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Family Circle Survey: Mom Confessions

Celebs smoke cigarettes, go on extreme diets and have a little too much to drink, just like the rest of us. We know about them because they get caught on camera. We know about you because you fessed up online. In fact, we polled hundreds of women across the country on everything from how often they have sex to how much they work out. Here's the moms' honest truth.

By Michele Bender

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smoking
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Sure, smoking is bad for you. But one in six American women still light up. Are you one of them?

89% > Nope.
8%   > Yes, I smoke more than I'd like to admit.
3%   > Yes, once or twice a year.

Kate Hudson's been snapped on vacation holding a cigarette, but even a once-in-a-while drag is too much. "Smoke contains toxins and the greater your exposure is, the worse your lung cancer risk is," explains Susan Blum, MD, author of The Immune System Recovery Plan. "Plus, the cadmium in cigarettes may disrupt your thyroid function." Quitting can be tougher than getting your son to take out the garbage without being asked in the middle of winter. But it's possible! Consider a method you haven't tried before, like a prescription (Zyban, an antidepressant, helps reduce nicotine cravings), OTC aids (including the NicoDerm CQ patch or Nicorette gum and lozenges) or even alternative therapies (such as hypnosis and acupuncture).

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How often do you tell people everything's fine when there's really drama in your house?

24% > Seriously? All the time.
26% > At least once a month.
50% > Almost never.

Your temper may not be on par with Alec Baldwin's—à la his infamous voicemail to his daughter—but even a bad report card can be tough to share. "We live in the world of Facebook, where people put only their best face forward," says Catherine Birndorf, MD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. "But if you keep things inside, you start to think you're the only one with those problems. Open up to people you trust to feel more supported and connected."

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What's the longest you've gone without having sex?

32% > A few years.
36% > A few months.
27% > A few weeks.
5%   > A few days.

First, the bad news: Not having sex can cause vaginal atrophy. "This is a loss of cells that keep the vagina moist and, combined with less blood flow, the result is thinning and drying of the tissue down there," explains Florence Comite, MD, gynecologist, endocrinologist and founder of ComiteMD Precision Age Management in New York City. "Not only can this lead to painful sex when you do have it, but it can also cause more bladder infections and incontinence." On the flip side, getting it on has major benefits, including glowing skin, less stress and a boost in endorphins, to name just a few.

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How often do you have a little too much booze?

38% > Once or twice a year.
18% > About once a month. I've got to let my hair down.
44% > Never.

Sorry to crash the party, but you shouldn't have more than one glass of alcohol a day, according to USDA guidelines. Yet 29% of women in the U.S. who indulged in the past year had more than four or five drinks on a single occasion. Most of you aren't saying "when" when you should. "It may be that you don't get out enough, so when you do go out you want to really do it up," says Dr. Birndorf. No finger-wagging here—just a reminder of Reese Witherspoon's arrest for disorderly conduct after "one too many glasses of wine." If it could happen to America's sweetheart.....

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From whipping up breakfast to helping with homework at night, chances are you feel exhausted at some point during the day. Which of the following would you never rely on for a quick pick-me-up?

88% > say no to OTC options like NoDoz or 5-Hour Energy. But Bo Jackson, all-star athlete and dad of three, downs the eye-opening shot.
62% > won't sip energy drinks, which are a fave of actress Demi Moore.
51% > wouldn't opt for vitamin shots, which Madonna and Charlize Theron have used for a boost.
22% > turn their back on junk food like candy and cookies to get through the day.

A whopping 78% of you would use a sugar rush to keep moving at top speed. Here's a better idea: Opt for a combo of protein and good fat (for example, yogurt and a handful of nuts) to stabilize your blood sugar, or squeeze in a quick workout to get your endorphins pumping. And for the 38% who like a liquid jolt, please ease up on the energy drinks. "They contain caffeine, which stresses your adrenal glands if you drink too much, and harmful chemicals, which are treated like toxins in your body," says Dr. Blum.

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If money were no object, for which part of your body would you consider plastic surgery?

29% > say they'd whittle their waists like Patricia Heaton, who had a tummy tuck.
26% > are of like mind with talk show host Bethenny Frankel (who got a breast lift) and would give their girls a boost too.
26% > admit they long for leaner hips or thighs, as did Sharon Osbourne, who had a leg lift.
26% > are with Lisa Rinna, who used facial fillers on her cheeks and lips. They want to smooth their faces or necks too.
35% > of you are au naturel, like Kate Winslet, saying you'd never go under the knife or needle.

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How far would you go to lose weight, if money were no object?

20% > I'd get weight-loss surgery.
14% > I'd pop an experimental pill.
11% > I'd try an extreme diet.
75% > Just healthy diet and exercise for me, thanks.

The Biggest Loser host Alison Sweeney can clearly afford a daily trainer, personal chef and expensive, body-slimming treatments. But she keeps her looks like regular folks do: by eating right and exercising regularly! Still, a fair number of you (one in five) would be willing to opt for surgery to see results.

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You're supposed to work out 30 minutes a day, but how often do you really have a sweat session?

58% > Once a month or not at all.
22% > It's hard, but I make it happen at least two or three times a week.
15% > At least once a week.
5%   > I do it every day.

Do you roll your eyes when you hear about the twice-daily workouts model Adriana Lima does to get runway ready? We totally understand. But know this: "If you don't make time to exercise, you've got to eat smart," says nutritionist Elisa Zied, RDN, author of Younger Next Week. "You have less wiggle room for treats and need nutrients that will preserve your muscle."

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Which down-there issues are you more likely to bring up with your best friend than with your doctor?

59% > I'm not interested in sex.
33% > I can't hold it!
32% > I'm constantly in and out of the bathroom.
16% > Sex hurts.

You may not want to share blush-worthy info with your MD, but think of Jamie Lee Curtis endorsing yogurt that she said made her more, um, regular and Lisa Rinna promoting Depend adult diapers, albeit for charity. "Yes, it's hard to talk about some issues, but as doctors we hear things you can't imagine," says Dr. Comite, who is also author of Keep It Up: The Power of Precision Medicine to Conquer Low T and Revitalize Your Life. "One patient's husband called me because his wife's once-lagging libido was soaring after reading Fifty Shades of Grey." Bottom line: Don't fear fessing up to your MD.

Originally published in the March 2014 issue of Family Circle magazine.

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