Talking about dieting is more common than about the weather! My sisters and I were playing Spades at my house on June 13, 2005. Kathleen, who lives in Longview, Texas, said:

"Julee and I decided to cook the South Beach Diet so our husbands would lose weight. But there were some of the dishes the men refused to eat!"

Cora said, "That's the ONLY way I could stay on a diet -- if someone cooked it for me."

Kathleen replied, "If you'll stay on it one month, I'll cook it for you!" Elaine said, "Me, too." Kathleen is the skinny sister. Elaine, Cora and I could well afford to lose 30 pounds each. I said, "Y'all aren't gonna get skinny and leave me to be to only fat one! I'll join you. Think of all the fun we'll have playing Spades every day!" Kathleen said she'd see when she could come to stay for 30 days. "That's how long it takes to change a habit, like bad eating," she informed us.

About the first of July, Cora called me, and said, "I bought the book. I thought I'd get a jump-start on you all and begin the diet on my own. Then I thought about the food Robert and Darrell refused to eat, and I didn't want to eat them TWICE! So I'll wait."

West of South Beach, Florida is the little town of Katy, Texas. That's Cora's home, and the place we agreed to stay. Elaine moved in from Pasadena, Texas with her bed (higher than average) and lift-chair! Since her stroke four years ago, she needs these. The bed was set up in Cora's "office" room just across the entrance way from the half-bath. Perfect for Elaine! Cora has a three-bedroom home; so we each had private sleeping quarters.

I moved in from Houston, Texas with 15 dresses, 15 sets of necklaces, rings and earrings, a magnetic mattress pad, two blankets, a small blanket to keep my feet warm, and a lot of writing material in progress. I needed my bed set up just like at home!

The three sisters began the diet on Saturday, August 27. I couldn't join them until noon, Monday, August 29 when "dilled shrimp salad" was prepared. That night, we had "Surprise South Beach Mashed Potatoes." The surprise was not mashed potatoes, but mashed cauliflower with fat-free1/2 & 1/2 cream and butter sprayed on!

Cora and Kathleen are excellent cooks. I really looked forward to our Spades Days at their homes where they fixed such delicious home cooked meals. At my house, most of the meals are catered! I thought these 30 days of home cooking would be just won-der-ful! Wrong! None of their recipes were on this diet! Cora remarked, "Dr. Arthur Agatston, the cardiologist who wrote the diet introduced us to a lot of new foods." Yes, he did. I felt like I was in a foreign country eating their foods! Every meal was different--no leftovers. Some of these new foods are

Arugula Bulgar wheat

Hummus Rice wine vinegar

Hearts of palm Artichokes and artichoke hearts

Kosher salt Cumin

Edamane White asparagus

Couscous Fennel

Pine nuts Sesame paste

Pistachio Portobello mushrooms

Call me "old fashion" but I just never ate any of those artificial or substitute ingredients. Nor things on this diet labeled fat-free, low-fat, reduced-fat, low-sodium, cholesterol-free, sugar-free; or, Heaven Forbid liquid egg substitute. My friends argue, "You can't tell the difference." That's not my point. I just don't think our bodies need these chemicals instead of natural food. I did not read about the South Beach Diet before we started on it. When I saw all these items, I realized I had to do some attitude adjustments…for this month, only…and hope I wouldn't catch "cancer"!

There were three full meals each day plus three snack times.

We had some good dishes: the dilled shrimp salad; fabulous chef salads; great chicken Caesar salad; oven-grilled vegetables; arugula leaves; grilled steaks, chicken breasts and ham- burgers; pistachio bark and chocolate cups. The breakfast dish of cooked frozen spinach with poached egg of top was pretty good. My favorite snack was cold crisp celery with Laughing Cow cheese down the middle! We ate everything. If we didn't like something, we politely said, "If it was on a restaurant menu, I wouldn't order it!" This always brought a round of laughter!

Kathleen and Cora got up every morning at 7:a.m. to go to the gym for a workout. The fat should just roll off of them! Elaine and I stay home. She gets up after they leave to read the paper and work the puzzles. I'm still asleep when breakfast call is sounded about 9:a.m.

On Thursday morning, Sept. 1st, I am sound asleep. I am aware of the sound of pounding. I'm thinking Cora and Kathleen are pounding steak or chicken breasts in the kitchen.

I hear my name called. Isn't that a tone of panic? I'm trying to wake up to get this together. Suddenly, I think, "That banging is on the wall between my bedroom and Cora's office. Something has happened to Elaine! Frantically, I'm out of bed and in the den. I see Elaine sitting at the breakfast table. Cora and Kathleen are knocking on the front door. It can only be opened with a key. I asked, "How do I open the door?" Cora yelled, "Open the garage door!"

As I passed Elaine, I asked, "Didn't you hear them knocking?" She said, "Yes, but I didn't know who it was. I thought if I ignored it, they'd go away." She walks very, very slow.

"What happened?" I asked as the sisters entered. Cora said, "I'm having an Alzheimer moment! I can't remember the combination to unlock my new car door! We had to wait 45 minutes until a neighbor finished her exercising before she could drive us home. I have an extra key to the car here. Let us borrow your car to go get mine!"

We all felt very sorry for Elaine. Just before she came to Katy, she broke a tooth and somehow bit down on her tongue. This caused a huge canker sore. Cora gave her hydrogen peroxide to swish around. Every meal was torture for Elaine. She was sitting in the den, while Cora, Kathleen and I were lounging around the breakfast table. I said, "I hate it that Elaine is in such pain. There's a first aid spray for kids now that takes the place of band-aids. They spray it on their boo-boos. I wonder if that would coat the sore on Elaine's tongue until it healed."

Kathleen said, "Why would anyone spray their boobs?" Cora and I screamed with so much laughter, Elaine came hobbling into the room, "What happened? What did I miss?"

We all insisted that Elaine should see a doctor. She relented and Cora took her to the hospital emergency room. They returned with a $22-prescription of mouth wash to swish around. It lasted one day. Back to the hydrogen peroxide. It took a couple of weeks to heal.

Kathleen was busy most of the day cooking and preparing food. Cora helped. Also, hours of grocery shopping time. Every meal called for much preparation--washing, chopping, assem- bling, cooking. As soon as one meal was finished, they'd start fixing the next one. There was very little time for Spades. They'd be so tired after supper; rest, watching TV; go to bed by 10.

Most of the television news pictured the devastation and destruction in Louisiana from Katrina, the horrible hurricane of August 29. Job lost everything he owned, and said, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb; and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21). Comforting words are in I Peter 5:6-10:Tyndale: "If you will humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, in His good time He will lift you up. Let Him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. Be careful--watch out for attacks from Satan, you great enemy. He prowls around like a hungry, roaring lion, looking for some victim to tear apart. Stand firm when he attacks. Trust the Lord; and remember that other Christians all around the world are going through these suffering too. After you have suffered a little while, our God, who is full of kindness through Christ, will give you His eternal glory. He personally will come and pick you up, and set you firmly in place, and make you stronger than ever. To Him be all power over all things, forever and ever. Amen." …..Continued next month.

TILLIE WIER, inspirational writer and employee of Logos Ranch and Word Holdings

shares her adventures with God so that others may see Him in their everyday lives.

Home > Stories > West of the South Beach - Part 1