A few years ago when I was Twenty-two (What?) I moved to Scotland to get married to Almost Husband. At the time I was 140lbs and just quit a three pack-a-day smoking habit. Husband doesn't smoke and never has - well the occasional cigar but it usually made him sick later. It was the perfect opportunity to quit; new country, new home, new friends, new routine. Nothing attached to smoking. I'll admit it was much easier. I relapsed later - as smokers are want to do, but never ever to the full steam of three packs-a-day. (I've quit and start several times. Currently non-smoker for nearly a year from a three smokes a week habit.)
In the early weeks of my living in Edinburgh, Almost Husband wanted to take a hike around Arthur's Seat, which is the highest hill in Edinburgh and has the best views. I figured why not. I had nothing better to do. We took the long path that winds around the hill and stopped to point at the birds in the various ponds that dot the area. When we got closer to the start of the peak - as it's an ancient volcano it has a very steep peak at its top as opposed to more comfortable hill-like mound of green-ness. I got halfway up and had to stop; lungs burning, legs trembling and coughing up charcoal. I knew there was no way I would make it to the top and I certainly didn't want Almost Husband to see me like that. We stopped, walked back down and went for lunch. I've never forgotten that private shame of having to say I couldn't go on. Almost Husband did try and make me feel better and told me of how he'd only climbed to the top once before himself, and it took hours and he was exhausted. Plus he did it alone so no one would see him huffing.
Yesterday, we'd gone shopping in Edinburgh for Shorty and Sassy birthday presents. By 2pm we were done and wondering, what next? We were driving along the back of Edinburgh and could see Arthur's Seat, and I said that one day we should take the kids for a walk around the ponds. The car, somehow, made its way there just then. We'd gone swimming, and shopping and had an onigiri lunch and were a bit tired. But there in front of us loomed the ascent to the top of Arthur's Seat. Sassy said "I want to see the top!" and so we went. I knew it would be awful, hard and the kids probably couldn't make it all the way, so for what it was worth, we'd humor them.
Up we went, stopping every thirty paces or so so the kids could sit, turn around, see how high they'd climbed, point out boats on the Forth, we could see our town across the water, up some more and the swans got smaller on the pond, up some more...waiting for it to get hard.
It never did. It never got hard. Husband and I kept looking around for signs that the hill had been altered to make the climb easier, but there was nothing but hundreds of years worth of rock and scree paths made by adventurous scramblers like us. The kids were amazing, a few times Sassy said she was getting too tired, or too scared and wanted to go back but when she saw her younger sister soldier on she followed. To think my almost four year old was fitter than I was at 22! I saw the slope I'd quit on all those years before - and I ran up it. So steep I could only run on my toes, but I did it with the kids shouting after me to slow down but I had a hill to beat!
We had to stop about 30 feet from the top because the peak is all rock and steep banks and we decided it was not safe for the girls to climb any higher. It never got too hard for us. Even Husband was commenting on how he was waiting for it to get hard; and it never came. His gym routine is doing wonders for him.
So, we felt sorry for our very out of shape younger selves. We were thinner sure, but today we are far healthier than we ever were. I went out for a shop last night after we got home (And treated the kids to happy meals) and bought a small bottle of Asti Spumanti, and after the girls were in bed, Husband and I made a toast to each other, to our continued good health.