Quiz: Know How to Maintain a Healthy Weight?

Part 6 of our 8-part series: Take this fun quiz, and learn the Secrets of Healthy Americans, based on our national poll. And be sure to download our free Secrets of Healthy Americans reports at the end of this quiz.


Humana and Reader’s Digest polled the nation to bring you the Secrets of Healthy Americans, and we’re sharing the highlights with you in this 8-part series. Answer the questions here. Then see how you compare to the nationwide sample who took the Humana Reader’s Digest Healthy Habits Survey 2012—and get easy-to-follow advice to help you live a healthier life.

And, as an exclusive bonus, download all 8 free parts of our Secrets of Healthy Americans reports, including 200+ health tips on Fitness, Sleep, Germs, Protecting Yourself From Illness, Eating Right, Boosting Your Mood, Reducing Stress, and Sharpening Your Brain.

Do you consider yourself overweight, underweight or the right weight?

a) Overweight
b) Underweight
c) Just Right 

Here’s how you compare:

Call it the girth of the nation: More than half of all Americans (53 percent) say they are overweight—by an average of 34 pounds! Only 5 percent call themselves underweight, and the rest (42 percent) say they are just right. Women are more likely than men to think of themselves as overweight (59 percent vs. 47 percent), including 61 percent of younger women.
Perhaps predictably, 71 percent of those who have had no physical activity in the past seven days say they are overweight.  
By the way, people in the West, on average, weigh a full eight pounds less than people in the South—177 pounds vs. 185.

Here’s an idea: 
Being overweight can lead to all sorts of health problems from high blood pressure to diabetes and heart attack. But studies show that despite carrying the extra pounds, overweight people who get out and exercise and try to eat right can be just as healthy as anyone else. Experts say making an effort to lose weight—or at least to maintain your weight—can be as beneficial as really losing it. 
And here’s the kicker: Not making the effort to exercise or eat right can be a threat to your health even if you aren’t overweight. One long-term massive study of 80,000 people found that thin and normal-weight people who don’t exercise are twice as likely to suffer heart disease, stroke, and die early than overweight people who exercise regularly. Get the hint? Get Moving.  

When was the last time you checked your weight on a scale?

a)   Today
b)   Yesterday
c)   A few days ago
d)   Last week
e)   A few weeks ago
f)    Months ago
g)   So long ago you can’t remember

Here’s how you compare:

A full 59 percent of all Americans say they stepped on a scale in the past week, including 68 percent of seniors.
Here’s an idea:
The Mayo Clinic, among other credible authorities, says that you should get on a scale no more than twice a week. You should be looking for a pattern, not a daily box score. Your weight can fluctuate by two or three pounds not only from day to day but also within a day, depending on how much you eat, drink or exercise. So a “reassuring” good daily reading can be as false as “discouraging” bad score. 
Try this: Every three or four days, get on the scale in the morning after visiting the toilet – and jot down your weight on a chart. Over time, the chart will show if you are truly gaining or losing weight. Also, take your measurements from time to time, perhaps monthly, especially your waist. Those numbers will also reveal patterns. If you are doing strength training and displacing body fat with dense muscle, your overall weight may stay the same as you reduce your waistline – and increase your health.
You can also consider investing in a scale that tracks your body fat as well as your weight. Just don’t climb on it every day.  

What happened the last time you tried to lose 5 pounds or more?

a)   Lost the weight and kept it off
b)   Lost some of the weight, but not all
c)   Lost the weight, but gained back more than you lost
d)   Didn’t lose the weight
e)   Have never tried to lose 5 or more pounds

Here’s how you compare:

Among Americans overall, most (75 percent) have tried to lose at least five pounds, and 29 percent of them say they’ve been successful. Among people who say they are overweight, 90 percent have tried to lose pounds, and 26 percent of them succeeded. 
But roughly 25 percent of Americans say they have never tried to lose even five pounds. They tend to split into two groups: People who are active and fit, and those who are inactive and heavy.
Here’s an idea:
The trick here is to avoid getting overweight. How do you feel at your current weight? Have you maintained it for the past couple of years? Has your doctor urged you to lose or gain weight? If your answers to those questions are positive, chances are you are close to your right weight. The idea is to maintain that weight long term with a moderate eating and exercise routine, as your metabolism slowly drops with age—about two percent per decade after age 20. There’s a name for losing the same five pounds over and over again. It’s called life. 
By contrast, repeatedly losing and regaining 20 pounds or more is called yo-yo dieting, and it can be very harmful to your life. Nearly half of all overweight Americans (47 percent) say that they’ve lost weight only to go on and gain more than they lost. Studies show that losing and regaining 10 pounds over and over again can increase blood pressure, cholesterol, and the incidence of gall bladder disease, while lowering immunity. In addition, people with large weight fluctuations often experience psychological distress, such as low self-esteem and sometimes even depression. 

Thinking of the last time you tried to lose 5 or more pounds, what motivated you to do it?

a)   A desire to live a healthier lifestyle
b)   To look better
c)   To fit into my clothes
d)   Doctor’s orders
e)   A special event like a wedding or reunion
f)    A personal relationship

Here’s how you compare:

Americans divide about evenly between wanting to lose weight to be healthier (lifestyle, doctor’s orders) and personal vanity (to look better, fit into clothes, a special occasion).
Here’s an idea:
Don’t wait for a special occasion or doctor’s orders to lose unwanted pounds. Focus on your wellness, not weight loss. Then set a reasonable goal. A pound a day is not reasonable. But a pound per week is attainable—and that’s more than 50 pounds in one year! Pace yourself. You have your whole life ahead of you.

How many cans of soda or other sweet beverage did you drink yesterday?

a)   None
b)   One
c)   Two
d)   Three
e)   Four
f)    More than four

Here’s how you compare:

Drinking just one soda a day can significantly increase your risks for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. In a Boston University School of Medicine study, a single daily soda raised the risk of metabolic syndrome–a precursor of diabetes—by a full 44 percent. So don’t drink soda—regular or diet—or any sugar-rich beverages, including so-called sports drinks. You don’t need the sugar or empty calories in those liquid candies. Besides the hundreds of empty calories you consume, your gut and brain keeps telling you that you are almost as hungry as you were before. Pizza anyone? 
And don’t think you’re doing yourself a favor by switching to diet soda. Drinking diet cola daily can increase your risk of blood pressure, while also doing nothing at all to curb your appetite. More pizza anyone?
The next time you think of drinking soda, squeeze lemon or lime into a tall glass of seltzer, iced tea or plain old water. Your heart will love you for it.

How many desserts or sweet treats did you eat in the last 7 days?

a)   None
b)   One
c)   Two or three
d)   Four or more

Here’s how you compare:

Americans love dessert. On average, they eat four deserts a week, and nearly one out of four (23 percent) has dessert or a sweet treat every single day.
Here’s an idea:
Experts predict that in time, we will come to view sugar the way we regard cigarettes today—as a threat to health. Why wait until the government puts health warnings on sugar packages? You can easily cut down on the 22 teaspoons of sugar an average American consumes a day. For example, what’s more American than apple pie? Probably nothing. But here’s a healthful substitute you can prepare in little more time than it takes to sing the Star Spangled Banner: 
Core a Granny Smith apple, put a sprinkling of brown sugar and one pat of butter in the hollow center, dust thoroughly with cinnamon, and microwave covered for three minutes or until the apple is soft. Baked Apple with Cinnamon is delicious—and a mere 120 calories

In the last 7 days, how many days did you exercise enough to increase your breathing or heart rate?

a)   Yes
b)   No

Here’s how you compare:

Americans, on average, exercise enough to pump up their heart rate a little less than three days a week (2.83). That’s not a bad average. However, nearly three out of 10 Americans (29 percent) did no physical activity last week, and neither did more than four out of ten seniors (42 percent).
Here’s an idea: 
Maintaining your weight and your health takes more than watching how much you eat. Set a goal of moving enough to increase your heart 30 minutes a day, four days a week. As with eating, keep your goals attainable. If you haven’t been active, begin with a 10-minute walk outdoors at least every other day. Then increase it a minute a day. Take a friend with you. If you’re getting so short of breath that you can’t chat, slow down or stop and rest. There’s no rush. You should get in shape slowly.

Would you rather get $5,000 or lose 10 pounds?

a)   Get $5,000
b)   Lose 10 pounds

Here’s how you compare:

The vast majority of Americans (76 percent) would take the money. One poll respondent said: “I could get liposuction to lose the 10 pounds and still have money left.”
Here’s an idea:
Maybe so. But there’s an old saying that addresses the impulse to make easy choices like taking money over health: You can’t take it with you. Living healthier pays dividends in longer life.

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