in general kimmy, i think you can get into pretty good shape without having to suffer with doms. the key really is patience. dealing with sore muscles day in and day out is not a way to lead your life... really even professional athletes don't live that way. when they train for a particular race, or when they are in the middle of their sports season, they put up with discomfort, but for most of the year, for most athletes, they work out at a level which avoids consistent doms.
when i turned 40 i started thinking long-term about my sport and training. where do i want to be in 1 year? in 3 years? in 10 years? pushing hard all the time would certainly burn me out in a year or two, and i want to keep running well after that (hopefully i've got 30 more years). so i really changed my focus to have enjoyable runs most of the time, with a couple of hard training pushes (2-3 months long) for particular races.
i think people who try too hard to start, and think that they can push through the pain of doms for instance, quickly lose interest in exercise. it really is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, not a task!
but unfortunately i think you'll see during the next few weeks how lots of new year's resolution exercisers disappear, and by march the health clubs will be empty again.