Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paper Towel Theory

I got this from a weight loss site, but it's all over the internet on forums and blogs and it's message, while written for a specific diet, is true for all weight loss/fat loss. The part most pertinent I highlighed in blue text:

Paper Towel Theory by Bob White

Let's assume you go out and buy two rolls of paper towels, each with only 84 paper towels on it (one for each day of the challenge). You put one aside, and keep it for future reference (your before/ picture).

The other one represents you (I'll call your paper towel you "Ed"). The core represents the lean Ed. The towels represent the fat that is covering the lean Ed. For sake of argument, let's say that Ed wants to lose 21 pounds of fat, so (84/21) each sheet represents a quarter-pound of fat lost. Let's also assume that Ed loses his fat equally during each day of the challenge.

Each day during the first week, you tear a sheet off of Ed, representing the fat he has lost for the day. Next, you put Ed next to the full roll ("Big Al") for comparison. No noticeable difference!!! Even at the end of the week! This can't be working for me!

But, being a good Ed, you continue to follow Body-for-LIFE. At the end of weeks two and three, you continue to compare Ed to Big Al, and still notice very little difference. That stinkin' Bill Phillips MUST be a liar!

But Ed is determined! He works hard! Three more weeks go by, the sheets peeling off day after day, before Ed gets up the courage to stand next to Big Al again. Holy Myoplex! Ed is skinny! OK, not skinny, but less huge!!!

By the end of the 12-week Body-for-LIFE program, Ed is down to his lean dream, or somewhere near it. Ed is happy. We are happy. Big Al - well he's not so happy.

The lesson to be learned is that fat, like paper towels, comes off in sheets. When you are heavy, you are big around. And when you are big around,that fat is spread over a MUCH larger area - just like that outside towel sheet. The closer you get to the lean you, the more each lost pound of fat shows, because it is spread over a smaller area.

While the outside sheet may only cover 1 layer of the roll, the inside sheet may go around 4 times. That last sheet looks like it gives you 4 times the results of the first sheet, but in reality, the results are the same - your perception is just different! And you'll never see the inside, if you aren't patient while the outside is coming off! - Bob White


I'm at the end of the paper towel roll. In the beginning, when I would lose 5 pounds, you couldn't see it. I had to lose 10 pounds to show any difference in my face and 15 to see it in my body.  Now at my closer to ideal weight, I notice 5 pounds lost as there is less and less fat covering my body.

Of course, I say that as I am at my ovulation weight gain and just gained 5 pounds of water weight (and probably some fat as I indulged in eating for two days over the holiday weekend), but I can SEE the five pounds up and five pounds down now. I have a feeling I'll see a lot with the remaining 5-10 pounds too - as my body unveils itself to the end...

I posted it as I so often hear questions like, "When will my boyfriend notice the difference?" Or "When will my clothing size change?" In the beginning - it takes more pounds to see it and feel it - 10-15 pounds to see weight loss and 20 or so pounds to go down a pant size (if you are obese). At the end, those few pounds, 5-10 pounds can take you down 1-2 clothes size and comments from people as they notice the 5 pounds whereas they didn't notice the 20 pounds in the beginning. So, while the weight loss is painfully slow in the end, the dividends pay off faster!

Stats for 5/29/12:

Highest weight: 275  Now: 169.8 (and I'm pleading with my body to not let it get to 170 or I might scream! Ovulation is over, I think, so it should be dropping back down soon). 


  1. The paper towel theory is such a great explanation, it is hard to explain the concept of why it takes so long to show visible losses when morbidly obese and that is as simplified as it can get.

    I sympathize on the ovulation gain. It's obnoxious, isn't it? Here's to hoping it departs soon!

  2. Wow, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. This is a wonderful thing to share. Thank you so much!