Are bad habits killing you?

Being bad can be oh so much fun. While some of us like to party like there is no tomorrow, others love the thrill of staying up all night with Super Mario to conquer Donkey Kong.

But for too many of us, being 'bad' a little too often can become a bit of a habit, which over time evolves into entrenched behaviour that carries serious risks.

And whether or not you have your head in the sand about it, the sobering fact is that many seemingly 'fun' or 'social' bad habits can ultimately kill you. If you have any doubts, just look at the generation of smokers who are now paying with their lives.

Once upon a time, my days consisted of waking with a hangover and starting each day with an energy drink breakfast, moving to a fast-food lunch, a half-arsed workout, and finishing my day with a pub dinner and more drinks.

I thought I was doing okay, but when I finally woke up to the fact I was a professional blob, I decided to turn it around. Here are some steps that may help you turn it around too.

Problem: Hard core drinking

Growing up in the US, I thought Americans were hard drinkers, until I moved to London. Then I arrived in Australia and really met the world's biggest and best drinkers. From daily drinkers to sporting event and weekend bingers – Australians love alcohol.

Excess booze packs a serious punch on your health. Hangovers leave us with no desire to exercise, and other serious side effects include liver problems, depression, weight gain, decreased productivity, dehydrated skin, nausea, and damage to the brain.

Solution: Get your kicks elsewhere

Drink less. It is just that simple. Make a plan to cut back by planning new activities on your Friday night – movie night, dinner with friends where you drink a glass of water every other drink, or even use Friday night to exercise and get some needed rest. Right now, I am planning a Saturday morning Bondi to Coogee Beach run – which means an early night on Friday.

Sound dorky? Let's see who the real loser is on Saturday morning.

Problem: Video games addiction

In such a sporty nation, it boggles the mind that 68 per cent of Australians have admit to playing video games - and it seems that gamers now come in all age groups. So if you like to while away the hours sitting on the lounge playing video games and just happen to find yourself single, now you know why.

Video games are time consuming, tempt you to sit still on your bum for way too long, and some studies are finding a correlation between excessive gaming and anxiety, depression and increased BMI. Some professionals even argue video games can become addictive.

Solution: Grow up

Check that you really are an adult and that there is a real world outside of World of Warcraft and Diablo 3. Put down the remote control and pick up some gym gear. You could be exercising, reading, or building a relationship. Let games be for children, and adults who really can't resist should be limiting their use to no more than a short session per day.

Problem: You're a Workaholic

Overworked and spending too much time on the job or the road means you are overtired and overstressed, lacking exercise and proper rest. PCs, smartphones and tablets make it difficult to fully detach from the office, and it's taking its toll on our health.

Working too much affects relationships, and the stress and anxiety could cause a heart attack or a stroke. Nobody on their deathbed says 'I wish I would have worked more,' so make a change and work less. Easier said than done – but if work is ruining your life, then fix it.

Solution: Create some filters

Be it the gym or a group activity to develop a new hobby, schedule some leisure activities (or take a holiday) with a friend/partner that you must commit to and cannot cancel. Furthermore, set some boundaries with your boss – Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday might be your tough days, but Thursday onward work fewer hours, and the weekends should also be yours, with the mobile phone turned off.

Lastly, learn to delegate. Many workaholics are control freaks – let go, trust your subordinates, and learn to manage rather than constantly doing the work.

Problem: Getting pumped on too much caffeine at work

The beverage industry has evolved, and the new buzz is all about 'energy'. Unfortunately, all that extra 'energy' comes from caffeine, sugar, and other chemicals. In fact some large energy drinks contain up to 19 teaspoons of sugar per can.

In moderation, caffeine can be a beneficial stimulant, but too much can cause anxiety, high blood pressure, and sleep problems. Too much sugar in the diet will contribute to tooth decay and obesity.

Solution: Change your diet & exercise routine

Replace the excess caffeine and sugar with water or a fresh fruit and veggie drink. Obtain proper sleep and exercise. The appropriate diet, sleep, and regular exercise are where healthy energy stems from – not sugar highs.

Problem: Stopped exercising when the kids arrived

If you stop exercising, the beers, dinners, and sugary treats will swiftly start to show on your waistline. And in your late 30s and 40s, that speed-bump-of-love around your waist is no longer a joke - you should be aware of the serious risks of diabetes, heart disease, and even colon cancer.

And we all know the result of a lack of exercising for years and years - obesity, which has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and illness. If you have some extra kilos, now is the time to start eating right, coupled with a plan to get exercise back into your routine.

Solution: Wind your clock up again

Bonnie Pruden, a famous rock climber once said: 'You can't turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.' I personally know this journey, and I made it back to a healthy lifestyle by committing to a plan, getting inspired, then executing that plan.

Ease back into exercise. A simple walk with a few stairs is mentally and physically rewarding. Some fitness classes are fun and challenging. Even a weekend surf or a hike can switch that light back on to a healthier and happy lifestyle. Do it for yourself, and do it for your family.

Intuitively we all know what our bad habits are and the need to change them - but it's a constant challenge to resist some of the so-called fun things in life.

The secret is that just dropping a few bad habits and turning them into healthy ones could deliver a whole new flavour of fun that you never knew existed.

What bad habits are holding you back in life, and how can you change them?