A man who calls himself the “real Forrest Gump” after walking across America seven times kicks off a wellness walking program in eastern Iowa this week. Robert Sweetgall says the program is designed to help people avoid weight gain during the holidays to start the new year off healthy. Sweetgall says little changes in our lives can bring significant health benefits — things like parking at the far end of the lot or taking the stairs instead of the elevator — whatever it takes to add steps and movement. Sweetgall says he was very overweight in his younger years and had a nickname of “Butterball” until he decided to make a change. He says he lost several family members to heart disease and gave up his career as a chemical engineer and went out on the highways of America to walk and run and spread the word about the importance of physical activity. An Idaho resident, Sweetgall is now the author of 14 books of fitness.The fictional film character Forrest Gump walked across the U-S three times, while Sweetgall says he’s made the big hike seven times and is the only person to walk all 50 states –11-thousand-208 miles– in 365 consecutive days. He’ll present free seminars at 4 and 6 P-M Tuesday at the Bettendorf Y-M-C-A that will focus on walking, wellness, fitness, weight management, stress reduction and longevity.