The weather is warming, and your bathing suit has begun taunting you.

Do you hear it?

“I am the hip-hugging, booty-clinging, body-sucking judge of how well you kept your New Year's fitness resolutions,” it shouts from beneath piles of shorts and summer T-shirts. “I dare you to try me on.”

But if the view in the mirror is a little more rotund than you'd hoped, don't bury the suit back in the drawer or go on that last-minute, health-wrecking starvation diet. There are several fast ways to tone up that tummy by summer.

Shake off the salt.

The recommended daily dose of salt is roughly 2.5 grams. The average American has more than twice that amount, says Susan Burke, chief nutritionist of Too much salt makes the body retain excess water, causing it to look bloated.

Burke recommends cutting down on salt by consuming lots of fruits and vegetables and avoiding anything out of a can.

Change the carbs.

Health experts disagree over whether diets that cut out all the carbohydrates sacrifice too many needed nutrients. They do agree, however, that getting carbohydrates from whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables is preferable to filling up on processed flours.

“Instead of pasta, get your carbs from broccoli and apples,” says Mia St. John, a professional female boxer. St. John says that's what boxers do when they need to lose pounds quickly for a weigh-in.

Hydrate, lose weight.

If you don't drink enough water (remember: eight 8-ounce glasses a day), your body combats dehydration by retaining excess water – sometimes many pounds of it. So drinking water actually helps the body get rid of water.

“Water is a diuretic,” Burke says, adding that several servings of H2O helps to flush out harmful toxins. In addition, water is a natural appetite suppressant.

Make sure to sweat.

When people have several months to get beach-ready, St. John suggests combining calorie-burning cardio workouts with muscle-building exercises that gradually increase the body's ability to burn off excess energy when not at the gym.

But to slim down quickly, St. John recommends a regimen of high-energy, sweat-inducing cardio: That way, “you are burning calories, and you are losing water weight.”

Stand up straight.

Not only does slouching make the belly protrude, Burke says, but it gives the core muscles an undeserved break. Standing erect, with the stomach held in, encourages the abs to work and “can make you look slimmer naturally,” Burke says.

© 2006, North Jersey Media Group Inc.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.