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WGGBTV Channel 40 Video (7/8/07) > Watch Video: Local Contestant Wows on ABC Extreme Makeover

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Published on WWAY NewsChannel 3 (
Woman loses 100 lbs.,
wins Extreme Makeover

Created 9 Jul 2007 - 2:36pm

WILMINGTON -- If you had the chance to dramatically transform your physical appearance, would you do it? With the help of ABC one woman made some big changes.

Makeover winner Heidi Ecker said, "I'd been overweight my whole life, I was a size 24 and I just wasn't happy."
Two years ago this is what Heidi Ecker looked like.

She was overweight and unhappy, so she decided to make some drastic changes. She lost more than 100 pounds.
"This right here, no matter how much I work out, this skin isn't going to go away," Ecker said.

Ecker wanted to make more changes and signed up for an Extreme Makeover.

Plastic surgeon Garth Fisher said, "Let's look at your tummy. The body lift just keeps going all the way around so that we can lift up the buttocks."

"I thought it would be a rewarding experience and it would be an opportunity to have access to the best professionals in terms of plastic surgery and removing that excess skin," Ecker said. "I had a very healthy self-esteem in terms of my profession. But when it came to my personal life, I didn't."

"I've never had surgery before in my life, so to go into all of this, you really have no idea what to expect."

Heidi says she went under the knife more than once for the show. She got a complete body lift, including excess skin removal and arm lift, rhinoplasty, breast augmentation and lifts, and had some dental work done.

"Some days I just look at these and I think, it's totally like an old friend, because you're so different."

It's been a rough road for this young lobbyist, from personal battles to painful surgeries, but says it's been worth the ride.
"As cliché as it sounds, I feel like I'm ready to take the world on in terms of the future."

Of course, we can't show you the end result of Ecker's transformation before the show's premiere. You'll have to tune in to see it for yourself.
Extreme Makeover airs Monday night at nine on ABC.
VA ABC Channel 7 TV Interview (7/9/07) • > Watch Video
NC WWAY Interview Online Article (7/9/07) > Read Article
NC WWAY Channel TV Interview (7/8/07) • > Watch Video


DC Washington Post (7/9/07) Read Article

The Washington Post Reliable Source
By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, July 10, 2007; Page C03

'Extreme Makeover' Yields a New Political Figure

"Extreme Makeover" is headed for reality-TV history, but not before political operative Heidi Ecker unveiled her $200,000 transformation on last night's penultimate episode. "To say I'm happy is an understatement," she told us yesterday. "I keep pinching myself."

The Massachusetts native came to D.C. 13 years ago as an intern for Sen. Ted Kennedy, then worked as a lobbyist and activist for blue-state pols and issues. Right after the 2004 Democratic convention, she took stock: Her professional life was great, her 270-pound body was a wreck. "I'd never been able to beat the weight issue," said Ecker, who embarked on a rigorous diet and exercise regimen. By the summer of 2005, she had lost almost 100 pounds -- and felt she needed expensive plastic surgery to remove excess skin.

That's when she applied to "Extreme Makeover," which provides free cosmetic surgery. "The more I thought about it, I thought this would be a great business decision for me," said Ecker, 34, who was picked in October 2005 and had two major surgeries to remove sagging skin, lift her arms and augment her breasts, as well as dental veneers, Lasik surgery, a nose job, lipo, hair extensions and a new wardrobe. After three months recuperating at the show's Beverly Hills mansion, Ecker returned to Washington's Willard Hotel to reveal her new 160-pound bod to family and friends.

In May, ABC canceled "Extreme Makeover" and is just now airing the final three episodes. Ecker, who has kept the weight off for the past 18 months, now designs political campaigns for grass-roots advocacy firm Winning Connections and runs her Heidihype Web site. "I see this as a fantastic opportunity to educate people: This is what it's like to be overweight, what it's like to lose the weight and what comes after," she said. "I'm so fired up about sharing my story."

MA The Republican (7/9/07) > Read Article

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

WASHINGTON - Heidi A. Ecker was born and raised in Chicopee and has made a living as a lobbyist on Capitol Hill promoting health care policy.

Last night, on ABC's "Extreme Makeover" television show, the 32-year-old added another defining moment to her life - the before-and-after girl. The "before" Ecker was finally revealed to her friends and family as the "after" girl - a woman who had lost 100 pounds in 10 months and downsized her dresses from a size 24 to a 4.

“I felt amazing," Ecker told The Republican yesterday. "It was the most overwhelming experience because things are so different. People were completely shocked and excited and moved."

Staged at Washington's Willard Hotel, arguably the capital's most elite hotel and the place where the word "lobbyist" was coined, the unveiling revealed a new Ecker. When the doors opened, she was wearing a brown, strapless fishtail dress that clung to her shapely 5-foot, 7-inch frame. She was in stilettos and a string of pearls, the signature piece of jewelry for women who make a living within the marble halls of Congress.

"Everybody cried, my dad, my mom and my sister," she said.

Her parents, Robert J. and Margaret A. Ecker, live in Chicopee and own a tool-making shop at the Westover industrial park. Today she weighs about 160 pounds, down from the 270 pounds she weighed in early October 2004. She came by her weight honestly, from a gene pool and a body type that didn't naturally trend lean.

As a 5-year-old, she looked like the round-faced Campbell Soup girl. Each year brought more weight to her frame.

After she graduated from Chicopee Comprehensive High School - from which her mom also graduated - Ecker graduated from the University of Massachusetts, headed to Capitol Hill where she interned for U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and began a career in health policy.

When she left college, she was a size 18. She gained every year until at the age of 30 and size 24 and as the executive director of the National Coalition for Promoting Physical Activity, she had an epiphany while cleaning her Capitol Hill apartment and reading old journals.

Despite having a loving family and good friends, she was often sad. And Ecker said she realized something else.

"When you have been overweight your entire life, you are convinced that it is your lot. It is how it is supposed to be. I tried diets. They never worked," Ecker said. "What I realized was I couldn't say unequivocally that I had given it everything. I couldn't say that I had."

In the past, she looked at her assets - her smile and her beautiful hair. Her career, which includes 13 years as a health care lobbyist, was based on good works.

But as she cleaned her apartment in the fall of October 2004, she knew that her health was at risk, that professionally she was a good problem solver but in her personal life, there was a disconnect when it came to that can-do attitude, and that ultimately, being successful at losing weight was also intimidating.

She entered into a commitment with herself. "Losing weight was like my second job," she said.

Ecker, who now works connecting issues to voters, began working out before and after work. She packed between six and seven meals to last her long work day. She gave up drinks with friends to exercise. She didn't join a weight reduction program or buy into a diet. Rather, she ate a lot of healthy food and kept alternating her physical workout.

"This wasn't a crazy food diet. Never had I eaten more food in my life," she said, adding that she drank water as well.

By July 2005, she had lost 100 pounds and was wearing a size 8.

Ecker said she was feeling healthy and proud of her accomplishment. Yet excess skin from her weight reduction bothered her.

She sent in a one-minute video of her story to "Extreme Makeover," and was selected for a "body lift," the results shown last night. Surgeons removed 12 pounds of skin from her body, a procedure that required her to have a walker during recovery. She also had breast enhancements.

Her role on the show was to be a model to teenaged girls with weight issues. They lived together at the Extreme Makeover Mansion in California from mid-October until this past Jan. 9.

Now she was down to a size 4.

"I told myself a year out of my life (to lose the weight) would be well worth it," Ecker said. "It was daunting in some ways. But I took a year to extend my life by 20 and that is worth it's weight in gold."

More of Heidi Ecker's story can be found at:

NC Wilmington Star News (7/9/07) > Read Article

Star News Online
The Voice of Southeastern Carolina
By Amy Hotz
July 9, 2007

Showing off her TV 'Makeover'

You never know who you might have spread her towel near you at the beach last week. It could have been tonight's Extreme Makeover subject, Heidi Ecker.

Ecker, 33, was in town over the Fourth of July holiday to spend time with her friend, Brian Bullard, a native Wilmingtonian. Before applying for the show, Ecker lost more than 100 pounds on her own through a serious exercise regimen. She dropped from a size 24 to a size 4 and felt great but had a lot of unsightly excess skin.

After being accepted onto the show, Ecker underwent a series of surgeries to remove the skin and make her look as good as she feels.

While in Wilmington, she and Bullard (who is also featured tonight) spent most of their time at Wrightsville Beach walking the loop and hanging out by Johnny Mercer's Pier.

"Before, I would have gone to the beach but I certainly would not be sporting this bikini," she said. "You have to pry me out of this bikini now."

When the show airs, Ecker, a lobbyist, will be back home in Washington D.C. watching with friends.

Extreme Makeover airs 9pm tonight on ABC.

VA Alexandria Gazette &Telegram (7/3/07) > Read Article

Local Extreme Makeover
By Kathryn Boatner
July 3, 2007

After losing over 100 pounds and dropping from a size 24 to a size 4, Heidi Ecker was desperate to get rid of her newly saggy skin. The 34-year-old lobbyist turned to the television program Extreme Makeover for help. Ecker underwent four major procedures for the show. The Alexandria resident had a body lift and a rhinoplasty on Oct. 27, 2005. An arm lift and a breast augmentation followed on Nov. 18, 2005. All of the procedures were performed in Beverly Hills, Calif. by Extreme Makeover doctors, Drs. Andre Aboolion and Garth Fisher.

Ecker is thrilled to have lost the flab and has found a new outlook on life. "Being healthy is under-rated. I never knew how much I could do once I got past my obesity," said Ecker, who is working with Town Sports International to create the Heidi Ecker scholarship fund. The scholarship will be given to overweight children between the ages of 14-18 to encourage them to engage in a healthier lifestyle.

Ecker will appear on Extreme Makeover Monday, July 9 at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Why did you decide to have these procedures done?

Initially, I was trying to change the way I ate and lived my life. So I had lost over 100 pounds before I even applied to be a part of the Extreme Makeover process, but I had a lot of excess skin and other areas I was unhappy with. I wanted to complete the transition and begin to fully live the healthy live I was trying to live.

Had you seen the show before you applied to be a contestant?

Yes, and I truly enjoyed the emotional journey that the people went through. The show allows you to appreciate the hardships that some of these people have endured.

What was the application process like?

Well, the website has an application form, which is easy enough to find. I also had to submit a video of myself explaining why I wanted to be a part of the show and what I hoped to get out of it. I basically locked myself in my house and went through a very emotional experience and put my story out there. I ended up FedExing the package at the last minute.

Was plastic surgery the extent of your makeover or were you made over in other areas as well?

Actually, I was very blessed to have a phenomenal experience with a wardrobe makeover. Dana Buchman, a designer, donated $20,000 professional wardrobe to me. I was so grateful, because I really needed to snazz up my D.C. lobby wardrobe!

Were you nervous getting made over on national television?

I was nervous about the surgery! I had never had surgery, so I was more scared about that than the prospect of cameras. But honestly, I felt like my future was on the other side. You could have told me the most horrific stories about the process and I still would have marched in there because I really wanted what was on the other side.

Were you happy with the results?

I was completely happy. I have bruises from where I keep pinching myself to see if this is all real! Yes, I’m thrilled. This is the first season that contestants can recuperate in the Makeover Mansion, a posh house complete with plasma TV’s and a pool – how long were you there for and what was it like? I was there for about three months and it was a wonderful facility. It’s very relaxing and large. I was able to learn a lot from the others who were staying there and what they had gone through.

What other participants from the show were you able to spend time with? What were their experiences like?

I was fortunate enough to get to know several of the others while I was recuperating. Gwen, the mother of a teen featured in my episode, was a good friend. We shared a common bond, as we both had weight struggles. I think I really inspired her and it was exciting to see her progress. One thing all of the people I met through this have in common is that they’re extremely dedicated.

How much time passed between when the procedures were performed and when you were fully healed?

It is actually surprising how quickly the human body heals. Within several days, I was feeling better. Of course, it takes several months to feel your best. You want to get back on your feet right away, but you don’t want to jeopardize your surgery results. I would say it took me several months.

Your episode is the second to last of the series. (The show was canceled in May). Are you upset that the show is ending or do you feel that it has run its course?

I would say I was sad. Extreme Makeover has made a phenomenal contribution and it has not received the accolades it deserves. They really root for the people they pick to be on the show to transition into a better person. And I think the fact that they can boil down these life-changing experiences into viewable footage with satisfying endings is amazing. I’m very sad it will be over, but I will always be grateful to the show.

Do you have any regrets?

No regrets at all. I wish I had done it sooner!


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