Lake Forest High School alum Ashley Pettit has become the local go-to for all things health and wellness, and she has a motivating story that started it all.
Words by Selena Fragassi and Photography by Ethan Talley
As the founder of the comprehensive wellness company Ashley Pettit Living (APL) and a regular contributor of health tips and recipes for programs like “Windy City Live,” “Fox Good Day Chicago,” and The Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family”, Ashley Pettit has become the face of nutrition and fitness about town. But it wasn’t always that way.
Growing up in Northfield and later Lake Forest, the LFHS alum said, “I never thought I could make this a career. I was not good at science.” In fact, Pettit holds a degree in journalism—a skill she still uses penning frequent lifestyle articles for publications like Refinery 29 and FabFitFun—but when she started developing health problems in her early 20s, everything changed.
“It was literally seven years of struggling and being in and out of hospitals,” she said of battling with adult onset food allergies and intolerances and accompanying gastrointestinal diseases. “I started to learn how to control things with diet.” Pettit was inspired by her progress and wanted to share what she had learned. She started writing health articles, “and as I did I figured I needed to learn more,” she said. On a whim, she walked into her corporate job and quit, and within the week she started her master’s degree.
Pettit quickly enrolled in a master’s holistic nutrition program and put herself through school by becoming a certified personal trainer. “As I was training people, they all wanted nutrition help so it turned out to be a really good thing for me,” she recalled. “It was kind of kismet that it happened and became one full circle.”
That circle was completed in 2012 when she launched Ashley Pettit Living, which aims to help those “looking to improve their overall health from the inside out by providing long-term tools for optimal nutrition, fitness, and self-care practices.” The multi-lateral platform includes customized nutrition and fitness counseling for clients, a comprehensive website and blog with scores of healthy recipes and “green and clean” beauty product recommendations (many of which are tipped off to her by clients), and her APL TV YouTube channel with episodes dedicated to various topics such as making allergen-friendly snacks and tips for quitting sugar. (A streamlined e-book with tools for succeeding in the first six weeks of a lifelong healthy lifestyle will also be available starting this month.)
Her newest offering, APL Healthy Living Concierge, may be her most intensive yet. It’s a personable service that is highly curated and “always there” for her busy clients, something she came to appreciate after becoming a mom within the past year. It honors varied requests based on individual needs, from instantaneously answering questions about menu items at a restaurant, ordering groceries, creating meal plans, or just becoming a yoga buddy. “It’s really a friendship,” she said, noting many of her clients have now become close and often eat out at dinners and brunches together. “Instead of someone meeting with us for an hourly session, we are with them everywhere.”
Pettit is currently working on building a team to extend the program with more individual counselors and is also looking to break ground on another development within the next few years— building her first brick and mortar location, ideally not far from her current River North home. “I see APL becoming a more encompassing version of Weight Watchers with a more hands-on and personalized approach,” she said, excited for the possibilities it holds for people who are like she once was and are looking to make important life changes. “Support is always key, and so is finding the way it can work for you.”
From the January 2016 Issue of Forest & Bluff