P90X: 1 Year Later


It’s been 1 year since I was sick & tired of being sick & tired and decided to make a change. I also completed P90X2 which is the 2nd version of P90X (sort of). I wanted to share the challenges I had (only 1 of my feet worked), the changes in my life, and what I’ve learned as well as visual progress.

Before & After

First, the before and after shot’s from 1 year ago, after completing my 1st round of P90X, my second round, and my first round of P90X2; a transformation consisting of 365 days of hard work. I’ve lost 28 pounds, stabilized at 140 pounds, my cholesterol is like 58, and blood pressure is 110.

P90X with P90X2 1 Year Later

I have a short attention span and get bored easily. I wanted to try something new. A friend on Google+ suggested I try P90X because they focus on more core work and it could help me with my running goals. One of my running goals is to significantly reduce my running times, beyond improving my horrible stride, and 2 of the ways to do that are variety in fitness and losing weight. P90X2 provides the variety, and the stricter version 2 diet combined with the exercise provides the extra weight loss.

Overall it was really fun and I’m glad I purchased the DVD’s. I plan to do a hybrid version of it + P90X once I find a combination that others can already vouch for.


There are a few things I didn’t like about P90X2.

Not Enough Lifting

There are arm, back, leg, and bicep focusing exercises as well as total body that involve them, but nothing like amount v1 had. For someone who struggled with pull ups and push ups to really bulk up the lats and pec muscles, this was a downer for me. There seemed to be a level of expectations that I clearly wasn’t meeting for some of the chest & back exercises. Phase 2’s focus on arms, shoulders, and biceps was barely enough focus.

Phase 1 Confusion

Maybe this was intentional, but I really felt confused in Phase 1 on “what we’re doing here”. Every day seemed just like a different variation of core. Maybe it wasn’t and I was just feeling the muscle confusion early. In P90X1, you do Core 6 times in the entire 9 days. In P90X2, it felt like I was doing a variation of it everyday for a month. Maybe it was structured and I’m just not knowledgeable about fitness to get it.

D.I.Y. Stretching

Upon getting injured a few times running, 2 different Ortho’s I saw criticized me for being extremely inflexible, and that being the main cause for my multiple running related injuries. I felt really bad suddenly for skipping all those X Stretch Sunday’s in P90X1, so started not skipping them. I also ensured I’d stretch more if I needed to before/after working out.

P90X2 doesn’t have a designated stretch DVD; it’s now foam rolling. That DOES reduce the pain, but does not increase your flexibility. You then have to supplement with your own stretching. I wasn’t prepared for having to find the extra time to stretch. Obviously I have to, and again, it’s clear P90X2 is for those who have “graduated”. Being flexible, and knowing how to maintain it, are a requirement of that graduation.


There are a variety of things I liked and loved about P90X2.

PAP Upper and Lower

PAP Lower basically justifies your DVD’s purchase. That 1 routine of hell alone basically erased any negativity and frustrations I had with P90X2. I was pretty convinced my 2nd round I wouldn’t be doing P90X2 again and would return to v1, but PAP Lower changed my mind… I found out what it was all leading up to.

Same feelings about PAP Upper, although, Lower’s still my fave because it’s the worst.

Shoulders & Arms with Jason Scheff

For a more challenging version of the first, I loved it. Jason is a goof ball and made Tony look like a serious gent, so this routine really helped distract you from the insanity you’re attempting by adding more weight each week and the pain that’s there. #TwentyPiePounds #BadgerlyWentToOrange #TurkeyBurger #HellInAHandBasket


I actually found the former harder, but I did struggle to keep the intensity up since Plyocide is harder and faster than Plyometrics so… different kind of challenge? Either way, it was fun to have a new version.

Phase 2 Overall

I struggled to see progress in Phase 1 because it’s hard to gauge progress with some of the exercises until you actually get good at them and know the form. Phase 2, however, was very familiar with additional challenges. I liked all the new versions or added modifications to make them harder. “Curls on 1 leg? Why not?”. Phase 2, I think, was a small part of what I envisioned P90X version 2 to be. It was nice to have something familiar since I was really confused in Phase 1.

Ab Ripper X2

Easier than version 1. Thank God. P90X2 really ups the intensity, so after a harder 1 hour workout, it’s nice to have to magically conjure more “bring it” for an extra insane 15 minutes.


It’s 1 hour instead of 1 hour 30 minutes. w00t! And don’t give me that “67 minutes” crap. Tony talks for like 3 at the beginning, and if you skip the ending corpse pose and single Om, boom, 1 hour. The other cool thing is instead of Core Synergistics  you do it Yoga 3 times during recovery week. This allowed me to actually better gauge progress I was making at some of the moves. I know I’ve made progress over a year of doing, but even just being able to see progress in 3 days, WHILE recovering was awesome.

I also liked how they had Melissa doing the easy versions with Ted doing the insane things I can someday attempt. As others have noted the queues are a lot easier to follow as well. If I ever do P90X again, I’ll most definitely be using this version of Yoga moving forward instead of v1.

Diet Guide

It was… just way easier to follow. I know the first version had fast food options if you were in a hurry, but… well, I don’t think I was learned enough in general diet to even be able to handle both the diet changes in my lifestyle and P90X to even contemplate that. After going through P90X a few times while working on improving my diet, by the time I got to P90X2 I was ready, AND I did not need a fast food option which meant the P90X2 option just fit. More importantly, it had the Grain Free and Vegan options which I’ll talk about.

Challenges: Flu and Drop Foot

I had 2 horrible things happen during my first attempt P90X2. At the end of of my first week of Phase 2, I got the flu. I managed to power through my 2nd week, but it was very clear my performance was being adversely affected by being sick. So, I took 1 week off. I ended up extending Phase 2 to 6 weeks to compensate because I did notice week to week improvement in form and amount of weight.

During the 1 week off, we had my nephews over and had a Minecraft LAN party. My downstairs table has wooden chairs. I must of sat with my right food under my right leg for a couple of hours with those kids + my kids on Saturday, all day. It caused me to have drop foot the next day. I later found out was caused by a compressed nerve. It took 2 1/2 months before I could dorsiflex my right foot again.

What this meant was, I could “jump” for example in Plyocide, but I had insane balance issues. I had to use step modifications a lot. I couldn’t heel walk in PAP Upper and Lower. In Shoulders & Arms I struggled on the right foot balancing, but tried anyway. I tripped a lot, and had to be laser focused on ensuring I didn’t twist my ankle on certain movements.

Worse, my left leg would get really sore over time because I favored it to help compensate for the right. I did my best to ensure the right did his fair share within reason. I did NOT want to injure myself. I felt like it was extremely important that I complete P90X2 WITHOUT getting any injuries WITH an injury caused by playing video games basically sitting around doing nothing. This would really help me in arguments about “working out being dangerous” or people using my running injuries as ammo against me.

The 1 legged Erik Stolhanske of Broken Lizard fame from P90X1 who completed one of the most brutal workouts with a prosthetic leg was a major inspiration to me not giving up. If he could do it on 1 leg, I could do it with 1 working foot.

1 week after I completed P90X2, I started to be able to get 80% mobility back in my foot within a 3 day period. Nerves are strange… and heal waaaayyyy to slowly compared to muscles, ligaments, and bone.

Going Vegan

About 1 week into P90X2, I decided to try the Vegan diet. I’m not sure exactly what the catalyst was. I think the wording in the guide book that went something like “even if it’s not your thing, hey, it’s something new to try”. That struck a chord with me. It also sounded hard. That struck another positive chord with me. Some of the zealotry you read online makes you think Vegan makes you “feel” better… I knew Vegetarian made me feel better than I have in my entire life, so why not? Also “it’s near impossible for vegans to get fat” gave me hope that it’d help me lose more weight so I could decrease my running times.

I was actually really thinking about doing the Grain Free option first, mainly because I had read some literature about it. I even tried to do both for 1 week before I quickly realized that limited my diet way too much. The avenue of Vegan trying new types of food vs. Grain which is limiting a specific set of types of food just wasn’t as appealing, regardless of the possible weight loss and feeling better.

The validation I wanted to do it was the backlash from telling people on social networks I was trying it, and some of the negative reactions from my friends. At that point, I was going to survive without dairy, eggs, meat, chicken, pork, and fish for 3 months or die trying. Every comment about “you’re nuts” or “try X diet instead” just fueled my motivation to stick with it.

For the record, it had nothing to do with ethical/moral issues around animal treatment.

Naturally I became obsessed with protein. Apparently Vegan’s have “problems” getting enough protein. You no problems if you know what to eat, although, there are health ramifications for some people who get too much soy. That, and it doesn’t absorb as fast as whey. That said, it works and you can still get “enough”, even if you’re body building. I was getting, using shakes to help, my daily requirement of 1 gram per lb of body weight to double that; within that range, every day, eating + drinking nothing but plants.

Another thing I started to learn is TONS of food have dairy and/or eggs in it, even the gluten free, organic, and worse “vegatarian” options. I struggled many times to learn about what the contents of what I was ordering/making were and was insanely surprised.

I also learned most people don’t know the difference between vegetarian and vegan. A lot of vegetarian options still have chicken/fish/pork, or dairy/eggs in some capacity that I had to struggle to watch out for.

I made many mistakes in eating things I thought were vegan but weren’t.

The biggest mistake I made was not reading the entire paragraph in the diet book. It clearly stated you need to take supplements to compensate for the lack of nutrients you get from not eating meat & dairy. I was not calorie restricting myself in Phase 1, but did feel pretty tired and dizzy many times. I returned to some normalcy once I started getting on a daily routine of B12, D, Iodine, and Iron supplements.

After going back to a regular diet I can tell you with 100% assurance that supplements do NOT compare to the real thing with regards to feeling good.

That said, I’m only beginning to realize the life changes that going on that diet did to me (ex desiring a higher ratio of vegetables on my plate than whatever else, still liking tempeh related dishes, etc). I’ve fallen in love with Quinoa and Tempeh because of that diet, and a variety of other foods that have made it easier to have a broader set of choices… because I was forced to learn when I was starving and couldn’t eat the easy stuff.

If you want to ensure you “like vegetables” if you currently don’t, want to guarantee fat loss even if you don’t work out, and/or want to learn about additional diet choices I highly recommend it. It’s changed my life for the better. That said, talk to your Doctor first. Also, if you can hire a nutritionist, do so as they’ll be more qualified to give you proper dosage requirements for supplements. No, you cannot eat vegan and be healthy without supplements. Anyone who says otherwise thinks science is optional in life. Ensure you get a blood test beforehand to compare with the end. Guarantee your cholesterol flatlines.

Additional Notes on Supplements

For programmers, think about adding a Vitamin D supplement as most of never go outside, and hang in dark rooms for months on end. Once you quit dairy, your Vitamin D can plummet dangerously low.

Be aware when purchasing supplements most supplement makers know that the measurements they use are new to a lot of people, and especially for the multivitamins, they have a variety of dosages. Thus, they’ll sell you supplements that either have too little, or too much. Either way, it’s wasting your money all at the expense of your wallet and health. Not cool. Ensure before you go into one of those stores, like the Vitamin Shoppe or Whole Foods you document what you need ahead of time WITH the dosage requirements.

Also be wary of multivitamins or shakes. They’ll often put crap in there you don’t need, namely sugar or other chemicals that have little to no science. Some are fine and natural, some are not.

Vegan Smell

The downside to being vegan, beyond the supplements not helping me feel optimal as real iron/B12, is the “vegan smell”. Her majesty would always say while laying in bed together after the kids finally went to sleep, “you smell like vegetables”. I personally couldn’t tell, but she could. This hasn’t gone away since switching back to a vegetarian diet since I still err on the side of tons of vegetables and the same kind. I compensate with more showers and extra Old Spice deodorant.

Calorie Restriction & Macronutrients

In Phase 2, I started calorie restricting myself by 500 a day (so about 1700 a day). You can see the spreadsheet here. I was amazed at how little calories vegetables had, yet how much more nutrients they had. I bought a food weighing scale from Amazon to measure the amounts, and learned all about macronutrients (Protein, Carbs, and Fat), their default calorie amounts (4, 4, 9) which made the math a lot simpler. This knowledge, coupled with doing the measurements of different types of food, looking up their calorie amounts and comparing calories vs. nutrients vs. type of nutrients really taught me a lot.

It was interesting to attempt to balance my fat, carb, and protein needs with the capped calories. “What can I eat today that’ll give me enough protein, but not be the same thing I had yesterday?” It got even more complex when I tried to balance certain vitamins and minerals. It gave me a new appreciation for the diet guide’s food choices as I started to “get” the amount the work that went into it, and the further work that went into simplifying it into the serving point system.

Additionally, it was neat to learn that calorie restriction is the ONLY way to effectively lose weight once you’re already fit. It suddenly made a lot of fitness information utter lies used to prey upon ignorant consumers.

I’m continuing to read and learn.

Foam Roller

One of the 3 new gadgets P90X2 wants you to get, the foam roller, had 2 things I think it’s important for n00bs to know.

First off, using both on your neck is great. They don’t do that in the videos, I guess maybe because it’s not a major muscle group or perhaps its dangerous, but for me, it was awesome, especially with the Rumble Roller.

Secondly, you graduate to the Rumble Roller, you do not start with that mofo. Additionally, there are some days when you want to use the foam roller instead since things are just really tight or painful. It still works and isn’t as brutal as the Rumble Roller is. I’m not saying you should buy both, but I still use both; I don’t just favor the black cactus.

What if I want to work out?

You do NOT have dive headlong into something like P90X. If you like the guided methodology, though, combined with good ole’ hard work, Beach Body has a variety of programs targeted at a variety of demographics. You could start with 10 Minute Trainer, then Power 90, then P90X or Insanity. P90X2 actually has a hybrid of the 2 programs in the back of the manual that’s kind of cool looking.

Regarding diet, I get that it’s hard. Tony has a weekly food delivery service that, while not work out specific, is life changing for some folks. I’ve heard some have had success with Weight Watchers as well. Still others just cut out the processed foods, sugar, cut down or switch to wheat bread/pasta, and just keep their calories in check via My Fitness Pal.


As someone who’s completed P90X 2 times, I really liked P90X2. There is no denying my expectations colored my initial perception of it, and I struggled to keep an open mind. I’m glad I did for Phase 3 was really fun and challenging.

I’m looking forward to finding a hybrid program that blends P90X 1 and 2 exercises together in a 90 day program.

Face Before and After

It’s crazy to look at pictures of myself from 2010 – 2012, especially my face. I could see the beer, lack of exercise, and stress about work & the industry piling up into un-healthly-ness in my face in the form of… well, fat face. I was 1% body fat away from overweight. For someone high strung like me, that was pretty irritating and made me angry. I don’t ever want to feel like that again. I like not having to wear white t-shirts under my t-shirts in the summer to “smooth out” my figure to cover my body. I like feeling lighter… and basically not like crap every day.

Body BeastWhat’s next? Body Beast. Since my running goals were sabotaged by my non-working foot, I’ll get too bored running and doing maintenance exercises  so… time to gain some weight!

Once again, massive thanks to my business partner Brian Riley for getting me started last year to change my life for the better, and his wife Dee for getting me on the right nutrition & supplement track. And of course her majesty for supporting me. #tagTeamBackAgain

5 Replies to “P90X: 1 Year Later”

  1. Your transformation stories are inspirational, especially from a developer’s perspective, and are one of the primary reasons I’ve decided to give this a try. I’m not sure that I could take on a radical diet change right away (I tend to get sick when attempting to do such things when not done gradually enough), but I’d certainly like to get out of the sedentary lifestyle of a typical application developer.

  2. Thanks for the shout out bud.

    I’ve been doing P90X for almost 7yrs mixed in with a myriad of other workouts and modifications. All you need is 1 hr/day — shouldn’t be that tough for most developers especially if you work from home; plus, I find I’m refreshed and ready to code at a high rate again right after due to the influx of endorphins and higher blood flow.

    Jesse’s pretty much covered all the tips I’ve given him over the last year and I don’t want to repeat, but here’s my best advice for the program:

    Ease Into It
    When you start, take the first wk and only do 30-40 mins — about 1/2 of the hr long workout. Or try the whole workout, but only do 1/2 the reps/exercise — the key is to really “ease into it”. Get your body familiar the movements and give it time to recover and learn. And then in your second week, count it as the actual first wk and repeat wk 1; so you’ll do 4 wks of the phase 1 workouts to start instead of the normal 3 + 1 wk recovery. This keeps you from going out too hard on wk 1 and hurting yourself and/or getting demotivated.

    Listen to Your Body
    There’s good pain and bad pain and takes time to tell the difference. The bad pain leads to injury — this can be tearing, bruising, and the like, while the good pain leads to the promise land of personal gain and pushing yourself to new levels. Your body will tell you what it can and can’t do. If the pain is uncomfortable but it’s more “wow, I’m tired and my arms are sore” then you’re in the good zone. If it’s like “ow, this really hurts and my lower back is about to give out and/or seize” this is bad. I have really bad knees after yrs of volleyball so I have to take note every time I do plyometrics. The key here is just to listen and make smart decisions. It’s always better to caution on the side of “bad pain” so you’re not out for 4-6 wks. Plus, there are alternate moves for everything so if it hurts you can always find another movement that doesn’t. Sometimes I just run in place or do jumping jacks for an entire exercise to keep my heart rate up, but without hurting myself.

    80/20 Rule
    If you have any ailing body parts or don’t feel safe doing a particular isolation move, modify it so you’re using 80% of the desired, isolated side of the body and offer 20% assistance with the other side. This can be great if you have bad knees, shoulder, whatever…example, 1 arm pushups are much safer on the shoulder if you put 80% of your weight on the side you want to isolate and offer some help with the other arms.

    This rule is similar to the “listen to your body” rule and learn how to distinguish good from bad pain. If it hurts, either modify so it doesn’t or try the 80/20 rule or do something to keep you moving like jumping jacks for the skipped exercise to keep you HR up.


  3. Inspiring post! If you’re bored running, do you happen to play any of other sports? It’s much more easier for me to run if I’m running to a game – especially ultimate frisbee – which you might enjoy if you never played before – seems to fit your lifestyle; you might even be too powerful for it ;-D

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