New Year’s Resolutions on Long Island: Four Corners, One Common Thread




Dr. Marisa Silver can set her stopwatch by the predictable time when clients looking to eat right, workout more and lose weight seek her out after New Year’s. Except instead of lapsing like most January gym recruits, those who see trainers such as Silver with a one-on-one approach tend to have a higher retention rate—even if it takes some tough love. “They think that they are going to lose weight within one week, that I have a secret pill or that I have a magic ball,” says Silver, owner of Hicksville-based In the Zone Personal Fitness, Silverspine Chiropractic & Health and author of several fitness books. “I hate to tell everyone [but] it takes determination and hard work.” She puts it in stark terms: “If you wanna lose weight, it’s a math equation; you need to burn more than you take in.” Sometimes, even her regulars—obese adolescents, elite athletes and the elderly alike—need to be talked off the ledge and reminded why they should take her advice. “What you do today is how you’re gonna feel in 30 years,” she says. “I always say: ‘Mobility is life, you are what you eat, and live life to the fullest.’”



Quitting drinking, smoking and drugging are high atop a sobering amount of New Year’s resolution lists. Many people with chemical dependencies self medicate the holidays away, making their arrival at help’s door all the more critical. “People often don’t speak up until things get monumentally hard,” says Steven Chassman, clinical director at Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, which sees about 100,000 clients annually after demand nearly doubled in recent years. The disease claimed nearly 400 lives on LI last year, averaging about seven per week. Overcoming the stigma to admit needing help may be the hardest part, but enduring the moralizing of those ignorant to the psychology of substance abuse isn’t any easier to swallow. “Shake the family tree and down come the bottles,” he says, recalling an industry saying that falls on the former side of the nature vs. nurture debate. “I pass on suggestions, take ‘em or leave ‘em,” he says with the pragmatism required to work with clients that sometimes ignore his advice, overdose and die. “We’re the first step in a long journey.”



Between proactive high school students and stay-at-home parents returning to the workforce, middle-aged workers dissatisfied with their careers make up the majority of the hundreds of clients annually who visit MJ Feld’s Huntington office, Careers by Choice. Especially in January. “People know to get a dental checkup, but this isn’t always on their radar,” she says. Which is why she sees so many folks who wind up in jobs of convenience at their parents’ business, employees who’ve grown too complacent to quit or in jobs they landed after failing to launch a career in their major upon graduating college. For those who are in the right career but just need to air their grievances instead of seething or getting a new job, it can be like marriage counseling. “It’s easier to say, ‘I hate my job rather than I hate my life,’” she says. “It does require some introspection, but a lot of people don’t do that because it’s scary.” She keeps a drawer full of “thank you” notes to remind her of the good days helping people realize their dreams. “Sometimes you have to jump into the water to see if you can swim,” she says.



Despite the increased popularity of do-it-yourself flight and hotel booking websites, those who’ve resolved to see more of the world in the New Year often land in travel agents’ offices to plan their bucket-list trips to far-flung lands. “We have a phrase in the travel industry: without a travel agent you’re on your own,” says James Marino, owner of Oyster Bay Travel and immediate past president of the Long Island Travel Agents Association. He recalls helping clients rebook return flights when the weather goes south and avoid airport headaches when they’ve been stuck in European nations that suddenly go on strike—by say, pulling off a bonus tour and “making Limoncello out of lemons” when a surprise nine-hour layover pops up. Aside from the honeymooners and families going away for winter break, what really puts the wind in his sails is using his globetrotting experience to make an extra-special vacation become reality, such as the grandmother who took her Shakespeare-fan granddaughter to visit Juliet’s House in Verona, Spain. Touting his love of planning multigenerational family trips, he says: “We made a dream come true for someone who might not ordinarily be able to do this on their own.”