Founder, Buttabean Motivation
Dave Letele is happy to share the secret behind a weight loss journey that saw him morph from an angry, depressed 200kg loser into a fit, healthy, tireless campaigner for the disadvantaged.
“Here is the secret,” the founder of Buttabean Motivation (BBM) told delegates at Sport New Zealand’s Connections 2022 Conference.
“Stop drinking fizzy drinks every day, stop eating KFC every day, and go for a walk. That’s it. That’s the secret.”
The most common reaction when he reveals his ‘secret’?
“People say ‘it can’t be that easy’. I say: ‘who said it was easy’? It is simple - but it is not easy.”
That distinction is vital to the message Letele imparts as he takes his audience through a life journey that began with being born into a Mongrel Mob family and then took numerous detours from the path of righteousness before he discovered his true purpose – helping others.
“I help people because I can,” he says. “If you can help – then you should, too.”
But don’t expect it to be easy. Life isn’t like that.
“If you haven’t gone through bad times yet, I guarantee you will,” Letele counsels.
“When you do, don’t be afraid to struggle and work your way back up. I encourage everyone here, when you go through tough times in life, hit speed bumps and roadblocks, don’t use them as an excuse to stop, use them as fuel.”
Not stopping is another of Letele’s mantras. It’s closely linked to ‘No Excuses’, the catch cry of a movement that encourages people to get up and get on with life, no matter how hopeless their situation may seem.
The final, perhaps most important, piece of advice Letele gives those seeking a positive change in their lives is: just start.
“All you’ve got to do is start. Then stay consistent, be around good people and stop letting excuses get in the way.”
Despite his upbringing, Letele considers himself fortunate - fortunate that a promising professional rugby league career that ended prematurely due to knee injuries, at least left him with the skills to implement what would become a relentless campaign of healthy eating and exercise.
Not everyone is so fortunate. Letele’s blood boils when he hears talk of people who transgress in life having made personal choices, and debates over whether they should receive second chances.
“The thing about personal choice is that it implies an equal starting point,” he says. “For people like me, we couldn’t even see the start line. People say ‘give them a second chance’. What about the first chance?
“Anyone who has broken the cycle understands how hard that is to do.”
But it can be done.
Letele – and the many hundreds of people he has helped turned their lives around are evidence of that.
“I help people because I can help,” he says. “If we all lived that way the world would be a better place. If you can help, you should.
“I think about the ripple effect. Success for all of us, for all of our communities is just around the corner. But we will never know if we keep staying down. All we’ve got to do is get back up.”
David Letele’s Buttabean Motivation Movement (BBM) provides free exercise classes, operates food shares and life-skills training for struggling families in Auckland and Tokoroa.