Notes on Completing Round 1 of P90X

Below are my before & after pictures (first & second) for completing Round 1 of P90X, the positive changes that occurred, and what I learned.

P90X is a strength training & cardio exercise routine through guided DVD’s that lasts 90 days. I finished my first go around last week. I learned a lot the last 3 months, so wanted to report on what I learned, what I still don’t know, and some tips for anyone else attempting P90X for their first time.

Keep in mind I’m still learning, and still don’t know what I don’t know. Also, I’m not a qualified instructor, nor doctor, so seek out professional advice before attempting any workout routine.

Before And After Pictures

Part of the progress tracking from P90X, a lot of the marketing allure, is the before and after pictures. They alone are what a lot of times sell P90X. You take a bunch of pictures in various poses before or on Day 1, and then pictures again in the same poses on Day 90 to show how your body has changed. Below I’ve linked to mine with a larger version plus a second one posted on Flickr.

What Positives Came About From P90X?

Beyond the above before and after pictures, the following:

  • I lost 10 lbs / 4.5 kilos (no clue how much I gained in muscle)
  • 3 weeks in, I dropped 2 pant sizes
  • I can wear a small t-shirt now vs. a medium. #metro
  • I have more energy throughout the day
  • I can do strenuous things and not be tired after doing them. I can do this multiple times a day. This is helpful with software programming.
  • I don’t get as cold anymore
  • my legs don’t fall asleep anymore when coding for long hours. If they do, it’s easy to wake ’em up vs that 10 minutes of limb asleep pain. I no longer get the prickly feeling.
  • I haven’t gotten sore from “sleeping wrong” in a long time.
  • I don’t look bloated #lolBoomer
  • because I work so hard at P90X, it’s easier to NOT eat bad food because I feel guilty
  • I don’t feel “bleh” after I eat. I feel good.
  • I’ve never looked so fit in my life, and apparently I can look even better if I keep at it. WITHOUT a personal trainer & a gym membership.
  • I have to cook more. Cooking allows me to spend more time with my girls since they can help me, and I get them to like good food earlier. Her majesty doesn’t like everything I cook because I usually ignore recipes and experiment. SOMETIMES I get it right and she digs it. I have fond memories of spending time with my grandma helping her cook. Not sure how I haven’t accidentally chopped off one of my toddlers fingers the way she ignores me near the cutting board. Course, I’d rather her risk her fingers stealing carrots than stealing jelly beans.
  • I significantly improved my nutrition and am on my way to learning how to be healthy vs. leaving that to to figure out for me. Maybe both.
  • I have a positive outlet for all the stupid insanity I have to deal with in my business. “Man, I’m tired… I don’t want to work out tonight.” “Hey man, just to let you know, we put Parsley, Cairngorm, and Swiz in your PureMVC code base.” “WHAT!?! TIME TO BRING IT! ME NO TIRED~!!!!!1111oneone”

What Did P90X Not Fix?

  • I still have insomnia, no matter how hard I work out. Lack of sleep is a cause of multiple health problems, lack of P90X progress, lack of energy, lack of brain power, etc… so I was really hoping for a fix. #lamesauce
  • I still get “disappointed” in some clients, negative software developers, or politicians. Yoga didn’t make the “disappointment” go away. #inb4ragequit
  • my gut. At the 6 week mark, it was very clear I made some serious progress attacking what beer had done to me. However, rather than do extra cardio and risk catabolism all for the sake of washboard abs, and cutting down further on my alcohol intake (I’m in software, eff that, impossible), I decided to up the protein and calories. I knew if I hit Ab Ripper hardcore, it’d actually push out the gut more based on what I read because of the increased stomach muscle size. Who cares; I do billions of modified sit-ups and v-ups, etc. #RAWR
  • While I learned a ton of new moves and advice from Tony Horton & crew + at the forums and other sites… it’s very clear I’m still ignorant as all get out and have a lot to learn about cardio, strength training, and nutrition.
  • strengths and weaknesses. I’ve learned that genetics play a huge role in what you excel in and have challenges in exercise & growth wise. I’ve had to learn to work harder in certain areas than others. My legs, for example, are wonderful at endurance stuff, and my calves are strong… but showing bulk would require gobs of creatine, hah! So, I just have to work at it. Her majesty’s better at some moves and stretches I am, and vice versa. I’m still learning my strengths and weaknesses.
  • P90X scheduling. Even 3 months in I still haven’t figured out the best time of day to do it. I fee great doing it around 2pm. However, I can only do this when I work from home AND I don’t have build or some major client milestone due on the same day; usually it’s when the 2 year old naps which helps when her majesty wants to join in (she’s on Power 90). While night is always convenient, when the kids are in bed is when I want me or her majesty and me time. I am not a morning person. I realize this works great for people because they get it “out of the way” and have energy throughout the day because they worked out. Not this guy. When I travel, same thing.

Why P90X?

I know enough to work out on my own, but unlike 10 years ago, I have a lot less time nowadays: I run a business, have 2 kids and a wife I like to spend time with, and spend a lot of my other time researching/learning/playing with new technologies.

One of my partners in my company is a jock I really trust. Anybody who tries to sell anything has an agenda to make money, so I immediately don’t trust their intentions to make you healthier or to look physically better. However, Brian’s word was good enough for me.

I also am still currently searching for a new technology stack to call home. I’m not a jack of all trades; I want to pick something and be the best at it or die trying. While the choices nowadays are better, more prevalent, and easier to learn the industry is in major flux as far as Enterprises are concerned in crossing over to mobile compared to the consumer market. That + there is a lot of misinformation being thrown around as well as insecurity which makes (very intelligent) people forget core software development concepts. This coupled with investment money without a clear ROI countered by statistics that show insane growth and opportunity in the consumer sector… it’s a very confusing time to do what I do at the level I do it.

I wanted to feel better. I wanted more energy. I wanted to look better. Part of my positive attitude towards things is one part will power. The other part is my insane metabolism… which has slowed down a bit since hitting 26. I knew if I could get that back, I could better handle crazy clients, email threads on technology where people have gone nuts, and continuing to further my career by milking every free minute I can get my hands on.

What do you need to do P90X?

The only things you really “need” are:

  1. the P90X DVD’s
  2. a pull up bar
  3. bands or free weights
  4. commitment to showing up everyday for 90 days

Everything else is a “nice to have”, some more nice than others. For example:

Pull Up Bar

My pull up bar was great. While the grip is crap, I use gardening gloves to protect my hands. I had to get the larger one I linked to for my kitchen’s door frame which is 36″ where as most normal door frames are 32 1/4″ or so. It was even nice to take apart when we rented a house in Florida for a week; just required a screwdriver. Yes, I lost the assembly instructions, so it’s pretty simple to re-assemble #5.

Bands vs. Free Weights

I liked the bands for some exercises, but within 3 weeks, outgrew them and needed heavier bands. They were hard at first to get used too, and the grips apparently make a huge difference if you like them or not. If you go on Craigslist/eBay to get cheaper ones than Amazon, ensure you like the grips. Also, if you’re a guy, don’t listen to the weight values; they’re crap. The tension you can increase on them gives each some flexibility, but I find that the weights were over estimated when you compare ’em, even at maximum tautness, to dumbbells of equivalent weight. I even broke one by accident so if you want to ensure you don’t get a welt on your stomach, ensure you get quality and/or read the reviews and/or don’t over do the band.

For other exercises, I like the free weights. Just what it is… but maybe it’ll change. The bands for some exercises just provide continuous tension whereas the dumbbells don’t.

As a frequent business traveler, the bands were a lot easier travel with. They fit well, are light, and durable. Later in the program, instead of buying new bands, I just ensured whatever hotel I stayed at had a gym; most of the non-podunk hotels had a gym with enough free weights in it. The chest/rowing machine is a decent make-shift pull up bar if you’re not over 200lbs. If you are, then you can just use the machine.

Yoga Mat

A yoga mat is helpful for 3 reasons. First, a lot of the stretches and Yoga moves are done on the floor. You want something clean, and easy to clean, on the floor. Second, you want to protect your feet and knee’s. Doing Yoga, or even Plyo (jumping moves) on a soft surface makes a huge difference on the knees and helps prevent injury. Third, some provide grip. For example, in the beginning, I just used our camping tent mats. They provide a ton more cushion than most yoga mats and I don’t need to roll them up for my knees. However, they have zero grip on my hardwood floor whereas the yoga mat does, so downward dog and other moves are impossible, and dangerous, using it.

Yoga Block

A yoga block is just that… a block that can support heavy weight. You use it to make your stretches better if you aren’t very flexible in some moves, mostly in yoga. I used my kids cardboard building blocks. As long as you press on the edges, it doesn’t break and I don’t come tumbling to the floor. If I do, there 40 replacements right under the TV. And another 80 in the garage.

Keep in mind a lot of guys hate the Yoga, and just do the Cardio X option instead, so… keep that in mind if you invest a ton of bling into Yoga equipment.

Heart Rate Monitor

I got a heart rate monitor 3 weeks in. It helped me identify when I was slacking off as well  as seeing progress over time. I could also tell if I just had a bad attitude for the day or was in fact really working hard. It also provided a surprising result for her majesty who briefly started the first 6 weeks with me: she was actually working too hard. At first I was trying to push her, but after the getting her the monitor, we realized she was working uber hard and needed to slow down. For males, you can find your “zone”, or heart rate in which you can build up better endurance… or the best place to lose fat. Same for females, although the cliche for them is the fat burn zone, aerobic. If you read the Wikipedia and other blog articles on aerobic vs. anaerobic, it gets complex quickly and your eyes may glaze over.

Fitbit or Digifit

A got an Ant+ connector for my iPhone and used it with my Garmin heart rate monitor. Put on the heart rate monitor on my chest, plug in the Ant+ to my iPhone, and open the Digifit app. Once it detects my heart rate, I’d start my P90X routine for that day. Digifit is cool in that you can see your heart rate in “mostly” real time. It also tracks the data over time, both in the app and on their website. It factors in all kinds of physical factors like your weight, age, fitness level, etc. The Digifit app itself also integrates with a lot of other tools like Fitbit. It can theoretically track your entire fitness and health.

If you supplement your routine (most chicks do) with extra cardio (sometimes guys have to follow), it has a GPS part that’ll show how far you went, the rate at which calories are burnt per hour, etc. It’s pretty rad. It appears to be lacking a lot of social features that other fitness apps have (what trails are nearby, who run them, who’s burning moooarrr calories near me, etc), but if you just want the data (and as I’ve learned, it’s ALL about the data), then it’s a great extra.

Time For P90X

P90X is 1 hour a day, minimum. Yoga is an hour and a half, but you can do Cardio X instead. If you do Ab Ripper X, it’s an extra 15 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can optionally do X Stretch on Sundays, or just chill.

I didn’t do Ab Ripper the first 2 weeks as I was trying not to die. I only started doing X Stretch on Sundays when I started “feeling” the need for it after 6 weeks in.

With interruptions from kids, getting setup (cleaning up the mess the 2 & 4 year old make every 5 minutes or walking down to the hotel’s Gym), and sometimes trying to learn different moves, it’d often take me 1 hour and 30 minutes to 1 hour 45 minutes total, per day.

Any programmer knows that is precious time to learn and play with new toys to keep abreast in the industry as well as contribute back both in open source, blogging, answering questions, etc.

Any business owner knows that is precious time to… well, continue working.

Any business traveller knows that is precious time to unwind from the day in your hotel room and catch up on other work… or grab some expensive per diem grub.

That time is now gone. It’s devoted to your health and well being. You don’t “find” this time during your day, nor do you “make” it, you simple DON’T do those other things you usually do. It gets easier over time as you start to realize those other things were taking priority over you not staying healthily physically. As you start to feel better, you get a little protective and want continue to feel good. This coming from a guy who sucks at task & priority time planning.

This has nothing to do with the diet portion which can add a significant amount of food purchasing, preparation, and cooking time. While spending cooking time with my girls cooking vs. playing Wii has been rewarding, it is definitely time taken away from other things when cooking was fast & convenient.

While the best thing for my career the past 3 months should have been spent learning more Java & Android programming, I don’t regret for a minute I spent that time instead on my physical and dietary well being. I’d rather try to tackle that whack technology stack feeling the way I do now vs. 3 months ago.

I mean, Hungarian notation? Seriously? In 2012? From the brainiacs at Google? #wtf At least now I have the ability to beat down whoever thought that was a good idea, not to provide some modicum of MVC/MVP/MVVM inside, promote it, AND enough energy to spend the weekend fixing it.

… Not really, but I certainly FEEL like I can, and that is my point here.


Before you start P90X, you’re supposed to take a fitness test to validate if you should even start P90X. I didn’t because I knew I wouldn’t pass. Even doing 15 minutes a day vs 1 hour, every day, already makes you a lot better than a large group of Americans who don’t get enough exercise per day. That in itself is awesome and you should be proud of that.

What people forget is that the body is an amazing machine of adaptability. Daily, it gets better at handling it, and you in turn can last longer and do the moves better. While the first 6 weeks was learning all the moves, I’m STILL learning every time I do it to focus on doing the moves right with heavier/specific weight. Control and quality movement is everything vs. throwing yourself and/or weights around.

That said, there is good pain and bad pain. Every exercise I was continually making progress in except for 3 which I outline below.

Plyometrics / Jump Training

On week 2, my knees were annihilated. I could stand, but my knees were in pain. I wasn’t clear if it was bad sore or good sore. 10 years ago when I was 23, I never had knee pain after working out. Plyo ensured I did. Here are some things I did that removed the pain.

First, I stopped doing Plyo on hard surfaces. At my house, I have hardwood floors. I simply got my thick office carpet out and House of Pain’d on that mofo instead. MASSIVE difference the next day. At the hotels, I’d either use soft mats in the gym, tons of stacked towels on the floor in my room (they’ll give you moar if you ask), or even the the bed (I’m short) for rock star hops.

Second, each move can be modified, and many I still do modify. Instead of jumping, just step. They show you how on the DVD. It’s still uber tiring, works out the parts you need to work out, yet doesn’t hurt your knees. This also allowed me to finish the entire workout even if my knees hurt without hurting them further. Also, my landings are more dramatic than others. I really ensure my landings are soft, and I use my whole legs vs. just my toes + feet to land softly.

Third, swap out Plyo with Cardio X. Plyo, to me, is the hardest routine out of all the P90X exercises. While Legs & Back is the ONLY one that makes me nauseous, and I burn the most calories in Kenpo, Plyo crushes me. In the beginning, or even if you don’t feel it, just swap out with Cardio X. Or skip it entirely and just go running/hiking/biking/swimming. Swimming’s a nice change too because it’s low impact.

That said, if you truly are injured, every single piece of advice I’ve read, both form qualified instructors and non, is to take a break, sometimes 2 weeks depending on how fast you heal. Better safe than sorry. Besides, it’s not time wasted at all. Learning the moves, and getting your body’s cardiovascular systems engaged == the hotness. The key is to listen to your body. Sometimes learning to listen actually takes a few weeks of exercise. Therefore, take it slow and easy in the beginning and do NOT think less of yourself; you’ll have plenty of time to up the intensity.

If you’re a guy, I get the hardcore attitude… hence why I came close to getting injured. Let your muscles get stronger and wait for week 6. THEN you can go at that shiz full bore.

Pull Ups

You use workout sheets with P90X to track your progress. There are apps too if you’re racist against pens and paper and killing t3h trees, or just like living in 2012. I really needed these to verify I was making progress. I’d feel like death, be mad at myself for faltering… only to see I was in fact making progress, every day, every week… sometimes a lot of progress. This really helped my self-esteem and made me want to work even harder to see how far I could go.

Except for pull ups.

I’m a small guy. I’m 5′ 8″ and weigh (now) around 155. Back in high school pull ups were easy for me. For whatever reason, back in March I could do 1 reverse chin up, and 0 wide front/close front.

I searched the forums, both Beachbody’s and unofficial, and it’s clear it’s just harder. I started using the bands at first. Over time I did in fact see progress, it was just insanely slower than every other exercise. Getting corroboration online made me feel better that they’re are just harder to get better at compared to everything else. For some people.

Week 3 I started using the bands + chair. I stuck with the chair till the last 3 weeks. Yes, that long. I finally started doing at least 4, 5, 6 and more on my own. On down days, I’d supplement with the chair to keep my reps up.

If you see improvement everywhere except for there, don’t get discouraged. A lot of people have challenges here. It may not be a 90 degree line of improvement… maybe 10 degrees. That’s still improvement over time.

1 Arm Pushups

Yeah, screw that mess. They’re dangerous. Just use 2 arms, and put a lot of weight on 1 arm or the other, using your knees vs. your feet if you have to. Over time you’ll get up. Brian told me this after I busted my face a couple times. I wonder if he did that on purpose? Considering they aren’t done much in the routine either, they’ll take time to get better at.

Nutrition / Food

I did not do the P90X meal plan. The first 6 weeks, my diet didn’t really change except for the following:

  • I drank less beer.
  • I drank more Cabernet.
  • When hitting Subway, I never got chips.
  • I stopped eating Gummy Bears.
  • I stopped easting Twizzlers (shut up, Mani & Bill)

6 weeks in, I was at a cross roads. I started seeing results 3 weeks in, and didn’t know if I wanted to continue losing fat, or to build up bulk. When I had my gall bladder taken out about 4 years ago, whatever meal plan they had me on afterwards was amazing. 1 week after wards, I stood up, walked to the kitchen, and told her majesty, “I’ve never felt better in my entire life!”. It was very clear that diet alone had a massive impact on my emotional & physical well being.

I was curious if I could start to learn what I could do positively on the diet end, even if just tiny changes. The more I read, the more it seemed diet played a larger role in P90X, and any workout routine, than the actual working out. While it was clear you needed to do both, it was also clear I was ignoring the most important part of it if I wanted to get the most out of my hard work.

Disappointingly, even with the wonders of the internet, there is a TON of misinformation and crap out there. You really have to sort through a lot, verify credentials of those writing, and ensure corroboration is simply not an echo chamber. And even then, you don’t know 100%.

Treating it like learning a new programming stack really helped. The first thing you do is learn the lingo of the community. The second is you find thought leaders in that community, and verify if they are stalwarts or if they have broad consensus. Third, you ask 10 billion questions. Multiple times to hear different answers.

I’m continually horrified at what I’ve learned, and continue to relearn. The re-learning is important, because again, like programming, summarizing scientific statements that fit in a tweet is actually harmful. For example, eating more protein ensures your muscles can rebuild better/faster. However, I could only find 2 actual peer reviewed and publicly available scientific studies on the subject. One was done back in the 40’s; it showed no difference in growth change for high protein diets vs. normal. None of those in the study were doing strength training. *face palm*

The second was for cancer patients going through chemo. Even to a non-doctor, reading through the results was obvious. What wasn’t obvious was what if I’m not going through chemo, am meeting my daily calorie requirements, and my cells are not over-compensating for rebuilding white blood cells, etc… then do I get the same effects? Queue Dinosaur Train hypothesis.

That above paragraph led me down many a blog and forum post, many contradicting each other, many have YouTube quality comments (ie low quality/useless/they be trollllllinnnnnnn), etc. We really need a Stackoverflow site for Nutrition. Worse was the anti-organic sites clearly setup by some unnamed food production/distribution companies in a PR smear campaign. They were on high profile sites, were written well, but did NOT cite any reputable sources. Those they did were not qualified, 404’d, or were completely made up with no supporting evidence of their own.

The opposing camp of fanboy/fangirl organic/vegan/anti-meat counterparts wasn’t any better. A lot of these intelligent, and well spoken blogs on natural/organic nutrition couldn’t help let their agenda come out in their writing, nor obvious bias. The nail in the coffin is when they make counter claims and don’t cite their sources, thus destroying their creditability. Very frustrating.

I get there is a lot of money to be made in unhealthy Americans. Our exploding health sector, our aging Baby Boomers, and all the billions thrown into R&D by pharmaceutical companies some of which could be prevented by “not eating crap” and walking 5 minutes a day. I get there is a lot of money to be made in organic food, non-FDA approved medicine, and spiritual exercise routines.

As a staunch capitalist, I get it. As a business owner, I get it. Our food industry is a razor thin margin industry. Healthier Americans doesn’t suddenly make our GNP rock the mic merely because Whole Foods shows a better quarterly profit. If you were a politician, citing China’s Opium past, and our recent Tobacco past, as examples of why the next step is a healthier America via massive productivity boosts in all sectors, you’d get ripped to shreds. The pharma/food lobbyists would annihilate you. Talk show hosts would discredit you by citing the millions of jobs, both public and private, that would disappear when Americans were suddenly a lot healthier. Opportunists in the health sector would jump on it and say stupid things, thus discrediting the whole movement, thus adding more fodder for those in the counter camps.

That said, even after just 1 hour of reading, there are some obvious things you CAN learn that ARE corroborated by real scientists via peer reviewed studies. I won’t write it all here, and yes it’s hard to find it all, but here some changes I’ve done which will hopefully lead by example.

What I Cut Out

Red Meat

I no longer eat meat. I love meat. If someone were to serve it to me, right now, I’d eat it. I do not, however, buy it to feed myself or her majesty, whether the grocery store or eating out. I currently don’t mind if my kids eat it. There have been enough studies to show that not eating meat makes you live longer. AND they’re hard to find & verify mind you. For example, do a Google search for eating meat live longer, and you’ll find gems like this. Even those in the opposing camp, out of like 16 responses, ONLY ONE actually cites sources vs. anecdotal/qualitative made up bullshit.

You read that, then you read stuff like this study. Great, a scientific published paper. An anecdote from a doctor on CNN, who apparently has rad credentialsor does he? This is the guy who was laughed at on 60 minutes for recommending meditation as a way to reduce stress. Even though it’s scientifically shown that it makes your brain faster, and can reduce stress and help anxiety disorders.

It’s extremely easy to make up a bunch of untruths about someone, publish it with good SEO (search engine optimization, easy to get it in Google Search results), and suddenly detract from someone’s creditability merely because you don’t like what they say. As seekers of truth… how are we supposed to sort through this kruft?

I only know to use corroboration from perceived reputable sources. Which sucks. Examples include here, published reports from the World Cancer Research Fund, and others which are harder to find; like if you’re a chick, you can halve your risk of depression by eating red meat.  Avoid crap like this even if you WANT to believe.

Anyway, I’m still gun ho on free range chicken and fish (both of which are a rabbit hole regarding raising as well, omg). When they aren’t available, I use beans as a protein supplement (black frijoles, pinto, and garbanzo’s). Sometimes I’ll share hummus & wheat flat bread with the kids or organic cashews as well.

White Bread & Rice

Holy fish did I not realize how much bread we Americans eat. A trip to Paris 5 years ago really made an impression on me about how much the French dig their bread as I’d always see the bakery lines in the afternoon, and no one in that line looking surprised the lines were long. Oddly, no one looked fat in those lines either.

When I started reading about what makes white bread white, and the difference between whole grains vs. others and their effects on your health, choosing a replacement became really challenging. Everywhere I looked, both in my house, and in restaurants and chains… had white bread. Additionally, many of the foods used white flour. Then @Talkmster started advertising Wheat Belly. My trips to New York had wonderful places to eat that provided low portions with good ingredients… but had white bread. RRAAAGGGEEE!

When I quite smoking cold turkey 10 days before my 21st birthday back in 2000, my diet drastically changed thereafter. Within 2 weeks I started to get my taste buds back. I didn’t know I had lost them. I started eating more vegatables (SOME, not full bore), salads… sometimes without dressing. All kinds of new stuff. I started to cut down on spicy foods, too, because I could actually taste my food, and spicy foods at the time were the only things that I really liked. At the time, wheat bread was something I started buying/eating more of.

The home wasn’t affected too much, but outside the house… wow. Subway’s easy. Chick-fil-a… not so much. A lot of restaurants are catching on, thankfully. For example, at Jim ‘N Nick’s, who I usually eat at everyday if I’m working at my local Starbucks vs. on-site with a client, I’d usually get a white bun BBQ sandwhich with fries and cornbread muffins on the side. Now, I get it with whole wheat, and get chicken instead.. and eye the muffins with malice. Both it + Chik-fil-A, I replace the fries with fruit.

I’ll still supplement meals with Peanut Butter sandwiches. Now, I just ensure the bread is whole wheat, and the Peanut Butter is organic. For soft tacos, it’s been hard to find whole wheat tortillas, at least at Publix. I don’t live near a Whole Foods, so I’ve debated making my own. For hard shells, they do offer wheat ones now.

For rice, I switched to brown rice. As we all love sushi at this house, it’s been rough dodging the white rice when eating out. Not all places offer brown rice. No, fried rice isn’t brown rice. I’ve really avoided a lot of potatoes and pasta too in fear of too much starch… which has been hard because it goes great with all the veggies I now have in my fridge and has a lot of fiber and carbs to compensate for the protein shakes.


I’ve committed to eating something green everyday. No, Avocados don’t count, but yes, their good fat gets mega-nom’d in this house daily. I won’t cite the studies, as I’m still trying to understand ’em myself, but apparently eating vegetables is good for you. Daily. With no dressing for salads. If you read the dressing, it’s full of High Fructose Corn Syrup which is good/not-good for you. Or maybe it’s not. Who the eff knows. Not me. Yet. If you read the studies, they’re completely left and right field… like our current useless Congress. Either way, sugar itself is dope for quick energy as most sugar we’re familiar with is pure carbs, but isn’t released slowly enough and you can crash; balance that shiz with fiber for slower release.

I also have been using green peppers & broccoli in a lot of my food when salad isn’t available. I keep meaning to try this kale stuff all the runners rave about. Every week there is some new super food to try… which is usually a plant of some kind. Rich Roll mentioned 10 whack ones I’ve never heard of, but naturally want to try.

Also, Lance Armstrong went all Vegan. Waaaah!?


I’ve always eaten fruits, but now I eat more. Instead of snacking on saltine crackers or cheese or something bad, I just snag an apple, organe, or bananna, organic if possible. For the apples, I eat the skin after washing since I read it is good for you and provides more fiber. As a kid it was hard to do this, but now that I’m starving from all the working out, NO problem.

4 to 5 Meals vs. 3, Breakfast, and Snacks

I’ve read that you should eat more meals a day to both lose weight as well as increase your metabolism. It also helps you control portions of how you much eat. I don’t know if any of that is true, but it kept coming up in what I read so I figured I’d go back to it. I used to do that before kids, but once you have kids, you usually shove food in your mouth when you can; sometimes that’s only twice a day, sometimes more. Sometimes you forget, which in turn makes you tired, and more stupid, then you wonder why raising kids is so hard and tiring.

Also, since I was a kid, I’ve heard breakfast is the most important meal of the day. However, coffee has been my breakfast since I was 14. Yes, my mom would make me breakfast if I asked, and often did give me stuff even when I was 20 on the way to college at 5 am… but as an adult post-college, no… just coffee please. I used to do sausage biscuits every few mornings until I did the meat research. That was hard, though, because by lunch I wasn’t hungry, or I’d eat lunch late, sabotaging my dinners with the family, who like to eat early.

I basically force myself every morning to eat a banana. It’s rough… I’m just not hungry, but do it anyway. Also, if I forget to go to lunch till 2 pm, at least I’m not dying like I usually am since I ate something.

I tend to eat a heavier lunch, and sometimes 2 small dinners. I’ve struggled to ensure I don’t eat 3 hours before bed. Often because of work & kids, I have to workout at night. That, and I’m a night owl anyway. This means I’m STARVING at 9:30 pm after a workout. I’ve done my best to force something down, even if just half my dinner 1 hour and a half before working out so I don’t over do it after working out. Sometimes more if the kids at at 5 or 6. However, by week 6 this was really hard; my body clearly was ready for “Phase 3” (basically increased calories of the P90X food plan). I was ravenous. I still struggle with this and do my best to keep a lot of food available in the fridge to easily make meals so I can control portion size as well as save left overs.

When I travel I ensure I have healthy food with me. Some airports are getting better at providing healthier options. Atlanta (not counting Terminal E), not so much, but LGA (New York) & SFO (San Francisco) are definitely tons better in the past 3 years. This includes bananas, apples, hummus & vegetable dips, travel mixes that those mountaineer  people eat, small water bottles that fit in my computer bag, nuts, and organic fruit bars if I can find ’em.

Almost every airport has at least a crappy chicken caesar salad without dressing, while not tasting as good as the chili dog counterparts, are still better for you. Also, some Delta flights (and thus I’d assume other airlines) have some pretty decent healthier box options as well that are only like 5 bucks if you’re dying. They’re all packaged food so if you don’t eat it all, it’s easy to carry with you.

Did I mention I cut down on beer? My god do I miss beer. I mean, Cabernet is ok… but… Merlot is NOT a Stout, know what I mean? Pinots are not IPA’s, etc.


I still put milk into my coffee, usually mutha-grabbin-D. I’ve switched to brown sugar at Starbucks and organic brown sugar at home until I figure sugar out.

I no longer eat cheese, my favorite food since I was a kid. Since I’ve been more hyper-aware of how I feel, I can definitely feel my sinuses stress out and be harder to breath after milk and/or cheese. In pollen/ragweed infested in Georgia, this helps. Still, I love cheese. EVERY so often I’ll throw some asiago/parmesan on the pasta/rice + vegetable  concoctions I make up. Then I feel guilty afterwards.


The only supplements I started taking 6 weeks in is a protein shake, usually after working  out.

  • 1 organic banana
  • 1 cup of Silk Vanilla
  • 1 cup of spring water
  • 2 cups of whey protein vanilla powder

I’ll sometimes I’ll use my kids’ milk (#nsfw) if I’m out of Silk. Sometimes I’ll halve this and have 1 hour before my workout. Her majesty is researching more supplement options. There is a ton of misinformation out there + lack of true information since the FDA thinks it’s THOSE companies selling the stuff to verify it actually works and fund the studies. GENIUS!

“Jesse, do a study to see if you’re a pimp.”


“Wow, that was fast. So what’d you find?”

“The study shows I’m straight pimpin’, man!”

I Want To Try P90X

“I’d like to try P90X, but it seems overwhelming…”

Dude, it’s not. Here’s all you need, just like I said up at the very top:

  1. the P90X DVD’s
  2. a pull up bar
  3. bands or free weights
  4. commitment to showing up everyday for 90 days

You do NOT have to finish every work out in the full hour. You do NOT have to do Ab Ripper. You do NOT have to do X Stretch. Even doing half, or less than half, of P90X every day will ensure you’ll pretty quickly get to the point of where you can do P90X every day. Anyone who is negative about it, don’t listen to ’em.

If you’re broke as a joke, you can find the DVD’s on Craigslist, eBay, and sometimes used on Amazon. You find used weights & pull up bars there as well. Additionally, if you have a Play It Again Sports, they’ll sometimes have that stuff there as well.

To ensure you keep #4, I recommend:

  • ignoring anyone negative
  • using the worksheets or a mobile app. You’ll be amazed through all the sweat and pain you ARE making progress.
  • do it earlier in the day vs. later
  • don’t do it while writing a book or have some other non-work related, yet non-negotiable deadlines in your daily/weekly life
  • if you have young kids, ensure they won’t interrupt you too much, as well as them being safe if you have to work out and watch them. For example, our kids are too young to be left alone, thus, either her majesty or I watches her while the other works out.
  • reach out online for support if you need it; it’s there. Many are going through the same thing you are, sometimes at the exact same times.
  • some people like to do more than just paper track the #’s; some use journals, both written and with pictures to track their progress.
  • Stay positive, you’re awesome.


I’m happy with my results, but not ecstatic. It was a lot of work and I sacrificed a lot of research & personal projects time to get here. Based on what I’ve heard from friends and read, you need to continually work at it fitness wise to get better, develop more, etc. Therefore I’ll probably start round 2 next week and have new pics in August to show… that better be better than what I have now.

I don’t mind being ignorant on the fitness front since P90X can guide me through everything, and supplemental cardio through running, hiking, and swimming is brainless. On the nutrition front, however, I realize I have a lot to learn. A lot of this stuff is often hand in hand with the other. Here’s a list of books I’m slowly reading on the subject:

If you have any additional tips, whether fitness, nutrition, or P90X related, I’d love to hear ’em! For the rest of you, I hope the above helps and motivates you to try P90X… or even just Power 90.

Huge thanks go out to Huyen Tue Dao, Michelle Rueda, Joel Hooks, Matthew Fabb, Jim Anders, Steve AutomateYoHouse, and Leonard Souza for advice and support throughout the past 3 months. Also, massive thanks to my business partner Brian Riley for introducing & motivating me to get into P90X as well as letting me know about all the gadgets I’d want to use! Obviously none of this could of happened if not for her majesty doing some with me, helping watch the kids, and supporting me through it all.

Onto Round 2… OH LOOK A BEER!

26 Replies to “Notes on Completing Round 1 of P90X”

  1. Completely awesome man. You are definitely serving as my inspiration as I move through this.

  2. Great job on getting through the program. I’ve only gotten to day 13.

    I really like your writeup about diet. It’s hard to read so much compelling evidence about meat being bad while seeing everyone (Amuricans) eat so much of it. Wheat/bread is even more confusing. It all reminds me of when eggs were the best, then worst, then best, then worst, then best things to eat. Even when the ‘answer’ seems clear, finding a practical balance has been a challenge for me.

    I’ve recently started doing some yoga classes at my gym. What I’ve learned is that Yoga X is not the same as yoga. Tony hits the fitness aspects but his video doesn’t have the same emotional/mental impact as the classes I’ve been to.

    Again, good work and nice summary. I’m looking forward to reading about round 2.


  3. Just to clarify, Lance Armstrong did not go vegan. He still eats non-vegan dinners, which means he’s not vegan. You don’t get to eat meat for dinner and call yourself vegan. That’s like saying you don’t smoke except when you drink, but you drink every night after work. Or it’s like saying you’re not gay because you have sex with women during the day, but then each night you have sex with a guy. Just saying. ;)

  4. Jesse that’s awesome!
    This sounds exactly like the direction I’ve been thinking of going. Last Feb. I found out I have type 2 diahbeetus (RVA pronunciation). Since then I’ve had to make a ton of changes to my diet and what you’ve done is very much in line with what the doctor told me. Mostly, I just cut out carbs and added more protein (chicken and fish). I’ve always eaten lots of vegis and salad so it wasn’t hard to just add larger servings.

    On top of the diabetes I also have to eat gluten free. Let me tell you that giving up disappointing GF bread and pasta was not hard. Red wine wasn’t really my thing but having a couple glasses after work really hit the spot. I think a big difference though is that I have not cut out anything I really enjoy like cheese or dairy. Allowing myself to have indulgences like that helped me stay on the right path. I think trying to give up everything would have been unrealistic and prolly led to failure. After four months of diet change and regular exercise (skateboards and mountain bikes) my blood glucose number is almost at a normal level and my overall hemoglobin number is lower than they had set for my “success” target. I’m going to try the Caveman Diet for a month starting this weekend. I’ve been looking through the Primal Blueprint for a few months now. That all said, if I can do it, anyone can!

    Good luck to you Jesse. Thanks so much for such an inspiring and informative post!

  5. Awesome and inspiring post, Jesse! My P90X set has been waiting on the shelve for me, but I’ve had the usual excuses: too much work, when should I plan my exercise (I also have two small kids in the house). But as I read your post I realized that I’ve been postponing the inevitable. If you can do it, so can I! Bring it!

    1. With a wife and kids you actually like, yes, it’s mad harder. Hence why when you’re done, you should be that much more impressed with yourself. Besides, you’re setting a good example for your kids by doing it.

    2. Also, the last pic doesn’t show it, but EVERY TIME the 2 year old doesn’t nap, and comes running out, she tackles me if I’m on the floor, completely screwing up my moves/stretches. The best is when I’m barely surving lifting a 25 lb dumbbell and she comes full speed and hugs my leg. THAT is a workout.

  6. Jesse,

    You should NOT be disappointed in your results. I hope my results are as good as yours. I’m gonna be doing day 9 tonight. I really enjoyed reading about your experience. Thank your for the effort and time it took to put this post together.

    Also, Way to Go!

  7. Awesome work. I’m looking forward to joining the legions of P90x users. Since moving to Orlando I’ve been working out regularly again. I have a trip to make back to AZ and should be back in early July. I’ll start P90x as soon as I get back.

    If you have an XBox/Kinect I’d recommend trying out: Your Shape Fitness Evolved 2012.

    It’s a blast to play/exercise. There are lots of fun competitive exercises that you can do with groups.

  8. Congratz on the progress so far! I made it to day 69 the first time and then day 32 the second time around! LOL I’m about to embark on my journey again next week! Reliving other peoples experiences is always immensely enjoyable to know that others have also almost died doing this damn thing! HAHA Keep Pressing Play My Man!

    1. Thanks. That’s still awesome, you’re still technically ahead of me then.

      There are 2 other girls starting with me on Monday, start with us! I’m “jesterxl” or Jesse Warden on

  9. Good job!!! I have the p90x vids, but since breaking my wrist (which I am only 9wks post-op) I have a hard time seeing myself doing this anytime soon. BUt then I saw something called Insanity. It seems to be along the same lines as p90x w/o the need to for the equipment. Have you or any of your readers done Insanity? The only thing I see myself having issues with doing it would be the pushups.

    1. Thanks! A lot of the P90X groupies do Insanity, yes. I haven’t, but definitely want to try it. It depends on your goals, really. Losing weight, bulk, more energy, blah blah blah. Even if your doctor says yes, but your arms say “no”, even doing half or 1/4 of P90X everyday is still wonderful for you.

      If it were me who broke my wrist, I’d have issues with:
      – back and shoulders where they do pullups
      – chest where you do pushups
      – Yoga with tons of plank/pushups
      – biceps holding onto the heavier weights

      If you use lighter bands and up the reps instead of doing pullups, that should help modify/compensate there. For Yoga, you could skip plank moves.

      For the rest, you’d be fine. Again, ask your doctor. With the modifications, you’d do most of it which is awesome. Additionally, as you build strength and flexibility in your wrists, you could nail it 2nd time around. Keep in mind a lot of people who do P90X have preexisting injuries, like bad knees, weak lower back, etc. so they HAVE to modify in some way to keep up. This isn’t an exception, it’s the norm.

  10. Have you looked into grassfed beef? The omega 3 to 6 ratios of grassfed beef are as good as most seafood, plus the CLA will improve weight loss and muscle-gain. Also, if like it, stevia is a good natural sweetener. If you don’t like stevia, check out coconut sugar. Lower fructose levels than almost any sugar out there.

    As far as supplements, you can never go wrong with fish-oil. Quality varies, but I like the Nordic Naturals line. Vitamin D is all the rage now, and the capsules are tiny, so easy to take. I also take a micro-mineral and CoQ-10 (ubiquinol). I’m less familiar with most of the body-building specific supplements because most of them are focused on testosterone levels, which aren’t helping me much.

    1. Yeah, her majesty always buys that grass fed beef from Publix. I can’t taste a difference, but certainly feel better buying that vs. the alternative after watching Food, Inc.

      I’ll have to look at coconut sugar, thanks! Didn’t know there was such a thing.

      Yeah, her majesty is having the same issue; a lot are either health based, male creatine/protein based, or digestive based. It’s very hard to find a few that we can both take that satisfies both health + our exercise needs. So far, we usually make 2 shakes; 1 for her and 1 for me.

  11. Awesome job Jesse.
    As you know your first post on P90X inspired me to give it a try. I’m approaching week 8 now and I’m still bringing it. Proud of myself.
    Is it tough? Yes. Does it require a lot of time and dedication? Yes. It is worth it? Absolutely.

    I’ve got 3 kids so I know exactly where you are coming from. Making time is the most difficult part of it – I try to do mornings but don’t always succeed with that schedule. So far I have not looked at my diet in detail, and I went into this purely to ‘get fitter’. I was playing tennis twice a week (still do) but didn’t see that as a real workout. P90X *is* a workout, the mother of all in fact, and I’ve never produced so much sweat in my life.

    I’m quite a skinny guy, always have been, and can eat more or less what I want without putting on weight. I drink almost no alcohol and of course I don’t smoke.

    Results for me are hard to come by though, and fast approaching 40 I was not happy with my overall fitness. What can I say, this program works, maybe because it’s better than other stuff I tried or maybe because I actually stuck with it. My weight was 72.5kg on day 1, and I lost 3 kilos in 8 weeks which is a lot for me. Some of that middle age spread is gone and I can see from my numbers that I am improving in most exercises, big time in some.
    I guess I now need to see how I can put on a bit of muscle. I’m happy with the lean look and my genes mean I’ll never bulk up massively (and I don’t want to), but in terms of seeing results and improving fitness I cannot recommend this program enough.

    A bit later I will see if it made any impact on my cholesterol levels, they were pretty high previously.

    Keep bringing it Jesse and well done. Awesome results. I will try shaving my chest hair too :-)

  12. Oh and those who doubt themselves after the fit test: do not worry, we all sucked at it. You will improve quicker than you think. Stick with it those first 2 grueling weeks.

    7 weeks in and I can still not keep up with the entire Ab Ripper X routine. But I can do the 40 (plus 10 extra) Mason twists now ;-)

    1. Thanks! Great to hear Stefan. I saw physical results 3 weeks in, and definitely 6 to 8… but the investment in rebooting my metabolism as well as increasing my cardiovascular I think was the best thing I did. You can’t see those things, but it allows me to keep reducing weight and feeling better EVEN in my 1 week off. And I can code longer… that’s really all that matters, hah!

      After 87 of the 90 days, I could only do 30 Mason Twists, barely. Mad props! And jealous… now I need to work harder in Round 2.

  13. Jesse,

    Proud of you playa. Don’t know if I ever mentioned it to you or not, but I have a history with physical training. Got into due to all the craziness and physical therapy I had to endure over the past 25 years of sk8boarding. Actually got pawned off as a personal trainer when I lived in LA working at a gym. We should catch up sometime and chat. If you are really looking into diet seriously then I’d suggest a nutritionist. One of my wife’s good friend’s is awesome and would do wonders for you. She is intown, give her a call and tell her I sent you Again, awesome accomplishment, keep it up and move on to P90x deux.

    1. Thanks man! Yeah, I’ll have to find one; I’m getting overwhelmed with the insane amount of conflicting information, especially for Doctors and Scientists… the data contradicts. Know any in NYC or Virginia?

  14. Nice job Jesse, you look great. But why does every P90X post photo have to be hairless? I suppose it is so the photos show more of your progress but ick.

    1. After you work your ass off, if your dad is a wookie like mine, you start to loathe the fact that your hard earned “results” are hidden. This becomes pretty offensive, and eventually the anger grows, and you just shave it away. It took her majesty a week… but she digs it, so… there’s that.

      Besides, it’s like a code review. I’m still learning a lot about fitness, health, and nutrition. Looking at changes, documenting the fat measurements, the heart rate, and how much I’m eating of what all helps me learn better and see visible changes from those variables. Same as code, only… it’s myself and I set my own deadlines vs. clients. And I feel better doing it.

  15. Congratulations–I know how hard it is to finish P90X. I’ve tried twice and the farthest I got was a little over halfway. The time commitment alone is considerable (an hour and a half of yoga!).

    If you find that dream stack, please post it here. You ain’t lying about things being in flux. The development tools are all over the map right now, both mobile and web, and there doesn’t seem to be a clear consensus at all.

  16. 1. Congrats, that takes a lot of effort and dedication.
    2. Not convinced on no meat arguments – more important imo is the quality of the meat consumed.
    3. How does one get a flat stomach? Even without flab my stomach sticks out a bit because of the muscle there. Dang !! Any tips?

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