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Acne, Headaches, Insomnia, Constipation & Gas

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I am looking for help on what, if any, further refinements I should make to my diet, or do I just need to stick with what I am doing and allow for more time for my health to further improve.

On January 1, 2012, I weighed 307 pounds and had very high blood pressure. I am a 45 year old man and 6 feet 2 inches tall. I was grossly overweight. I followed a cleanse protocol in January and February and lost about 35 pounds. I then started Paleo in March. I have lost about 45 more pounds for a total of about 80 pounds. My blood pressure is much lower and is almost in normal ranges. I have lost 11 inches from my belly, and only 4 inches from my chest. I am very excited about these improvements.

I have suffered from headaches for more than 20 years. About 10 years ago, they became chronic, daily and debilitating. I was treated for migraines and then for depression. At first I tried to follow a "healthy diet" but when things did not improve, I did not worry about it. Food became a source of comfort. As a result of the medication, inactivity, and poor diet, I gained over 100 pounds. The headaches and depression did not get worse and they did not get better.

Two years ago, I quit all of my prescription medication and saw some immediate improvements. I am convinced that the medicines were making my headaches worse. If I take any type of pain medication, in particular, Tylenol type products, my headache pain goes through the rough.

About a year ago, I decided to do something about my diet and health. So, I did the cleanse and started Paleo after reading several books. In April and May, after about a month or two on Paleo, I experienced some days without headaches. Something I had not experienced in more than 10 years.

In late May, I started having more headaches. I am now dealing with insomnia, constipation and gas. After initially clearing up, my face around my nose has broken out again with acne. I do not feel very well. I have a headache every day all day, but it is not debilitating and with some effort I go about my activities like "normal."

I have had one slip in 5 and a half months. On a particularly bad headache day in July I took comfort in a pizza and a soda. No other slips. I do not smoke, drink alcohol or coffee. I have reduced my fruit and nut consumption to about one serving per week from one per day. I have tried magnesium (Natural Calm), fish oils, L-tryptophan and melatonin. Right now I am not taking any supplements regularly because I did not experience any improvements from them.

I am still losing weight and seeing improvements, but I do not feel well. I am in a stressful situation trying to restart my career and I know that is part of the problem. But, that was true in April and May when I felt better. I am trying to overcome very poor health and understand that improvements do not come overnight or even in a month or two. If I need to be patient, I will do so. But, if there is something I can do to would help, I would welcome any suggestions.

Thank you for this website and for your book. It is the 5th or 6th book I have read on the Paleo/Whole Foods Lifestyle. I really enjoyed its less historic approach.

Thanks for any help you can offer,


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You are down to the range from which I stared my Whole30 journey and I too am 6'2". I never lost more than about 2 pounds per month, but I kept going all the way to 183 before the weight loss stopped.

You are obviously doing a lot of things right, so I would expect that you should keep going on the whole. It would help, however, to know what you are eating in more detail. Paleo is a broad diet and you might need to tweak yours. How about posting a food log for a few days?

I hear you about sleep problems. I have found Natural Calm helpful over the past few years. It won't keep you asleep all night if you have issues, but I find it consistently relaxing. And the magnesium in it is something we generally need anyway. I quit taking fish oil every day after I started eating much better with lots of fish, grass fed beef, and free-range eggs, etc. If you diet is not nearly perfect, it would probably be good to continue supplementing with fish oil.

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Hi Lyle,

It's great that you are tuning into how what you eat affects how you feel -- and that you can see improvements even though you don't always feel so great. I wasn't sure from your original post if you are eating in a Whole30 way or just a paleo way. If you aren't eating Whole30, I would recommend giving that a try for 30 days. I suffered from daily migraines for about 9 years and had issues with sleeping for most of my life. I tried almost everything. Then I did my first Whole30 last August. Now I'm down to 1-2 easily treatable migraines per month and I usually sleep through the night. I've lost somewhere around 45 pounds over the past year without doing much exercise.

When I go off the Whole30 foods, I can usually eat stuff for about two to three weeks before the migraines come back. And sometimes if I'm stressed or I drink coffee too late in the day, I have trouble sleeping. I use Natural Calm also. I don't take any supplements because I am addicted to sardines for breakfast and I eat lots of grassfed meats and other fish. I'm doing a Whole45 at the moment and definitely feeling the benefits. For me, I think it was years of inflammation building up and triggering the migraines, but each person is different.

It would be great if you posted some food logs. Everyone here is very supportive and so helpful! I hope that you'll be feeling better soon!!

Keep posting!


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Thanks, Tami. My "Paleo" diet is vegetables and meats with some fruits and nuts. I am not sure how this is different than Whole30. I do not eat sugars, dairy or grains. Other than the one slip I mentioned, that is what I have been doing for the last 5 and a half months. After I read "It Starts With Food", it did not seem like I need to make changes to what I was doing. The first book I read on the "Paleo" diet was Rob Wolf's book. I think he teaches the same ideas as the Hartwigs. If there are difference, I would like to know what they are.



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