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Prescott wrestlers weigh in on Thanksgiving traditions

Prescott senior wrestler Ty Sanford allows himself to have a "cheat day" on his diet on Thanksgiving, but remembers to also eat healthy foods and get an extra workout in after eating his favorite holiday foods. Photo taken by former RiverTown Multimedia reporter Jalen Knuteson

Many American families share similar Thanksgiving traditions that center around catching up with extended relatives, watching the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play in their annual Thanksgiving games, and of course, indulging in classic holiday foods: turkey, pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and gravy, and Grandma's signature hot dish.

According to the Calorie Control Council, the average Thanksgiving meal adds up to 3,150 calories and 159 grams of fat.

Prescott wrestlers Ty Sanford, Joe Schulte and Ethan Tulip said their Thanksgivings are also focused on family, football and food, but that they're more conscientious about what they put on their plate compared to their relatives.

"I would say I eat a lot less than my other relatives at Thanksgiving time, especially if I'm trying to lose weight," Schulte said. "And I drink a lot of water."

"I drink a lot of water, too," Tulip said. "I mean, I eat way less. Other people go up for seconds or thirds, and I'll just have not even a plate full."

Sanford, a 195-pound senior, said he's been able to eat as much as he wants in the past, but if he does eat an average 3,150-calorie meal, he follows it up with a not-so-average-after-meal regimen.

"This year I'll probably be able to eat as much as I want, but if I do, I'll have to get like an extra workout in," Sanford said. "And I'll have to make sure I'm drinking water and eating lighter for my other meals."

While many Americans find themselves on the couch in a food-induced, post-meal nap, Sanford and his fellow wrestlers typically go for a run, get on the stationary bike or meet up with teammates to drill after their Thanksgiving feasts.

"You obviously have to get one extra workout in, whether it's running or whether it's wrestling, you have to get in at least an extra workout so you can burn off what you ate," Sanford said.

Sanford, Schulte and Tulip said that they rarely face pressure from their relatives to eat more or take a day off from their strict diets during the holiday.

"I think most of them are understanding," Sanford said.

"A lot of my family are wrestlers, too, so they kind of get it," Tulip added.

"I think they understand like how important it is to me, too. So, they're just like, 'Okay, you can do what you want to do,'" Sanford said.

Despite the support they receive from their family members, the three wrestlers agreed that it's still difficult to control their appetite not just during the holidays, but "all the time."

"It's probably even harder at Thanksgiving, because you really only get that meal once a year, and it's pretty good food, too," Sanford said.

Sanford personally enjoys gravy — on everything.

"Turkey and gravy and pie," Schulte added.

"Any kind of pie," Sanford said.

Tulip enjoys a slice of banana cream pie for his Thanksgiving dessert, while Sanford and Schulte stick with apple and pumpkin.

Sanford said that he and his teammates can eat their favorite Thanksgiving treats, but that they just have to eat smart.

"You have to eat good food like protein and fruits and vegetables and you have to avoid fatty, high-calorie foods," Sanford said.

The Prescott varsity wrestlers have developed some tactics that keep them from overdoing their Thanksgiving meals while still allowing them to enjoy the foods that they don't get to eat on a regular basis.

"When I finish eating, while everybody else is still eating and I'm not eating as much, I just drink water and sit there because then I can still socialize," Schulte said.

"I usually don't start eating right away. I just wait until they're like already halfway done then I'll start eating so I'm done around the same time," Tulip said.

Sanford said that he allows himself a cheat day on Thanksgiving, but then it's back to his meal plan after the holiday.

"I'll have like eggs and a little sausage so I make a little breakfast burrito in the morning," Sanford said, "then for lunch I'll have like a chicken breast or a salad or something and an apple to get my sugars. And then dinner I'll usually eat what we have just not a ton of it."

Along with his diet, Sanford is also extremely conscientious about his weight.

"I work out during practice and I wear extra clothes during gym, so that helps me lose usually a pound during gym and three to four pounds during practice," Sanford said. "And I usually lose like one to two pounds in my sleep as well."

Schulte and Tulip rely on drinking a lot of water to rehydrate after their Thanksgivings.

"I just drink a ton of water, and then a couple of days before I start to not drink as much water and do more running and stuff with layers on to lose more water weight," Schulte said. "That usually works."

The Prescott wrestlers are much more disciplined than the average high school boy when it comes to maintaining their weight, and their healthy diets have kept them from letting their weight fluctuate over the course of the season.

"If you're going down within like two to four days and you're trying to lose like 20 pounds, it's going to be really tough not to eat after because you're going to be so hungry and so dehydrated afterwards," Sanford explained. "People will cut so much weight, and then after they weigh in that day, they'll just eat as much food as they can because they're so hungry. So then they'll come in like on Monday like 12 pounds over what they need to be."

"Yeah, when you lose all that weight that fast you're going to gain it back right away, because you're drinking so much water trying to replenish what you lost," Schulte added. "As far as maintaining it versus going through big cuts throughout the week, you just have more energy when you maintain."

"Maintaining is less hard on your body," Tulip said.

In recent years, the sport of wrestling has endured some criticism for the unhealthy ways young wrestlers have tried to cut weight, but it's clear that Prescott's wrestlers have learned how to properly train for the sport they love without putting their bodies in harm.

As Sanford said, "You just have to eat smart," — a lesson that's not only important for wrestlers, but all Americans.

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