This question orginally appeared on Quora. Answer by Matthew Rockwell.

Stage 1: Mental fitness. Get motivated. Make a plan. Tell yourself you are going to do this at all costs! “It's not about having time; it's about MAKING time!” (famous quote).

Stage 2: Go to your cupboards and throw away all the crappy food. Junk/sugary foods, bread, pasta, cereal, etc. No alcohol either. Replace bad food with healthy stuff: Avocado, baby spinach, meats, cottage cheese, plain greek yogurt, natural peanut butter, olive oil, peas, broccoli, etc.

Muscle Tone
Muscle tone refers to maintaining low body fat. Photo courtesy of Bart Loews

Stage 3: High Intensity Interval Training.

Stage 4: In conjunction with stage 3, lift weights. Start light and build towards heavy lifting with compound movements. You do not need to do any "ab exercises" like sit-ups, crunches, etc. Look at my photo. Not ONE single sit-up or leg raise. (Ok, maybe to get out of bed in the morning!)

Stage 5: 1 cheat day every 2 weeks. Drinks, pizza, whatever. You need to stay sane and treat yourself once in a while.

It’s all about the accomplishments you've achieved and any setbacks that occurred on a monthly basis.

As the fat melts away, and you continue those heavy lifts in the gym, your abs will gradually be exposed.

YOU CAN DO THIS! Good luck.

More from Quora: