The secrets to looking and feeling your best

LOS ANGELES First, to slim down, try a few flavors that satisfy with very little calories, like lemon. The zest or rind of lemon imparts fabulous flavor to ice water, tea - even salad - along with getting a bit of D-limonene, a natural plant chemical that contains a cancer-killing enzyme.

The second tip, from the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise," is to enjoy a bowl of chicken soup in lieu of water prior to your next workout to help you stay hydrated longer. Researchers speculate the extra sodium boost temporarily holds fluids, which might keep working out longer.

Another tip to stay in top shape - cardio bursts. Adding quick 30-second intervals of increased activity during your normal routine can maximize your calorie-burning efforts in a short amount of time. Think two to three minutes at one pace, but interval with 30-second bursts, for about 40 minutes.

A fast-track way to drop weight and look better fast is to put the break on sugar and alcohol for two weeks. Even if you're a moderate consumer, you'll be dropping on average a couple hundred calories a day, along with shedding some natural water weight.

To look slimmer even if you aren't really, wear a belt. Stylists swear by them, as visually seeing the waistline naturally slims you down. Also, wear dark tones to look even smaller.

Make those abs summer ready by kissing crunches goodbye and choosing ab exercises that involve more than just the abdominals. Instead, hit the whole core and trunk of the body, like a ball exercise that uses the entire body or a variation on a yoga plank.

Finally, when a snack attack hits, sugar or salt is generally the two biggest cravings. But if you pre-portion some snacks that offer a bit of carb, protein and fat all in one, your body should be satisfied on less food.

Some nice choices include your favorite whole-grain cereal with nuts and dried fruit or a deli veggie rollup, with a smattering of hummus.

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