When I was 15, I decided I wanted to look more like the women I saw in the magazines. By the time I was 18, I had dropped to 89lbs and was hospitalized for internal organ failure. Instead of preparing for university or partying with friends, I spent three months of my senior year in an in-patient treatment program that helped me begin to re-define my standards for beauty and for myself.
It wasn't an easy journey and changing my attitude certainly didn't happen overnight. I learned a lot in my 20s. I had relationships end, hated the way I looked, loved the way I looked, started my career, launched two businesses and met the love of my life.
Now, one month into my 30s, happily married and with my first child on the way I can honestly say that I've never felt better or more confident in myself. But there are a few lessons I wish I had learned a little sooner. If I could go back in time, here are the eight things I know now that I wish I'd known in my 20s.
1. Dieting doesn't work.
The diet industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that feeds on our insecurities and offers temporary solutions that often fail. When they do we look for the next quick fix without addressing the underlying issues or creating healthy habits that will last for life. Break the cycle as soon as you can. Instead focus on eating as many whole foods as you can, break a sweat as many days as possible, aim to get eight hours of sleep and drink lots of water to keep you hydrated.
2. The love of your life will not care if you are 5, 10, 15 or 20lbs heavier.
They will care if you are healthy and happy. I was 25lbs heavier when I met my husband. He loved me then and he loves me now. Find someone who makes you feel beautiful no matter what size you are.
3. Don't compare yourself.
Every woman is unique and beautiful. Comparing yourself to others, especially the women in ads, is a waste of time and energy. There will always be someone who is thinner, fitter, smarter and stronger - but that doesn't make her more confident, beautiful or amazing. The only woman you should compare yourself to is you. Find the things you love about yourself and focus on being the best version of you.
4. Women are not your competition.
The women in your life are your biggest allies. I am constantly amazed and inspired by the women in my life. I've been lucky enough to interview more than 200 strong, powerful and beautiful women and am still surprised when they apologize for how they look or think they don't measure up. Instead of using each other as a yardstick for how we gauge our own success, let's be each other's biggest cheerleaders and learn from our collective successes and mistakes. We don't all need to learn our lessons the hard way.
5. The majority of women have cellulite.
Most of us will get stretch marks at some point. All of us will get wrinkles. When did we decide that something so natural was evil and ugly? Choosing to indulge in media that celebrates a woman's natural beauty can help you start to recognize your own. Check out @RAWBeautyTalks or @LoveYourLines on instagram for some inspiration.
6. Beauty is an inner job.
We've been sold the idea that beauty is something external -- but that's not the full story. You can spend hours upon hours and thousands of dollars perfecting your appearance but if you don't feel beautiful on the inside it won't count for anything. We've interviewed some of the most beautiful women in the world and find it shocking that often times they are the most insecure about the way they look.
7. Invest in a good night's sleep.
Youth and energy are bountiful in your 20s -- a good night's sleep less so. In your 20s, when you're juggling social events, new jobs, school and life, getting a full eight hours sleep is the last thing we tend to prioritize. But sleep is absolutely the most powerful beauty product on the market and the best part is, it's free!
8. Passion is the most beautiful quality.
There is nothing more beautiful than doing something you are passionate about. Most of the people we've interviewed through RAW Beauty Talks say they feel most beautiful when they are doing something they love. When you're doing something you love and have passion for, you radiate energy that's infectious in the best possible way. So boost your beauty by indulging in an activity that makes your heart sing.
Recently, Erin launched a petition asking magazines to reduce the amount of photoshop they use on their covers and in their editorial. Join the conversation and help create a better world for girls by signing the #LessIsMore online petition.
MORE ON HUFFPOST: