IN THE FOUR YEARS SINCE TONI BRAXTON FIRST BOWLED OVER POP FANS WITH her powerhouse vocals, the 29-year-old preacher's daughter has come out of her shell. Not to mention her see-through white Grammy gown or the flesh-baring dress she wore to January's American Music Awards. Gone is the prim reserve that marked her eponymous debut album, and in its place is plenty of self-assured sensuality. "I can't believe she's the same girl," says her longtime producer L.A. Reid. "When she did the You're Makin' Me High
video, I was like, 'Oh, my God, little sister!'" The 5'2" Braxton, whose second CD, Secrets
, has sold 5 million copies, accomplished the transformation with old-fashioned diet—call it restraint—and exercise. "I stopped eating the nuts and drinking the beer" to lose 10 pounds within the last year, she says, adding that she gets a workout "every night singing and jumping around onstage." Braxton, who dates New England Patriots running back Curtis Martin, has a low-tech beauty arsenal. She smooths her feet with S.O.S. pads ("Make sure they're rust-free!" she cautions) and moisturizes with Vaseline. And she plans to continue flaunting her assets "while I'm still young, while the legs are still firm, while I still have a teeny bit of the booty left."