By JC Poppe Special to Published Feb 21, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Part of the fun (sarcasm) of dieting and changing your food philosophy is the constant pull to the former fast food Dark Side that held your stomach soul in the deepest parts of its corporate safe.

We all know that many fast food restaurant hell holes have scientifically modified their foods to release endorphin-lifting chemicals into the body, thus eliciting a far more pleasurable response from eating their food than should actually exist.

If you are calling me crazy right now, McDonald's and others are billion-dollar companies that are seeking to be trillion-dollar companies and you – yes, you – are the mules they are riding to the financial mountain tops.

I, begrudgingly, love these soulless fast food "food-that's-more-like-dope-than-it-is-food" pushers.

I have always loved them.

I remember back in the days before Northridge had a food court and the McDonald's sat down a hall by one of the entrances.

I remember when they opened a shiny new arcade right across from it.

McDonald's then became a huge part of my life, and I never looked back.

I was eating there when I got to go to the arcade in Northridge. I was eating there before or after a lot of the soccer games I played growing up. I was eating there after most of my baseball games growing up – special shout-out to New York Knicks forward Steve Novak who had a great game last night and was one of the rotating bunch of kids on my baseball team that my mom would drive to McDonald's after our games.

This was the '80s and '90s, so my mom never thought that she was doing myself or any other kid wrong by taking us there so often.

The only lawsuits McDonald's were facing in those days were for their coffee being too hot and maybe somebody slipping and falling, and not for helping to make people obese beyond belief.

My love for these fast food slop houses traversed my land of age well into my late 20s. To be more honest, I still love them but I stopped eating at them a month and a half ago, and there has been a change in me since I stopped eating at McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Domino's, Wendy's, etc.

My chronic headaches are nearly non-existent now!

That constant groggy feeling caused by having some kind of pain in my head has minimized greatly, as well.

I don't feel immediately sick upon waking up, nor do I get nauseated after eating any longer!

I'm starting to feel ... normal?

This can't be right.

But, McDonald's and the other fast food dealers aren't the only thing I've been able to minimize in my life in the name of progress.

I'm a soda lover.

Give me a can of Coca-Cola Classic on a warm / cold / sunny / cloudy day that ends in "Y" and I'm good to go.

Being a soda – that's right, soda and not pop – fanatic means that I'll take whatever you got even if Coke isn't available.

Mountain Dew, Dr Pepper, Pepsi (shudder) would service my need for a sugary, carbonated drink just the same.

I really don't know how much soda I was drinking a week, but with almost daily trips to a fast food chain I'm guessing it was quite a bit.

Add that onto several cans of whatever soda was on hand at my grandmother-in-law's house for our family visits every week or two, or a trip to my brother-in-law and sister-in-law's house for a sports event or family get together, and those empty calories add up really quickly.

For the last month and a half I've greatly reduced my soda drinking thanks to quitting fast food.

I still have a can or two at my respective in-laws' residence when we go, but I'm guessing two to four cans of soda every two weeks is a hell of a lot better than six to 10 cans/cups every two weeks.

Cutting soda out is still part of my conscious effort to get rid of junk foods and drinks that have no health benefit whatsoever.

Thankfully I love black coffee and water.

By cutting out the fast food and by cutting down on soda – and by only having one free meal a week and not an entire free day – I've been able to lose 15 pounds in six weeks and I'm looking the 280s right in the face.

I feel like I'm making progress in re-learning how to consume calories.

I've made strides in other areas as well.

I've cut down the calories at home and I'm eating the vast majority of my meals at home.

I'm drinking a ton of water each day.

My fiber intake is up in an effort to feel more full for a longer period of time.

I'm eating ... vegetables, on occasion.

So, I guess I'm on my way.

This wagon isn't so bad, after all.

JC Poppe Special to

Born in Milwaukee and raised in the Milwaukee suburb of Brown Deer, Concordia University Wisconsin alumnus Poppe has spent the majority of his life in or around the city and county of Milwaukee.

As an advocate of Milwaukee's hip-hop community Poppe began popular local music blog Milwaukee UP in March 2010. Check out the archived entries here.

Though heavy on the hip-hop, Poppe writes about other genres of music and occasionally about food, culture or sports, and is always ready to show his pride in Milwaukee and Wisconsin.