March 18, 2021

Dave Letele is a living get-healthy inspiration story.

A former professional boxer, Dave says he hit “rock bottom” when his sporting career ended – he was obese, unfit and very depressed.

Determined to set a better example for his children and his community, Dave turned his life around, going back to exercise and eating basics and losing more than 100 kilograms.

Seven years later he is still on that journey and is helping thousands of other Kiwis get fit, get healthy and get fed.

Dave, who is also known as the Brown Buttabean, established Buttabean Motivation, an organisation that helps people lose weight in a healthy sustainable way with online eating and exercise programmes and free “no-judgement” bootcamps around Auckland that cater to people of all ages, shapes, sizes and weight and different levels of fitness.

The work doesn’t stop there – BBM also runs special programmes to get people who are very overweight or unfit into exercise, youth programmes and operates a food bank. All this keeps Dave and his team busy, but they are determined to reduce the alarming obesity statistics in New Zealand, especially prevalent among Maori and Pasifika people.

At Te Atatu Toasted, we are big fans of BBM’s bootcamp classes, Dave’s practical and simple approach to health and fitness and the work he’s doing in the community. So when more than half of our Te Atatu Toasted whānau said exercising more and getting fitter was a top priority for 2021, we knew Dave was the guy to give us some pointers to get started on this journey.

Here are his top tips for a healthy, sustainable approach to fitness.

  • Just start. “For some people, that can be walking to the letterbox,” Dave says.
  • Begin by doing something three times a week that you can maintain. Don’t go too hard too early. “If you set a goal of exercising seven times a week, you risk burning out.”
  • Keep it simple – you don’t need to join a gym or buy expensive equipment. There are plenty of ways to get fit and active using your own bodyweight.
  • Start easy, then add in a few challenges. “Begin by going for a walk, then after a while you can start to add in hills or stairs.”
  • Don’t beat yourself up – if you miss an exercise session or have a bad week, that’s ok. Just get back into it. “If you listen to your inner critic, you will just feel worse.”
  • Head outside to train in a scenic location. “We are blessed with beautiful places in New Zealand and if you train somewhere nice, it will feel less like work.”
  • Write down your exercise “why” – the reason or purpose for your training. Then put it up all over the house – in your shower, on the fridge, in the car – and use it to stay motivated. “If you can visualise why you are doing this, you will keep going.”
  • Train with other people – you can encourage each other. “I love training in groups. Our bootcamps get pretty loud.”

If you want some more help from Dave and his crew, sign up for one of their amazing online programs, or register for a community bootcamp on the website. You can also join the Facebook group. “We have 14,000 members on Facebook and it’s a constant source of positivity,” Dave says.

And stay tuned – Dave’s top tips for healthy eating are coming soon.