Nicole Burke was a high school sophomore when she tried to take her life because she was morbidly obese. Now she is celebrating she has been able to shed 157 of those 357 pounds.
She was so big she had to have special dresses made for her large frame.
“When I went to my junior prom, I just had to buy the biggest dress in the store. It was my only option at size 28, and even then my grandma had to sew extra fabric into it,” the Seattle resident told news service SWNS.
In 2013, when Nicole was 16, she was so depressed about her struggle with weight that she attempted suicide.
“During my sophomore year, I tried to take my own life — I just felt so terrible about myself and my body,” the now 21-year-old explained.
“I knew I just had to do something about it because I knew that I had so much to live for.”
It was Nicole's shame that gave the high school senior in 2014 the courage to have a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, a procedure that reduced the size of her stomach.
Nicole, originally from Massachusetts, comes from a family who has a history of obesity. Both of her parents had gastric bypass surgery.
“I was 10 when my mom had gastric bypass surgery and a few years later my dad had it done.”
She added, "Growing up, fast food was a big part of our lives. We were part of so many clubs as kids that it was often the easiest option.”
Following surgery, Nicole dropped 90 pounds and met her boyfriend, Christian Jepp.
The couple have been together for three years and live in Seattle.
“My dating life was non-existent in high-school – I had so little confidence and I never thought anyone could ever be attracted to me."
“But after losing 90lbs I began to have more confidence in myself."
Three years after her initial surgery, she went under the knife again in July of 2017 for gastric bypass, which divides the stomach and reroutes the small intestine.
Nicole now wears a size medium dress and weighs 200 pounds.
“When I look back at those pictures from high school I feel really sad that I grew up with the burden of all that weight, but on the flip side I feel really blessed to be where I am right now."