090: Learning To Create Boundaries & Ditch Perfectionism w/ Kelli Tennant

Skin conditions can lead to feelings of powerlessness. In this conversation, I hope we can shift that.  

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

My guest today is Kelli Tennant, Host and Founder of Ceremony Wellness. She helps women heal deeply through Functional medicine, Ayurveda and spiritual development.

As an advocate for women, Kelli educates on the importance of speaking up, choosing yourself and living authentic in every aspect of life.

Join us as we discuss the healing journey, and how to advocate for ourselves.

Have you learned how to advocate for yourself? Let me know in the comments!

In this episode:

  • What you can learn through a healing journey
  • Advocating for yourself (especially when you're used to pleasing everyone else)
  • Detoxing products and relationships to free yourself from those shackles
  • Learning how to say no (and how doing so can dramatically improve your life)


“My body was trying to tell me to stop, to stop living for other people, to stop living inauthentically, to stop taking care of everyone else before myself, to stop putting everyone else's priorities and needs and ideas of what this world and this life is supposed to be like ahead of my own.” [2:58]

“I do believe in working hard and trying to reach your goals and pursue your dreams, but that's different than trying to pursue perfection. Those are very different things. And once you're able to realize I am enough as I am, I am worthy of all the things that I want and desire, then you can start pursuing your goals and your dreams the way you're really meant to, not in this rat race, hamster wheel mentality that many of us are raised in.” [8:27]


Find Kelli online

Click HERE to download Kelli's FREE detox resource

The Journey Within Journal

Jen's appearance on Kelli's podcast, Ceremony Wellness: The Gut-Skin Connection

Follow Kelli on Instagram | Instagram

090: Learning To Create Boundaries & Ditch Perfectionism w/ Kelli Tennant (FULL TRANSCRIPT)

Jennifer: Hi, everyone, and welcome back. Today, I've got a very special guest with me. Her name is Kelli Tennant. For those of you who follow me and get my emails and whatnot, you might recognize her name because I was on her podcast. And we'll link up to that episode in the show notes, and I really appreciated her having me on. And as I have gotten to know Kelli, and I followed her for quite some time, the one thing that I've grown to really appreciate about her is her willingness to bravely and unapologetically step up to this space that's really uncomfortable and grow from it in very amazing, powerful ways. And so I thought that we'd have her on today.

Jennifer: For those of you who are feeling like you've really lost a lot of power in this conversation about your skin and what's happening to it, then maybe we can begin to shift some of that. And for those of you who, again, don't know Kelli, Kelli is the host and founder of Ceremony Wellness. She helps women heal deeply through functional medicine, Ayurveda, and spiritual development. As an advocate for women, Kelli educates on the importance of speaking up, choosing yourself, and living authentic in every aspect of life. Thanks for being here, Kelli.

Kelli: Thank you so much for having me. I'm so happy to be here with you.

Jennifer: I know. It's great that we get to reconvene. You've been on a really amazing journey. I will say that, and I feel like you can relate to the listeners because you've been through a healing journey yourself. And so I know that we have some men that listen to this, but especially from a women's perspective, what are your thoughts on what a healing journey really could offer to you? What insights could you get from it that may not seem obvious?

Kelli: I love this question because it's something that I didn't really focus on until the last year. I think that I got so caught up, as so many of us do, in getting a diagnosis, taking the right medication or taking the right supplements, getting to the core physically of what's going on. But there's this whole component of things that I was missing, and that was the personal and spiritual development side, the mind-body connection, the way my emotions and trauma and things that I had gone through in my life over the years were impacting my health. And I explained this best in the five months right before I quit my job last year. I was basically bedridden. I was sleeping 15, 16 hours a day. I couldn't do anything, and my body had shut down. And I kept wondering, “Why on earth is my body shutting down? Why is this happening to me right now?”

Kelli: And I think now looking back, the answer that I've come to is that my body was trying to tell me to stop, to stop living for other people, to stop living inauthentically, to stop taking care of everyone else before myself, to stop putting everyone else's priorities and needs and ideas of what this world and this life is supposed to be like ahead of my own, and to stop listening to all the noise around me and to get very clear on what my voice and my needs and my wants were. And I think that has been the most important part of my healing process. I got the food down. I got the supplements down. I found the functional doctor. I figured out the leaky gut and the SIBO and all of those things that cause a lot of illness, but I hadn't been focusing on the emotional component. And once I did that, my whole world blew open.

Jennifer: So why do you think it is that you started with, as everyone does, the supplements, the functional medicine doctor, the doing stuff?

Kelli: Because you can't do the emotional work until you can see straight and until you're not in as much pain. And that's what I tell people now. I try and take clients, or even our listeners, on this journey of healing. And I always say, “We've got to start with the food first,” because the food will clear your body of the inflammation, of the breakouts, of the fatigue, of the brain fog. And then once you get rid of that to some degree, even if it's not totally gone, you at least have some semblance of clarity that you can start thinking straight. And then you can start looking at, okay, what happened when I was five that now causes me this anxiety and stress every single day, and I'm people pleasing, and I'm trying to be perfect, and I am never good enough, and I'm never worthy, and my body is shutting down. That's when you can start looking at those things and getting to the journaling practices and the meditation. But you can't do that when you can't see straight and you're so tired, you're barely functioning. It just doesn't work.

Jennifer: Do you think that for those listening who they hear you saying journaling practices, meditation, thinking about your being from a higher level so to speak, it sounds really woo-woo, and I don't have time for that. What would you say to somebody that's like, “Yeah, I don't know.”

Kelli: I would say, “Is what you're doing now working?” Because I was in the same space. I was never spiritual, let alone woo-woo and pulling cards and holding crystals and doing my journaling and my morning little dance with my ceremony music. I was pretty straight laced. I'd never done drugs. I'd never done anything. I was very this idea of putting on this perfect face and being this person. And look where that got me. It got me bedridden. It got me so sick I couldn't function. I ended up quitting my job from stress and anxiety and being in these terrible environments, and all of these things were happening. It wasn't working anymore.

Kelli: And that's when I decided I had to look outside the box. And I started working with healers, and I started journaling. And all of a sudden, I saw these connections and these correlations between my physical symptoms and my emotional stress or whatever it was that I was going through. And once I started making those correlations, I thought, “Okay, well, this is causing me stress, which is causing me to feel bad, which is flaring up my autoimmune symptoms. There is something here, and I have to pay attention to it.”

Kelli: And the more I release the stress and the emotional stuff, the more my body healed, the more I had energy. I slept better. I wasn't as stressed. I wasn't trying to be someone for somebody else. I was really starting to listen to myself. So my answer to that is, if what you're doing now isn't getting you where you want to go, then why wouldn't you open yourself up to the possibility that maybe there's more out there for you that you never even knew was possible?

Jennifer: And I actually want to touch on the perfection piece because I feel like that is such… People want to do everything perfect. They want to look perfect from the outside. They want to maintain this image that they have it all together despite all this stuff going wrong. What have you learned? It sounds like you were, in a sense, you were living in that realm of perfectionism. What have you learned being on the other side of it?

Kelli: That it's a totally unattainable thing that will cause you to pull your hair out and go crazy. I call myself a recovering perfectionist, and I've been like that my whole life, always wanting to impress people or prove that I'm good enough or make sure that I'm worthy of love and attention. And so I try to do everything the right way. And my family even called me Perfect Kelli when I was little, it was like a family joke, because I would lose my mind if my sandwich fell apart or if I got less than an A+. It would drive me into the ground.

Kelli: And now at 31 having been through this whole process of healing, having been a TV host for 10 plus years where you really are expected to look a certain way and portray this perfect hot chick on TV personality, I realized that you're chasing something that's not real. And when are you going to realize that you are enough as you are? When are we going to stop beating ourselves up and trying to be this thing? When are we going to love ourselves to the point that that's enough and we're okay?

Kelli: I do believe in working hard and trying to reach your goals and pursue your dreams, but that's different than trying to pursue perfection. Those are very different things. And once you're able to realize I am enough as I am, I am worthy of all the things that I want and desire, then you can start pursuing your goals and your dreams the way you're really meant to, not in this rat race, hamster wheel mentality that many of us are raised in.

Jennifer: Do you think that it's scary in a sense to think about letting go of all of that when you're so conditioned to feel like that's what society, your parents, or anything just expects of you to do, work a 40 hour a week job, make all this money, have a house, have the 2.5 kids and a cat or dog or whatever? Do you feel like it's scary for people to let that go?

Kelli: I was just crying for an hour on my couch before this interview because of this exact thing. So yes, I do think it's scary. I am a perfectionist. I'm controlling, and I am so scared to surrender to what I'm meant to do and what is available to me. And I mean, my journaling almost every day is about this issue. And I think that it's the more you put yourself in a position to let go, so doing little things every day that help you let go.

Kelli: I was telling someone the other day, my boyfriend moved in a couple months ago, and something that I have been struggling with is his stuff is everywhere. And I'm just so used to my stuff being a certain way in a certain place. And it's not even a mess. It's not like he's a messy person. It's just more things. I get to look at his things now, and I get to say, “I don't need to move that. It's okay right there.” And I take the pressure off of myself of making something look a certain way for whatever reason it is I need to make it look that way. And I think that that's an opportunity we have to really just let go every day.

Kelli: And then that leads us to letting go of bigger things, to surrendering to the idea that we're not in control of everything, and that's okay. And outside of that control, outside of that comfort and that box that we have allowed ourselves to be in for so long, that is when the magic comes in and the juicy goodness of life and all of the freedom that you want and the joy and the happiness and this carefree life that I think so many of us want. But we're so tied to this control and the outcome and the path, and it has to look a certain way. What if we just let that go and let it look the way it wanted to look?

Jennifer: That's a really interesting and beautiful point. And I think part of this process too is being able to then say no. So how do we as, I guess, eternal students of life, and obviously I'm not expecting the most perfect answer here, but from your experience, how do you start to say no to that?

Kelli: I think for me, it's learning what a yes and a no is and what it feels like. I was so conditioned, being in television, being a young woman in television, they tell you you have to say yes to everything, every job, every opportunity. It matter what they're paying you, what you're doing. Say yes because you never know what it can lead to. And there's so many opportunities, and you'll never know who you'll meet, and all this crap, right?

Kelli: So I say yes to everything for 15 years, and I'm doing all the things, and I'm miserable. I'm not happy. I'm putting myself in positions that I shouldn't be in. I am in environments that are toxic. I'm being treated like crap. And at the end of the day, what did those yeses get me? They got me opportunities. They got me money and attention, but they didn't feed my soul. They didn't make me a better person.

Kelli: So if I had understood the difference between what a yes was and a no was, I probably would have been able to make some different decisions for myself. So now as I've gotten clear, especially through journaling, I know what a yes and no feels like in my body. And a yes feels very expansive and even when there's fear because there's always going to be fear in things, even good things. But this fear is this excited fear of, oh, there's something here I want to explore. And so I lean into that, and I feel that my chest is open, and I get this, the butterfly feeling. That's a yes for me. A no is my shoulders contract. I'm hunched over. I'm not feeling good about it. It gives me anxiety, and it's like, “This is fearful and not in an exciting good way.” That's what a no is.

Kelli: And so now when I make decisions, I know that it feels either this way or this way, and I've gotten so clear about what my own voice says and my own intuition that I don't question it. Someone asks me something, it's either a yes or a no. I don't sit there and hem and haw over making this decision. And that's when the people pleasing comes in. That's when the living for other people and making sure other people like me and doing things that other people want to do rather than what I want to do comes into play.

Kelli: So if I can make a clear cut decision because I can hear myself so well, that's when I know. If it's not a huge yes, it's a no, clear cut. That's it. And I don't feel guilty about it anymore. And that, my goodness, the relief that I feel by being able to say no and not feel guilty and shame over it, I can't tell you how much freedom there has been from that.

Jennifer: And I will even admit, I mean, this has been a process for myself as well of learning to say no and to listen when, yeah, it's an inner voice so to speak. It's like, “No, this is not the right decision for you because it doesn't honor your space, your sense of peace, what you need out of maybe what's coming is a stressful experience.” And even still, there are moments where I'll feel bad in saying no. I'll do it. I will say no now, but I still feel that inkling of like, “I feel bad. I don't want that person to think,” whatever. So for somebody who's just really used to saying yes all the time, do you have any tips for them to start to say no so that that way… It's going to feel uncomfortable.

Kelli: Yeah, I mean, I think asking yourself, “Why? Why? Why? Why? Why am I saying yes? Why do I feel like I need to do this? Why do I want to do this,” or on the flip side, “Why don't I want to do this? Why is my gut reaction to this right now a no? Why is it feeling like this is going to cause me stress and anxiety? Why don't I want to be in this situation?” And this is a practice that one of my mentors taught me, and it's really simple. You write something down. So it's like, “No, I don't want to go to this party.” Then you go down the line, and you just keep asking yourself why, “I don't want to go to this party because I'm tired. Why? Why?”

Kelli: And you keep asking yourself until you get to the actual root of why you said yes or no or why you feel a certain way. When you can peel the layers back and one by one get really clear on what it is that is driving your decision making, then that's when you can hear your own voice, and you're much more clear about why you're doing what you do. But this is for anything. What is our purpose in life? Why are we here? What are we doing? It always goes back to your why. And knowing your why is so important for everything that you do.

Kelli: So if someone is new to this and is really scared, getting to the core root issue of why you have said yes so much in your life, which is probably because you wanted your mom to love you when you were five years old and you wanted to prove that you were worthy of that, then you can understand why you're saying yes. And so every time you go to say yes to something and you don't really want to do it but you want to prove to your mom that you are worthy of her love, you can pinpoint that and say, “Okay, well now I am an adult, and this is not the same circumstance. And I am worthy of love, so I don't have to say yes to going on this trip with my friends that I don't want to go on because they will still love me, and it's okay.” Doing that work I think is how you totally change the game on this.

Jennifer: I think the other key for me has been slowing down the decision making process. Oftentimes, we feel obligated to make that decision right then and there. And of course, the knee jerk reaction if you're used to people pleasing is to say yes. So if you slow things down, and one example for me recently is I'm going to a really stressful conference, and it's just stressful because of the amount of time and the amount of people there. And I am very extroverted, but not when I don't know that many people, and it just gets to be overwhelming.

Jennifer: And so I was invited to do something and I wanted to say yes immediately because that's my nature. So I said, “Let me talk to my husband about it.” And I talked through it with my husband, and I just still, deep inside, I felt that there was a no, that it was a no, a hard no. And I love the people that who invited me to do this particular thing, but it just wasn't right for me because it wasn't honoring the energy that I felt I needed to protect as I go to this very crazy event.

Jennifer: And so having that extra couple of days to get really clear, and I know that sounds silly. If you're thinking about somebody's birthday party or just a barbecue or something like that that you get an invitation to, but having that extra time for me, it was intentional, and it helped me get clear so that when I could go back to them and say no, I came back with a very heart-centered, honest response that didn't make them upset or make that other person feel hurt, but instead, helped me be very clear on my boundaries. Is that similar to what you've also experienced? It's sometimes just slowing the conversation down can help you, like you're saying, ask those why's about what you're doing.

Kelli: For me, no. It's the exact opposite. I had to speed things up because I'm the kind of person that would weigh every pro and con and try and figure out exactly what it is and ask myself all the questions. And I would talk myself out of things or I would let other people's desires get in the way of my own. And once I let other people's voices in my head, game over. I can't even function. It's like I don't even exist anymore. I'm just here for everyone else. And so I had to actually speed things up.

Kelli: And working with a few of my different healers and mentors in conversation, they now help me catch myself. So they'll ask me a question. I immediately answer, but then I start talking myself out of that, and they're like, “Stop a second. What was the first thing you said?” And I tell them the answer, and they're like, “Then why are you talking yourself out of that? That's what you want.” So for me, it was different.

Kelli: But I love what you're saying though because I think that there is such a huge aspect of this that for so many of us, specifically women, and if you're a wife and a mom, this plays up big time, is your gut reaction is to say yes or to do something for someone else. That's your quick response. So taking a step back and starting to think about, “Okay, I just said yes. Why did I say yes? Why do I feel the need to do this,” and thinking through that is so helpful. So yes, I think what you're doing is amazing. And I think so many people can implement that. It's just really knowing who you are. And for me, I'm a certain way, and so I know that I can't give myself time to talk myself into or out of something. I have to just go with it and let it play out and trust that I am making the decision that's best for me, right or wrong.

Jennifer: I love that you shared that because it sounds like we have very different approaches, and that means people listening to this, there isn't necessarily one way, one right way. It may be that you have to look at yourself and say, “What is the best approach because of my history and the way I've done things and whatnot?” So I love that people have two different options here. I wanted to ask you a question about… You mentioned journaling a few times and for somebody who thinks it's like, “Dear diary, today… ” I'm imagining myself as a 13 year old girl writing in my journal. For you, how do you approach journaling that you found to be productive? Do you get a journal that's got prompt questions? What's your way of doing it that you found to be most productive?

Kelli: I mean, don't let me fool you, anyone listening, including you, Jen. I have only been journaling for eight months, so I'm not this professional journaler that knows all the secrets. But I will tell you what has worked for me. So in December, I just pulled out one of those normal notebooks that you took to high school, and I started just writing stuff down. And at the time, I was going through some horrendous, very difficult things, and so my journaling was very angry. I think I was pushing the pen through four pages at a time because I was like, “I hate my life.” And it was really dark, but I had to get that stuff off of my chest because I wasn't in a good place, and that was how I needed to process it. And I cried and cried and cried and just let it go.

Kelli: And then over time as I worked through that difficult time in my life, lighter things started to come forward and ideas and creation and things that I wanted to do or things I was feeling or calling in a different partner and the person that I want to be with and what I want my life to look like. And so I started just getting in whatever flow I needed to be in that day. And I started writing down things I was grateful for, and I would say, “Thank you,” every time I wrote to the universe, to the angels, to God, whoever you want to talk to when you do your journal. And I would just say, “Thank you,” like, “Thank you so much for these lessons. Thank you so much for allowing me to pour my heart out.” And that helped me move into a state of gratitude and a little more positive than being in that dark place.

Kelli: And then I realized that this is a really hard process. And the reason I hadn't done it for 31 years is because I knew how difficult it would be if I got really honest with myself. As soon as those words hit the page, you can't ignore it anymore. It's in the world. It's live and in your face. And that's a really hard thing. And I think that's why most people don't journal. It's one thing to think things, but we have a million thoughts a day, so you can quickly get it out of your head and move to the next thing. And you're judging yourself, but it's a little faster. When you write things down, the amount of judgment that can come out of yourself towards yourself is really harsh, and it's very intense. And I think understanding that sometimes just getting it off your chest and putting it on the page and letting it go is the most beautiful practice you can do.

Kelli: And so knowing that, I created our journal that has prompts in it and because so many people in my community, as I'm sure as in yours, are going through a healing journey. And so I wanted to be able to help them make the mind-body connection that we were talking about earlier, so that if you have a headache, what's going on in your life, and how can you correlate those things, and how do you see patterns over time? If you have a headache every time you have a fight with your husband, or whatever that looks like, how do you start relating those two things? Or what kind of stress is popping up for you? And then what can you work backwards towards why is that happening, that practice we were talking about earlier and getting to the core of your issues? And there's places to write down your gratitude, how you're taking care of yourself, what you want to manifest or call into your life.

Kelli: And I think that that's a great way for people to do it if they're just starting out. Sometimes a blank page is just way too overwhelming. So having prompts and answering, even if it's one sentence and it takes you three minutes a day to just fill out your journal, I think that's incredible. And sometimes starting small, you'll find that, “Wow, this really impacts my day in a certain way,” or, “I love ending my day with this, and I get everything off my heart, and then I can sleep so much better.” There's a lot of ways to go about it, but definitely prompts I think are really helpful for people that are new so that it takes a little bit of the pressure off.

Jennifer: And one thing that I found is that this work, it is difficult in that it takes a little bit of discipline and commitment too. It's similar to doing your supplement protocols or whatever you're doing to help with your skin. But ultimately, this is just as valuable. It's not something to dismiss or write off simply because it doesn't necessarily cost you anything or you feel like, “What's the point? I'm just writing words on a page.” You are processing things on a different level than what a protein powder or a liver support detox supplement's going to do for you. This is a different type of processing and support that you give your, not just your body, but I think to some degree your soul.

Kelli: I think, yeah, it's a dedication. It's a willingness to go there because it's one thing to take spirulina every day. It's another thing to admit that you did something that hurt someone else, and now you have to apologize for it, which is where I was last week. And it was very painful, and that's a really difficult process to go through. But the relief that you feel after you get really honest with yourself and you stop living in this lie that you've been telling yourself or the story that you've been telling yourself for so long, that's when you can really expand and make space for other things.

Kelli: That's what all this is about. That's why we heal. That's why we have to heal our guts and do all this work internally so that we can make space for our body to be healed and to be healthy and to put in good nutrients and to be full. All of those things can't happen if you don't do the work. So internally and emotionally and all of that, it's the same thing. We're making space for good things to flow in our bodies, in our veins, in our organ, and it's really important to be willing to go there in a variety of ways.

Jennifer: Yeah, I agree. I totally agree, and I'm so glad that you're willing to have this conversation here. A lot of times, I'm talking about research or clinical pearls or something that I've learned with different experts that are super nutritional or medical or whatever, but this is such an important part, and I try my darnedest to make sure that we hold space for this side of things, the trauma, the stress, the emotional component, the mental things that go on, because it is just as important. And if you're not willing to look there, you leave some really important things on the table that could dramatically shift your energy, your levels of stress, how you react to things, how you show up, and how you connect with yourself and everyone else around you.

Jennifer: Kelli, I just want to thank you so much. I know that everybody can find you over at kellitennant.com. You're on Instagram, @kellimtennant and then @ceremonywellness. And then you've got a nice gift for everybody. You have a free detox resource guide. Do you want to just tell everybody what that is?

Kelli: Yeah, so I just learned from my functional medicine doctor the importance of detoxing the products that you're using and your environment and your life. And so I created this course because I really wanted people to have the resources and the understanding for what it means to get rid of products, what to look out for, and then great products and brands that I love and have done research on and have had on the show and talked to their founders and know a lot about because it's a really difficult process for a lot of people, and I wanted to take a lot of the work out of that for you. So the detox program, it's a great little course, and everyone has really enjoyed it. It's been the favorite thing that I've put out into the universe so far, so I am excited to share it with your audience as well.

Jennifer: Awesome. Well, everybody, you can get that at kellitennant.com/detox, and we'll put the links to everything in the show notes. Kelli, thank you so much for joining us.

Kelli: Thank you so much. It was great chatting with you again, Jen.

“My body was trying to tell me to stop, to stop living for other people, to stop living inauthentically, to stop taking care of everyone else before myself, to stop putting everyone else's priorities and needs and ideas of what this world and this life is supposed to be like ahead of my own.”