five healthy habits

Five Healthy Habits and How to Start

We took five goals for better health and found easy ways to get started right away.

Have a healthy habit (or two) you’d like to adopt? Most of us do. The tough part is getting started. That’s why we’ve pulled together these simple but effective tips to help you jump-start five smart habits–eating breakfast, drinking more water, moving more, meditating, and getting a better night’s sleep. Choose one to get started. And when you’re ready, put them all together to give your everyday health an amazing boost.

Say Yes to Breakfast

The payoff: Eating breakfast fuels your body and brain for a truly good morning. It also helps jump-start your metabolism, which may be one reason that breakfast eaters tend to weigh less than those who skip it.

Your best start: Choose foods you’ll look forward to–there are many more choices beyond plain-old cereal. One of our favorites at Panera Bread® bakery-cafes: the Ham, Egg & Cheese on breakfast power sandwich, made with smoked ham, Vermont white cheddar, and a whole egg on our Whole Grain bread. This 340-calorie sandwich offers 4 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein–nutrients that will help keep you going strong all morning long. Check out our delicious, at-home breakfast ideas too–from a Strawberry Kiwifruit Smoothie to a Grilled Banana Sandwich.

Just Add Water

The payoff: Every cell in your body contains water. Staying well hydrated can prevent headaches, moodiness, loss of focus, and muscle fatigue.

Your best start: Carry a refillable bottle of water with you at all times–in your bag, in your car, on the job, and at the gym. If it’s handy, you’ll sip it. Also, eat more fruits and vegetables, which contain lots of water. (Did you know that 91 percent of the weight of broccoli and grapefruit comes from water?) Remember that other water-based beverages count, too–another great reason to enjoy a zero-calorie Acai Berry Iced Tea at a Panera Bread bakery-cafe.

Boost Your Moves

The payoff: The more you move, the more calories you burn. An active lifestyle can also improve your mood, appearance, and overall health.

Your best start: Carry a pedometer and make it a game to increase the number of steps you take each day. Some easy boosts: 

  • At work: Keep a small water glass that you have to refill often, instead of a large water bottle, on your desk. Use the stairs, not the elevator. Pace while on the phone.
  • At home: Put things away in multiple small trips rather than one big haul. Walk on the treadmill while watching TV.
  • Out and about: When picking up your kids, get out of the car and greet them with a hug instead of waiting in the car curbside. Park in a remote corner of parking lots when running errands. And when you meet friends at a Panera Bread bakery-cafe for an outing, ask for your order to go, stroll to a pretty site, and enjoy your picnic. 

Find Your Meditation Match

The payoff: Regular meditation can ease stress, boost memory, and even improve blood sugar levels.

Your best start: Find the activity that helps you stay in the moment and keeps your mind focused and clear. That may be watching a flickering candle flame or repeating a word or mantra. Some people enjoy a walk in the park or a hike in the woods. Still others find it works to focus on a small morsel, such as a raisin, strawberry, or nut, and notice its shape, size, color, texture, and scent. Whatever you choose, try to focus on your breathing and what you are sensing–seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and doing–right now. Let everything else go. 

Sleep Better Tonight

The payoff: Getting a good night’s rest boosts energy and improves immunity. It’s also been associated with heart health and a longer life span.

Your best start: Create a calming routine. At the end of the workday, write in a journal or create a to-do list for tomorrow, so you won’t worry you’ll forget something. A few hours before bed, avoid stressful activities such as bill paying and watching the news. As you prepare for bed, dim the lights and quiet any loud noises. Following the same pre-bedtime routine each night can help you drift off more easily.