09/09/2013 02:36 pm ET Updated Nov 09, 2013

My Menopausal Muffin Top

Today I depart from my usual focus on retirement and to discuss a frequent topic of conversation for 99 percent of my 50+ female friends. It's hard to believe that with issues looming like Syria and unemployment, the Menopausal Muffin Top can actually wiggle into almost every conversation. But the Menopausal Muffin Top, or, MMT, is a relentless social butterfly.

Let's look at the lifecycle of the MMT. We enter the world Muffin Top-free and probably spend our childhood and teen years not even knowing there is, potentially, an MMT in our future. Maybe at some point we get pregnant (which I guess would be the mother of all Muffin Tops). Still, even after pregnancy, we are not aware of the MMT. Time flies, kids grow, metabolism slows. Now she's a-coming.

The MMT is sneaky. She develops ever so slowly, making herself barely noticeable at first. Then, one day, we look down and there is a little bulge above our waistline. What's that, we wonder? Where did that come from, and why is it there? We don't like it, so we go to the gym or for a run or cut back on Cheetos and ice cream. But still, those pants that fit last summer are so darn tight. It must be the dryer, we say to ourselves, damn that shrinking cotton.

I have found the MMT a stubborn force to be reckoned with. I exercise and diet, but the MMT has a life of her own. No matter what I do, she continues to grow larger and larger, like a sci-fi movie monster. She's THE BLOB.

No one is safe from the MMT. (OK, that's not entirely true. My friend Amy is perennially thin and seems impervious, which I find annoying.) I've tried sit-ups (doesn't work), yoga (nothing). Maybe one of my friends would know what to do? (They didn't). Maybe Oprah or Dr. Oz or someone on "The Today Show" had the secret solution? (Nope). =When we gather, my friends and I, the MMT is our collective uninvited guest. We can't help ourselves. We talk about her, malign her, pick her to pieces and apologize for bringing her to the party. It doesn't matter what the occasion, the evil MMT joins us for every outing.

My MMT was winning, but I was sadly getting comfortable with that. Our co-existence had been working fairly well. I just bought shirts with lots of shirring on them or chose less fitted tops and incorporated lots of layers even in the dog days of summer. Sure, I didn't buy clothes that I actually liked anymore, but so what? My criteria for new clothes was how well they hid my MMT. Is that so wrong? I'd gotten used to her and could barely remember how I felt before she moved in.

But then life intervened. Earlier this year I went to a wedding in Florida and brought a dress I had not worn since the previous summer. In the hotel, getting ready to go the reception, I donned my full-body Spanx and tried to slip on the dress only to find it no longer fit, not even close. With no other outfit to change into, I slipped on a second layer of Spanx (yes, I always travel with back-up Spanx) and tried the dress again. That only made my MMT angry as she pushed at the seams. I had get to the reception in 10 minutes. After a few phone calls to relatives in the hotel, I sweet-talked a beach coverup away from a cousin and attended the black tie wedding in aqua terry cloth. That was the turning point. I began to see how how my MMT was running my life. I had to do something. I briefly contemplated a tummy tuck, but it wasn't in the budget. The following week, reluctantly, I joined Weight Watchers.

I'm 10 weeks into the program now and 12 pounds lighter. I can endure this sense of food deprivation because I have to admit, it's starting to look like my MMT is beginning to pack her bags. She's shipped a few trunks out already and I hear rumblings of a full departure.

So, what have I learned about my MMT? Exercise wouldn't make her leave. Neither denial nor my beloved Spanx were successful coping mechanisms. Plain and simple, if I take in fewer calories than I burn, she just can't survive or thrive. I'm going to stick with the program and look forward to the day when my MMT leaves town for good. Of course I have to always remember, she knows where I live.