Local Extreme Makeover

Local Extreme Makeover

After losing over 100 pounds and dropping from a size 28 to a size 4, Heidi Ecker was desperate to get rid of her newly saggy skin. The 33-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 Aboolio 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.

<cl>Why did you decide to have these procedures done?

<bt>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.

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

<bt>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.

<cl>What was the application process like?

<bt>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.

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

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

<cl>Were you nervous getting made over on national television?

<bt>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.

<cl>Were you happy with the results?

<bt>I was completely happy. I have bruises from where I keep pinching myself to see if this is all real! Yes, I’m thrilled.

<cl>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?

<bt>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.

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

<bt>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.

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

<bt>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.

<cl>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?

<bt>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.

<cl>Do you have any regrets?

<bt>No regrets at all. I wish I had done it sooner!--