Tag Archives: nutrition guide

P90X Nutrition: Eating by Post-it Note!

14 Mar

Don’t be intimidated!

One of the most intimidating pieces of the P90X program was the nutrition guide.  I remember reading it and initially thinking, “I can’t eat what?” and, “How do I calculate and keep track of all this?”  I read through it a few times and tried to process it before mapping out my game plan.  It seemed like a lot to learn, memorize, prepare, and understand.  Now that I’ve been doing the nutrition plan for about 6 weeks, I can say I’m really “in the swing of things.”  It certainly does get easier and more reasonable with time. And it is well worth the initial effort to learn it.

There are two things Adam and I do that make the nutrition plan more manageable: track and measure.  Before you close out the browser at the thought of the work to track and measure (and maybe not wanting to be that neurotic) – hear me out!  The main reason Adam and I go through both steps is to ensure we are eating enough.  During the first 3 weeks of the program we didn’t have a food scale.  We bought one and bingo: I found out I was previously under-eating significantly in protein and overeating fruit. My guessing skill turned out to not be quite so skillful. “Hmm that looks like it’s about 3 oz. of meat.”  Let’s just pause and think about that statement.  I have no idea what 3 oz looks like.  And unless you studied nutrition or bake/cook/measure things a lot, you likely also have no idea.  So…if we all have no idea what 3 oz. of turkey looks like, how are we making sure we are eating that amount?  Well the fact of the matter is: we weren’t.  Enter the food scale and our lives are changed!  We know we are eating correctly and are much happier because of it :)  A satisfied Kelly is a happy one.  Adam and I used a couple simple tips to better track and measure what we are eating.

Tracking what you eat

Knowing what you eat is half the battle.  If you track what you eat, you are much more likely to stay satisfied on this eating plan and have success transforming your body.  There are many methods for tracking with P90X. The top three I have found: an excel spreadsheet, MyFitnessPal app (MFP), and our way: post-it notes.  If you’re interested in the spreadsheet way – I found 3 or 4 out there while searching for resources online, or you can create your own pretty easily.  You could also try MFP.  This is a free app that tracks calories (among other stats) by manually inputting foods online or into your app.  The other recommendation I’d give is how Adam and I have tracked our food: Post-it Notes!

We have found our post-it note method to be highly effective for several reasons:

  • It’s simple.
    • It can’t get much more simple than a couple of boxes on a post-it note.  This method takes the program from overwhelming to easy by visually displaying the food available. You always know where you stand.
  • It’s portable.
    • I take my post-it note to work and home again.  I stick mine on my desk at work and can easily mark it off as the day goes by. When Adam is home he sticks it on the microwave.
  • It’s task-oriented.
    • It’s like having a to-do list for food.  How satisfying to put that x in the box (I’m not kidding, it really feels awesome)!
  • We don’t forget.
    • Because it is easy to use and no frills we never forget to make and use our post-it notes.  We also never forget to eat food or forget what we ate earlier in the day.
  • It instills good habits.
    • At this point I’ve made enough post-it notes to know what amount of food I should be having each day – but it took a daily post-it note to get me in the habit.  I still use them because I find it so useful and effective. I will likely use them once I’m done with P90X.
Here is an example of Adam’s post-it note for Level 2 Phase 2:


Initially (probably the first 2 weeks), we had calorie amounts per serving listed next to each type of food.  This helped remind us that each box represented that number of calories.

Here is my note, with calorie listings:


You’ll also notice boxes for water and vitamins.  This has been especially crucial for me.  I really struggle to drink enough during the day (or really ever).  I was always dehydrated (and getting headaches) and the boxes are a great incentive to work through the bottles of water.

Our post-it note method could easily be modified to add other reminders such as other supplements or shakes etc.  But truly my favorite part about this approach: it isn’t complicated.  We used the portion plan and eating is as simple as checking off the boxes (well not that easy – but you get the idea).  We have been able to easily adapt the notes through the phases as well.

Measuring what you eat

The second key to success with the P90X nutrition plan is measuring your serving sizes.  This has been a relatively new discovery for us – but woah what a game changer!  I think I had a mental hurdle with the whole idea of a food scale.  To me that was one step too far over the line to crazy neurotic land. I’m Kelly – fun loving, live in the moment, life-is-too-short-to-diet…and measuring food to the ounce seemed to go against this mentality.  Additionally, in high school I had some habits of disordered eating and didn’t want to potentially walk down a bad path of getting a little obsessive about food.  But the more I read and re-read the nutrition guide the more it made sense to me to actually measure our portions.  We broke down and bought a scale (25 bucks) at Walmart and have been weighing things out for a couple weeks.  A couple of interesting discoveries so far:

  • 50 calories worth of veggies is A LOT.  Like an entire pepper a lot.  Prior to the scale I was under estimating the amount of veggies I could eat.  Say hello to more satisfaction.  More food :) 
  • 100 calories worth of almonds is a lot less than I anticipated.  I was eating probably 200-300 calories worth of almonds that was supposed to only be 100.
  • 3 oz. of meat is a decent amount.  I’m so sad to think of my little turkey sandwiches pre-scale.  My real 3 oz. turkey sandwiches are so much more filling!
  • I’m actually less stressed about food.  Now that things are weighed out I know exactly what I’m eating.  I don’t stress that I didn’t eat enough or I ate too much.  I just check off my boxes and don’t worry about it.  What a relief to not stress about food!

What a little game changer!

As you can see, we found a lot of unintentional positive consequences of a scale!  One big trick with measuring and making this process easier is what Adam and I have coined “Chopping Parties.” Once a week we get out the cutting boards, tupperware, snack bags, scale, and a TV episode and go to town preparing all of our snacks and portions for the week.  This front loads all the effort and allows the week to be an easy grab and go for meals.  I’ll have another post on chopping parties, but the main take-away is that planning ahead is required to be successful with this plan.  You cannot wing it.

To sum it up:

Find a tracking method that works for you and stick to it.  Tracking is crucial to make sure you are eating enough calories and in the appropriate categories.  Measuring your servings goes hand in hand with tracking.  Be confident that you are eating a “true” serving.  Both of these strategies take the guess work and stress out of maintaining the P90X nutrition plan.


How do you track your nutrition plan?  How have you successfully stuck to the P90X plan?