PCOS Challenge

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
PCOS Challenge
Created by Sasha Ottey
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 total
Executive producer(s) William R. Patterson
Sasha Ottey
Running time 30 minutes
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
Original release 2010 – present

PCOS Challenge is a series of videos produced to bring greater awareness about polycystic ovary syndrome and support to women living with PCOS.[1] They are available to stream online and aired on public access television stations. The show addresses common PCOS symptoms and related conditions including infertility, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, anxiety and depression, and hirsutism. The television series is executive produced by William R. Patterson, CEO of The Baron Solution Group,[2] and Sasha Ottey, president of PCOS Challenge, Inc.

PCOS Challenge, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that provides support for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome through television and radio programming, educational workshops, and online and offline support networks.[3][4] Sasha Ottey is a clinical and research microbiologist. Ottey started PCOS Challenge after her PCOS diagnosis in 2008.[5]

Season one[edit]

The show follows 10 women with PCOS who are coached by registered dietitian Rebecca Mohning, fitness trainer Josef Brandenburg, and clinical psychologist Ruth Wittersgreen. The women are also guided by alternative and traditional medical experts including reproductive endocrinologists, dermatologists, acupuncturists, and naturopathic physicians.[6]

For nutrition, much of the focus was on eating a low-carbohydrate diet to help improve insulin sensitivity that seems to be at the root of many of the problems associated with PCOS. The women take fish oil and vitamin D to help improve their insulin sensitivity.[7][8][9][10]

In addition to the low-carb diet, the fitness program they was focused on anaerobic exercise — specifically on resistance training and high-intensity interval training. The reason these modes of training were used is three-fold:


In PCOS most women are obese. Endurance exercise, such as jogging, involves lots of repetitive stress. Each mile is 1,500 repetitions, and each impact is five times body weight. If body weight is an issue, pounding with repetitive endurance work is likely to cause an injury.[11][12][13][14][15][16] The resistance training workouts on the show had no more than 15 consecutive repetitions of a movement before the contestant were allowed to rest. Often the initial phases of the resistance training workouts involved reducing the contestant's weight with some sort of external assistance, as their body weight was simply more than they could safely handle. Interval training (intervals of intense work with periods of rest and recovery) allowed the women's bodies to recover enough for the exercise to be safe and avoid injury.


Resistance training and interval training are effective tools for increasing insulin sensitivity in those with insulin resistance. These forms of training depend mostly on anaerobic glycolysis which can deplete the body's stored carbohydrates and create a 36-hour window of increased insulin sensitivity to assist with weight loss and PCOS.[17][18]

Time efficiency[edit]

Most of the women had a full-time job, and many were commuting from great distances to participate in the show, so time was a limiting factor for all of them. It seems that one can get the same or superior results from less time invested in exercise if one uses methods such as resistance training or high intensity interval training.[19][20][21][22][23]


In each episode, the women share their experiences living with polycystic ovary syndrome and learn ways to overcome their challenges with the condition.

Ep # Title
1 "Intro to PCOS Challenge"

The cast and coaches are introduced. The women share some of their biggest struggles living with polycystic ovary syndrome. Clips of their application videos are shown.

Other experts, including reproductive endocrinologists, a dermatologist, an internist, a lipidologist, and a naturopathic physician, give their insight about PCOS. They explain what PCOS is and the symptoms and common treatments. The experts discuss ways women with PCOS can reduce their risk for life-threatening related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

The women share what is at stake for them if they don't take the condition seriously and start making lifestyle changes.[24]
2 "PCOS Nutrition and Exercise Essentials"

The women meet with the coaches for their assessments and action plans for the 13-week challenge. They meet with fitness coach Josef Brandenburg and nutrition coach Rebecca Mohning. Josef starts them on their first workout plans, and Rebecca takes them to the supermarket to give tips about shopping for food.

Host Sasha Ottey visits some of the women’s homes to peek into their kitchens and cabinets to see the foods that they have. Sasha gets a chance to speak to some of the spouses to see how they are handling the changes.[25]
3 "PCOS Group Process"

The women meet with emotional wellness coach Dr. Ruth Wittersgreen and engage in a group session where they share their emotional and psychological burdens of having PCOS. The women discover similarities and differences between themselves and start to form a stronger bond with each other.

Dr. Wittersgreen also meets with some of the women individually to speak about how PCOS affects their relationships and quality of life. She shares ways to start improving the effects of PCOS on their emotional health.[26]
4 "PCOS and Fertility"
Reproductive endocrinologist Dr. Nancy Durso speaks to the women about PCOS and fertility. The women begin phase two of their workout routines with PCOS Challenge fitness coach Josef Brandenburg to help with insulin resistance related to PCOS.[27]
5 "PCOS Integrative Care"
Beth Heller, co-founder of Pulling Down the Moon, shares integrative care approaches to PCOS. The PCOS Challenge coaches discuss the women's progress. The women engage in the week 5 fitness competition.[28]
6 "PCOS Diet and Nutrition – Cooking"
Don Shaw, head chef of Diet-to-Go, leads the women in a cooking competition and teaches them how to prepare quick and nutritious meals for PCOS diets.[29]


  1. ^ PCOS Magazine - Volume 3, Issue 1, Spring 2010, p.6
  2. ^ http://www.prweb.com/releases/pcos/polycystic-ovarian/prweb4412974.htm
  3. ^ Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Association
  4. ^ PCOS Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2, Nov/Dec 2009, p. 26-27
  5. ^ http://pcoschallenge.org/about.aspx
  6. ^ PCOS Challenge Cast
  7. ^ http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/12800453/reload=0;jsessionid=xTqo7krNs7GMQPpW95MF.6
  8. ^ http://journals.cambridge.org/production/action/cjoGetFulltext?fulltextid=7180956
  9. ^ http://ukpmc.ac.uk/abstract/MED/3038454/reload=0
  10. ^ http://www.fasebj.org/content/23/6/1946.short
  11. ^ Jones, BH (1983). "Overuse injuries of the lower extremities associated with marching, jogging, and running: a review". Mil Med. 148: 783–787. 
  12. ^ Jones, BH; Cowan, DN; Tomlinson, JP; Robinson, FR; Polly, DEW; Frykman, PN (1993). "Epidemiology of injuries associated with physical training among young men in the Army". Med Sci Sports Exero. 25 (2): 197–203. 
  13. ^ Jones, BH; Cowan, DN; Knapik, JJ. "Exercise, training and injuries". Sports Med. 1994 (18): 202–214. 
  14. ^ Jones, BH; Knapik, JJ (1999). "Physical training and exercise-related injuries: surveillance, research and injury prevention in military populations". Sports Med. 27 (2): 111–125. doi:10.2165/00007256-199927020-00004. 
  15. ^ Jones BH, Perrotta DM, Canham-Chervak ML, Nee MA, Brundage JF. Injuries in the military: a review and commentary focused on prevention" Am J Prev Med 2000; 18(3S):71-84
  16. ^ Jones, BH; Thacker, SB; Gilchrist, J; Kimsey, CD Jr; Sosin, DM (2002). "Prevention of lower extremity stress fractures in athletes and soldiers: a systematic review". Epidemiol Rev. 24 (2): 228–47. doi:10.1093/epirev/mxf011. PMID 12762095. 
  17. ^ http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/21/8/1353.short
  18. ^ Geliebter, A.; et al. (Sep 1997). "Effects of strength or aerobic training on body composition, resting metabolic rate, and peak oxygen consumption in obese dieting subjects". Am J Clin Nutr. 66 (3): 557–63. 
  19. ^ Utter, AC; Nieman, DC; Shannonhouse, EM; Butterworth, DE; Nieman, CN (1998). "Influence of diet and/or exercise on body composition and cardiorespiratory fitness in obese women". Int J Sport Nutr. 8: 213–22. PMID 9738131. 
  20. ^ http://www.nature.com/oby/journal/v15/n6/full/oby2007178a.html
  21. ^ Tremblay A, Simoneau JA, Bouchard C. Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism
  22. ^ Trapp EG and Boutcher SH. Fat loss following 15 weeks of high intensity, intermittent cycle training. Fat Loss Laboratory, Faculty of Medicine, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
  23. ^ King, J.W. A comparison of the effects of interval training vs. continuous training on weight loss and body composition in obese premenopausal women (thesis). East Tennessee State University, 2001
  24. ^ PCOS Challenge Television Show Episode 01
  25. ^ PCOS Challenge Television Show Episode 02
  26. ^ PCOS Challenge Television Show Episode 03
  27. ^ PCOS Challenge Television Show Episode 04
  28. ^ PCOS Challenge Television Show Episode 05
  29. ^ PCOS Challenge Television Show Episode 06

External links[edit]