Small Steps Can Make Big Differences. Just Ask Dr. Rellas.
The pounding of cleats on the grass, the swish of the net as the ball soars past the goalie, and the deafening cheers of the home stadium. These are sounds and sensations that Dr. Dale Rellas knows well. As the captain of his college soccer team at Notre Dame, Rellas knows what it is to experience the exhilaration of sports and the joys of victory.
Yet over the years, he has also endured the disappointment of going from peak fitness to a routine of physical therapy, follow ups, and exhaustion. Through these ups and downs in his own health, he has learned that physical well-being isn’t an all-or-nothing game. It’s this philosophy that fuels his passion for balanced, active living.
Considering his athletic background, it’s not surprising that Rellas likes to keep moving. But between sports injuries and illnesses, leading an active lifestyle hasn’t always been easy for him.
“I know what it’s like to be a patient,” Rellas explains. Having undergone 12 surgeries as a high school and college athlete, Rellas has been in the patient role on more than one occasion. Yet it was an unexplained illness during his medical residency that gave him an extra dose of patient perspective and taught him the true value of maintaining healthy balance in life.
“I felt so weak and exhausted that I had to take seven months off of residency,” he shares. With his sickness unresolved after seeing specialist after specialist, Rellas started taking small, lifestyle steps on his own to get better. “I was stressed, and I wasn’t sleeping enough, staying active, or doing the things that I love.” he says. “It just wasn’t good for me.”
“I’ve never told anyone to go run a marathon. It’s more like taking your dog for a walk, choosing the stairs, or walking to the mailbox. Those small things make such a big difference in your health over time.”
On his journey back to health, Rellas saw firsthand how making simple changes in his daily life made such a difference in his overall wellness. Now, as a family physician with extra training in sports medicine, he meets patients where they’re at—guiding them to make their own small steps toward fuller living. “To wake up feeling like I couldn’t even run an errand or exercise without crumbling was a really tough experience,” he admits. “But that experience was actually a blessing because it has helped me relate to patients better.”
When it comes to relating to patients, Rellas helps people of all ages set achievable goals toward getting and staying more active. “I’ve never told anyone to go run a marathon,” he says with a smile. “It’s more like taking your dog for a walk, choosing the stairs, or walking to the mailbox,” he elaborates. “Those small things make such a big difference in your health over time.” It’s advice born of his own experience.
Though his idea of active living may have shifted slightly since his days playing college soccer, he still believes in the value of staying on the move. Settled into his new home in Northern Colorado, this Texas native grasps any opportunity to be active—from fly-fishing the Poudre and exploring local trails with his wife and their dog, Izzy, to weight lifting at the gym and skiing in the winter. “I even wear a Fitbit now,” Rellas laughs. “It can be hard to get my steps in when I’m at the office all day, but I love the friendly competition it creates with friends and family members.”
Rellas seems to have found the perfect fit in his family and sports medicine practice at AFM. “I love what I do,” he says emphatically. “My patients here are truly motivated to get healthy, and I really enjoy all of the doctors and nurses I work with at AFM.”