No excuses for Life Coach
In 2014, David Letele weighed 210kg; he was depressed and hated his life and the body he was trapped in.
David says he was so fat he could not tie his shoelaces and it was this, which made him realise the path he was on would lead to an early death.
In the four years since, the 38-year-old Life Coach known as the Brown Buttabean, has turned his life around using his darkest experiences to inspire Māori and Pasifika to live healthy and fulfilled lives.
“In less than a year, I managed to lose 100kg and have maintained my weight ever since,” David explains.
“I did this the old-fashioned way, with training techniques and nutritional advice that I picked up over the years through rugby league, and boxing.”
Of Samoan and Māori heritage, David spent his early years in the South Auckland suburb of Mangere.
When he was five, David and his family moved to Australia when his father went to jail.
David started playing rugby league as a youth, and by age 16, he was training with the New Zealand Māori representative team, but was sidelined after shattering his knee.
He went on to play for the North Sydney Bears and played in France before retiring from football.
Also a trained boxer, David fought multiple times on Duco Event's card before turning professional.
In 2016, after making many life changes, David retired from pro-boxing, and focused on establishing his Buttabean Motivation (MMB) programme, to help motivate people on their weight-loss journey.
“Since then, my programme and reach has grown as more and more people want to be healthier,” he says.
Families are encouraged to bring their children to participate in exercise together in David’s free BBM Motivation Bootcamps, as childcare and costs can be seen as a barrier to some people.
All fitness levels, all ages, all shapes and sizes to come are encouraged to attend bootcamp.
“Our spaces are inclusive, providing an atmosphere where Pasifika and Māori communities feel safe, exercising in spaces where they are encouraged and not judged,” David adds.
“We have BBM leaders who have attended boot camps and have gone onto gain ZUU qualifications to run and lead bootcamps.
“Our programme fosters a Pacific/ Māori approach when connecting with the community and the various people we connect with and who attend the bootcamps each week.”
Social media plays a big part in the BBM Programme.
It has helped to create a community of people, who all have the same goal – to be fit and healthy individuals.
“On our Facebook page, we have currently have 10,031 members from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific.
“This is a community page where people share posts about their health journey, recipes, struggles and milestones, while creating friendships and networks within their own communities.”
As a result, BBM Bootcamps have begun in Hamilton and Niue.
“The BBM Motivation movement provides support for families, not just the individual.”
Having been down a road of poor health and feeling hopeless, David’s goal is to uplift others and improve the health of Pasifika and Māori.
The determinants of poor health in these ethnic groups are numerous and complex, with socio-cultural and economic factors influencing statistics greatly.
“A lot of our families are working long shifts in roles that can be physically exhausting,” David says.
“Due to the mental and physical fatigue from working and the ease and accessibility of cheap fast food and takeaway joints in predominantly Pacific communities, families are choosing this as their preferred option to get dinner from.
“We need to be looking at our Pacific health from a holistic point of view, a lot of the issues our people are facing are chronic and they can be cured and prevented.”
Educating children is essential, so they are the voice of change in their households, David says.
“Have the children learn about healthy eating and encourage them to share that information with the family and where possible attempt to cook a healthy meal.”
There are several steps people can take to start improving their wellbeing and David offers these tips:
“Find your why; write down your 10 most important reasons for needing to change your life. Narrow that down to three then choose one. This must be stronger than any excuse, so you can draw on it when the times get tough.
“Stop drinking fizzy drinks, and eating white bread/carbs, drink plenty of water.
“Start with a walk - walk 20 minutes, then turn around and come home. Walking played a massive role in my 100kg weight-loss, especially at the beginning I would walk everywhere. As I got fitter and started doing high intensity cardio sessions I would always finish with a 20-30 minute walk or walk after dinner. I found this helped me so much at the start of my journey.”
On the back of the successful BBM Bootcamps, David has started a new programme – the BBM Ward.
Throughout the 12-Week Nutrition and Exercise programme, David provides mentoring, coaching and support to 20 participants (pictured left) to help them lose weight and improve their health and wellness.
“This pilot programme has been running for three weeks now, seeing a combined weight loss over these weeks of 295 kilos,” he says.
With the mentoring and support with some of the participants, David has seen first-hand families struggling to eat healthy or have enough food to provide for everyone in their household.
“Seeing this need has led to initiating a BBM Foodbank which encourages bootcamp participants to bring non-perishable food items which are collected at bootcamps.
The BBM Motivation Movement offers free bootcamps and walking groups.
BBM Leaders/Volunteers help and run nine weekly bootcamps in South Auckland and 10 in West Auckland.
Recently, David has begun giving motivational talks at various schools about the importance of health, nutrition and using his life experience from being unhealthy and overweight to encourage and help inspire Pacific communities to change their lifestyle.
He also offers mentoring and support to patients, after District Health Boards contacted him, as well as staging seminars and health and wellness workshops.
The BBM Motivation Movement is creating positive change, with David at the helm.
“My mantra is ‘No Excuses’ and my ‘Why’ is my children and family,” David says.
That is all this inspirational health ambassador needs to spur him and others on.
Visit BBM for more information and a great dose of motivation.