As a rule, I don't normally make New Year's resolutions.

I just get disappointed when I don't accomplish some huge goal I've set for myself and instead like to set a series of small goals throughout the year.

Though I maintained that tradition this year, a resolution seemed to creep up on me, and I'm surprising myself by actually keeping it.

It all started when I spent the New Year holiday with my cousin and her husband in Michigan. Kim works at a hospital doing cardiac rehabilitation and her husband, Milosh, is a college-football-player-turned-engineer. They live a very healthy lifestyle compared to my Mountain Dew-drinking, ice cream-loving ways.

In a household with no pop, I had to keep myself going with the healthier caffeine fix of tea during my stay. My cousin was horrified when she saw me shoveling not one, not two, but three spoonfuls of rich brown sugar into my Earl Grey.

"You're not really going to drink it like that, are you?" she asked.

"I like it sweet," I said to her as she rolled her eyes.

Yes, I would like to live healthier, but since I'm not overweight, I haven't really had any desire or motivation to watch what I eat or exercise since I played sports in high school.

Then, Milosh told me about a free two-month gym trial available through the Discovery Health Channel. All they need is an e-mail address and a few details for registration and you get to instantly print out a membership pass.

Fantastic! I love free things, and I figured having a free membership would help motivate me.

On the first day of the trial membership, Kim called me to see how enjoyed my first day at the gym.

"Well, I kind of just registered today," I said.

The fact is, most of the machines and equipment in gyms terrify me. I go in with the best intentions and leave with visions of myself being crushed under a weight my measly arms could not keep up.

That's why I took the gym up on their offer for a one-time personal training session during my next visit. The trainer showed me how to use the machines and stood there while I tried each out. He was very serious about exercise while I made jokes.

For example, when he showed me the machine that worked the outer thighs, I asked "oh, you mean the place where the ice cream goes?" He didn't look too amused, but I think I heard a chuckle.

For the rest of the week after that, I remembered why I never exercise. Something Kim calls "DOMS," or delayed onset of muscle soreness. So it's an actual medical term! I rejoiced, gingerly, of course, since the slightest movement seemed to make my body beg for a bubble bath.

Despite the tenderness, my cousin and a friend in the Army, who I consider my very own drill sergeant, encouraged me to continue. So after a long day at work, I trekked back to the gym. I spent a little bit of time on a bike and a treadmill before dropping into a weekly yoga class.

Boy did that hit the spot. I haven't done yoga in years and forgot the enormous benefits it offers. The soreness was gone and I didn't even feel like heading home afterwards. I could have curled right up in the sauna and slept till next week.

Now, I'm actually excited about exercising this weekend, and may even take a dip in the pool as I watch the snow swirl outside.

Plus, I've rationalized that if I'm exercising, I can have twice as much ice cream, right?

Afterthought: Unfortunately, after showing my cousin this column, she said I do not get to eat twice as much ice cream.


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