A Conversation with Nelson Dellis, memory champion and author of “Remember It! The Names of People You Meet, All of Your Passwords, Where You Left Your Keys and Everything Else You Tend to Forget”
The life’sDHA brand sat down with Nelson Dellis, memory champion and author of the new book “Remember It!” to learn what a day in the life of a memory master looks like, and how we can help support our memories on a daily basis. Here’s what he had to share!
Q: Tell us how you came to be a world-renowned memory champion and why you’re sharing your secrets in your new book “Remember It!”.
A: I want to start by saying I never had a good memory. It all started when my grandmother passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2009. After that, I made a conscious decision to do all I could do now, so that I wouldn’t up with the same fate as her. That led me to discover memory techniques (these techniques have been around for millennia!), which I then practiced every single day until I became one of the best in the world at it, winning numerous national memory championships in the process.
Along my journey from zero-to-champion, I realized how little the average person knows about how to use their own memory. Yet, everyone complains about how their memory fails them. Now, there have been plenty of memory technique how-to books, but sadly, many of them are very forgettable. I wanted to make a book that shared all the secrets I used to become a memory champion, in a very practical, relatable, and memorable way.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever had to memorize? And, why was it so difficult?
A: Oh, that’s a tough one! Up until recently it was when I memorized 10,000 digits of Pi to raise awareness for World Alzheimer’s Day! The hard part about that was just the sheer amount of data that I constantly had to review. Memorizing all of them was honestly the easiest part (took about a week), but making sure I knew all of them equally well, I had to review them constantly throughout the day for weeks thereafter. Talk about a mental work out!
That one was tough, but I think even tougher was something I had to memorize recently for a memory competition. We were given the task of memorizing the entire Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame (all the inductees, inductors, years inducted, famous songs), the entire NFL Hall of Fame (players, years played, year inducted, position played), Academy Awards (best picture winners, best actor, best actress, years won), and Periodic Table (absolutely everything about it). Yikes!
Q: What tips would you give to kids who are looking to follow in your memory competitor footsteps?
A: The beautiful thing about memory techniques is that you can start at any age! We all have a memory and we all can improve it with a bit of practice. For kids looking to improve their memory, all they need to know is that memory techniques are all about thinking about the funniest and weirdest things you can imagine. Memorizing can be fun! Most people hear the word memorize and think of it as something boring, but it’s not. It’s fun and silly and really taps into your imagination – something that kids are naturally inclined to do.
Q: What does your typical daily routine look like? And, how does it support your brain health?
A: My typical daily routine involves a number of things. My day starts off with some physical exercise. This is important for me to get my mind up and running; gets the blood flowing to the brain. After that, I spend the rest of the day doing memory exercises whenever I can. I’m personally always training for memory competitions, so I train accordingly. But for the everyday person, you can train your memory by practicing to memorize practical things like phone numbers, names, passwords and grocery lists. In addition, throughout the day, I make sure I feed my brain right too.
Think of it like this: I work out to make my brain work more efficiently, I do brain/memory exercises to strengthen and quicken my neural connections, and then I eat right so that my brain has the right nutrients to stay healthy.
Q: In Chapter 7 of “Remember It,” you share the importance of nutrition for brain health. What nutrients do you consume to help pump up your memory muscle?
A: Yes! Chapter 7 focuses mostly on the things outside of memorizing that can help improve your brain health. Diet is super important. I’ve experimented with numerous diets to see how it affects my mind and what I’ve noticed is that sugar and processed foods are probably the biggest leaders in making your mind foggy. Cut those out and you’ll be sharper than you’ve ever been.
Q: Do you take a daily nutritional supplement, if so, what’s in it and why do you find it so important for your health?
A: Yes, in addition to watching my diet, I take certain supplements to support my brain health. The number one nutrient I take is DHA omega-3, which is a fatty acid found naturally in the brain. You typically can get it by consuming fatty fish. To get a more concentrated level (without having to eat a ton of fish) I take life’sDHA DHA omega-3 supplements. They make a bunch of different options from vegetarian capsules to adding this healthy fat in day-to-day products like milk and eggs.
Nelson Dellis is a nutrition consultant to DSM Nutritional Products, maker of life’sDHA®.
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