A small study from the University of Copenhagen showed that if you can maintain your weight loss for one year, your body may stop ramping up the hunger hormones that typically make the pounds return. Past research indicates that those ravenous chemicals persist after you drop fat, though, so more investigating needs to be done. Women's Health is here with the skinny!
But this got us thinking: What are the other crucial checkpoints to pass in your weight-loss journey?
Day 1: To lean out for life, set a realistic goal. "You can see great improvements in health by losing between 5 and 15 percent of your body weight, and you're more likely to keep those pounds off," says Donna Ryan, an obesity researcher at Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
5 weeks: Ghrelin, a hormone that revs appetite, begins to spike after you start cutting cals, making it hard to stick to your plan. Stay satiated by "keeping low-calorie foods around, like vegetables and fruits, to snack on when your stomach growls," says Robert Kushner, M.D., an obesity specialist at Northwestern University.
6 months: Bored with eating the same dang foods over and over again? Yeah, it's bound to happen now. Mix up your meals (by, say, adding back brown rice to lunch if you've been low-carbing)—the wiggle room will make you less likely to bail, says Kushner.