Do you wonder whether UC Living Well, UC’s wellness program, can really affect your health? It’s nice to get that $75 gift card for participating in wellness activities, but what’s the chance of real change?

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Kristine Specht, academic coordinator at UC Riverside, says her participation in the program has helped her make some big changes. She has been working with a wellness coach through UC Living Well since April and has already gained more energy and lost 10 pounds.

“I was back at work after having a baby. Having the extra support was really key,” she said. As part of the coaching program, Specht speaks with a wellness coach on a monthly basis. The coach helps her set realistic goals and figure out how to overcome barriers and provides tips to stay on track.

“One of the most helpful tips (provided by the coach) has been to plan ahead for meals — and keeping a healthy snack, such as bananas or nuts — handy at all times,” said Specht. “Another helpful tip has been to order sides instead of a meal when eating out.” The tips and support are tailored to Specht’s personal situation, such as how to make healthy buying decisions when shopping or how to incorporate wellness into her life as an on-the-go mother of four.

Specht also participates in wellness activities offered at UC Riverside, including Noon wellness workouts. She also enjoys workouts on her Nintendo® Wii with her daughter. “When you’re a parent, it’s easy to work in fitness if you also make it fun for your kids. Now it’s something I look forward to and after a while, I get more energy.”

If you’re looking to make some healthy changes in your life, there’s still time to participate and earn your $75 gift card*. If you’re enrolled in a UC-sponsored medical plan, you can learn more by calling 1-855-688-9775 or visiting

Optum, a health and well-being company, administers the coaching program for UC. Optum also provides two wellness specialists who can help you sign up for wellness coaching. If you sign up during September, you’ll also be entered into a drawing for a FitBit Flex. To sign up, contact the Optum Wellness Specialist who supports your area:

“I’ve been telling all my co-workers about the program because a lot of times we dismiss those emails,” added Specht. “It’s very important to take advantage of the valuable assets we have as UC employees. Just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.”

* Employees and retirees enrolled in a UC-sponsored medical plan are welcome to participate. Spouses and domestic partners may participate but are not eligible to receive the $75 gift card. If you are a member of certain unions, you may not be eligible for the incentive. For a list of eligible unions, please visit