'd love to be that kind of person," she laughs), her solution to combating mental stress and exhaustion is characteristically simple.

"My sloth time – which could perhaps be called 'meditative' – is in the afternoon when I lie in bed with a cup of tea and read a book until I nod off for an hour or two," she says.

"Saturday and Sunday mornings I walk the dog with a girlfriend of mine and we'll have breakfast at the beach, which is a very nice way of letting off steam. It's handy that she's a psychologist too. In fact, she should probably be invoicing me by now."

While Amanda admits fitness and working out doesn't come easily to her, she puts in the effort for health.

"Oh, you’re not as big as you are on TV!"

When asked whether she's a fitness fan, Amanda barks an immediate "no!" followed by a squeal of laughter.

But while exercise doesn't come naturally, now that she's in her mid-50s she's finding that staying in shape is becoming something of a necessity.

"I had a hip replacement five years or so ago," she explains. "For the few years beforehand I was limping and in terrible pain and I didn't know why – it was only when the doctor opened me up that I discovered I had been born with hip dysplasia. Turns out I'd been walking slightly wonkily my entire life, which had worn the bone down."

"After the operation I felt like I had a whole new lease of life, but recently after experiencing some back pain I went back to the doctor for x-rays and was told I had osteoarthritis in my spine. So, for me now it's all about management and part of this is needing to exercise, to keep fit and not carry too much weight."

"On a perfect week I go to the gym three times and I work with a trainer. I'm also starting to see a physio regularly. While none of this comes naturally, I feel much better after I've done it."

And when it comes to diet there's also been a shift towards the healthier end of the foodie scale.

"I'm probably eating better now than I ever have in my life," she enthuses. "I've recently started to switch my porridge at the radio station with a blueberry and green powder smoothie. I'll blitz that, drink it during the show and it stops me having a stodgy brekky. Because again, these hours are hard for your diet. When you get up at 4am you end up having about eight meals a day, so you do have to be careful."

"A lot of people say to me, 'Oh, you're not as big as you are on TV!' And you think 'I must look like a heffa!' But as I get older, every New Year's resolution is to try and care less about what people think, but it's such a hard one. I don't feel that I have to not put on weight for anyone else, but I try to stay in shape for me. I'm happier that way."

"I didn't want to be defined by IVF"

Despite meeting her husband, artist and producer Harley, 25 years ago, it wasn't an instant 'happily ever after' for the couple. Early on in their relationship, Harley revealed that he'd had a vasectomy 10 years earlier. After undergoing a reversal, the pair assumed that children would follow, but that was merely the first stumbling block on their road to parenthood.

What followed was years of IVF treatment. To the outside world she retained her laugh-a-minute persona, but inside, she remembers this period as one of the unhappiest of her life.

"Work saved me," she says. "I had somewhere to go and distract myself − it was a case of head down, bum up, and get through it. At the time it was my way of coping."

Eventually Amanda's perseverance paid off when she gave birth to her first child, Liam, at the age of 39 and then two years later, her second boy, Jack. Looking back now, the reality of life without children is a prospect she can't even fathom.

"I still get a thrill that I've got two teenage sons when I may not have had any," she says, smiling. "I remember saying to the doctor when we were going through IVF, 'Tell us when to stop.' I didn't want to be defined by IVF, I didn't want to spend 15 years trying to have a baby. I said to Harley at the time 'If we don't have a baby, I don't know how I'll mourn this.' Luckily I didn't have to."

While her dreams of motherhood became a reality, Amanda knows that nothing is certain and life can throw you a curveball at any given moment.

"Life will have its ups, life will have its downs," she says, sagely. "You will go through tragedies and it's just the grace with which you navigate it that's important. To expect everything to be perfect and every relationship to be perfect… that's not going to happen."

"I think you have to come to terms with that at some point in your life."

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