I'm often asked that question. While I wish I could give each and every person that asks that question a quick and easy approach to obtaining the washboard abs they so desire, the reality is not quite that simple. It requires discipline and HARD work (yes, that dreaded four lettered word) on our part.

First, we have to realize that there is no such thing as spot reduction. Doing 500+ crunches a day will NOT do it! Ab exercises should be viewed as supplementary exercises. If you really want to get rid of belly fat, you’re going to have to kick it up a notch. High intensity exercises help boost your metabolism and burn fat throughout the day. Intense strength training helps build lean muscle. The more lean muscle you have the higher your metabolism and the more calories you burn daily.

While steady state cardio does provide health benefits, it won't accelerate fat loss. Instead, give high intensity interval training (HIIT) a try. The idea is to push your body to the limit for a short period of time and then recover - say 2 minutes of intense cardio followed by 2 minutes of recovery. As you get used to this system, you can increase the intensity by either increasing the time and/or effort during the intense portion or you can reduce the recovery time. Circuit training is also very effective in increasing the intensity of your workout.  

As far as nutrition is concerned, stay away from processed foods as much as possible. Avoid foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as well as those with hydrogenated and/or partially hydrogenated oils (trans-fat) in them. In addition, steer clear of foods with high amounts sugar in them. These are all gut producers – not gut eliminators.

It's best to cook for yourself as much as possible. Focus your shopping efforts around the perimeter of the supermarket versus the aisles. You'll be picking up more produce and lean meats and staying away from a lot of processed foods.

As an additional tip, make protein your friend. Protein feeds muscle and lean muscle is essential in the battle of the bulge. Not that you want to look like some swollen freak, but lean muscle looks good on both women and men and it eats away at your fat storage tanks.

For emphasis, you have to get rid of the fat around your belly in order for that six pack or even a lean, toned midsection to appear. This is best achieved by partaking in fat burning workouts like circuit training, interval training and strength training done at high intensities combined with a good diet. Modify your diet by eliminating any simple sugars and processed foods to maximize insulin sensitivity. Now you have the recipe for a nice, lean mid-section that is indeed beach worthy.