THIS IS AN emergency column to all my friends, family and fans who are requesting the inside tips on how to get rid of excess fat. With spring right around the corner, these fat-loss inquiries are telling me one thing: Philadelphians are ready to rock their bodies and get into peak performance shape.

To help motivate you on your quest for a tight, toned body - which, by the way, may also give you greater health - here are my 10 commandments for optimal fat loss.

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Drink Water. No, it's not sexy, but one of the smartest things you can do to improve your weight-loss journey is to drink more water. Many, if not most, Americans are suffering from dehydration, and we eat when the real problem is thirst. Be sure to drink at least the minimum of eight glasses of water daily. But, if you are serious about fat loss, then drink 16-20 ounces of water following each meal.

Portion Control. I know, a few months ago I said eat intuitively, right? Well, I was wrong. I ate intuitively and despite daily exercise, guess what? I gained weight. So, sorry about that. The bottom line is portion control. Yeah, it sucks, but it works. If you want to slim down you must manage portions either consciously or unconsciously. Since I failed abysmally at the unconscious level, I went back to the tried and true weighing and measuring of my food.

Put Your Heart Into It. Doing cardiovascular exercise daily clears the mind and does the heart good, too. Do whatever floats your boat, be it walking, jogging, running, biking, etc. Just do it consistently, you know, like most days of the week.

Sculpt Your Muscles. Sculpt and tone your muscles while simultaneously strengthening your bones. Not only does muscle give your body shape, it is the most metabolically active tissue, and, therefore, you literally get more bang for your fat-burning buck. Whatever you do, don't skimp on the weight training. Ideally, strength train a minimum of two times a week.

Mix It Up. Be sure to mix up your routine regularly. Our bodies are quite adaptable, so to keep things fresh, switch up your routine about every four to six weeks. For example, if you usually walk for 30 minutes, increase either the time or the intensity to shake things up.

Eat More Often. I know it sounds crazy, but eating smaller, more frequent meals actually works. Eating smaller meals about every two to three hours seems to do the trick. Eating smaller frequent meals keeps your metabolic furnace humming, and you can just burn, baby, burn.

Fill Up on Veggies. Fill up on fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins and antioxidants, which are found abundantly in nature's cornucopia of vegetables. Vegetables are rock-star carbohydrates that will fill you up instead of out.

Skip the Starches. If you are serious, you just have to eliminate all processed foods. Ditch the white bread, white rice, white flour products, all chips, pretzels, crackers, doughnuts, cake and candy. Yeah, it's tough, but this stuff literally sticks to your ribs and your gut, too.

Write It Down. People who keep and maintain a food diary are less likely to overeat, for one reason: They are conscious of what they eat. Just like money, when you keep a budget and write down what you spend, you spend less and have more. If you really want to be accountable, write it down. It's a real eye opener.

Weigh in Daily. Although the scale is not the whole truth, it is an important part of your battle of the bulge. When you weigh yourself daily, you see the immediate impact that your food choices have on your body. If you see your weight creeping up, you can quickly nip it in the bud. Otherwise, unchecked, you can morph up 2 to 3 sizes before you realize the damage is done. Besides, there are no benefits to carrying excess body fat, which may increase your risk for preventable diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer.