This summer we are thrilled to feature some local moms who are thinking outside the box and making a difference in our community through the businesses they own, organizations they are involved with, and work they do. Check out the rest of the series and read profiles from previous years here.
Annie Brees is the co-founder of Balance365, a weight-loss program that focuses on changing your relationship with food instead of dieting.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family
I was born and raised in Ames, Iowa. I’m an only child which often surprises people. I think it’s my extroverted personality but true to the stereotype, I don’t want to share food except for dessert. I have an amazing talent for turning anything into a competition (Hi, enneagram 3 here). My drive to “win” has served me throughout athletics and business but it’s also a trait I’ve had to learn to tone down at times.
I have 3 energetic kids ages 12, 9, and 5. We’re officially at the “young adult” stage where I embarrass them with my wardrobe and music selection, but I refuse to concede. I recently added a 4-year-old Bernedoodle to the mix. His name is Moose and I’m absolutely obsessed. “Do you allow dogs?” is now the most asked question in my vocabulary. When I’m not with kids, working or working with kids I enjoy lifting (with friends if possible), taking care of my plants, reading in the sunshine, and dinners at new to me restaurants.
What do you consider the biggest challenge of motherhood to be? Biggest joy?
I think the biggest challenge in motherhood for me has been to prioritize my needs and desires. I entered motherhood as a stay-at-home mom and I enjoyed it but as I grew older, I noticed a lingering feeling of discontent. Motherhood alone wasn’t enough to fill my cup and acknowledging that—even to myself—was hard. Eventually, I returned to work in the evenings and weekends which, in turn, exploded into a full-time thriving company and while that’s not without other challenges I feel absolutely, without a doubt, fulfilled.
The biggest joy is hands down their company. As my kids get older I am fascinated by their conversations, their perspectives, their innocence. When I’m stressed out about workload, mowing the lawn, or feeling guilty for ordering Door Dash again they offer a hug or laugh a fart joke and I’m instantly grounded.
When did you start Balance365 Life?
What is your inspiration for Balance365 Life?
It’s truly a combination of my own experience and listening to the stories of hundreds of other women. I don’t want my kids growing up in a culture where women are shamed for their weight, feeling guilty for enjoying cake, or exercising because they had pizza. I wholeheartedly believe we take great care of things we love. I see that in the way women care for their kids, their friends, even their pets and plants and know we can do the same for ourselves.
What’s the best part about being your own boss?
In the last year, I’ve gotten so much joy out of building our team and cultivating an awesome work culture. Abundant compensation, valuable employee benefits, flexible schedules, and autonomy are so important to us. Challenging “the way things are” in traditional work environments has been fun as we explore what’s optimal for us
What’s the hardest part about running your own business?
Disconnecting. Combine a passion for your work, enjoy the people on your team, and self-esteem built on a foundation of “productivity” (which I don’t recommend by the way), disconnecting can be difficult. I see the value in rest and play and often when I do take time off I return to work with more energy and ideas but it’s a struggle.
What do you wish you knew when you started?
You’re going to have a lot of new and exciting ideas. Most of them will be a distraction. Time and energy are your most valuable asset and adding more and pivoting often leaves you running in circles and exhausted. Embrace the mantra, “less but better”.
What do you love about raising a family in Des Moines?
It’s big enough to have everything you could want/need but small enough to maintain a close community feel! Plus, I love all four seasons. As soon as I’m sick of one, a new one is on the horizon!
Favorite local restaurant: Simon’s
Best place to take kids: Ledges
Favorite summer activity: This summer it’s been taking Moose to Kinship!
What’s the last show you watched, thing you listened to, or book you read? Women Who Run With the Wolves by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés (Best book I’ve read in my 38 years of life)
How/where do you relax? In nature. Laying by or on the water or a walk in the woods always revives me.
If your life had a hashtag, what would it be? #effitupthenfigureitout
Know a Des Moines mom we should feature? Let us know! Email [email protected] with details and we will be in touch.